THE late-night launch of Greggs’ vegan steak bake was met with 20-minute queues, after more than 300,000 people signed up for Veganuary.
A hundred hungry fans rolled up in Newcastle (above) for the new pastry filled with meat substitute Quorn, diced onions and gravy.
Vegan Emma Phillips, 40, gave it the thumbs up, saying she ‘really liked’ the bake.
‘My son isn’t vegan and is always ready to criticise vegan food, but even he said he’d gladly buy that over the meat-based option,’ she said.
‘A launch like this is huge for the vegan movement… 30 years ago vegetarian wouldn’t have been mentioned on a menu, now we’re seeing a vegan logo on many.
‘The marketing raises the profile of the movement, which could lead people to making long-term changes in their diets.’
The release of Greggs’ vegan sausage roll last January saw the company’s profits soar more than 52 per cent over six months.
Other firms also appear to be looking to capitalise on veganism’s rising popularity, with KFC releasing a vegan burger and Subway a meatless ‘meatball’ marinara.
Meanwhile, the launch this month of another restaurant chain’s vegan menu has been backed by rock legend Meat Loaf.
Referencing his famous ballad I’d Do Anything For Love, the singer said: ‘When Frankie & Benny’s first approached me to rebrand to Veg Loaf, I said no way in hell — I won’t do that… But, I’d do anything for our planet and dropping meat for veg, even for just one day a week, can make a huge difference.’
A study by data company Kantar found 1.3million Brits gave up animal products last January, with 366,000 saying they did so as part of Veganuary, which encourages the public to go vegan in January.
Toni Vernelli, the initiative’s head of communications, said: ‘Our own surveys show about 50 per cent chose to stay vegan as it was much easier and more enjoyable than they expected.
‘But we always hoped the other half discovered some products and recipes they loved so much they permanently swapped these for the non-vegan equivalent.
‘Now we know that’s exactly what’s happening, and it’s great news for animals and the planet.’
■ A LANDMARK hearing is to decide whether veganism is a ‘philosophical or religious belief’ and protected by law. Jordi Casamitjana says he was sacked by the League Against Cruel Sports after raising concerns that its pension fund was invested in companies involved in animal testing. He claims the decision to dismiss him was because of his philosophical belief in ethical veganism. Its supporters eat a plant-based diet, don’t wear wool or leather and avoid products tested on animals. But the League Against Cruel Sports said it sacked Mr Casamitjana for gross misconduct. The hearing in Norwich, Norfolk, is due to start tomorrow.