A sign hangs outside a Greggs bakery store in Southend, U.K. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

The Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll Is as Good as the Original

(Bloomberg) -- Greggs U.K. bakery chain sells 1.5 million sausage rolls a week: People line up for the seasoned  meat wrapped in layers of crisp, golden puff pastry.

But some of the queues this morning were for a vegan alternative that officially went on sale amid a barrage of publicity, from a slick promotional video (with 3.61 million views and counting) to a spat with the journalist and former CNN host Piers Morgan.

It’s “The most hotly debated sausage roll since, well... the sausage roll,” Greggs says. “Our new vegan friendly sausage roll has been designed to mirror some of the sausage roll’s classic features including 96 layers of light and crisp puff pastry but instead we wrap it around our own bespoke Quorn filling.” It is available in 950 shops across the U.K. 

The launch follows strong consumer demand, including a petition by last year by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that was signed by more than 20,000 people, according to Greggs.

At the Greggs outlet on Cheapside, the vegan option was a best seller, though it is more expensive than the meat version, at £1 ($1.25), representing a 5 pence surcharge. The calorie counts are similar, at 311 for the vegan and 327 for the meat; but the vegan is flavored with sugar and with more salt (1.9 grams vs. 1.6 grams.)

So how does it taste? Well, it is surprisingly good.

Having tried other meat substitutes elsewhere in recent weeks, I had low expectations (I’m looking at you, vegan fish and chips). But here, I couldn’t immediately determine which was which when tried alongside each other. 

Look closely, and you can see the vegan filling is more mushy than textured, but the flavors are not dissimilar: The added sugar and extra salt in the vegan version balances out any inherent blandness in the filling.

I am not a fan of sausage rolls in general. I try to avoid anything with more calories than a Mars Bar. But this is one of the first times I have actually enjoyed a meat substitute. Greggs has done a good job on this non-sausage roll.

Richard Vines is chief food critic at Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines and Instagram @richard.vines.

(Corrects to remove references to plant-based meat substitutes; Quorn is fungus based.)

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