Fast food joints join the plant-based revolution

Where Greggs’ vegan sausage roll led, firms including McDonalds and KFC are following

Restaurant boards showing vegan options including Greggs, Itsu, Crussh and Wahaca

Last year was a boom time for meat free food, and it looks like 2020’s resolution is more of the same. A plethora of plant-based products have arrived on the market this month alone, which is great news if you’ve just jumped into Meat Free Monday, are enjoying a Veganuary – giving up meat and dairy for the month – or are simply hungry for a less environmentally damaging diet.

Greggs’ eagerly anticipated “fake steak” bake – Quorn mince and diced onions in gravy – is expected to emulate the success of its all-conquering vegan sausage roll, which did so much to raise the profile of veggie and vegan fare last year. Greggs staff will certainly be cheering it on: it was so successful they received a £300 bonus. And it almost certainly got other food firms thinking about cashing in on the increasingly lucrative market for environmentally friendly food.

KFC has also gone with Quorn for its new Original Recipe Vegan Burger, making a bespoke mycoprotein fillet the centrepiece. It is coated with the chicken chain’s “iconic blend” of 11 herbs and spices, and is served with vegan mayonnaise, but it won’t be available in all UK stores.

McDonald’s says it saw an 80 per cent increase last year in customers ordering vegetarian options, which explains why it has not only created a new vegan product – Veggie Dippers – but will sell it, along with its Vegetable Deluxe Burger, for just 99p on Mondays, part of a January promotion for those who use its app.

Burger King, meanwhile, deserves an honourable mention for the launch last week of its first soy-based burger. It fell short, however, by revealing the patties will be cooked on the same grill as the meat – a no-no for vegetarians and vegans. Still, Burger King argues the Rebel Whopper is ideal for those looking to cut their meat consumption, and its bean burger and other veggie options are cooked separately. YouGov data shows that more than a third of Burger King’s customers are trying to eat less meat, while almost a quarter believe a meat free diet is healthier than the alternative.

In other fantastic food news, Subway has launched a Meatless Meatball Marinara sandwich, topped with vegan cheese. Pizza Hut has added a seventh vegan pizza to its roster, the Vegan Pepperphoni Pizza, which is topped with pea protein “pepperoni” and vegan cheese and will be available this month only. And Costa Coffee is serving up a vegan “ham and cheese” toastie, made from Quorn smoky ham and plant-based “cheeze”. It claims a group of plumbers who were asked to taste-drive the new offering failed to spot it wasn’t made using animal products.

Add to that more vegan options at Waitrose, M&S and the Co-op (whose customers are more likely to be veggie or vegan than the national average, according to YouGov) and it’s clear that Britain is going to enjoy a happy, healthy and planet-friendly new year.