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The first vegan food delivery service is here (and we tried it)

Butternut Squash with Quinoa
(Photo: The Purple Carrot)

Healthy food delivery services have become a full-blown trend, and for good reason. With pre-measured ingredients and recipes that expand your culinary horizons (and abilities?), they can make even those using their oven for storage feel way more competent in the culinary arts. But a vegan option has yet to sprout on the scene—until now.

The Purple Carrot, a food delivery service that launched this fall, is entirely vegan—and ships to 25 states. Founder Andrew Levitt is a pharmaceutical industry vet who, after being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and watching the documentary Forks Over Knvies, overhauled his eating habits for a plant-based, whole foods diet. But he and his wife struggled to whip up easy, healthy dinners.

“We knew we weren’t the only busy people struggling to find convenient, healthy food choices,” he says. “And [we] knew there had to be an easier way to answer the universal question: ‘What’s for dinner?'” (And an easier way to avoid relationship squabbles resulting from that question…)

To solve that very dinner-making dilemma during a typically crazy work week, we ordered Purple Carrot. Here’s our take on the vegan food delivery service: 

How it works: Every week, the Purple Carrot offers four recipe options. You pick two—and one snack—for $59, all of which ships out on Fridays in an insulated box. (Mine was still cold when I arrived home around 8 p.m.) The company uses guest chefs for the majority of its recipes, such as Angela Liddon, the blogger behind Oh She Glows. And recipes make enough for about four adults.

I tried the Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas (extra yum!), Butternut Squash Stuffed with Mushrooms, Spinach, Quinoa, and Almonds (pictured above), and No-Bake Chocolate Chip Coconut Energy Bites. The other nights of the week, I was on my own.

The ingredients: The Purple Carrot has relationships with farms in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, and they “try to use organic whenever possible.” The produce you receive won’t necessarily be super local, just yet. If you’re in New York City, for example, you might get veggies from the same Massachusetts farm as someone in Connecticut. But it is super fresh, shipped within 24 to 48 hours from when it’s picked, says Levitt. And as the company grows, the produce will become more localized.

When canned goods are in the recipes, The Purple Carrot also tries to stick to organic (the canned black beans and tomatoes that came with the enchilada recipe were organic, for example). And all of the nutritional info is online, which is helpful, too.

(Photo: The Purple Carrot)

Pros and cons: Pros first. The ingredients were nicely packaged and labeled, in pre-measured containers and bags, which made everything super easy (so you can definitely feel chef-ly and still have time to hit your evening workout—a big win). The enchiladas were especially delicious, with the sweet potatoes acting as a terrific and tasty spin on the traditional chicken-cheesy gooeyness.

There were a few hiccups. A couple recipe instructions were a tad off. The butternut squash dish seemed to require more oven time than what was printed on the recipe card, and the instructions said to scoop out only the seeded portion. But as you can see in the first photo way up top, I needed to scoop more than that to make room for the filling. And the No-Bake Energy Bites weren’t a win for me—I couldn’t figure out if they needed to be refrigerated longer or were missing an ingredient.

As for the price, it’s competitive: It’s $59 for two meals and a snack, which feeds four adults—or two adults with leftovers for lunch the next day. For comparison, Provenance Meals is $89 for three meals and Blue Apron is $60 for three meals, serving two adults each.

But that’s not to say the experience isn’t worth it. Not having to hit Whole Foods (and its interminable lines) or cut veggies on a couple nights a week is a gift to a busy working woman without a sous chef or all the time in the world. It’s also the closest I’ve come to impersonating Sarma Melngailis or Daphne Cheng. And that was awesome. —Molly Gallagher

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