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Purple Carrot review: Healthy plant-based meal kits with no smoke and mirrors

See what I thought of these popular, vegan meal kits that skip the imitation "meats" and focus on more whole foods.

Meal kits come in all shapes and sizes these days and that includes great meal kits for vegans and vegetarians. You can find tasty plant-based recipes in the menus of most meal kit companies, but Purple Carrot is one of the only completely vegan meal kit services available. That means no meat at all, people, so if you're the carnivorous type, turn back now for beyond this lies only lentils, grains, nuts and lots of healthy veggies.

Purple Carrot vegan meal kits

Like

  • Fresh ingredients and healthy, flavorful food
  • Uncomplicated meal plan and meal selection process
  • Free shipping

Don't Like

  • On the expensive side
  • Not a ton of variety

With many of us looking for ways to eat healthier in the new year -- or all year round, for that matter -- eating vegetarian cuisine even a few nights a week has become a popular way to do it but for seasoned meat eaters, eating and cooking plant-based food has its challenges. The biggest hurdle I had when introducing more plant-based meals into my diet was finding interesting recipes to make but also learning how to make them well. A vegetarian meal kit can help with both, providing veggie-based recipe ideas along with all the know-how and correct ingredients to execute vegan and vegetarian dinners that taste great without the help of lab-produced imitation meats. 

It's one of the reasons Purple Carrot has become a popular meal kit option in the past few years, but questions about Purple Carrot loom large: Will these plant-based meal kits satisfy a carnivore like me -- or is the food better suited for small woodland creatures? I wanted to see how Purple Carrot's recipes stood up in a real-life taste test so I cooked my way through a week's worth of its vegan meals to find out. And as a meat eater who also loves vegetarian food, I consider myself quite well qualified to do so, thank you very much. 

Read more: The healthiest meal kits and meal delivery: Sun Basket, Home Chef, Freshly and more

If you're interested in trying vegan meal kits either to pack a few more servings of veggies into your weekly diet or give the old industrial animal-farming complex a day or two off per week, read on for my firsthand review of Purple Carrot plant-based meal kits.

How Purple Carrot works

Purple Carrot works like many other meal kit companies, sending all the ingredients and instructions to make vegan recipes at home. Because it's all vegan, plant-based cuisine, you don't have to choose from a slate of meal plans. It's also worth noting that this is a subscription service, meaning meal kits will come every week, but you are free to cancel or pause anytime with no penalty, so don't be deterred if you want to try it out.

The only big decision you'll make upon signing up is how many servings per meal and meals per week you'd like to try. If you pick two servings, it's $12 per serving and you'll have to commit to either three or four dinners per week. Four serving meal plans drop the per-serving price down to $9 and you'll have the option for either two or three meals per week. 

From there, you'll have eight vegan dinner recipes to pick from each week for the following week's delivery, which is less choice than most meal kits but considering this is vegan food only, it felt like enough of a selection to me. While those may be the weekly dinner meal minimums, Purple Carrot also allows you to add breakfast and lunch meal kits as well as vegan snacks to your weekly shipments if you choose -- more on this later.

Purple Carrot pricing

Servings per meal Price per serving Total per week (3 meals)
2 $12 $72 (6 servings)
4 9 $108 (12 servings)

Unlike some meal kit services, Purple Carrot picks your shipping day based on your proximity to fulfillment centers. Ingredients arrive in cooler bags and are said to keep for as long as 72 hours. That's longer than most meal kits and likely due to them not containing any meat. Shipping is always free, which helps offset the higher overall price 

What are Purple Carrot meals like?

Purple Carrot meals are 100% vegan and healthy, although not necessarily low-carb or low calorie. Most are centered on whole foods and vegetables with no meat, dairy or animal products of any sort. That might sound like a given, but I've noticed that many meal kit companies have incorporated plant-based meat alternatives like Impossible Beef and Beyond Meat into their vegan and vegetarian recipes. Not so with Purple Carrot. You'll find some tofu-based proteins like tempeh and tofu but not a lot of the newfangled lab-produced imitators.

pc-before
Purple Carrot

Expect lots of hearty bowls with grains, nuts and veggies from Purple Carrot, as well as filling lentil soups and rib-sticking stews such as vegan chili or West African peanut stew. There are also generally a couple of delicious-looking vegan pasta dishes on a given week's menu like lemon zucchini pasta with cashew cream sauce and artichoke hearts. There's often a plant-based taco recipe or sandwich option as well. While some meal kit companies play it safe with familiar flavors, Purple Carrot takes some big swings with flavorful curries, sauces and spice mixes to add some pop to the vegetarian recipes. 

Purple Carrot doesn't allow swaps or upgrades but there's not much that you really could swap anyways. I was a little surprised that they don't allow you to add some of those aforementioned plant-based alternative meats but, alas, it is not their style. The Purple Carrot produce was some of the freshest of any meal kit service I've yet tried and portions were substantial.

Meal add-ons: Breakfast, lunch and snacks

In addition to the weekly meal kits, Purple Carrot has breakfast and lunch meal kits as well as snacks you can add to your delivery a la carte. Lunch meal kits are two servings and clock in at $9 per serving while breakfast kits, like tropical coconut pancakes with fresh fruit are under $5 per serving but come in four serving portions only. Snacks are priced individually and include sweet and savory munchies such as mushroom jerky, vegan chocolate and peanut butter truffles.

How easy are Purple Carrot meal kits to prepare?

Purple Carrot meal kits are not the easiest to prepare of the services I've tried but in fairness, I was cooking some foods I don't make as often -- one of the reasons I was excited to try it -- so my kitchen instincts weren't as keen. Whole grains, for instance, generally take a little more time and attention to cook so expect to hover over a saucepan with some regularity. Having said that, you'll need no prior experience to make these. Most Purple Carrot meals take about 30 minutes give or take and rarely longer than 45.

lentil-soup

Purple Carrot's green curry lentils with brown rice and vegetables.

Purple Carrot

What I cooked and how it went

  • Green curry lentils with brown rice and vegetables: I had to psych myself up for this one since I like lentils but would be lying if I said they excite me. But it was so, so good. Amazing balance of sweet and heat and I joyfully finished the leftovers for lunch the next day. 
  • Butternut squash gnocchi: This one was also really tasty if not a little bit heavy. It was easy to prepare and had excellent flavor throughout.
  • Peanut and avocado Buddha bowl: This one was good but not terribly exciting. It was the only one I finished eating, considered the price and thought to myself, "was this worth the money?"
gnocchi
Purple Carrot

Purple Carrot support materials 

There is nothing too extraordinarily good or bad about the recipe cards. I found them clear and concise with some helpful footnotes for beginners and helpful cooking tips I may not have considered otherwise. I also appreciated the quick little explainers for any unusual recipes. 

bao
Purple Carrot

Who Purple Carrot meal kits are good for

Obviously, these meal kits are great for vegans or vegetarians or folks trying to incorporate more plant-based cooking into their diet. For me, it was a good way to learn to cook vegan staples and work with some ingredients I'm not as familiar with like lentils, nori and butternut squash. 

Who Purple Carrot meal kits are not so good for

Besides the obvious answer, meat eaters, Purple Carrot is also not great for those trying to keep to specific diet plans like keto, paleo, the Mediterranean diet or other. There aren't tons of weekly choices and, despite being healthy overall, many of them contain a substantial amount of carbs, calories or both. It is also on the expensive side, though not the priciest I've tried.

How much do Purple Carrot meal kits cost?

Purple Carrot meals are either $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.

Purple Carrot packaging and environmental friendliness

Purple Carrot is not too much better or worse than other meal kit services when it comes to packaging. The meals were each separated in plastic bags while some companies use paper but Purple Carrot's cooler bags are recyclable and the ice packs are biodegradable. Get the brand's full recycling breakdown here.

pc-box.png
Purple Carrot

Changing, skipping or canceling a Purple Carrot order

You can add, change or cancel meals easily through the app or through the website. You can also skip a week's delivery or cancel anytime prior to the weekly cut off.

The final verdict on Purple Carrot

I enjoyed these meal kits quite a bit. And though it might be a cliche, I didn't miss the meat all that much. Though I will occasionally substitute meat for Impossible or Beyond "meat" in some of my rotating recipes like bolognese or chili, I didn't have a ton of prior experience cooking true plant-based dinners and I got a nice crash course via Purple Carrot. 

As a bonafide carnivore, I'm not sure I'd want to cook and eat three or even two Purple Carrot meals every week, especially since it's a bit pricey. But since you can skip weekly shipments anytime you want, I love the idea of having recipes and ingredients for interesting vegan meals showing up every so often. If you want a weekly stream of meal kits but don't want to commit to 100% vegan, try Sun Basket which has excellent meal kits, both plant-based and otherwise.

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.