Published on 02 January 2020
It’s the time of year when people across the UK are reassessing their lives; from fitness to diet – January is the month of new beginnings.
Just days ago, the country’s biggest bakers, Greggs, launched a meat-free version of its popular steak bake.
Since the runaway success of its meatless sausage roll, the chain – which serves more than 6million customers a week from its 2,000 outlets – has been working to develop vegan versions of its other bestselling items.
The launch saw queues outside shops in the North East and is, according to University of Sunderland lecturer and vegan expert, Dr Alex Lockwood, a prime example of a growing shift in dietary habits.
He said: “I’m not surprised people were queueing around the block to get their hands on one. What’ 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 the animal lovers.
“The vegan sausage roll helped Greggs profits jump over 13% last year. And 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, then people want those easy options to make a difference.
“New research that came out just before Christmas showed that when a vegetarian or vegan dish is presented as a default option, consumption of those options rises by 87% - and hardly anyone minds that the plant-based meal is the norm. This just shows that, in reality, all people really want is a tasty, healthy option, and it really doesn’t need to have meat in it.”
Greggs’ vegan sausage roll – also with a bespoke Quorn filling – launched in January 2019 and has become one of its top 10 bestselling products.
The launch of the vegan steak bake comes as many well-known retailers expand their vegan and plant-based offerings amid the growing popularity of flexitarian diets – where a largely vegetable-based diet is supplemented occasionally with meat.
Veganuary – a growing movement that encourages people to embrace plant-based diets during January. More than 100,000 people have already pledged to stick to a plant-based diet, double the number who took part last year.
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 most animal products and are therefore most at risk at the health problems that come along with that, which includes 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’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.”