Crispy, cruelty-free and controversial: A discussion on Greggs’ vegan sausage roll

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Credit: Greggs

Dylan Tuck
Culture Editor

Of all the things to potentially break the United Kingdom within the first three days of 2019, I’m guessing very few had a bet on it being a bloody vegan sausage roll to do the damage. With the looming chaos of Brexit decisions and, in fact, the entirety of this country’s relentless political embarrassment, it comes as quite a big surprise that a greasy bit of pastry stuffed with some fake meat is proving the most divisive product of the year so far.

Despite all of the angry carnivorous snowflakes that have taken to social media to moan about food becoming all the more accessible to a wider, more health and ethically-conscious group of society, Gregg’s brand spanking new vegan sausage roll has certainly had some good press for veganism on the whole – the hashtag #vegansausageroll was trending at number one in the UK for two whole days, nonetheless. While much of that noise may be from an anti-vegan source (I give my thanks to Piers Morgan for talking so much about something he couldn’t stand that it actually resulted in said product gaining even more positive press), it’s been incredibly widely discussed, and almost everyone has had some sort of a say on the matter – be it public dickheads (hello again, Piers), remarks from curious family members unable to keep in their confusion at a sausage roll that fails to contain a “genuine” sausage, to the usual and typically logic-lacking questions like “why do vegans have to eat food that looks and tastes like meat though?”. The answer is because they want to, mate. On the note of stupid questions, Greggs actually answer another. The common “but where do vegans get their protein?” has been ironically resolved by the fact that the vegan sausage roll actually contains more protein than that of a “regular” Greggs’ sausage roll, which is pretty hilarious. Even with the new item being so popular and accessible, the best thing about this whole situation is the sheer amount of piss-boiling that one simple sausage roll release has caused, making it simply fantastic to watch from a non-meat eating perspective, and shown just how ignorant of other’s choices some can truly be.

This is undoubtedly a positive move for Greggs Bakery too. Before the release of this product, which comes in January thanks to the ever-growing movement of Veganuary, there was barely a vegan option in sight within the whole store. It wasn’t much better for vegetarians either, with the cheese and onion bake being the only meat-free hot alternative (and not a great one at that). But all of a sudden, there’s a place for vegans, and it sits upon the warm, crumb-covered counter, brilliantly out-of-place among a wide selection meaty bits. Take away the label “vegan” and some may be tricked, for it sure looks like a sausage roll (duh), and I’m told that it tastes like a vegan alternative to a sausage roll too (duh again). After reading that last sentence, you may be wondering why I’m writing an article on a food product that I’m yet to eat – the simple answer is, this thing is flying off shelves so much nationwide that the quest to get a hold of one has become similar to hunting down a golden ticket, or finding someone who actually likes Piers Morgan (last time I’ll bring that attention hoarder up, I swear). In Glasgow, only a few stores are selling it currently, like the Byres Road and Gibson Street stores by the Uni, and each one I’ve tried for the past few mornings has been fully sold out of the bad boys by midday. As annoying as this is for people like myself who’re hungry for a bite, their popularity goes to show how just much the vegetarian and vegan community values having an item that’s so easily accessible available on our high streets. Add to that the fact that, if I had been able to purchase one, it would have only set me back a measly pound – only pennies more than the meaty sausage roll, a massive step forward when compared to the similar, yet more expensive, meat-free products out there. Pricing it as such could potentially lead some to cut down on their meat intake too, by switching to this vegetarian alternative with little financial difference. Judging from the product itself, its popularity, pricing, and especially Greggs’ delightfully sassy reply to negative Twitter remarks – it’s safe to conclude that they’ve have got their marketing spot on this time, and vegans are all the more better for it.

Early results show this to be a great success for Greggs and herbivores alike. The fact that veganism has spread its wings as far as the meat-eaters’ favourite cheap bakery is a huge step forward for veganism, and the reduction of animal consumption. But the fact that it’s pissed off so many idiots at the same time is even better.