6 January 2019

Yes, but are the Greggs Vegan sausage rolls actually any good? (@GreggsOfficial) by @NLi10 (not @piersmorgan )

At the start of the year everyone releases diet based food so that people who want to atone for the festive excesses can feel like they at least tried.  This year 'Veganuary' is the big theme, and people who think that flexitarian is a real thing have declared that they will eat slightly more vegan things than they do in a typical January.  None of these people ever mention that chips are vegan.

I have my own live-in vegetarian, and I tend to cook a decent amount of the meals so at home we use a lot of the meat substitutes like Quorn.  When Greggs announced that they were doing a vegan sausage roll my main surprise was that there wasn't already one, and that it had taken this long to get there.  I don't think it really blew up on Twitter until one of the British versions of the Kardashians (a gent called Piers Morgan) said he didn't approve. Then everyone had to jump on the bandwagon and join in with the taking of sides, so inevitably I'm having to review it.  It's the post-Christmas lull though so frankly I'm ok with that.

Greggs

This is a Greggs.  For those that don't know the UK too well it's basically the HMV of the bakery sector, reducing choice and helping to push little independent chains off the high streets of bigger cities.  I miss being able to get lots of different options from each bakery, but at least they do the best Egg Custards in Britain and you can usually get a steak bake.  Heck - at least it's not a Tesco Metro.

And here is the view of the rolls themselves (Cinabar took this - thanks!).  On the top shelf we have a nicely shaped golden vegan sausage roll.  Below we have a slightly overcooked meat version - but it is 5p less! (20p if you eat in - for that luxury Greggs dining experience).

Greggs Vegan sausage rolls - Veganuary

As someone who has reviewed a lot of vegan food (most of the things I cook at home are vegan until my partner adds cheese on hers) I think I am uniquely positioned to judge where this particular snack falls in relation to other items.  But lets get this out of the way first - I'm not a fan of the normal Greggs sausage rolls.  I used to be when I was little and didn't like to explore the whole hot cabinet.  Now I look down upon the humble sausage rolls and gravitate towards the steak bakes and other square delights.  Even though these will almost certainly burn you with their gravy, the actual meaty bits and occasional veg actually feel like a meal.  The sausage rolls are not, being purely for people looking for an inbetween meals snack.

The vegan sausage rolls then really don't have much to beat.  And as predicted they sail onwards into the more difficult to beat snacks.

Greggs Vegan sausage roll - Veganuary

If vegan food was safe, why would they put injury and hazard warnings on the bag? 

The latice work is great, I know that means you get less pastry but it means it's not as sweaty and has cooled quite evenly.  This means each bit is crisp, with a (very) soft centre.  The vegetarian had a bite too (she doesn't like things that try to taste like meat) and seemed to enjoy it but refused further bites.

The inside is Quorn based, but is Greggs own recipe that they say has taken years to perfect.  It's basically soft, salty Quorn.


And don't get me wrong, this is what I expected and it tastes good, but I'd expected them to find a little more firmness or finesse along the way.  Maybe they will do luxury sausage rolls if this takes off (as the It Boy Piers pointed out, most people are still on their first roll - will they buy a second?).

There are lots of terrible vegan sausages out there, and this is not one of them.  Linda McCartney's efforts are always dry and lifeless.  Heck, some of Quorns own offerings are not to be repeated.  This though is pretty decent, worth the £1 asking price, and to be repeated for sure.

But unfortunately for Greggs there is a little company called Fry's and they also make Vegan sausage rolls - and they easily outperform this.  You can get them from the frozen section of Holland & Barrett or Ocado and you instantly can boast that your cafe/bakery has better vegan rolls.  It won't take long before one of the other bakery chains on the high-street figures this out and... oh - Greggs pushed them all out - well played Greggs.  This does mean that you can take some decent vegan food home with you from town (their vegan chicken nuggets are frankly amazing) and impress people who bring up the Greggs rolls in conversation with your diverse food stocks.

Thing is though.  January is a bit cold, and if I was going to Greggs for my lunch I'd still probably get a steak bake (and the three pack of Egg Custards).  Now though, I have the option to get a nice vegan sausage roll as a snack (or a starter) which can only be a good thing. And if they use this newfound recipe to make a vegan bake then I'll possibly get those too.


I may be flippant about it, but showing people that vegan options aren't scary (or even a lot of times different enough to be interesting) is great.  It saves our planet a little bit (I mean - we are already doomed, but it's nice to try) and reduces some of the burden on the NHS by getting us to eat nutrients.  Pizza Hut have also launched more vegan options, middle class people like Pizza Express and Pieminister have had ace vegan options for years (see Kevin for example).  Even Cornetto have a vegan option!!  And like I said - chips are vegan, and they aren't scary either.


There is also an alcohol free version of Veganuary called Dryanuary, so next week I'll be eating an alcohol free sausage roll instead.

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