What’s the hardest thing about adding more vegan food into your lifestyle? Availability! It’s a no-brainer that people would eat more if it was available in all the usual food haunts, so hooray for Pret’s Little Veggie Pop Up. Alongside an exclusive list of other press and media, I was lucky enough to be invited to the early tasting of their new veggie and vegan range in Broadwick Street, Soho.

Wait a minute, Pret has gone meat-free?!

Yes and no. This trial Veggie Pret pop up has been so successful that they’ve decided to keep it that way permanently! They are already looking to open a second site in London and other cities will follow. The original thinking behind this was as follows:

“This isn’t a new ‘concept store’, or even a new idea. It’s just a fun way to get your feedback and your comments on new veggie food ideas that could be made available in Pret shops up and down the country. So please pop in and tell us what you think.

So why are they doing this? CEO and Pret big cheese Clive Schlee wrote a blog post asking customers how Pret could create more delicious vegetarian food. To his surprise, almost 10,000 passionate people voted on the subject and “Not Just For Veggies” was born. This campaign highlights that you don’t NEED to be vegetarian or vegan to enjoy eating meat-free foods, instead, it’s about making those choices as easy and delicious as possible.

This one month pop-up turned into 12 weeks over the summer and thanks to over 20,000 customer comments, will stay veggie for good. Clive updated us all with the good news in another Veggie Pret blog post pointing out that,

“The move towards a plant-based diet is gathering momentum, especially among millennials. Vegetarians and vegans are an articulate and social media-savvy group. Many of you have been advocating eating less meat for years and have been thrilled to see a major UK business take up the cause.

So what’s new on the Pret’s Little Veggie Pop Up menu?

45 brand new items no less, with world food inspired flavours! The split is approximately 60% veggie, 40% vegan in this pop up, and not every product is guaranteed to make it into the other mainstream stores. There’s an ‘X Factor’ element in that they have a good idea about which ones will be popular, yet are still using a customer ‘Hit the Spot’ or ‘Lost the Plot’ voting system to determine any surprise favourites. Here are my vegan highlights:

Almond Protein Power
Fresh banana blended with date, almond butter, chocolate powder, almond milk and ice.

Acai Breakfast Bowl
Delicious layers of fresh banana, gluten-free granola and acai berry puree, topped with shredded apple and juicy pomegranate seeds.

Artichoke, Tapanade and Olive Baguette
Whole grain stone baked baguette with roasted red peppers and cherry tomatoes tapenade, topped with Kalamata olives, grilled artichoke hearts and finished with fresh basil leaves.

Cacao and Orange Pot
An indulgently, thick and creamy chocolate and orange pot topped with cacao nibs.

Cauli Tabbouleh Veggie Pot
Cauliflower tabbouleh with peas, lemon & herb dressing, mint, fresh parsley and topped with pomegranate seeds and seasoning.

Chakalaka Wrap
Kibbled rye wrap filled with spicy, African-inspired chakalaka beans topped with a dollop of coconut yoghurt, freshly sliced red pepper, roasted butternut squash and finished with baby kale.

Chana Chaat Flat Bread
Indian-inspired spicy chunky chickpeas with a dollop of mango compote, coconut yoghurt, sliced red peppers, aromatic coriander and a handful of baby spinach, wrapped up in flat bread.

Cucumber and Homous on Rye
Inspired by the open sandwiches of Scandinavia, this German-style rye bread is topped with humous, cucumber, pink pickled onion, coriander and sesame seeds.

A fermented green tea, brewed using a natural culture. This particular kombucha has a delicate fizz and is flavoured with lemon and ginger.

Raw Fruity Seed Bar
A modern twist on a traditional flapjack with plenty of seeds and a good helping of fruit. There’s no cooking or baking so this bar is technically ‘raw’ but officially delicious.

Veggie Sushi Pot
Freshly prepared using layers of wakame seaweed, pickled cabbage and carrot and edamame beans, beautifully finished with a fresh lemon wedge and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Super Green Smoothie
Cucumber, ripe avocado, baby spinach and ginger blended with apple juice and ice to make a super green smoothie.

Mango and Coconut Yoghurt Pot
Sweet mango cubes mixed with dairy-free coconut yoghurt.

Green Goodness
A zippy and refreshing cold-pressed juice with apple, cucumber, celery, spinach, lime and ginger.

Lottie’s verdict on Pret’s Little Veggie Pop Up…

The cynics out there may say Pret’s Little Veggie Pop Up is a publicity stunt or a ruse to boost their profits. I’d challenge them right back and say that if responding to the ever-increasing public demand for meat-free options means they make more cash, all power to them! They’re also aiming to work with two start-up companies each year, and in this case, the cacao orange pots and kombucha are fulfilled in this way. A great boost for independent, small businesses.

The rising trend for veggie and vegan food is an exciting movement that mainstream retailers should ignore at their peril. Lifestyles are so flexible these days that you don’t have to be a pigeon-holed as a ‘label’ and only eat one way. As consumers, we expect a myriad of choices at our fingertips, and Pret’s Little Veggie Pop Up is a great example of fresh, tasty food that EVERYONE can enjoy!

Don’t miss out on your chance to sample this exciting menu, find full details here.