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    Wine & Food

    The 9 best vegan Christmas sandwiches

    2 December 2019

    This year, we’re running a separate Christmas sandwich list for vegan sandwiches.

    The popularity of veganism continues to rise, alongside an increased number of people who eat meat but consciously choose plant-based products as part of their lifestyle. Vegan sandwiches need to be judged by a different metric: that’s not because they’re inferior to the meat versions (thankfully, those days are behind us), but because you’re never going to get quite the same turkey leftovers feeling that you would from a meat-based sandwich, so it feels unfair to place them alongside one another. There’s a real variety of approaches to vegan festive sandwiches in 2019: falafel, nut roast, stuffing, and soya-protein all feature, along with a bunch of vegan mayos, carrot masquerading as fish, and more root vegetables than you could shake a stick at. Let’s get stuck in.

    Leon’s Falafel Wrap, £4.95

    What they say

    A Christmas miracle. Our festive falafel wrap is a vegan lunch that tastes like you’ve topped Santa’s good list. Baked sweet potato falafel with cranberry & clementine sauce, vegan sage & onion mayo, crispy onions and toasted pine nuts.

    What we say

    This is a well-conceived sandwich: the main event is the falafel which is nice, but it’s the extra bits and pieces that bring it to life. The vegan mayo is good, the onions are great (even if they lose their crispiness in a hot, saucy wrap), and the pine nuts, which I was initially sceptical about, bring a texture and richness to the whole thing. It’s maybe a tad salty, and the wrap itself – as with Leon’s non-vegan offering – is poor, but these are quibbles.

    7/10

    Marks and Spencer’s Plant Kitchen Nutcracker Sandwich, £4.25

    What they say

    Layers of sweet potato, chestnut & cranberry roast, butternut squash, cranberry chutney, pistachios and caramelised pecans with an almond butter vegan mayo dressing.’

    What we say

    The nutty texture makes this more satisfying than some of the other vegan options, which can end up a bit soft or one-dimensional,  but the combination of sweet potato chunks and a generous layer of cranberry sauce makes it a little too sweet.

    7/10

     

    Marks and Spencer’s Plant Kitchen No Turkey Feast, £4.25

    What they say

    Roasted soya protein with an onion and sage dressing, cranberry chutney, fried onions  and spinach on malted brown bread

    What we say

    We reckon that they soy-based fake turkey in this sandwich is the best we’ve tried, and the vegan mayonnaise is delicious, but it’s let down by the slick of too-sweet cranberry chutney and some slightly too-generous seasoning. It’s a satisfying and slightly compulsive sandwich – I find myself returning to it several times – and anything but bland, but it’s unbalanced, and left me wanting a large glass of water.

    7/10

     

    Costa’s Festive Veggies Under Vests Sandwich, £3.20

    What they say

    Crumbled falafel with parsnip stuffing, carrot, cranberry sauce, mayo & fresh spinach on malted bread.

    What we say

    Aside from the deeply stupid name, this isn’t a bad sandwich. The falafel is nice, and the parsnips bring a festive flavour. We had some reservations that the combo of parsnip, carrot and cranberry might make the whole thing too sweet, and we weren’t wrong, but the surprising chilli heat compensated for this a little – although it would probably be even better with more heat.

    6/10

     

    Pret’s Very Merry Christmas Lunch, from £3.75

    The Very Merry Christmas Lunch, Pret

    The Very Merry Christmas Lunch, Pret

    What the say

    Grilled carrots, crispy onions and baby leaf spinach with our festive vegan stuffing and port & orange cranberry sauce. Finished with caramelised pecans for an added Christmas crunch.

    What we say

    We really didn’t like this sandwich, sorry. The carrots – the principal component of the sandwich – are unwieldy, and you end up pulling out huge chunks with each bite. Because of their inherent carroty texture, they don’t pick up the other fillings, which slip and slide around, rather than becoming a coherent whole. Each of the elements are individually very sweet: carrots are naturally sweet, the cranberry sauce is very sweet, the onions are caramelised, as are the pecans, and all feature so much spice (a huge amount of dried ginger, for some reason) that the whole eating experience is, well, weird. One of our testers twists her face and declares it the ‘mulled wine of sandwiches’ – spicing doesn’t make something festive, and it definitely doesn’t make it delicious

    3/10

     

    Waitrose’s Vegan No Turkey Feast with cranberry, port and orange chutney, £3.30

    What they say

    Soy protein with vegan sage and onion mayonnaise with spinach in sliced malted bread and a cranberry, port and orange chutney

    What we say

    This is a well-balanced sandwich, not too sweet thanks to the chutney element of the cranberry sauce. The ‘turkey’ is ‘fake’ meat as opposed to the nut roast or falafel of most other vegan Christmas sandwiches: this is divisive amongst our testers – some just don’t like soya-based meat, but that was really only the criticism could be laid, and is unfair to lay at Waitrose’s feet. It also gets extra points for really feeling like a Christmas-dinner sandwich, rather than something spiced or vaguely festive-flavoured, which seems to dominate the vegan sandwich market.

    8/10

     

    RUNNER UP

    Waitrose’s Vegan no Smoked Salmon& Dill, £2.80

    What they say

    Smoked and marinated carrot with lemon and dill, creamy vegan spread and mayonnaise with spinach leaves in sliced oatmeal bread

    What we say

    Colour me interested: this is an original take on seasonal vegan sandwiches (although, we think this might actually be available all year round). It looks like a smoked salmon sandwich, but in place of the salmon is smoked carrot, sitting on a creamy vegan version of cream cheese. The carrot is great, crisp and smokey. Because we tend to associate the flavour of smoke with smoked fish, it really emulates the experience of eating a smoked salmon sandwich, without using any kind of uncanny ‘fake ‘ meat or fish. Simply, it’s delicious, and far more satisfying than we expected a carrot sandwich to be. One might question whether smoked salmon truly is Christmassy enough to qualify, but in the face of such a good sandwich, that feels a little churlish.

    8.5/10

     

    Paul’s All About the Sprout, £4.25

    Paul's All About The Sprout

    Paul’s All About The Sprout

    There’s a lot going on in Paul’s vegan sprout baguette, perhaps a little too much. If I’m honest, I thought their plumping to showcase sprouts was just a PR stunt,

    but there are some good things going on here: the sprouts themselves are roasted and full of flavour, the bread itself is excellent, and it’s satisfying in a way that vegan sandwiches often aren’t. On the downside, it’s a little greasy and – with carrots, caramelised onion and chutney on the go – it’s too sweet.

    7/10

     

    WINNER

    Starbucks’ Very Merry Vegan Wrap with Butternut, £2.99

    Starbucks’ Very Merry Vegan Wrap with Butternut, £2.99

    Starbucks’ Very Merry Vegan Wrap with Butternut, £2.99

    What they say

    Crumbled butternut squash fritters & roasted red cabbage with a vegan maple mustard mayonnaise in a beetroot wrap

    What we say

    This is a beautiful sandwich. In amongst a sea of (inevitable) beige, brightened by the occasional cranberry, this scarlet-coloured wrap, filled with purple cabbage and bright orange carrot is genuinely enticing. Thankfully, it’s not just a pretty package: this is a top flight vegan sandwich that succeeds on its own merits (as opposed to being ‘fine for a vegan sandwich’). The squash, spinach and spring greens are physically separated from the rest of the contents of the wrap, so still have bite, and the maple mustard is sweet, but not wildly so. The fava bean mayonnaise is clever, and the whole thing is much better balanced than most other vegan offerings.

    9/10

    Read our guide to the best non-vegan Christmas sandwich here.