Greggs is now doing vegan sausage rolls - but do they live up to the hype?

Vegan sausage roll. Picture: Jessica Hill

Vegan sausage roll. Picture: Jessica Hill - Credit: Archant

Greggs is launching a “vegan friendly” version of an old customer favourite - the sausage roll - which were available today from a small number of stores in Suffolk and Essex.

Greggs at Ipswich Town Station

Greggs at Ipswich Town Station - Credit: Archant

Today, the vegan sausage roll was only available to buy from the Greggs outlet at Ipswich Town Station, for £1.20, and not yet in other branches of Greggs in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Diss, Stowmarket, Sudbury and Felixstowe.

The only Essex store selling vegan sausage rolls today was on the High Street in Colchester, and manager Alex said he’d sold out all 144 vegan sausage rolls within about 45 minutes. “It was amazing, we were mobbed,” he said.

Manager of the Ipswich station outlet, James, explained that Greggs will roll the new snack out across Suffolk “very soon”.

“I was really surprised at how popular they were - and I hope it stays that way,” he said. “It’s been our bestseller today. We had a full tray of 80 in, and now, we only have a few left.”

vegetarian customer Terry at Ipswich Town Station

vegetarian customer Terry at Ipswich Town Station - Credit: Archant

The bakery chain, which sells 1.5 million traditional sausage rolls per week, said the UK’s 3.5 million vegans will be able to enjoy a “next generation” version of its best-selling item.

The vegan version has some “classic features” of the traditional sausage roll, according to Greggs, including 96 layers of puff pastry - but instead of meat the filling is made with Quorn.

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It also contains microproteins and Gregg’s “unique seasoning”, according to the label.

“It’s a basic sausage roll but they’ve used quorn instead of sausage meat,” explained James. “It’s still got the same layers of pastry. Ours is more expensive because we’re based at a station, but in town, they would still be the same price as a sausage roll.”

Vegan sausage roll. Picture: Jessica Hill

Vegan sausage roll. Picture: Jessica Hill - Credit: Archant

What did people make of it?

Vegetarian Terry Moule, 71, was buying a vegan sausage roll before getting his train back home to Hockleigh near Southend. He has been vegetarian for 50 years and bought says he thinks it’s “great” that Greggs are doing vegan sausage rolls. “Vegan food is so much more flavoursome nowadays - 50 years ago I struggled to get vegan cheese,” he says.

Jack Barber, a vegan who works for Suffolk County Council, said he thought it was a trick when his sister bought him a vegan sausage roll from Greggs, and that he’d actually been given the meat option. “It was really nice and I’m pleased that more eating places are now offering a vegan option,” he said. “A lot of vegans like myself want the same food as everyone else, they just want it plant based.”

But what do the meat eaters make of the vegan snack?

Our news editor Natalie Sadler said she found the pastry is less greasy and more crispy than regular sausage rolls, “giving the impression it could be healthier”.

“The sausage has a slightly salty taste, and resembles the texture of chicken,” she said. “Afterwards you get a strong hit of the herbs used to give it flavour.

“The overall appearance is a little anaemic, the pastry is a pale shade and the filling is blander looking than you might expect. But I would happily have this again, over a pork one!”

But not everyone was won over. Ross Bentley, our environment editor, said he though it tasted “too much like stuffing without the turkey.”

Greggs said the launch follows “strong consumer demand”, including a petition by Peta last year signed by more than 20,000 people.

Roger Whiteside, chief executive at Greggs, said: “Like many food retailers we have seen increasing demand for vegetarian and vegan products.

“We have been trying to develop a vegan version of our famous sausage roll for some time now.

“It has not been easy but our taste panel customers all love this one, so we have decided to launch it as our contribution to Veganuary.”

Veganuary encourages people to try vegan food for January and across the year.

Recent research from Waitrose found that a third (33.5%) of people now have meat-free or meat-reduced diets.

Many are dipping in and out of being meat eaters, the research found, with half of those who say they are vegan or vegetarian eating meat “at weekends”, “occasionally” or “on special occasions”.

Meanwhile, TGI Fridays said a new meat-free vegan burger that “bleeds” due to beetroot juice will launch in UK restaurants from January 7.

As well as beetroot, the flame-grilled burger is made from coconut oil, mushrooms, herbs, plant proteins and spices. It is served in a vegan bun.

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