I became an almost-vegan about three and a half years ago. I stopped eating meat and most animal products overnight, which was very difficult at first—I ate little more than bread, hummus, vegetables and potatoes for the first week. My problem is that I'm not interested in cooking. Breakfast is usually fruit with yogurt, muesli or toast, lunch is anything I can put together in five minutes, and dinner is something I can bung in the oven and eat with a ton of vegetables.
About six months after I made the change, veganism became the in thing, and supermarket vegan offerings went from a few meagre shelves that looked as if they were embarrassed to be there, to vast ranges of stuff that actually appeared edible. Guess what? Some of it is!
I've tried so many different items, and arrived at those I do like via a lot of trial, error and chucking away. The following is by no means a comprehensive list - this is just personal taste, based on the stuff that I buy over and over again. I hope it will be of use to any other newly converted, cooking-shy vegan!
A few items are soya free, too.
Alpro Single Soya
Non-dairy single cream - I use it in my coffee every day. Even nicer if you whisk it with an egg whisk once it's poured in.
Asda Free From Single Soya
I didn't think much at first but then I discovered that if you give it a good shake before use it comes out nice and thick, nearly as good as the alpro stuff.
Alpro Soya Strawberry pretend milk
Comes in a pack of three small individual cartons. It's nice on its own, but I use it on muesli. Even better if you add a bit of the cream alternative!
Tesco free from Jalapeno and Chilli Cheese
This was my favourite for a long time - love it! I've tried the other flavours in the range, though, and think they're all horrible. Like, chuck-them-straight-in-the-bin horrible.
Violife Epic Mature Cheddar
My current favourite - great on its own or in sandwiches. Good texture.
Violife Just Like Feta
I adored this when I first tried it, couldn't leave it alone, but then I went off it. However, I'm still including it in this list, because my change in favour might have because I went OTT with it!
Violife Cheese Slices
They're pretty much like Edam - that sort of texture and taste. Good on the meat-type vegan burgers (see below), or in sandwiches.
***PS - just discovered the 'mature cheddar flavour' ones, which are much nicer!***
Note: I can't vouch for any of these cheeses cooking-wise - I've only used them 'raw'.
Linda McCartney Vegetable 1/4 lb Burgers
My favourite from Day One. I have one for dinner with vegetables about four times a week (told you I wasn't interested in cooking!). Best if you put a bit of soy sauce on them; I recommend Morrisons' Tamarin Soy Sauce, which is the best I've tried.
Linda McCartney Meatballs
These are nice, but need a bit of soy sauce. I have them with salad for lunch sometimes. Also work with a tomato type sauce and pasta/spaghetti (cook them on their own first). About a hundred times better than the Birds Eye frozen vegan meatballs, which I threw away as soon as I tried one. Literally, off the dinner plate, and the whole bag gone. My feelings were echoed by many on the Asda website.
Linda McCartney Rosemary and Onion Sausages
These are much better than the plain ones, which are too cereal-ish and tasteless, and I don't like the other flavours, either. My sister makes a fabulous sausage casserole with them (basically, fried onions, tinned chopped tomatoes, potatoes and carrots, with lemon juice and basil).
Morrisons Mushroom Wellington
These are gorgeous. Again, best cut open, with a bit of soy sauce on the mushroomy bit. I have one once or twice a week with lots of broccoli and asparagus.
Sainsbury's Love Your Veg vegan burger
These are the vegetable type of burger rather than the meat alternative type, but unlike most of them, which tend towards the mushy and tasteless, these are more substantial and quite heavily spiced.
Morrisons V Taste Vegetable Korma
The best of their ready meals, I think. I went off most of the others pretty quickly. Downside is that it's pretty fattening, over nearly 600 calories, and it's quite small.
Morrisons V Taste Butternut Squash Curry
Butternut Squash is, of course, completely tasteless, and is just 'some stuff' until you put other ingredients with it. The first time I tried this I thought it was WAY too bland, but a spoonful of mango chutney makes all the difference. It's a bit stodgy, but quite nice.
Meatless Farm Co Mince
By far the best mince alternative I've found. Makes a great bolognese sauce with the Lloyd Grosman tomato and sweet red pepper sauce; much nicer than the tomato and basil.
Goodfellas Falafel Pizza
The best vegan pizza I've tried. Not fabulous (I haven't had one for some time), and best if you stick some more stuff on it, but it's okay. I tried putting some of the Violife grated cheese on it, which made it a bit more like pizza!
Morrisons V Taste Chicken Pieces
Much nicer than the Quorn ones. Drier and actually taste nice on their own. I've had them with those packets of Bird's Eye Steam and Serve rice and vegetable that you put in the microwave for 3 minutes.
Like Meat - Like Chicken
I've eaten these with those Birds Eye rice and vegetable things too - again, requires soy sauce! They need to be fried, and for longer than it says. The instructions say 6 minutes, I did them for 10. I haven't tried anything else in the range.
Marks & Spencer Plant Kitchen Nutty Wholefood Salad
I've found the M&S vegan range very disappointing - it all looks a lot nicer than it is. This is good, though; it's also more fattening than it looks!
Eat Real Cheezie Straws
Love these! The rest of the range - veggie straws, hummus chips, etc - are all a bit bland, apart from the quinoa puffs which are WAY too hot, but these are great.
Flora Dairy Free Spread
By far the best of all the dairy free spreads I've tried. I wouldn't buy it at first because of the palm oil thing, but it now claims to use only that which is responsibly sourced. There is a buttery one which I find a bit sickly; I get the light one which tastes about the same as the original, and is not so fattening
....and just discovered this.... glorious! Flora Plant Butter.
Asda Free From Strawberry Yogurt
Great taste and texture. The lemon one is nice too, but this is the best.
Koko Peach and Passionfruit Yogurt
One of the best - much better than the alpro ones. I have some over a bowl of blueberries, grapes, strawberries and mango most days, either for breakfast or as 'afters'.
Sainsbury's Strawberry Mousse
Gorgeous! I could eat this until it came out of my ears, and it's only 111 calories a pot.
Morrisons Salted Caramel Crunch
I think this is much nicer than any of the other vegan ice cream I've tried, including a couple of the Ben & Jerry's ones. I've only got it a couple of times because it's hard to resist once you've got it in the freezer!
Good old stand-by, for me. I only have the Blueberry Muffin (my favourite) and the Berry Delight ones. I actually get them from Amazon, not the supermarket, because they're much cheaper.
Finally - my sister says this is the best spread she's found. You can get it from Sainsburys.
I will add more if I come across anything else that's particularly nice :)