A new, vegan offering from north-east baker Greggs has won the approval of a University of Sunderland academic.

The firm recently launched a meat-free version of its much-loved steak bake. This follows on from the launch of Greggs’ vegan sausage roll last year – a snack that has become one of the baker’s top-ten-selling products.

With 2,000 shops serving 6 million customers per week, Greggs is the UK’s biggest bakery chain. The introduction of its vegan steak bake saw long queues forming in front of some branches.

Greggs is now said to be working on vegan versions of some of its other popular menu items.

The vegan steak bake and sausage roll are both filled with Quorn, a meat substitute based on a type of protein-rich fungus. Though some types of Quorn contain egg, the kind used in Greggs’ vegan products does not.

Dr Alex Lockwood – a lecturer at the University of Sunderland and an expert on veganism – said, “What’s so brilliant about the new Greggs’ vegan steak bake, released exactly a year after their vegan sausage roll, is that it continues to put affordable – and healthier – plant- based options within the reach of everyday people living their normal lives.”

“Vegan food doesn’t have to be strange, expensive or just for animal lovers.”

“The vegan sausage roll helped Greggs’ profits jump over 13% last year. And the steak bake will help again. The reason they’re so successful is that they slot into people’s lives so easily, and with the knowledge now that a plant-based diet is better for you and for the environment, people want those easy options to make a difference.”

The launch of the vegan steak bake comes as Veganuary gets underway – a initiative encouraging people to give up animal products for the first month of the year. Over 100,000 people have pledged to undertake the challenge, more than double the numbers in 2019.

Dr Lockwood said, “This year’s Veganuary is looking like the biggest success yet, with celebs such as Paul McCartney, Brian May, and Joaquin Phoenix encouraging people to go vegan for January.”

“Normally I’d be against anything that was promoted mainly by famous men – but this time I think it’s important because over two thirds of people who call themselves vegan are women and usually over 80% of people who take part in Veganuary are women.”

“And this needs to change because it is men who consume the most animal products and are therefore most at risk from the health problems that come along with that, which include heart disease – the biggest killer of men over 50 – and some cancers, such as colon cancer.”

“The more men we can get realising you don’t need meat to be masculine, the better for everyone: people, animals and the planet.”

There might still be some of us who’d prefer our steak bakes to have bits of real cow in or who’d prefer a tasty bit of chicken to soya or Quorn. But Dr Lockwood stresses that by cutting down on meat, we can help our struggling ecosystem.

Dr Lockwood said, “There’s no doubt vegan meals and vegan lifestyles are here to stay. Last year’s Amazon fires were fuelled by cattle ranching. This Christmas’s Australian fires are fanned by the rising climate emergency.”

“The quickest and easiest way for anyone who cares about the planet to act is to switch to a plant-based diet, which has the lowest carbon footprint of any diet. The very least you can do is cut beef out of your diet—and so the Greggs’ vegan steak bake is a quick way to do your bit.”

Both Greggs and Quorn are north-east-based companies. Greggs was started in 1939 by Tyneside baker John Gregg, who at first delivered baked goods on his bicycle. He opened his first shop in Gosforth, Newcastle, in 1951. Quorn is based at Stokesley, North Yorkshire, and at Billingham, near Stockton-on-Tees.

(Featured image courtesy of Ian Rainey from geograph UK)

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