Chilly weather and cosy nights bring the desire to settle down with a warming, hearty meal in the evenings. With Tiktok views on the hashtag #CosyRecipes up by +233% in the past 30 days, Ocado has conducted a survey to find out which meals vegan Brits find the most comforting, along with some recipe suggestions to switch up your usual favourites.
The winner of savoury vegan comfort dishes was the classic bangers and mash, with nearly half (44%) voting it to the top spot. This comforting classic can easily be made with vegan sausages and is always a crowd-pleaser.
Gravy dinners seem to be a favourite amongst vegans, with vegan Shepherd’s Pie making it to second place as nearly a third (27%) of vegan foodies voted for it. Try taking your vegan Shepherd’s pie to the next level with this mushroom, lentil, and celeriac pie recipe, topped with luxurious celeriac mash. Also making it into the top five was a vegan roast dinner, or a nut roast. This Persian Nut and Pomegranate Roast is an ideal winter warmer, bursting with flavour.
It turns out that some of the most comforting vegan dishes are also pasta-based, with a vegan pasta dish (22%) making up the top three and vegan lasagne at number five with 20% of the vote.
In terms of desserts, vegan sticky toffee pudding took the top spot, with over a third (36%) choosing this as the ultimate comforting sweet treat. It seems that vegan Brits like to stay traditional with their dessert choices, with other classics such as vegan treacle tart, jam roly poly, and apple pie or crumble making up the top five. If you’re a lover of apple crumble, try switching things up with this indulgent Spiced Pear and Pecan Crumble with Caramel Sauce variant.
Why do we find certain meals comforting?
While everybody has a personal preference when it comes to their favourite comfort meal, it turns out there are a few motivations we share when it comes to our cravings.
A whopping 68% of Brits said that they choose a comfort meal because they know they’ll feel cosy and warm after eating it, and 36% claimed that they find nostalgic meals, such as ones they had as a child, the most comforting.
To reveal the science behind why we find meals comforting, Ocado spoke to Alice Williams, Nutrition Coach at Origym:
Why do we find it comforting?
Alice explains: “Evolutionarily, our brains associate familiar foods with safety and survival, triggering a comforting response. Additionally, the sensory experience – textures, flavours, and smells – evokes nostalgic memories, linking the food to positive emotions.”
What makes us choose certain comfort foods?
Alice adds: “When faced with stress or nostalgia, our brains crave the familiar. Exactly what comfort food we crave is often determined by childhood memories, family gatherings, and cultural ties, which is why it’s common to crave a warm home-cooked meal that you often ate growing up.”
Why do we choose “heartier” meals in the winter?
Alice concludes: “The colder weather causes our bodies to crave warmth and sustained energy. Hearty meals, like a comforting plate of shepherd’s pie, deliver that cosiness and robust satisfaction. The term ‘hearty’ captures the essence of these dishes – they’re substantial and rich, and that’s a primal instinct to seek out calorie-dense options in winter.”