This ready-made food brand called LeafSide was made for someone like me. Even with the explosion of vegan options in recent years, I still spend forever in the kitchen. When I go out to restaurants, I order basic salads—and eat my real meal at home—because my health is so delicate I require a whole-food plant-based diet. I just don’t do well with much oil or processed ingredients.
Lucky for me, there are ready-made, on-the-go vegan meals so healthy, they’re arguably even better than what I make from scratch.
Check out this example: LeafSide’s Madras Curry Savory Bowl.
What you get with Leafside Meal Delivery
The ingredients are non-GMO and freeze-dried—to keep over 90% of nutrients—with no preservatives. Because it can be picked at peak ripeness, such freeze-dried food may exceed the nutrition of fresh food sold at the grocery. Fortified with B12, this meal has 30 grams of complete protein, and 21 grams of fiber, in just 616 calories. Other LeafSide Savory Bowls include Tex-Mex, Thai Veggie Noodle, and Broccoli Cashew Alfredo. They also have Soups, Sweet Bowls, and Smoothies—totaling 23 unique meals. For those of us watching our sodium, each meal comes in a no-added-salt version.
At first, I was skeptical of the cost. $9.99 per meal can sound like a lot. However, this company serves people who want whole, organic plant foods and are privileged enough + prioritizing health enough to afford it. Eating this way from scratch, I already spend up to $30 a day on food. If LeafSide could help me cut back on food prep and have more time to work, play, and rest, I figured it could be good for my financial well-being in the end.
An advantage of LeafSide is that it’s aligned with the evidence-based nutrition discussed in bestseller How Not To Die. Each meal abounds with variety and centers under-celebrated nutrients like the lignans in flax, sulforaphane in cruciferous veggies, and ergothioneine in mushrooms. If you’ve ever been disappointed by a company not backing up its lofty claims, you’ll be impressed with the comprehensive FAQ and Science pages on LeafSide’s website.
In fact, after reading it I might just be a born-again fanatic for organic. Certainly there is nothing vegan about conventional produce causing DNA damage to farm workers and depleting our soils. Those who buy organic appear to lower their cancer rates, and they reduce pesticide levels in their bodies in just one week. (Borrowing these citations from the FAQ page.)
Okay, but how about the environment? Plastic packaging makes us cringe here at Peaceful Dumpling, but if your shopping routine isn’t already a zero-waste one, chances are you won’t worsen your footprint by ordering meal kits. I came across a study from 2019 that suggested meal kits actually have a smaller carbon footprint than grocery shopping. This is due to less food waste, and a shorter supply chain from farm to front door. Also, if a company like LeafSide can help you eat more vegan and organic, then you may be doing our ecosystem a favor overall. That said, any ready-made meal company that doesn’t offer recycled, recyclable, and/or compostable packaging could easily be a dealbreaker to the most eco-conscious consumers.
How does LeafSide compare with other brands? Last year Ocean Robbins’s team over at Food Revolution Network did a review of 7 plant-based meal delivery services. LeafSide stands above the crowd with its lack of any potentially off-putting (to some) ingredients such as citric acid, oil, natural flavors, etc. The meals also don’t require a fridge/freezer. They can be taken anywhere! Just add boiling water and let it sit ten minutes. Or if it’s one of the Smoothies, pour cold water and blend.
So… how did it go? I enjoyed the meals and Tex-Mex was my favorite!
I had fun receiving my first ready-made vegan meals. For a week or so, it was a relief to have very little dinner prep to do as I tried all the Soups and Savory Bowls! I microwaved water to boiling, mixed in the powder and covered for 10 minutes, and the meals came out well. Because I was already used to a whole-food, plant-based diet, LeafSide’s flavors blew me away. Averaging 500+ calories, I appreciated the realistic-sized portions and often just added in an extra can of beans and some lettuce to fill my giant stomach. Tex-Mex was my favorite, and I also really liked Sweet Potato Dal Soup.
This LeafSide experiment let me to mix up my diet a bit. The meals had more fat, salt, spices, and a few things like flax, fonio, and mushrooms that I hadn’t been getting. I did notice a boost in my vitality! The only side effect I seemed to notice was grumpiness the next morning… which I’ve noticed previously with nutritional yeast. Next time, I think I will order the no-salt-added versions of LeafSide, and I might pick out half of the spices and save it for my own cooking. Other than that, this company is a good contender for me to keep buying from. I happened to cost-compare it with Daily Harvest—a more well-known brand I’ve seen on TV—and the LeafSide Bowls and Soups were significantly less expensive per calorie!
So far I have not tried the Smoothies and Sweet Bowls due to a rare reaction I have when I eat dates and dried fruit (poor me). We’ll see if that changes in the future. You can find more detailed reviews of all the different LeafSide products written by Carla Golden Wellness (2019) and Diana Rambles (2022).
Gone are the days of having to choose between junk food, and feeling wed to one’s cutting board. As the meal kit industry keeps growing post-pandemic, I’m hopeful for innovation to make it ever more affordable, healthy, green, cruelty-free, and delicious. LeafSide has been a leader in terms of its attention to nutritional detail. I’m grateful that it gives even the pickiest, sensitive eater like me a chance to simplify my vegan life.
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Photo: LeafSide website; Nathan Cowley via Pexels