Review of Thistle’s Vegan Meal Delivery Service

UPDATED ON September 14th, 2021

Here’s my Thistle review:

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I recently switched to Thistle’s Vegan Meal Delivery Subscription from Purple Carrot. After having a baby, I wanted the convenience of pre-made meals. It also appealed to me that Thistle uses less packaging than make-it-yourself meal kits like Purple Carrot and Blue Apron. But I was a little nervous to jump in and wished there was a vegan Thistle review – now there is.

Thistle review plant based meal delivery - vegan food
Image courtesy of Thistle. My own photos are later in this Thistle review.

Is Thistle Vegan?

Thistle is not an all-vegan company but it’s extremely vegan-friendly. They offer a vegan meal subscription and a non-vegan subscription.

But, even the non-vegan subscription is dairy-free and “plant-focused” so you can recommend it to friends who want to cut down on animal products but aren’t quite ready to make the leap. Maybe they’ll switch to Thistle’s vegan subscription later on!

Besides being dairy-free (meaning no milk or cheese), Thistle foods are also all gluten-free. The meals do not contain eggs either, but there is an egg add-on option.

Thistle review - vegan food delivery - miso bowl
Miso bowl. Image courtesy of Thistle.

Thistle offers meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) as well as snacks, juices, and other items. Every lunch and dinner meal has a vegan base, and then either comes with a vegan protein or a non-vegan protein depending on whether you choose the vegan subscription or not.

The vegan version of each meal costs a few dollars less than the non-vegan version! But, besides the cost and the type of protein, everything else about the vegan and non-vegan meal is the same. As of now (October 2019) all Thistle breakfasts are vegan.

Speaking of Protein – Examples of Thistle’s Vegan Proteins

The meals in Thistle’s plant-based subscription have a hefty protein content. I recently had an “Autumn Agrodolce” lunch salad with Italian Herbed Cannelini Beans as the vegan protein. That salad is listed as having 20 grams of protein.

Thistle review vegan salad packaging
Here’s the packaging for a Thistle meal. It doesn’t look as pretty as in the ads, but still tastes great!

And a “Mushroom, Kale & Wild Rice Bowl” dinner (25g protein) came with sesame-baked tofu. And another upcoming lunch of “Kale, Pepita, and Avocado Salad” comes with garlic French green lentils and is listed at having 23 grams of protein.

More about Thistle’s Vegan Meals and Ingredients

So far, I’ve mostly ordered salads and have been impressed by how full they keep me afterwards. This is especially impressive considering the meals tend to have between only 400 and 600 calories. But, Thistle uses calories efficiently through nutrient-dense ingredients.

Most Thistle meals are meant to be eaten cold, but some of them may be microwaved or heated on the stove if you transfer them to an appropriate container.

Thistle does not use any refined sugars or grains. The grains, which are always gluten-free, may include quinoa, millet, sorghum, amaranth, teff, and black or brown rice, among others. Sweeteners may include maple syrup, date paste, or fruit juice.

Thistle review - vegan snack - crunchy thai peanut salad
Here’s one of the smaller “snack” salads – Vegan Crunchy Thai Peanut Salad – $9.

How Thistle Works

Coming from Purple Carrot, I was a little confused at first, but Thistle is actually very simple. If you live outside the delivery zone, there is only one option: Six meals per week (2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners), which arrive together every Friday by 8pm.

If you’re in the delivery range like I am, this is where it gets really flexible. You choose a subscription plan (vegan or not vegan) which starts at 2 meals per week, and can go up to as many meals and add-ons per week as you want. Each meal serves one person, so if you’re having dinner with your family, everyone can choose what they want.

For delivery, you finalize your choices each Thursday evening, to be delivered the following week. When you first sign up, although you have to enter your credit card information, your first order will not be confirmed or charged until that Thursday evening. You can cancel before your first order or at any time.

Depending on how many meals you order through a delivery subscription, they either come on Monday, Monday and Wednesday, or Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Thistle Pricing

If you have your meals shipped, prices are always the same: $14/vegan meal with shipping included.

If you’re in the delivery range, the more meals you order, the cheaper they are. If you only get two meals per week, which is the minimum, each meal costs $14.99 (delivery included). But if you order 16 or more meals per week, each meal costs only $11.50 – and the scale slides between those ends.

Snacks tend to cost $6, juices $8, juice shots $4, soups are $5-$6 and there’s a “more” section where I’ve been ordering smaller salads in jars for $9.

Thistle vegan snack - carrot ginger hummus
I loved this carrot ginger hummus snack from Thistle!  Each week they have a different hummus and veggie option.

Thistle Delivery and Shipping

Thistle is based in San Francisco and delivers to the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Davis, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County. They also ship across the entire state of California, and parts of Washington, Utah, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, and Arizona. They are planning on expanding their reach, so check their website if you’re not listed.

I haven’t had a Thistle order shipped since I’m in the delivery range, but according to the company, all of the packing materials are recyclable.

Thistle Delivery Times

Thistle customers in delivery-range, can choose early morning or night time to receive their meals. If you order only two meals/week, deliveries come on Monday. More than two meals mean deliveries come Mondays and Wednesdays.

Thistle Delivery Packaging

Thistle meal delivery reusable tote
Image courtesy of Thistle, showing delivery person with reusable tote.

One of my favorite things about switching to Thistle is using less packaging. Thistle deliveries come in a reusable tote bag. At the bottom of the tote bag is a reusable ice pack and the meals are placed on top of that. When it’s time for your next delivery, you can leave the tote bag with ice pack from your previous meal and the delivery person will take it back.

Each meal comes in a rectangular plastic container, usually with one or two additional little round plastic sauce containers inside. These have the recyclable symbol with the number 1 inside, indicating this is a PETE plastic.

PETE is the easiest type of plastic to recycle. Although many municipalities are not recycling everything that people put in the bins, PETE is at least more likely to be recycled than some other items.

I appreciate that with pre-made subscriptions like Thistle, there are fewer plastic pieces than in meal kits where the ingredients are all separated into many more containers.

Who is Thistle for?

Thistle is for you if you:

  • want to eat more vegan or plant-based meals.
  • want to enjoy healthy meals without grocery shopping or cooking.
  • want to try new dishes each week.
  • want or need to eat all dairy-free.
  • want or need to eat all-gluten-free.
  • are vegan or vegetarian and want the convenience of pre-made meals.
  • are trying to lose weight and want to ensure you’re using your calories wisely.

I hope you found this Thistle review helpful.

Family opening Thistle delivery

What do you think?

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  • Jeanine Peralta
    February 20, 2021

    Hu thank you for the info. I don’t live too far from their retail locations maybe 30 to 45 mins away depending in Socal Traffic. Do they use a 3rd party delivery service or do they deliver themselves?

    • Rebecca
      September 14, 2021

      Sorry for the late reply. They deliver it themselves.