Eat / Eating Well

The 2 Best Vegetarian Meal Kits of 2022

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best vegetarian meal kits

Written by Ellen Lee
Reviewed by Allison Barbera, RDN & Sequoia Ridley, RDN

We write for people looking for the best health and wellness gear (not for brands). All products and services are independently selected and tested to provide recommendations you can trust. You can read more about our process here. We may receive commission on purchases made from some of our links, but that’s not why we’re here. We just want to help you find good stuff.

Whether it’s to lower the risk of heart disease, combat climate change, or just to eat some more greens, plenty of people are opting for a plant-based diet.

It helps that there are now more options than ever for vegetarian fare—including vegetarian meal kits. With a variety of recipes to pick from and the convenience of having the ingredients shipped to you in a single box, a weekly subscription provides a convenient way for busy people to prepare healthy vegetarian dishes at home. 

For 12 weeks, we chopped, mixed, sautéed, and ate our way through six of the best vegetarian meal kits. In the end, we found that Green Chef and Purple Carrot offered the best combination of tasty, nutritious vegetarian dishes.

Here’s how the best vegetarian meal kit subscriptions stacked up:  

  1. Green Chef (Top Pick)
  2. Purple Carrot (Best Vegan Meal Kit)
  3. HelloFresh
  4. Blue Apron
  5. Hungryroot
  6. Sun Basket

The Best Vegetarian Meal Kits

Top Pick

Green Chef

  • Vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, or meat-based meals
  • $90.93 per week for three meals with two servings
Shop Now at Green Chef
green chef logo white text on green background
Pros
  • Plenty of veggie meal options
  • Easy to cancel or skip weeks
Cons
  • Website can be clunky

Green Chef was our overall favorite subscription service for vegetarian and vegan meals. With 24 recipes each week, more than 40% of them vegetarian, it provided plentiful options, interesting variety, fresh ingredients, simple instructions, and tasty, healthy dishes.    

Most of our meals involved about a dozen ingredients. Though some seemed and tasted complicated, most only took about 30 minutes to prepare and were easy enough for a beginner cook to make. Several recipes knocked it out of the park, such as the harissa-roasted cauliflower bowl (with kale salad, raisin couscous, pistachios, and feta). This offered a flavorful and nutritious combination of grains, vegetables, and nuts, and was surprisingly uncomplicated to pull together. The instructions, with side-by-side photos, were clear and understandable.  

The menu draws from global cuisines, and you can select preferences such as vegetarian, vegan, paleo, keto, or pescatarian. (Of the six services we tested, only Green Chef, Purple Carrot, and Hungryroot included vegan as a category. HelloFresh started offering vegan options after we tested.) Admittedly, a few of the recipes—such as a black bean and corn burrito bowl—felt ordinary. This meal was not unique to Green Chef: We made multiple variations of it over the course of our testing; it seemed to be a popular and classic vegetarian offering for several subscriptions. We also prepared one meal, cheesy corn and potato chowder, that was delicious and a family favorite, but also high in sodium and carbohydrates. 

We preferred Green Chef’s app over its website, which, while fairly straightforward to navigate, sometimes felt clunky. Both platforms allow you to browse the menu and select your meals five weeks in advance. They also note potential allergens for each entree. The app (but not the website) stores your past meals and recipes in a cookbook tab, should you want to recreate it on your own. It also provides nutritional information for each meal, including sugar, carbohydrates, fat, sodium, and protein. The recipe card that comes with the box only includes the calorie count. 

We also tested Green Chef for our guide to Mediterranean diet meal kits. While it received high marks for its diverse menu, fresh ingredients, and taste, we ran into some customer service and delivery issues. When we tested it again for vegetarian meal kits, we had a much better experience. During one week, we received an email warning us that one of our scheduled deliveries would be late, but it arrived the next day without issue. It’s also important to note that Green Chef is on the pricier end of the services we tested.

Note that Green Chef is owned by HelloFresh, though its menu and pricing differs.

Best Vegan Meal Kit

Purple Carrot

  • All vegan options
  • $87.50 for three meals with two servings
Shop Now at Purple Carrot
purple carrot logo
Pros
  • Menu with the most variety and flavors
  • Easy to cancel or skip
Cons
  • No app
  • Some meals require more prep

Purple Carrot is a dedicated plant-based meal kit service. Its rich and creative menu encourages branching out to new flavors and cuisines while using only vegan ingredients. One of our testers commented that the entrees felt the most like eating out at a restaurant, offering an interesting, bold mix of textures, colors, and seasonings.  

Purple Carrot is on the expensive side of services we tested. But it also felt the most high-end. Its menu reflects the season (peaches were a consistent feature in the summer, for instance) and it incorporates vegan ingredients such as vegan butter, dairy-free cashew milk yogurt, and a Not-Chick’n Bouillon Cube. Unlike the other meal kits we tested, Purple Carrot’s weekly delivery came with a glossy recipe booklet containing instructions for not only the meals selected, but also the entire week’s offerings. If you’re looking for inspiration and other recipes to try (albeit without the ingredients provided), this could be helpful. The booklet also includes basic nutritional information (calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates, and protein) for each recipe.

In reviewing our two weeks of recipes (including ones we didn’t test), none of them had egregious amounts of sodium, carbohydrates, or fat. Full nutritional information, such as iron, calcium, and potassium, is available online; our meals included healthy amounts.  

Purple Carrot offers eight vegan options per week. A West African peanut stew and Cajun baked tofu were two of our favorites. Like Green Chef, most require about a dozen or so ingredients, and take 30 to 40 minutes (sometimes more) to prepare. The instructions were easy to follow, with accompanying photos, though some require more time and skill than others (one recipe called for peeling a zucchini into ribbons). The ingredients were also fresh and seasonal, though one avocado (for our madras sweet potato with mango salad and pistachio crusted avocado) still needed some time to ripen before we could use it. 

You can order up boxes to six weeks in advance, more than the other subscriptions. But as a smaller operation than stalwarts like HelloFresh, it offers less flexibility in picking the day of the week for the delivery. Unlike the other subscriptions we tested, it also does not have a smartphone app.  

Is a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Healthy?

best vegetarian meal kits
Brooke Lark

Years of research have found that a vegetarian or vegan diet is healthy icon-trusted-source Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics home “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets” View Source , so long as it’s made up of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains. These food groups provide necessary vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. (Of course, a diet of cheese pizza or soy chick’n nuggets is *technically* vegetarian, but not exactly healthy.)

But just what does it mean to be on a vegetarian and vegan diet—or, for that matter, a plant-based one? Some of the common breakdowns icon-trusted-source Mayo Clinic “Nutrition and Healthy Eating: Vegetarian Diet” View Source include:

Lacto-ovo vegetarian: No meat, seafood, or poultry. Eggs and dairy are OK. 

Lacto vegetarian: No meat, fish, poultry, or eggs. Dairy, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, are okay. 

Vegan: No meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, or dairy. 

Plant-based: Diet made of mostly vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and whole grains. 

For this guide, we use “vegetarian” to cover anything without meat, poultry, or seafood and “vegan” to mean anything without meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy. Some people on a plant-based diet may opt to eat animal products occasionally, but the majority of their diet is made up of foods that come from plants. And some consider themselves “flexitarians icon-trusted-source Cleveland Clinic “What Is The Flexitarian Diet?” View Source ,” someone who mostly consumes vegan or vegetarian fare, but occasionally indulges in animal products.  

Over the years, research has found that vegetarian, vegan, and plant-based diets can reduce the onset of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer—especially in combination with cutting back icon-trusted-source Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention “Adherence to the WCRF/AICR Dietary Recommendations for Cancer Prevention and Risk of Cancer in Elderly from Europe and the United States: A Meta-Analysis within the CHANCES Project” View Source on fast food, sugary drinks, and alcohol). 

For instance, in one recent study icon-trusted-source Journal of the American Heart Association “Plant‐Centered Diet and Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease During Young to Middle Adulthood” View Source , eating a plant-based diet reduced the risk of heart disease by as much as 52 percent. In another study icon-trusted-source Current Diabetes Reports “Vegetarian Diets and the Risk of Diabetes” View Source , eating a vegetarian diet helped patients manage and prevent diabetes. One small study icon-trusted-source Foods “Impact of Plant-Based Meat Alternatives on the Gut Microbiota of Consumers: A Real-World Study” View Source of people who swapped out some of their animal products with plant-based products found an improvement in the microorganisms in their gut. 

Even substituting one meal with a vegetarian one can help, says Dr. Yami Cazorla-Lancaster, a board-certified pediatrician and a national board-certified health and wellness coach. (Carzola-Lancaster is also featured in our Wellfluencer Rising Star list.)

“You don’t have to be exclusively plant-based in your entire diet to derive benefits,” she says. “Just start adding vegetables and fruit and, over time, you can increase it.”

But what about protein? A lot of vegetarians get used to fielding this question—and, according to one study icon-trusted-source Nutrients “Dietary Protein and Amino Acids in Vegetarian Diets—A Review” View Source , it’s not as much of an issue as concerned bystanders might think. A vegetarian diet that contains legumes, nuts, and other plant-based proteins contains “more than adequate” protein for most people. Some vegetarians experience deficiency in vitamin B12 icon-trusted-source Nutrients “Vitamin B12 among Vegetarians: Status, Assessment and Supplementation” View Source , a vitamin that helps form red blood cells and is typically found in animal products. However, vegetarians can still get B12 in eggs, nutritional yeast, and nori. It can also be taken in supplement form, though you should speak with a healthcare provider before adding any supplement to your diet.

Is Going Vegetarian Better for the Environment?

Many people go vegetarian for environmental reasons, too. Cattle are known for significantly contributing to greenhouse gasses icon-trusted-source PNAS “Biomass use, production, feed efficiencies, and greenhouse gas emissions from global livestock systems” View Source , and more so than other kinds of agriculture, require much more land. One analysis icon-trusted-source Climatic Change “Substituting beans for beef as a contribution toward US climate change targets” View Source found that if everyone in the United States swapped out beef for beans, it could reduce up to 42 percent of cropland, and make a significant dent in reducing emissions.

Are Vegetarian Meal Kits Healthy? 

greenchef
Green Chef

Based on all the vegetarian meal kits we tested, we can say that they’re generally healthy—as long as you’re judicious with your meal picks. One factor to keep an eye on as you select your weekly meals is the amount of sodium, Cazorla-Lancaster says. Packaged vegetarian fare like veggie burgers tend to have more sodium than their meaty counterparts icon-trusted-source Center for Science in the Public Interest “Salt Assault #7 and #8: Meat-like Burgers and Veggie Burgers” View Source . The CDC icon-trusted-source CDC “Sodium and Health” View Source recommends no more than 2,300 mg of salt per day. While most of our vegetarian meal kits fell below that range, a few came close to or even blew past that amount for a single meal.  

The Nessie Rating: Healthy

Are Vegetarian Meal Kits Worth It?

Vegetarian meal kits are one way to make your own vegetarian or vegan meals. They can be helpful if you’re new to cooking, just getting started with a vegetarian or vegan diet, or looking for inspiration and ideas. Most services allow you to plan ahead and pick a few weeks worth of deliveries ahead of time, usually around four weeks in advance, which can be convenient for busy households. (You can also keep the recipe cards to use later.)

Some services survey your tastes, needs, and dietary restrictions, such as your preferences for family-friendly meals or veggie meals. Its algorithm pre-selects a menu for you, which you can then modify. You must make any changes before the cutoff deadline, usually about five to seven days before the delivery—something we learned the hard way, when our meals were inadvertently selected for us (and automatically charged to our credit card).  

Each box comes with recipes and the ingredients needed to put the meals together. For the most part, the ingredients are pre-proportioned, with just the right amount of sauce, seasonings, vegetables, and so forth. You’re in charge of supplying pots and pans, cooking oil, salt and pepper, and any kitchen tools such as a knife or grater. You’re also in charge of preparing most of the ingredients, and, of course, assembling and cooking the meal. (There are pre-packaged veggie meal delivery subscriptions, such as Sakara, but we didn’t test any in this round.) Most take about 20 to 30 minutes to finish, but a few took us closer to an hour.   

It’s worth noting that if environmental reasons are your main motivation for going veggie, a meal kit probably may not be the best way to do it. All our deliveries incorporated some combination of plastic bags, plastic containers, paper bags, and freezer packs, though some attempt to offset it. Purple Carrot offers recommendations for breaking down, recycling, and reusing the parts. We appreciated that Hungryroot’s EnviroIce freezer packs can be used as plant food, but the others had to be poured down the drain if not reused.

One study icon-trusted-source Resources, Conservation, and Recycling “Comparison of life cycle environmental impacts from meal kits and grocery store meals” View Source did find that meal kits have a lower overall carbon footprint than the same meals procured from a grocery store if you account for greenhouse gas emissions across the entire life cycle, such as agricultural production, packaging production, distribution, supply chain losses, and food waste. The study pointed out that meal kits, for instance, waste less food because the ingredients are usually pre-portioned. (This study was not funded by the meal subscription companies, but representatives from Blue Apron did offer input and reviewed its major assumptions). Nonetheless, you (and you conscience) may be better served by making the extra effort to walk to the farmer’s market with your canvas tote.

How We Got Here

best vegetarian meal kits |  meal kit ingredients laid out on table
Ellen Lee

Meet Your Guinea Pig

I’m Ellen Lee. A seasoned journalist, I’ve contributed to publications such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, Real Simple, and the San Francisco Chronicle, where I was formerly a staff writer. I’ve also reviewed health, baby, and parenting gear for Wirecutter. I also consulted Dr. Yami Cazorla-Lancaster, a board-certified pediatrician and a national board-certified health and wellness coach, on the benefits of a plant-based diet, as well as any red flags to be aware of. 

Our Testing Process

For 12 weeks, I tested six vegetarian meal kit services, ordering two servings of three meals weekly for two to three weeks. I prepared them for myself and my family of five, two of whom mostly eschew meat and poultry. 

For each service, I noted how easy it was to order, make changes to my order, skip a delivery, navigate the website, and reach out to customer service. I also reviewed several weeks of menus, counting the number of vegetarian options and the variety of flavors and cuisines. 

For each delivery, I noted the freshness and quality of the ingredients, and looked up the nutritional information of each meal (if it wasn’t provided with the materials). I loosely timed myself to see how easy or complicated a recipe was to prepare (loosely because interruptions happen), and took note of the instructions. Finally, my family rated each meal. 

Which Features Matter Most When Picking a Vegetarian Meal Kit?

Before you commit to a meal kit subscription, consider these factors:  

  • Quality: Do the ingredients arrive in good condition, and stay fresh for a few days? Are they well-sourced from reputable providers? 
  • Menu: Does the menu provide plenty of vegetarian or vegan options? Does it offer a variety of flavors and cuisines to suit many tastes? Or are the meals so basic that you could easily toss it together yourself? Are the dishes something you already cook regularly? 
  • Nutrition: Do the meals offer a combination of vegetables, fruits, grains, protein foods, and dairy (if part of your diet)? Does the subscription provide nutritional information, including the amount of sodium, which can sometimes be high?   
  • Service: Is it easy to navigate the website or app? Is the cost of the meal kit clear, with no unexpected or additional charges or price changes? Is it able to accommodate dietary restrictions? Can you make changes to your subscription easily, including pausing, canceling, or updating a delivery? If you need assistance, are you able to get in touch with customer service quickly and painlessly? 
  • Price: Does the subscription offer good value?  
  • Convenience: Are the instructions clear and easy to follow? Can you put together the meal in the estimated amount of time? Does it require a lot of preparation or additional supplies?   
  • Taste: Do other customers (such as us!) find the meals flavorful and satisfying? 
  • Sustainability: How much packaging waste comes in each delivery? How much of it can be recycled, composted, or re-used?

Other Vegetarian Meal Kits To Consider

Hello Fresh

  • Vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, or meat-based meals
  • $56.74 for three meals with two servings
Shop Now at Hello Fresh
hellofresh logo
Pros
  • Easy to cancel or skip weeks
  • Easy to filter menu
  • More discounts than other brands
Cons
  • Some meals on the heavy side

HelloFresh is one of our picks for the best Mediterranean diet meal kits. It’s a great subscription for vegetarian dishes, too. It offers one of the largest weekly selections of vegetarian meals, with about 9 to 10 veggie options out of the 32 overall dishes. The ingredients were fresh, and the recipes were easy to follow and prepare, with step-by-step instructions and accompanying photos. If you are watching your budget, HelloFresh offers generous discounts for new subscribers. 

We ultimately preferred the flavors and menu choices of Green Chef and Purple Carrot, but HelloFresh was a close contender. Standouts included a Middle Eastern chickpea bowl. It was packed with flavor and protein and quick and easy to make. Others were tasty, but on the heavy side, such as the mushroom po’boys and boardwalk fries. The recipe cards that come in the box only include the calorie count; you must look up the nutritional information on the website or app. The mushroom po’boy had 3090 mg of sodium, more than the recommended 2,300 mg intake of salt for the entire day.

Hello Fresh’s website is easy to navigate, with the ability to sort and see veggie meals at the top. Potential allergens, such as soy, tree nuts, and milk, are highlighted for each dish. It’s up to you to review the ingredients before ordering. Recipes are rated as easy, medium, or difficult. You can select your meals up to four weeks in advance, as well as easily skip a weekly delivery. When I lost track and realized we had been charged for an unwanted order, I was able to reach out to customer service quickly, cancel the order, and receive a refund. On the downside, HelloFresh aggressively sends promotional emails, for which you must opt out. 

Blue Apron

  • Vegetarian, pescatarian, or meat-based meals
  • $69.93 for three meals with two servings
Shop Now at Blue Apron
blue apron logo
Pros
  • Easy to cancel or skip weeks
Cons
  • Not as many options or variety for vegans
  • Some meals require a lot of prep

Blue Apron is one of the best-known meal kit companies. As such, it offers an expansive library of recipes, incorporating a variety of cuisines, flavors, and fresh, well-sourced ingredients (in one instance, the ingredients, kept in their delivery box, even stayed fresh during a lengthy, multi-day road trip). You can review the menu and pick your meals up to five weeks in advance, and you can easily skip deliveries. It also partners with Amazon’s Alexa for step-by-step audio instructions, a feature we didn’t see anywhere else. 

Blue Apron is for those who like to handle the bulk of the prep, such as freshly grating the cheese and mixing the sauce. Though the instructions were easy to follow, the preparation routinely took 30 to 40 minutes per meal (the estimated amount of time is noted in the recipe; it sometimes took longer than expected). For some, the active, hands-on prep can be gratifying and make the meal more satisfying. For others, it can be too much. 

While Blue Apron’s menu includes vegetarian options in every week’s meal, they only account for about four to five of the 16 or so recipes available. If you’re vegan, your options are further reduced, as the recipes often incorporate egg or dairy. Its vegetable bibimbap, for instance, was a standout and used chickpeas as a healthy source of protein and fiber, but it was also topped with egg. A few of our recipes also felt heavy (though admittedly tasty) with cheese or cream, such as a creamy tomato fettuccine. Nutritional information is only provided on the app and website and not the recipe card. For a handful of recipes, Blue Apron offers a meat alternative as one of the customizable proteins, including Beyond meat and plant-based chicken, which we appreciated.  

Vegetarian Meal Kits You Can Skip

Hungryroot

  • Vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, or meat-based meals
  • $75.33 for about 3 meals
Shop Now at Hungryroot
hungryroot logo
Pros
  • Meals are very easy to make
  • Plenty of veggie options
Cons
  • Some meals feel ordinary and easily to replicate on your own
  • Some meals don’t feel complete or nutritious
  • Confusing ordering system

If you’re looking for minimal prep, the meals from Hungryroot are the easiest and fastest to assemble. Many of its ingredients arrive premixed, pre-packaged, or pre-chopped. In many cases, all we did was heat up about four components and mix them together. (As such, its instructions are the most basic: just one sheet with simple text and no photographs, but that’s because photos are not needed).   

Hungryroot offers plenty of vegetarian and vegan options each week, with as many as 25 of the 30 meal kits being vegetarian. Many of them stay the same week after week, however, as Hungryroot operates like a grocery delivery service, mixing and matching its ingredients (including pre-packaged or pre-seasoned ingredients such as Hodo tofu) to create dishes. More so than the other meal kits we tested, Hungyroot also regularly incorporates meat substitutes, including Beyond Burgers, plant-based chicken tenders, and plant-based chorizo. Some of these options can be high in sodium, though Hungryroot often combines them with colorful vegetables.  

Other meals, however, felt less than inspired. They could easily be replicated or assembled without meal kit assistance, and weren’t as healthy and balanced as meals from other services. A case in point: one meal was simply a Beyond Burger, a multigrain bun, and butterhead lettuce. Hungryroot provides suggestions for additional ingredients you can add (and which it can provide for an additional charge), such as adding avocado. 

Finally, Hungryroot’s ordering system is confusing. Depending on your plan size, you get a number of credits. Some meals are worth less (the Beyond Burger costs 10 credits) while others are worth more (the cheesy spinach artichoke pizza costs 16 credits). You can also use the credits to purchase individual grocery items, such as wild blueberry muffins. As you can imagine, if you want dishes that are not so basic, you may find yourself going over your allotment. One week, we did so, and saw an additional charge on our bill. The calculation process was unclear. When we reached out to customer service, we were simply told that the meals required more ingredients, so we were charged more. 

Ordering (or skipping) a delivery in advance is also not as easy or flexible as the other meal kit services. You can only order one week of meals at a time, and you can only manage two weeks of deliveries at a time (that is, if you want to skip or reschedule delivery to a different day).

Sunbasket

  • Vegetarian, pescatarian, or meat-based meals
  • $70 for three meals with two servings
Shop Now at Sunbasket
sunbasket logo
Pros
  • Easy to cancel or skip meals
  • Full nutritional transparency
Cons
  • Not enough variety of vegetarian meals
  • Meals can be bland

We recommend Sun Basket for a Mediterranean diet because it comes with fresh, high-quality ingredients, and a website that’s easy to navigate, see menus, order in advance, and put orders on hold. 

But if you’re looking for solely vegetarian or vegan meals, Sun Basket is lacking. It felt as though many of the recipes were created with meat in mind, and replaced with tofu as a convenient, but not well-incorporated protein. The recipe card that comes with each delivery, for instance, includes full nutritional information. But that isn’t always the case for the vegetarian option (our menu card for the Tex-Mex skillet only included nutritional information for the ground turkey version). Here and there, Sun Basket offered a plant-based meat substitute as one of the customizable proteins, but tofu was often the de facto option during our tests. (Our Tex-Mex skillet with green chiles, tomatoes, zucchini, and tofu was especially disappointing). In addition, the sauces, while intriguing, often tasted bland. Though the extensive menu, photos, and descriptions had great potential, our vegetarian meals didn’t quite live up to expectations. 

Sun Basket’s customer service is responsive and easy to reach. But we also had an instance when one agent assured us that our delivery change request could be made, only for us to check the next day and discover it wasn’t. When we reached out to customer service again, we were told our request was not possible. We had to cancel that week’s order.

 

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