Restaurants jumping on the Veganuary bandwagon

Food Spark takes a look at some of the menu additions that are trending online.

3 January 2019
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While Veganuary may be one of the most awkward portmanteaus ever invented in the English language, there is no denying that it causes an annual social media stir.

The yearly plant-based surge, backed by the charity of the same name, is reportedly recruiting a person every eight seconds to the cause, with the supermarket giants releasing swathes of vegan products at the beginning of the month to take advantage of the rapidly expanding audience.

Considering the predicted 300,000 people taking a month-long sabbatical from meat this year – in addition to the perennial vegetarians – it’s not surprising that quick-service restaurants and casual dining chains are all jumping on board with limited edition menu items. Here, we take a look at some of the high-street brands generating early buzz.

Greggs

The bakery chain debuted its first-ever vegan sausage roll today (January 3), in response to a petition by animal welfare organisation PETA that attracted 20,000 signatures.

Social media erupted with shock, joy and horror (all in equal measure) at the release, with some saying that Greggs’ move to accommodate vegans is a sign of progress, while others have said it’s all just a politically correct nightmare.

Costing £1, the meat-free sausage roll is available at 950 shops across the country and boasts the signature 96 layers of puff pastry, but with a bespoke Quorn filling.

Pizza Hut

The fast-food giant has boarded the jackfruit train, layering it onto a pizza called the Jack ‘n’ Ch**se.

The chain has said that if 10,000 orders are received for the vegan pizza, which will be available at all 253 Pizza Hut outposts in the UK, then it will make the temporary item permanent.

Consisting of a tomato base and dairy-free cheese from Greek supplier Violife, it’s topped with sweetcorn, red onion, peppers, BBQ jackfruit and BBQ sauce.

TGI Fridays

While the American restaurant chain isn’t new to the plant-based game – it released a number of vegan dishes into UK locations last March – it is unleashing a new ‘bleeding’ plant-based burger this week.

Made with coconut oil, mushrooms, herbs, plant proteins and spices, the patty gets its ‘meaty’ colour from beetroot juice.

Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay has announced that his London-based restaurant Bread Street Kitchen will serve a 100% vegan orientated menu for January. Mains include a vegan wild mushroom and truffle risotto as well as pizza topped with charred aubergine, dairy-free pesto, toasted pine nuts and tomato sauce.

Ramsay’s release will go down as quite a coup for the vegan community considering his mocking of the movement less than a year ago. Needless to say, the about-face has been met with glee on Twitter.

McDonald’s

Perhaps the biggest Veganuary surprise comes from McDonald's, which has released its first vegetarian main dish for a Happy Meal: a red pesto goujon tortilla wrap garnished with tomato ketchup and shredded lettuce.

The breadcrumb-covered goujon is made from a mixture of yellow split peas, tomato, Arborio rice and sundried tomato pesto.

There’s a bit of hoo-ha over whether the product is 100% vegan, however, due to the fact that the tortilla wrap passes through the same toaster as the regular burger buns, which contain milk.  

Jamie Oliver

Known for his practically endless crusade against all things bad and fatty, Jamie Oliver has now created a 100% vegan menu for Forest Green Rovers football team, who claim to be the world’s first vegan side.

The menu, which included a Sri Lankan curry with roasted cauliflower, was served up to the team for an episode of Friday Night Feast, which is hosted by Oliver as well as farmer and presenter, Jimmy Doherty.

It seems that not even the world of sport is immune to the lures of plant-based this month…

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