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There are soy many plant-based meal delivery services these days, and more jumping to the arena all the time. Healthy competition for healthy food delivery is a good thing, but it makes finding the best vegan and vegetarian options for prepared food and meal kits a bit trickier than in the past. If you're looking to eat less meat in 2021, we've been eating our way through the most popular vegetarian meal delivery services to find the food that's worth your coin.

Blue Apron may have kick-started the meals-by-mail revolution, but they also opened the door for many a prepared meal and meal kit delivery service to set you up with delicious plant-based meals on the regular. These services are perfect for those completely cutting out meat from the menu, but even meat-eaters looking to add a few more healthy vegan dishes to the menu rotation or stock up on prepared vegetarian lunches, dinners and snacks can get in on the fun.

While Purple Carrot remains the only fully dedicated vegan meal-kit service -- no animal products or byproducts used in any of its recipes -- most other meal-kit and meal-delivery services have integrated plant-based meals and snack options. Green Chef, for instance, offers as many as nine vegan or vegetarian meal kit recipes per week, in addition to its lineup of meals that do have meat. HelloFresh has roughly six per week and Sunbasket, my favorite meal kit service, offers three or four plant-based meal options along with a full market of vegan-friendly grocery items and snacks you can add to your weekly shipment.

The same goes for prepared meal-delivery services, which require no cooking at all. There are a few strictly vegan meal services like Veestro and Daily Harvest to peruse, but even ones that do have meat, such as Fresh n' Lean and Factor, offer vegan meal plans with as many as 12 plant-based options a week to keep you well-fed, even when there's no time to cook.

You may be wondering, with all these players in the game, which is the very best meal delivery service for vegans and vegetarians in 2021? The answer varies a bit depending on what you're looking for and each meal kit or delivery operation takes a slightly different approach. For example, some vegetarian meal-kit companies use plant-based foods like Impossible Burger that imitate meat, while others emphasize whole foods in lunch and dinner recipes. There are also vegetarian meal kits that specialize in organic ingredients and produce, in case that's important to you, while others aren't organic but are able to offer more budget-friendly meal plans. Some meal kits are also more complicated to execute, aimed at chefs with cooking experience looking to hone their skills, while others are quick to prepare and help you get a healthy, no-fuss dinner on the table sometimes in as little as 20 minutes.

Having personally tested as many of the plant-based meal kits and prepared meal services as I could get my fork into, I've settled on this list of the absolute best meal-kit services for vegans and vegetarians in 2021. We'll continue to update this list periodically as new players enter the arena.

Read moreBest healthy meal delivery services for 2021

Purple Carrot

Purple Carrot is the first, and to my knowledge, the only 100% percent vegan and vegetarian meal kit delivery service. This vegan option takes its plant-based recipes seriously too. Purple Carrot's underlying vegan lifestyle philosophy is not to imitate other foods using plant-based alternatives, but simply to create tasty and nourishing dinners the old-fashioned way, using fresh vegetables, grains, legumes and other whole foods. 

You won't find many of the newfangled lab-made alternative meats like Beyond Beef or Impossible Burger in Purple Carrot's recipes but you will find lots of lentils, mushrooms, ancient grains and nutritious produce. I tested a week's worth of Purple Carrot meal kits -- which you can read about here -- and really enjoyed everything I made with this vegan diet option. 

Out of all the vegan meal kits I've tried, Purple Carrot's provided me with the best knowledge of and practice for cooking vegan cuisine and its ingredient mainstays like lentils and grains. Purple Carrot also introduced me to some really interesting sauces and condiments great for a vegan diet like cashew cream and other nut-based "dairy" products.

Vegan meal kit options per week: 8

Sample menu: Lemon-braised chickpeas with rosemary and cashew cheese; green curry lentils with brown rice and vegetables; broccoli and cheddar soup with miso garlic croutons.

Pricing: Purple Carrot meals are $9 to $12 a serving, depending on how many servings per meal you order. A box of three meals per week for two people will cost about $72.

Fresh n' Lean

If it's a fully prepared meal delivery you're looking for, Fresh n' Lean is my top pick for 2021. Every meal I tried from the meal service was good, and many of them were great, including the plant-based offerings. With Fresh n' Lean you don't have to go with a full vegan diet but the nonmeat meal kits were just as good as any other, with fresh ingredients, all cooked to perfection with no mushy vegetables (a major problem I've encountered with prepared meals). 

Fresh n' Lean has as many as 12 vegan meals to choose from each week with plant based meal options like cauliflower and squash with tofu, mushroom rice with lentils and teriyaki bowls with Beyond Beef crumbles. There are even some breakfast meals to tack on to your order, including pineapple coconut chia and banana oatmeal. There is even a low-carb vegan meal plan if you're going keto and plant-based in 2021. You can read my full Fresh n' Lean review here.

Vegan meals per week: 12

Sample menu: Shawarma tofu with turmeric cauliflower rice; spinach pesto with garbanzo beans; red lentil pasta with roasted red pepper sauce.

Pricing: There are many pricing combinations depending on the meal plan and frequency. For a snapshot, Fresh n' Lean meals start at under $8 when you pick three meals a day (15 or 21 meals per week) from the Vegan Standard plan -- Low-Carb Vegan is a little bit more. For one meal per day (five to seven per week) it's more like $13 per meal. Fresh n' Lean is a subscription meal service, but you can pause, cancel or skip a week anytime.

HelloFresh

Pound for pound, HelloFresh has the most vegetarian meals that will appeal to larger groups -- in my opinion. Because HelloFresh isn't confined by vegan rules, you'll find plenty of plant-based "cheat meals" like cheesy bean enchiladas, hot honey brussels sprouts and ricotta flatbread and pasta dishes galore. 

HelloFresh also has a ton of very crave-worthy meal kits that aren't vegetarian, so if you still want the occasional steak with peppercorn sauce or Thai coconut chicken curry, this is a great choice. 

I tried out HelloFresh myself and found it to be one of the most affordable, flexible and consistent meal kit services on the market. HelloFresh's vegetarian meal kits were also some of the easiest to prepare, with many taking less than 25 minutes from start to finish. You can check out my full review of HelloFresh for more.

Vegetarian meal kit options per week: 6

Sample menu: Apricot, almond and chickpea tagine; cheesy portobello mushroom cups over spaghetti.

Pricing: HelloFresh breaks down to $9 per serving for two people or $7.50 if you're ordering for four, plus $8 for shipping per box. For a family of four to receive three nights' worth of meals would be just under $100 per week.

Daily Harvest

Daily Harvest offers an enormous menu of frozen and ready-to-blend vegan smoothies, premade soups and hearty grain bowls to keep stocked in the freezer. You can order a one-time box to try them or keep these healthy, vegan meals coming monthly with a subscription. 

Some of the bowls and soups could pass as dinner, but I like this vegetarian meal delivery service best for a quick vegan lunch or breakfast. Depending on the specific meal, you either drop it into a saucepan or skillet to heat and eat. Or add nut milk and blend it up with any of Daily Harvest's protein-packed smoothies and lattes.

This is a completely plant-based meal delivery service and is great if you want to simplify your week and keep healthy vegetarian meals on hand. Daily Harvest uses lots of ancient grains, oats, nut milks and trendy superfoods like chia, avocado and kabocha squash in its recipe selection, which are satisfying and well-balanced in flavor. The brand recently expanded offerings to include vegan flatbreads (which I wasn't crazy about) as well as meat-free snacks and desserts such as low-calorie ice cream and protein bites. 

Read my full Daily Harvest review here.

Vegan meals per week: 25 smoothies, 17 harvest bowls, 7 flatbreads, 11 soups, 6 oat bowls and 3 chia bows.

Sample menu: Sweet potato and wild rice hash; ginger, avocado and banana smoothie; lentil and tomato bolognese.

Pricing: With so many different offerings and options you can build a box with whatever you'd like. Smoothies and chia bowls can be had for as little as $6 per serving with bigger meals like grain bowls, soups and flatbreads in the $8-$9 range.

Read more: Best prepared meal delivery for 2021

Sunbasket

Sunbasket is my pick if you're looking for vegan and vegetarian meal kits but not all vegan and vegetarian meal kits. Sunbasket has about three or four plant-based options per week, which is significantly fewer than Purple Carrot, Green Chef or HelloFresh. That said, Sunbasket's meal kits, vegetarian included, are of a higher quality than any others I tried.

Sunbasket also has a great market of vegetarian grocery add-ons like fresh fish, cheese, prepared foods, snacks, bread and breakfast foods so you can essentially tack on an entire shopping list to your meal kit delivery if you choose. 

See just how much I liked Sunbasket's healthy and creative meals in my full Sunbasket review here.

Vegan meal kit options per week: 3-4

Sample menu: Spicy Sichuan mapo tofu with kale and jasmine rice; triple-mushroom quinoa with watercress, scallions and peas.

Pricing: Sunbasket meals start at $11 per serving when you order four meals per week. If you choose fewer meals or servings per meal, the price increases to $12 or $13 per serving.

David Watsky/CNET

This organic plant-based meal delivery and vegan cleanse program is all fresh food that arrives just after having been prepared and is meant to be eaten as soon as possible. Sakara also happens to be a favorite meal delivery of some A-List celebs and more Victoria's Secret models than can fit on one runway. I'd tried it and would describe Sakara Life as high-end spa food that looks great on camera and it tastes pretty good too. Note, this is the only meal delivery program in which freezing the food is not really a good option since you're getting fresh salads, grain bowls and even breakfast bread that won't handle it well

I really liked the variety of healthy, organic salads, noodle bowls, curries, breakfast noshes and snacks. You can order as many as three meals per day, five days a week -- but beware, it gets expensive. Subscribing to three meals is about $70 per day, but you can order just lunch and dinner for $54 per day (shipping is included). 

Expensive as it may be, this is definitely the freshest food of any meal delivery options on this list (meal kits excluded) and with the hefty price tag, it might be better suited for that pre- or post-vacation cleanse rather than an ongoing diet plan.

Vegan meals per week: 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 5 dinners.

Sakara Life pricing: The Signature Program starts at $24 per day for just breakfast five days per week and goes up from there. A more practical plan might be dinner and lunch a few days a week, which would run you between $29 and $53 per day. 

Sakara Life cleanses are even pricier with the Level II cleanse (five days of meals and supplements) clocking in at $400 and the 20-day Bridal Cleanse at a gulp-inducing $1,400. All prices include shipping (you'd think so!).

Veestro

Just to be clear, Veestro is a fully prepared vegan meal delivery service and not meal kits, so all you've got to do is heat and eat. I tried it and found the 100% plant-based food to be consistently fresh and tasty, and Veestro has a massive menu of ready-to-eat, meat-free meals to choose from each week. 

Veestro's vegan meals arrive frozen in shipments of 10, 20 or 30, so you can pop them into the fridge to defrost or into the freezer to keep for the days and weeks ahead. Having a few Veestro meals on hand is a good way to hold yourself to any plant-based nutrition goals you may have set in 2021 since you're far more likely to eat healthy vegan food you have on hand than go out of your way to track it down in the throes of hunger.

Veestro makes use of some alternative meat substitutes so you'll see a lot of meals that try to make you forget you're eating vegan food at all. Some meals are more successful than others, but out of the 10 or so that I tried, most were solid. You also have a whopping 44 dinners to pick from each week and eight breakfast options to build your shipment from.

Vegan options per week: 44 dinners and eight breakfasts

Sample menu: BBQ chick'n pizza; carrot osso bucco; lentil meatloaf.

Pricing: You must order a minimum of 10 meals but are not bound to a subscription. For 10 meals the cost is $11.70 per meal; 20 meals per week cost $10.80 per meal and an order of 30 meals breaks down to $9.90 per meal.

Green Chef

Green Chef has billed itself as one of the healthiest meal kit companies with a majority of organic produce, and features nine vegetarian meal kits per week, making it a solid choice if you're looking to eat less meat or go completely meatless in 2021. 

I tried Green Chef for a week and you can read my full Green Chef review here. While it wasn't my favorite meal kit experience, the results were solid and it is certainly one of the healthiest meal kit options whether you're eating vegetarian or not. Green Chef actually offers more vegetarian meal kits per week than Purple Carrot, making it a clear contender for the best vegetarian meal kit service in 2021, especially if you want variety and eating organic is important to you. Green Chef's veggie meals are also very hearty, with lots of chickpeas, cauliflower and lentils.

Vegetarian options per week: 9

Sample menu: Creamy mushroom penne with peas, sun-dried tomatoes and cashew cheese crostini; butternut squash chili; maple cauliflower power bowls.

Pricing: Green Chef's Plant-Powered meal plan comes out to $12 per serving, plus a $7 flat-rate shipping fee for each box. It's one of the more expensive meal kits on the market but with all that organic food that's not totally surprising.

More vegetarian and vegan advice

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.