Plant-Based Takeover of FreeFrom Free... - Gluten Free Guerr...

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Plant-Based Takeover of FreeFrom Freezer Section

Benjamin123 profile image

Noticing today in Tesco that the FreeFrom freezer section has had its main indentifier signage removed, and has been relocated to halfways down the freezer section to make room for the expanded/ever-expanding 'plant-based' frozen food section. Number of issues with this, mainly the cross-contamination risk if packaging on non-gluten free foods is damaged, but also the notion that FreeFrom seems to be an ebb/flow provision that is dictated by whatever the latest food fad is. The FreeFrom range expanded with the faddy-gluten free/paleo diets, now seems to be regressing in response to the 'plant-based' processed foods fad. There also seems to be a conflation of notions that because something is vegan/plant-based that it should be in the FreeFrom section even though it contains gluten. It's a wild west of utter nonsense out there.

36 Replies

Totally agree and 😤😤

The free from cabinet in my local large Tesco is mostly empty. A few sad looking Kirsty's meals that look like they've been there too long and Goodfella's pizza's which "May contain traces of Wheat., This does not affect the Gluten free status of this product." (Yeah, not buying that). I think I arrived on the scene too late to fully benefit from the GF fashion, but I am grateful for it.

It's quite odd. In some areas Tesco have been really good ie removed wheat from all their hams (incl breaded ham), so you can probably buy any packaged sliced own brand ham in Tesco, but not in Sainsbury's. Having said that........I bought a gammon joint the other day, because I'm just so fed up with eating rubbish ham, (now that I can't buy it from my local butcher), and I do love a ham & mustard sandwich....shame about the bread.

I don't think there are enough of us to cater for. I live in a town with approx 100k people. According to average statistics 1,000 of us are coeliac, but only 240 are aware that they have a major problem with gluten. We are a drop in an ocean.

A few months ago my local Waitrose had a massive fridge section marked as 'plant based'. I am pleased to say that it seems to be shrinking. That stuff looks like it contains more crap than GF processed foods.

The vegans will be dropping like flies if they live on a diet of processed plant-based foods. The ingredients are shocking, and yes, even worse than the gluten free foods. I chanced a Warburtens gluten free loaf a few weeks ago, had two slices, and thought is was doing funny things, so didn't have any more, but popped it in plastic container in cupboard. Took it out today, two weeks later, still perfectly fresh, soft on the inside, crusty on the outside, no mould. What the heck?!!! It's like some sort of mutant loaf. These are scary foods, and the push for the plant based ones on some sort of souped up notion that they are saving the planet, despite most key ingredients being imported from countries where precious forest being cleared for cash crops, makes no sense. That's pretty bad if the pizza may contain wheat. What the actual hell? We are living in some dystopian marketeering nightmare. Eat fresh, eat whole, keep on walking past the freezer ailse and freefrom sections.

in reply to Benjamin123

There’s two big things going on here Ben, firstly big business has created factory farms so that lots of animals are kept in over crowded unnatural surroundings to produce meat as cheaply as possible hence the methane problem.

Then the other side of big business is the push for making plant based seem the answer.

Now let’s look at the humble Cow she gives us everything, milk meat manure and her skin for leather and if cows were bred naturally in the open fields we wouldn’t have this problem. as farmers aren’t going to go out with a lawnmower to mow the fields and a lawnmower doesn’t cut the grass like grazing animals. So we have to be careful what we wish for…

It’s us the cleverest of animals the human being who defies nature and now we’re paying the price as we don’t live in harmony with nature.

As for your description of the mutant loaf I’ve always thought that washing gluten out of wheat with solvents as Franken foods…🤢

Benjamin123 profile image
Benjamin123 in reply to

Those are good points Jerry. We are a very unsustainable species with our demands that we put on the planet, and our practices are barbaric in the main. I think there is a middle ground though from switching focus from toxic farming to toxic plant-based foods. Food manufacturers are calling the shots and they are never in balance with the planet. Yes, frakenfood abounds in GF!

Years ago, scientists put margarine in soil, dug the area up years later. It hadn’t degraded. Lots of dead insects though. The worms had moved area.

On my birthday, I so wanted my fav dessert, Eton mess. Knowing lactose is a frenemy, I bought vegan cream. One mouthful, I ran to the sink thinking I’d licked a tyre. Utter processed 💩

This food is ruining health and still sold as 'healthy'. I had a free cholesterol/blood pressure check in a Numark chemist a few years back. My cholesterol was fine, and in healthy range, but they still gave me money-off vouchers for crappy Flora Pro-Active 'just in case'. Turns out the free cholesterol/blood pressure checks were sponsored by Flora. The worst marketing myth of all times those veg oil fake butters. If you are struggling for cream alternative, coconut cream whipped up is quite good, and I've also seen cashew cream. I've tried the cocunut cream myself - doesn't whip up the best, but it's not bad. The fake creams are terrible.

"It's like some sort of mutant loaf." 🤣🤣🤣 You're not wrong, that's exactly what it is.

Hi Ben I don’t buy ready meals so get your point and I think that you’ll find lots of the plant based offerings are gluten free so my opinion is that we as coeliac have benefitted from the vegan trend.

I’m friends with the admin crew on the HU vegan community VFL and they are also gluten free so here’s a link:

And here’s how the vegan market is evolving as plant based burgers and meat alternatives made with a 3D printer has been approved for eateries next year, I’m fascinated by the science and what food scientists are doing is mimicking nature but it’s hard to get my head around food being produced with a 3D printer with dedicated ingredients to your menu choice so here’s a link:

So the plus side in my opinion is that you may well find that you have more gluten free alternatives when buying fast food because they’re plant based.

And at least Tesco’s have a free from freezer section.

Jerry 👍😊

Benjamin123 profile image
Benjamin123 in reply to

Great links. Thank you.

All the more reason to avoid these sections like the plague and stick to whole foods. I only visit these places to find tamari sauce and gf Worcester sauce or the occasional rice cracker.

This has been happening for a while and it's frustrating. I wish they had prioritised allergies, or done it in a more sensitive way. I've seen a few vegans complain about the opposite too, that they've accidently bought something GF that isn't vegan because it was so poorly segregated. Both sides seem to want better.

We always had to check labels anyway, there were a few times we accidently bought a product because it had been in the free from section, then found out it was in there for being egg/nut/dairy free, not GF.

Benjamin123 profile image
Benjamin123 in reply to Cooper27

It's very common for the non-GFs to find their way into GF sections. Co-op are notorious for this, and it will trip people up if they don't check labels. I'm currently finding good quality GF products in the vegan section in Asda that should be in the GF section but they seem to only push their below quality own-brands in the GF section. All politics and sales power play.

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27 in reply to Benjamin123

Yes, we've found that a couple of times too, I usually take that stuff off the shelf and hand it directly to a member of staff.

But I mean that we still have to check labels anyway, because the free from section isn't a gluten free section. We've nearly bought a few cakes that were legitimately in there for being egg/dairy/nut free.

Last Christmas, my local Tesco had non-GF panettone in the ambient gluten free section and GF Christmas cake in the normal cake section. I have also been irritated for some time about the seeming take over of Free From frozen sections by vegan offerings. There are fewer GF items now because the space is taken up by vegan stuff. Follow the money. Being vegan is trendy. People want to virtue signal by eating vegan. Obviously, the retailers are going to make the most of this. If it is a fad, it will pass. Being vegan is a lifestyle choice, being coeliac or allergic is not.

Yes, GF is a moveable feast (no pun intended) and seems to migrate all over the shop to weird places. My view - shelf stacking staff and store management haven't go a clue where stuff goes for allergen management so put it in any old place as they interpret it. I'm all for vegan/ethical living, but the plant-based food drive is just processed muck being pushed on people with some green-washing marketing. The nutritional content is questionable and the level of additives is shocking. It will be counter-productive in the longterm as it will be associated with bad-health, giving veganism a bad name.


Food manufacturing is no doubt effecting everyone's health and making us sick.

I eat gluten free but struggle to find anything that does not contain ingredients that I don't even know what they are. So should I be eating them?

Then there are the large amounts of added sugar such as fructose, dextrose, sucrose, lactose maltodextrin etc. This is an issue whether you eat vegan, free from, plant or meat based.

I shop at a well known food outlet and struggle to find anything that does not contain a form of added sugar or an unknown ingredient. Other than whole foods when they still like to add sugar and preservatives.

I love bread but is gluten free bread actually bread as we know it?

Sorry about my rant but it is really frustrating. I try to stick to my idea of a 'free from '

diet but it is so boring and don't get me on about having to read all the food labels.

It was not until I was diagnosed with autoimmune issues recently that I decided to look at my diet so all this is new to me.

My rant is definitely over now 🤦‍♀️🤣

Rant away. Our food manufacturers are putting people in hospital and shortening their lives with the content of products and the complicity of government in engaging with food lobbyists. Whole food is the only way to go, and sugar is so wrong on so many levels. We have been conditioned into trusting that organisations like the Food Standards Agency will keep us all safe - nope, they are part of the issue as well. Diet is everything where health is concerned.

You only need to look at the so called 'Eatwell Plate' to see the problem.

Could not agree with you more.

The same can be said of 'Big Pharma'.

Which has resulted in many of us having to rely on our own findings to optimise or maintain our health.

That why forums like this are so helpful.


Agree.Pre-Covid. Noticed tesco had a plant based range taking up section of fridge space - it was probably the first veganuary. Coop foods had whole consultation on growing their gro brand. Iceland supermarket came out with no bull brand. At the end of the day all these prepackaged foods with vegan label are just another processed food. All UK Supermarkets jumped on the band wagon a few years ago. It’s all clever marketing and commercialism - no regard for human health in these “franken foods”. And false argument saving the planet.

In a way it’s no different to the massive rise in free from foods (namely gluten free) that occurred going back 10-15years. I went gluten free 15 or so years ago, before the free from sections appeared with ranges of gf processed products.

But that’s just it in my honest opinion, if you read labels there’s not much products that are truly suitable for coeliac disease or gluten intolerant or wheat allergic people - unfortunately.

Many in this forum point out intolerant of gluten free foods! It’s because a lot (not all), are processed food containing seed/veg oil, blood sugar spiking white flour, sugar, additives etc.

Now there is so called plant based products - what nutrition is in them? Seed/veg oil, processed plant protein extracted from crops (environment?) and industrially produced (carbon cost?). And sugar and additives. There’s no profit in true plant based. Whole foods. REAL FOOD. Whether whole food plant based or whole foods omnivore traditional diet, the agenda should be on real food for health. The world needs to get away from all precessed food for the sake of human health and for the sake of the planet. The epidemic rise in modern chronic disease is the result of processed food (especially veg oils). My rant lol.


Capitalism shunts people in direction of creating new fads/disasters to solve the problems of the previous fads/disasters. When companies like Nestle are driving the plant-based market, you just know it's a crock of the proverbial. Yes, the profit is in the processing and whole foods just won't cut the profits. Veganism is excellent when properly managed and maintained, but unfortunately the plant-based freezer section is not a place where you'll find any ethics.

I understand why they feel the need to make more room for vegetarian or vegan foods, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of those who can’t eat gluten. Also you are right about the cross contamination risks, I’ve often had damaged packaging (I still get my food delivered due to other health issues which make me vulnerable to Covid). In some cases I’ve had packaging that’s been open, which I’ve had to throw away.

Another issue I have with Tesco, is, a lot of vegan/vegetarian foods don’t cater for coeliac disease and if they do, chances are it’s got soya in it. After the cross contamination issues a few weeks ago, I’m doing the same as you and not eating any processed food.

I've read that top cross-contamimation culprits are lentils, and then soy. I've been knobbled by a soy product that claimed to be gluten free also (turns out they don't even test it for gluten and label it as gluten free on ingredients alone). It's a minefield that few understand until they try to navigate it. It just makes things, as you state, impossible as an option when the risk is too high.

Yes I heard that about lentils, didn’t know about soy though, but I can’t have it in any case, because I’m intolerant to it. It’s an absolute minefield out there and so difficult finding safe foods to eat.

I did look into why those are so dodgey - they are 'rotation crops' for wheat. When grains are growing they take nitrate from the soil that needs replacing. Legumes/bean replace nitrate into the soil whilst they are growing, so commercial wheat growers will rotate with soy/lentil crops to put nitrate back in soil. Also question marks over using the same harvesting machinery for all the various crops. I think unless some things can be sourced all the way up to the farm, they come with risk.

That is a very good point about using the same machinery for the different crops, and I’ve got to admit, that whilst I’d thought of most things, with regard to cross contamination, I hadn’t thought of that one! Maybe this is why some coeliacs can’t tolerate ANY grain. You really might have something there.

I thought it was just me!! They've stopped doing free from chicken in crumb and kievs😭. The vegan thing hadn't occurred to me as I have to get deliveries. M&S may be the only food market left doing chicken in breadcrumbs that is GF. Sainsburys stopped ages ago which is why I had to start using tesco. I'll be living on rice crackers and peanut butter soon. If I don't get rid of the chronic fatigue and the supermarkets do this I might as well give up. Nothing against vegans but do they realise they are actually worse for the planet with a lot of what they eat?

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27 in reply to Tabbyme

I found chicken Kiev's, chicken goujons and also chicken burgers (which I haven't seen GF before) in Asda yesterday. Do you have one near you at all?

I think Asda have the biggest selection of GF junk food of all the supermarkets, so it is worth checking them out :)

Tabbyme profile image
Tabbyme in reply to Cooper27

Thank you Cooper27. I can get deliveries from Asda. I had forgotten to look there. It is odd though, I started using Tesco again as they had a big push on free from (GF) and their prices were really good. Schar bread at £1.75. Sadly it didn't last and half of it you can't get anymore and the bread has gone back up to £2.45. I wish I could just cook from scratch like I use to before I got this nightmare condition lol. I might see if I can sweet talk my other half into a trip to m&s when I need some next. That is proper chicken breast so not quite as junky. I do actually manage to make my own burgers with beef mince when I can. Can't do chicken burgers 😂.

Researchfan profile image
Researchfan in reply to Tabbyme

Morrison’s have a large free from range. I tend to cook from scratch and have never tried as not for me personally but I’ve seen birds eye gluten free chicken nuggets and Morrison’s own southern fried chicken steaks in a gf crumb, if any good?


Tabbyme profile image
Tabbyme in reply to Researchfan

Thank you Researchfan!! The best was always Sainsbury's or m&s tbh as it was proper chicken, the nuggets and southern fried are often reformed so have even more additives in them 😬. Tescos weren't too bad, plus Morrison's always works out a little expensive with delivery.

Researchfan profile image
Researchfan in reply to Tabbyme

👍 Ok dokey. Yeah Morrison’s were not bad for delivery at one point but last I looked was put off by more expensive delivery charge. Sainsbury’s the cheapest for delivery with a saver slot. Asda varies between expensive and not too bad but annoyed that they now charge for click and collect! M and S are on Ocado if that’s any good but I don’t know what delivery charge is.

Tabbyme profile image
Tabbyme in reply to Researchfan

Ocado isn't bad but they don't always have all m&s chicken. I've only used them once so I had free delivery. Not sure what it will be now but I am going to have a look at that. Thank you for reminding me, my head is like a colander 😳😂 . I can't even manage click and collect and my partner hates doing that. He'd rather just go in the shop but then I don't always get all I need 😂. He's good for the fresh stuff though!!

Researchfan profile image
Researchfan in reply to Tabbyme

😂 oh dear! Hope you get what you want and eat well!!

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