Vegan junk food is basically everywhere these days, because everyone from Gregg’s to Gü has realised they can cash in on a growing population of plant-based eaters. But if you’re coeliac or gluten-intolerant in any way, finding awesome options that are both vegan and gluten-free can be a bit of a mission.
A lot of vegan burgers, hot dogs, ‘chicken’ nuggets and similar things are made with seitan – aka, pure wheat gluten. And of the ones that aren’t, tonnes are held together with breadcrumbs and other gluteny things that are no good if you’re a gluten-free eater trying to go plant-based.
If you don’t want gluten-free vegan food to mean a lifetime of salads, lentils and beans, I’ve got you. Here are some of my favourite vegan junk food picks, which you can buy on the British high street, that are also totally gluten-free.
Fry’s Family Foods: Nuggets, schnitzels and burgers
Available at some branches of Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, online at Ocado, and at just about all branches of Holland & Barrett.
If you haven’t tried Fry’s, you haven’t lived. The gluten-free range sounds suspiciously like it might be healthy – ‘rice protein and chia seed nuggets‘ doesn’t necessarily read like a good comfort food snack. But just like their glutinous range, Fry’s gluten-free vegan junk food is so good that I’ve fed it to meat eaters and had them say they wouldn’t know the difference.
Their chicken-style nuggets, schnitzels and and burgers are all top notch, and you can spot the gluten-free varieties by looking for clearly-marked white boxes instead of their classic green packaging.
Oumph! Kebab Spiced / Salty & Smoky / The Chunk / Pulled
Available at Tesco and Holland & Barrett
Oumph! isn’t the cheapest range of DIY vegan junk food on the market – typically priced at £3-£3.50 a bag – but god damn it’s good. Made with soybeans, their kebab spiced pieces are particularly great if you’re craving proper kebab shop takeaway but want something a) not made of dead animals and b) which won’t give you a horrible stomach ache the next day.
Alternatively, use some of their other options to make pulled pork-style sliders, ‘chicken’ chunk paninis, or a Dublin-style ‘spice bag’ using the salty and smoky chunks tossed into a bowl of french fries.
Kirsty’s Free From Margherita Pizza
Available at Asda and Tesco
There are a number of really crap gluten-free, dairy free pizzas out there. A word of advice: don’t ever buy any of the ones with cauliflower for a base. They are a vile waste of your time, money and tastebuds. This one, however, is a bit more like it.
I can’t say it’s as brilliant as the real, gluten-laden deal, but the allergen-free pizza from Kisty’s is actually very tasty. Throw some Oumph! on top and you’ve got an excellent lazy late-night snack. Gluten-free, soy-free and vegan, which is not bad for under £4.
No Bull Burgers
Available at Iceland
Where once there were no convincing veggie burgers, now there are many: but the first people to really nail a meaty, chargrill-tastic beef-like burger were Iceland. The supermarket, not the country.
Unlike some parts of the Iceland vegan range, the No Bull burgers are gluten-free as well as egg and dairy-free. They’re also the burgers I’ve had the most compliments on from meat eaters, which tells you something about how far apart they sit from the dry, flavourless veggie burgers of the past.
Linda McCartney’s Lincolnshire/Chorizo Sausages
Available at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Waitrose and online at Ocado
The Linda McCartney range includes tonnes of great vegan stuff, but other than these, it’s a pretty gluten-y offering. After years of everybody else having all the Linda-based fun, gluten-free vegans can now use these tasty bites to make sausage sandwiches, hot dogs, mashed potato hedgehogs and other excellent comfort foods.
Just make sure you pick the Lincolnshire or Chorizo variety and not one of the others – if in doubt, check the label!
Gü’s decadent desserts
Available at Waitrose, Morrisons, Tesco and Co-Op, and online from Ocado
Chocolate and vanilla cheesecake? Check. Strawberry and rhubarb cheesecake? Check. Spanish lemon cheesecakes? Oh go on then. All gluten-free, all vegan, Gü’s range of mini cheesecakes are a 10/10 delicious snack for when you want to indulge. They come in packs of two, but you won’t want to share.
Food Heaven lemon cheesecake
Available at Asda, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and online from Ocado
Of all the desserts to make as both gluten-free and vegan, I don’t know how it is even possible for lemon cheesecake to work so well. At £3, this is both a great self-indulgent junk food feast and a really handy option if you’ve been invited for dinner and want to bring dessert – but lack the culinary prowess to make one.
The Food Heaven cheesecake is glorious, and the only problem is how difficult it is to stop yourself eating the whole thing.
Byron Burger’s vegan Cali Cheese – ask for gluten-free bun
Byron use Beyond Meat’s ‘Beyond Burger’ for their vegan Cali Cheese and Truffler burgers, which is a stellar choice. To make the Cali Cheese junk food feast gluten-free, just make sure to request that the ordinary bun is switched out for a gluten-free alternative.
Unlike many high-street chains, Byron won’t charge you extra for the GF bun, so you can chow down on this king of vegan burgers with great faux cheese and garlic aioli, without paying over the odds.
Pizza Hut’s various gluten-free vegan pizzas
You’ll have to eat in-store, as the home delivery version of Pizza Hut is a separate franchise without vegan cheese on offer. However, it’s totally worth the trip.
Vegan pizzas like the BBQ jackfruit, veggie, hot&spicy veg and ‘All about mushrooms’ can all be made gluten-free by asking to switch the base, along with the margherita. You’ll know if they’ve got it right, because gluten-free bases are square.
To get 2-4-1 at Pizza Hut from Sunday to Thursday, buy a day’s worth of UK travel insurance on Compare the Market (about £1.50) and you’ll get a year’s worth of Meerkat Meals to use here and at lots of other great spots.
Chiquitos gluten-free veggie/Oumph fajitas
Ooh, vegetables in a wrap: how original. But for the record, if you’re craving Mexican food and struggling to find it, you can not only get spicy veg fajitas from Chiquitos made with a gluten-free fajita wrap – you can now also get Oumph! fajitas too! Topped off with Violife cheese and Oatly oat fraiche, this lot are definitely onto a winner.
There is also a decent Mexican bean stew here, but I’m gonna go ahead and assume that as a coeliac or gluten-intolerant vegan, you’re probably cooking that at home more than enough.
Both Pizza Hut and Chiquitos are accredited by Coeliac UK as being safe places to eat, which should give you some peace of mind that you won’t be accidentally glutened during dinner.
Got any suggestions for great gluten-free and vegan junk food that I might have missed? Let me know!