IKEA goes vegan

We in Vegan Oslo, together with several others from NOAH - for dyrs rettigheter, Norsk vegansamfunn, Veggispreik and more, were lucky to get invited this Friday to taste the new “grønnsaksboller” (vegetable balls) IKEA are launching.

IKEA is betting big - with their 800 million customers each year they expect to sell a 100 million tons of these new vegetable balls a year, which is a third of what they currently sell of the world famous IKEA meatballs.

The new focus on these vegetable balls are the result of an interest in the environment and animal welfare. They want to get more people to eat sustainable and cruelty free food, with the largest focus on sustainability. WWF reports that if we continue to eat like we do today, we’re going to need 3 earths to feed the world's population by 2050. 

The natural step is to eat more plant based food. With almost everyone (about 80%) of IKEAs customers having a meal at their store, they have a huge opportunity to sell a lot of vegan/vegetarian meals. “It’s all about the taste”, says the chef, Dan Nesvold. You can make it as cheap as you want, but if it doesn’t taste good it’s not going to sell. And this is what IKEA is focusing on now. Creating a great tasting meal for vegetarians. Making it vegan by default isn’t their current goal, but they promise it’s going to be easy to get it vegan, by replacing certain elements, like the sauce, with something else. They also said they will continue working to make it better, and perhaps some day it will be completely vegan. We’re hoping!

IKEA is also focusing on other aspects, like only using certified products, such as UTZ certified cocoa, and making sure the waste is minimal.

Back to the tasting. We met representatives from IKEA foods at Edvard Munch’s old place in Grünerløkka. They talked about the new product, and presented us with a table full of vegetable balls, salads, pasta, dressings and sauces. We were free to test anything we wanted, but had to be careful, as many of the sauces contained egg or dairy. Even the pasta had egg in them. 

The main parts of the meal was the vegetable balls, a tomato and spinach sauce, and a quinoa salad with wild rice and beans. The vegetable balls were juicy, fresh and delicious, with little vegetable pieces popping out of them when you took a bite. The quinoa salad and tomato sauce fit the meal well. Everything tasted really good, and we were left there wanting for more.

The vegetable balls can be bought already as part of IKEAs current vegetarian meal, as a replacement to the falafels. This is not the same meal we tasted here. The new meal is still being worked on, but is expected to be available from the 1st of September. Can’t wait to see it in the stores!

The new vegetable balls are also going to be available for purchase to take home to cook your own meal, just like the meatballs are.

We are told that the price of this new meal is going to be lower than the meat meal, but we currently don’t know by how much. We were also given a little hint about a possible new dessert that might be vegan. Thanks so much to IKEA for inviting us! We are very excited, and hope they meet their goal, and more. And of course that the meal will turn completely vegan soon!

Thanks to Evy Johansen og Dan Nesvold fra IKEA Food, and to Tor Lie for the photography.