The Problem Some Trader Joe's Shoppers Have With Its Mushroom And Herb Risotto

The grocery chain Trader Joe's is famous for its fan-favorite house-branded snacks and nautical-themed stores — but its forays into vegan and vegetarian products haven't been without controversy. When the chain launched its new vegan ravioli, shoppers were so excited to try it. When it comes to other products, though, customers have sounded off online about their frustrations over certain ingredients. 

A few years ago, the chain released a product called "soy cheese blend," with the tagline "cheese alternative." Vegan Redditors were surprised to find the product contained dairy. One commenter pointed out that, yes, the package says the product is a blend of cheddar, mozzarella, and "jack-flavored soy cheese," but they said that "the way they list the 'Jack Flavor Soy Cheese' last, is very makes it seem like all of the cheeses listed before it are "flavored soy cheese" as well."

Recently, some shoppers experienced a similar shock regarding Trader Joe's mushroom and herb risotto. Unlike what they assumed from the packaging, it's not vegetarian.

How Trader Joe's risotto is disappointing its vegetarian fans

In addition to rice, mushrooms, wine, and chervil, Trader Joe's mushroom and herb risotto contains an ingredient that surprised vegetarians on Reddit — chicken fat. Ingredients like chicken stock and fat are quite common in risotto recipes to boost the depth of flavor, but vegetarian stock is typically used for those who opt to not eat animal products (via Cooking with Mamma C).

In a recent post in the r/TraderJoes forum, one Redditor shared, "PSA: the mushroom and herb risotto is not vegetarian" followed by a sad face. After another commenter on Reddit pointed out that the box doesn't claim the risotto is vegetarian at all, the original poster replied that they — and many vegetarians — can typically assume that mushroom-forward packaged products will be safe alternatives to meat-based recipes. Other TJ's fans in the comments echoed their displeasure. "I mean, how hard is it to use vegetable stock or just not use chicken fat? I don't get it," one person wrote. Another weighed in, "I think that's the case with most of the frozen risottos too, and also the Gorgonzola gnocchi. It's a major bummer."

Luckily, it's not difficult to make your own version at home. Our vegan mushroom risotto recipe calls for vegetable stock and miso to lend a rich savoriness and comes together in around a half-hour — less time than we find ourselves spending at Trader Joe's!