To help get you started, here are top tips from our grantees on how to host a successful vegan food-sampling event — or to include food sampling at your film screening or other outreach activity. If you’re planning an event, you can apply for a VegFund Food Sampling grant to help support your costs.
- Food is the way to our hearts! Serving vegan samples is a great way to expose people to meat and dairy alternatives. So, use this opportunity to dish out some plant-based meats, vegan cheeses, and non-dairy milks. People are often pleasantly surprised by how delicious these products taste.
- Keep it simple. Give out samples of items that are readily available in local grocery stores or homemade items that are easy to make. Even if you serve the tastiest vegan food in the world, if people can’t find it easily or make it conveniently, chances are good they won’t buy it or make it on their own.
- The power of three. We recommend serving no more than three types of food items. Focus on the quality of each sample as opposed to serving a large variety. Less is more.
- Most vegan cheeses are more appealing served melted and warm rather than cold. If you don’t have a way to keep vegan cheeses warm, we strongly advise against serving them, unless it’s one of the nut cheeses that are delicious cold or perhaps cold cheese slices on sandwiches.
- If you serve vegan milks, make sure they are chilled. Keep the containers in a bowl of ice or stored in an ice cooler.
We’ve selected some of the most popular vegan food-sampling products among our activists and listed them below. Note that many of these brands and products are widely available across the world, but not necessarily everywhere. A selection of vegan meats, cheeses, milks, and ice creams can be found in the refrigerated or frozen sections or shelves of most grocery stores, as well as Target, Walmart, Trader Joe’s, and Costco.
- Beyond Meat – This is one of the most broadly distributed brands of meatless beef. Beyond uses pea and bean proteins and is wheat- and soy-free, as well as palm-oil-free. Products include the Beyond Burger and plant-based ground beef, crumbles, meatballs, and sausage.
- Field Roast – This company makes vegan wheat meats, including roasts, a variety of sausages, deli slices, burgers, wings, corn dogs, and nuggets.
- Fry’s Family Foods Co. – This internationally available brand offers a selection of plant-based meats made from wheat and soy protein, including but not limited to chicken-style nuggets, savory pies, pasties, beef- and chicken-style strips, sausage rolls, and meatballs.
- Gardein – Gardein offers a large variety of vegan meats made from wheat, soy, and pea protein, including buffalo wings, meatless meatballs, and crispy tenders.
- Linda McCartney Foods – With an ever-expanding selection of vegan options made from soy and wheat proteins, Linda McCartney products are a popular choice for food-sampling events. Try out the chorizo style cocktail sausages and mini sausage rolls!
- Primal Spirit Foods – Primal Strips are tasty and meaty plant-based snacks that make great samples, especially for protein-hungry athletes. If your event venue restricts you to packaged foods only, these are an excellent option. They come in six flavors and are made from soy or seitan (i.e., wheat meat).
- Quorn Vegan – This company offers vegan fishless sticks, buffalo dippers, fillets, and cutlets, based on mycoprotein made from fungi. Note that not all Quorn products are vegan, but vegan versions of their chilled deli slices are now offered in the UK.
- Tofurky – Since 1995, Tofurky has offered wheat- and soy-based vegan meats in a variety of options and flavors. Their deli slices are great for sandwiches.
- Trader Joe’s – This chain carries its own brand of deli and frozen items, including soy chorizo, meatless meatballs, and chicken-less crispy tenders.
- Wheaty – This German brand offers wheat-based vegan meats, including chorizo, salami, döner, burgers, bacon, deli slices, hot dogs, and more. Wheaty products are organic and palm-oil free.
- Chao – Chao slices, shreds, and blocks are products of Field Roast based on coconut oil and tofu. Flavors include creamy original, tomato cayenne, smoked, spicy, garden herb, and Mexican style.
- Daiya – Daiya is the most popular vegan cheese among our grantees. It comes pre-shredded and is available in three flavors: cheddar, mozzarella, and pepperjack. Daiya is best served hot, and when melted, it stretches! This cheese is a great option for people with food allergies because it is gluten-, soy-, and nut-free, as well as dairy-free like all vegan cheeses. Daiya also makes wedges, slices, and cream cheese.
- Follow Your Heart – Follow Your Heart offers vegan cheese slices, shreds, and cream cheese. Like Daiya, their products are also gluten-, soy-, and nut-free and are very popular among our grantees. The slices and shreds are also best served hot.
- Kite Hill – This brand makes almond milk-based vegan cream cheese and ricotta alternatives that are oil-free and appropriate for a whole-food plant-based diet.
- Miyoko’s Creamery – Miyoko’s has a line of soft, organic cashew cheese wheels in eight flavors that are delicious cold. Some flavors are oil-free and appropriate for a whole-food plant-based diet. They also offer vegan cheese blocks, slices, and shreds made with organic oat milk, beans, and coconut oil.
- Tofutti – This long-time brand offers vegan tofu-based cheese slices, cream cheese, and ricotta. (Note that their frozen cheese-filled crepes are not vegan as they contain eggs.)
- Trader Joe’s – Trader Joe’s carries its own brand of vegan mozzarella-style shreds, cheddar-style slices, and vegan cream cheese.
- Violife – Violife offers a variety of gluten-, soy-, and nut-free vegan cheese products based on coconut oil, from blocks and slices to melty styles and cream cheese, as well as the first-ever vegan Halloumi-type product! This brand is good if you need a vegan cheese that melts well.
Grantee tips for vegan milk sampling:
- People have different taste preferences for vegan milk. You might want to offer more than one choice and also inform tasters that there are many options and encourage them to experiment until they find their own favorites.
- Most brands have unsweetened options that are often used in cooking and typically not as popular at food-sampling events. Some people may prefer unsweetened, though. If possible, consider offering both sweetened and unsweetened choices.
- The brands on this list offer shelf-stable options that don’t need refrigeration until they are opened, making it easier to store the milk before your event. (But do serve them well-chilled.)
- Almond Breeze by Blue Diamond – Almond Breeze offers original, vanilla, and chocolate (always a big hit!) almond milks, as well as blends of almond and coconut milk.
- Alpro – This popular brand is readily available in most UK grocery stores and supermarkets, as well as 36 other countries. Alpro offers more than 40 different options for vegan milk, made from almonds, cashews, coconuts, hazelnuts, oats, rice, or soy (including chocolate and strawberry soy milks).
- KoKo Dairy Free – Koko offers ethically produced plain and chocolate-flavored coconut milk as well as coconut milk-based yogurt. This company has been farming coconuts in Indonesia since 1986. No monkeys or other animals are involved or exploited in this process!
- Oatly – This company offers oat milk in plain and chocolate flavors. If you’re looking for a plant-based milk for creating perfect frothy drinks without curdling, Oatly’s Barista Edition is an excellent choice.
- Pacific Foods – This brand offers a unique and delicious alternative that is a definite crowd-pleaser – chocolate hazelnut milk. They have a wide range of organic plant milks, including almond, oat, soy, and coconut milks, as well as cashew and hemp milks.
- Ripple – This company makes milk with its unique proprietary pea protein in original, vanilla, and chocolate flavors.
- Silk – One of the most popular soy milks on the market, Silk now also offers almond, cashew, oat, and coconut milks, with chocolate and organic options. This is the most popular brand among our grantees.
- So Delicious – This brand offers a variety of almond, cashew, and coconut milks and creamers, including chocolate coconut milk.
Vegan Spreads, Butters, and Sour Cream
These are tasty additions to vegan sandwiches, veggie hot dogs, and more.
- Earth Balance – This line of dairy-free butters and spreads and baking sticks includes a variety of options.
- Follow Your Heart – This brand offers vegan sour cream based on coconut cream.
- Kite Hill – Sour cream made from almond and coconut milks with chickpea protein; plant-based butter based on cultured almond milk.
- Miyoko’s Creamery – Miyoko’s line of cultured vegan butters includes European style (salted or unsalted, made with organic cashews) and oak-milk-based butters in plain and garlic parm flavors.
- Pure Dairy-Free spreads – Available at Tesco stores, these vegan spreads come in soya, olive, sunflower, and blended varieties.
- Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream – This soy-based product can easily be used in place of dairy-based sour cream.
- Vegenaise – This vegan mayonnaise from Follow Your Heart is available in soy-free, organic, and reduced-fat options, chipotle, roasted garlic, and pesto flavors, and horseradish and tartar sauces. People are consistently surprised by how much Vegenaise tastes like conventional mayo.
Vegan Yogurts and Chilled Desserts
- Alpro – This brand offers regular and Greek-style soy-based yogurts in several fruity flavors.
- Daiya – Daiya offers soy-free vegan yogurts based on coconut cream, also in several fruity flavors. Their rich New York Cheezecake is also made from coconut cream and is a popular choice for food sampling.
- Follow Your Heart – This brand makes seven flavors of creamy vegan yogurt from organic coconut cream.
- Forager – Focusing on organic cashew-based products, Forager makes cashew milk yogurt in regular and Greek-styles, with several flavor choices.
- Kite Hill – This artisan almond yogurt company is soy-free and offers a variety of flavors.
- Silk – Perhaps best-known for its ubiquitous plant-based milks, Silk also has a variety of almond, oat, and soy milk yogurts.
- So Delicious – This company offers a wide range of coconut and oat milk yogurts in several flavors, including strawberry rhubarb and spiced pear & fig.
Vegan Ice Cream
- Alpro – This UK brand offers a selection of soy-based ice creams in flavors such as chocolate, macchiato, passionate mango, and vanilla, as well as almond-, coconut-, and hazelnut-based options.
- Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Frozen Desserts – You can find Ben & Jerry’s almond milk- or sunflower butter-based vegan ice cream in 15 flavors (and counting), including their famous Cherry Garcia and newest Colin Kaepernick-inspired “Change the Whirled” flavor – made with caramel sunflower butter and fudge chips with graham cracker and chocolate cookie swirls.
- Coconut Bliss – Coconut Bliss ice cream is sold by the pint in a variety of flavors. They offer dark chocolate and vanilla ice cream cookie sandwiches too! In addition to being vegan, this brand is also organic, fair-trade, and soy- and gluten-free.
- Halo Top – This brand’s dairy-free line includes seven flavors of coconut milk ice cream with fava bean protein.
- So Delicious – This brand makes a large variety of vegan frozen desserts from almond, cashew, oat, and organic coconut and soy milks, including pints, ice cream sandwiches, and fudge bars.
- Tofutti Cuties – These vegan mini-ice-cream sandwiches come in chocolate, vanilla, and mint chocolate chip flavors and are a huge hit, especially with children.
- Trader Joe’s – This popular chain sells cherry chocolate chip and vanilla soy-based vegan ice cream by the quart.
Vegan Cookies, Bars, and Snacks
- CLIF Bar & Company – CLIF and LUNA Bars are widely available, come in a variety of flavors, use organic ingredients, and have high protein as well as low glycemic values. (Note that CLIF Whey Protein, LUNA Protein, and Zbar Protein bars are not vegan as they contain dairy ingredients.)
- Cocomels – This company makes organic coconut milk caramels, including chocolate-covered varieties.
- Enjoy Life – This 100% vegan brand offers soft-baked and crunchy cookies, breakfast bars, rice milk chocolate bars, chips, protein bites, and more. Their products are free of gluten and 14 common allergens.
- Hippeas – This company makes organic chickpea puffs and tortilla chips that are popular with our grantees.
- Oreos – People are always delighted to know that this all-time favorite is vegan, except for the fudge-covered varieties which contain dairy.
- Trader Joe’s – Trader Joe’s offers vegan brownie crisps, organic animal crackers, soft-baked snickerdoodles, and speculoos cookies for your food-sampling events.
Note: For food hygiene reasons, some event locations may restrict you to serving only packaged foods. If this is the case, a number of the above suggested brands and products should enable you to abide by this rule.
We recommend that you check the labels for specific products that you are considering serving to determine if they contain allergens, palm oil, or other ingredients that your audience may prefer to avoid.
New vegan products are hitting the grocery store shelves so fast that it’s hard to keep up! If you discover new favorites — especially products that are good candidates for food-sampling events, let us know.
Apply for a VegFund Food Sampling grant.