How the Greggs vegan sausage roll became the cultural food moment of the year

If you’ve had enough of overcooked hot takes about Greggs’ vegan sausage rolls, I’m sorry: here's another one.

Across the capital chefs are falling over themselves to offer a staggering variety of miserable vegetarian meals, from goat’s cheese and beetroot tart to goat’s cheese and beetroot tart with quinoa on the side. They’re absolutely obsessed with the purple stuff and let’s be frank: beetroot tastes like mud. Yes, I know what mud tastes like. Don’t ask.

Right now, you’re probably thinking: what does beetroot have to do with Greggs? The truth is, it has EVERYTHING to do with Greggs. Sometimes vegetarians just want to eat delicious beige food like the rest of you.

On the latest menus at a range of respectable establishments in London you will find despicable offerings such as beetroot hummus, a halloumi burger with a beetroot brioche bun, and a vegan salad bowl with (yes) beetroot.

Sure, the amount of vegetarian options has increased over the past decade, and my people welcome that, but sometimes a plate of Gentrified Vegetables’ Greatest Hits feels a bit like the culinary version of Kid A.

Hardcore fans (or so-called foodies in this case) will pretend they are enjoying the spectacle but they’re actually thinking: please god, when will it end? Can someone put The Bends on? For those who don’t identify as a Radiohead softboi, The Bends is the best Radiohead album. Fact. Likewise, the Greggs vegan sausage roll is simply the best vegetarian option on the market.

If you’re still not convinced that these tube-shaped delights are worth your time then consider this: Piers Morgan is seemingly enraged by the thought of green-tongued humans having a good time.

After the Good Morning Britain presenter popped over to Twitter to express his fury at the launch of the roll, Greggs had the perfect response: “Oh, hello Piers, we’ve been expecting you.”

And thus a full-blown viral row was born. A few days later Piers Morgan would try the roll live on air, but spit it out, because, you know, he’s Piers Morgan.

But his tedious rants about vegan correctness gone mad did nothing to stop this wholesome snack from becoming one of Greggs’ fasting-selling products of all time and helping to increase its profits by nearly 60 per cent within six months. Something Morgan has taken credit for.

And perhaps he has a point. Greggs was never really a cool place to hang out. But suddenly the simple act of waiting in line for a vegan treat became an act of rebellion. A chance for millennials to stick two fingers up at boomers outraged by the thought of progress. Piers, what we eat behind closed doors – or on public transport – is none of your business.

A plant-based bonanza appears to be sweeping the nation. Following the huge success of Greggs’ humble vegan sausage roll, Wetherspoons has added a gourmet vegan burger to its menu and McDonald’s is set to join the craze next month with its “veggie dippers” meal. Of course Greggs is unveiling even more vegan products in 2020.

If you’ve managed to get this far, you’re probably wondering what the hell this thing tastes like. Well, I’ve never eaten meat, except for once, accidentally, in a salad, so I can’t guarantee that it will convince meat eaters to give up their planet-destroying habit*. But I understand that it is pretty close to the real thing. In a nutshell, it’s soft, flaky and delicious. And, AND, it will only set you back £1. That’s a late-Noughties price right there.

So… this is my case: forget beetroot, which has been having a moment for more than a decade and it needs to stop. The evidence is clear, the launch of the Greggs vegan sausage roll was the Cultural Food Moment of the Year. It opened up the high street to vegans and vegetarians in a way we’ve never seen before. We marched into Greggs with pride, knowing that, at last, we belonged.

Greggs, we salute you! This award is yours. You’ve got it in the bag. Was that a pun too far? Probably.

*Full disclosure: the writer is a vegetarian (if that wasn’t clear already) so his love for dairy is contributing to our destruction too

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