Veganuary has come around again, and lunchtime favourites like Greggs, KFC, Wagamama and Leon have all risen to the occasion.
Being vegan isn’t always the easiest thing when eating out. If you don’t have time to meal prep or just fancy grabbing a bite on the go, choices have generally been limited. But veganism has skyrocketed over the past few years, with about 600,000 of the British population now estimated to be vegan according to the Vegan Society. Our favourite food spots have had no choice but to keep up.
To mark the start of this year’s Veganuary, during which people across the world pledge to go vegan for the entire month of January, popular fast food and café chains have released a wide range of new vegan treats. So whether you’re one of the 350,000 people Vegconomist expects to be cutting out animal products this January, a long-time vegan, or just interested in checking out what’s on offer, there’s plenty to choose from. We’ve tried and tested some of the most noteworthy launches and longstanding favourites, so you know exactly where to go for your meat-free fix.
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Greggs’ Vegan Steak Bake
If the hype surrounding last year’s vegan sausage roll wasn’t enough to convince you that Greggs knows how to do vegan food, then the newly arrived steak bake should do the trick. Made with fungi-based protein and a rich gravy that easily rivals its meaty counterpart, this addition to Greggs’ hugely successful vegan range is a moreish delight. I might even go so far as to say that it’s tastier than the vegan sausage roll, and that is high praise indeed.
KFC’s Original Recipe Vegan Burger
When the cashier told me she was excited for me to try KFC’s first ever vegan offering, I knew I was in for something good – and I was not disappointed. It has the crispy skin and slight kick of the original recipe herbs and spices that we expect from KFC, with a not-too-dense, bespoke Quorn fillet. Still tasting like a chicken burger, KFC has proved that you don’t need meat to make food finger lickin’ good.
But beware: the KFC chips still aren’t vegan, so you’ll have to go for a side salad or corn on the cob if you want the full meal.
Pizza Hut’s Pepperphoni Pizza
The new, cleverly named Pepperphoni pizza from Pizza Hut is actually not too far off from a classic pepperoni. With a rich tomato sauce, melted vegan cheese and a fluffy crust, it ticks all of the most important boxes. The pepperoni substitute isn’t quite the same texture as the meaty version, and it provides less of the kick that you might expect from a spicy topping, but it’s still a good addition to the pizza.
Price: £11.69 for an individual pizza
Costa’s Smoky Ham and CheeZe Toastie
A firm favourite for a quick lunch, Costa has opened up its sandwich range to vegans with its meat- and cheese-substitute toastie. And as vegan cheese goes, it’s pretty good, if a little sticky. The ham substitute adds a bit of smokiness, although it doesn’t have the most distinctive taste or texture.
McDonald’s Veggie Dippers
If meat substitute isn’t your thing then there’s the new McDonald’s veggie dippers, which are vegan approved. Made with diced red pepper, split peas, a sundried tomato pesto and coated in crispy breadcrumbs, these are a tasty addition to the menu – although they are probably the least McDonald’s-like food I’ve had from the fast-food giant.
Chilango’s THIS Isn’t Chicken Burrito
While not a new player in the game, Chilango’s vegan burrito is well worth a mention. The chicken substitute (made with soy and pea protein) is deliciously seasoned and well cooked, and tastes surprisingly close to the real thing – only the texture really gives it away. Combined with rice, black beans, lettuce and a BBQ salsa, this is a burrito I’d be happy to order again.
Price: £7.35 for a small or £8.95 for a regular
Wagamama’s Yasai Katsu Curry
A Wagamama katsu curry is a well-renowned classic – and now vegans can get in on the action too. Sweet potato, aubergine and butternut squash are coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs and served with that katsu curry sauce that we all know and love. It may be lacking in chicken, but it certainly isn’t in taste. Order with the slightly spicy yasai gyoza for a delicious and filling meal.
Price: £9.95 for the curry, or £15.70 for the Classic Vegan Bundle available on Deliveroo
Leon’s Chipotle Avocado Burger and LoVe Burger
LEON is another high street restaurant already offering vegan options, giving customers plenty to choose from. Their chipotle and avocado burger is good, with a tasty savoury burger patty, and red onion and avocado guacamole – although the chipotle mayo could do with a bit more spice. If you want to try something a bit different, you can get the LoVe burger, with a beetroot patty, moreish burger sauce and a slice of gouda-style vegan cheese. It was named the Best Vegan Burger at PETA’s Food Awards just a few months ago.
They also do a vegan billionaire’s shortbread, with a dark chocolate topping, a chewy date caramel and a base made from dates and flaxseed. The base is quite crumbly and you can definitely taste the dates, and all in all it’s a great way to finish off your vegan feast.
Price: £6.65 for the LoVe Burger, £6.75 for the Chipotle and Avocado burger, and £1.90 for the Billionaire’s Shortbread
The Real Greek’s jackfruit gyros
Saying goodbye to halloumi can be difficult, but The Real Greek’s extensive vegan menu is here to make the transition easier.
The high street chain offers a great selection of plant-based mezzes, from meat-less meatballs to falafel and grilled aubergines. However, their hero dish has to be their jackfruit gyros: a delicious plant-based answer to the classic meat souvlaki that you’ll want to eat even after Veganuary.
Price: Mezzes from £3.50, Jackfruit Gyros £6.50
Bacon Plant Burger, Honest Burger
If you thought that going vegan meant having to give up all your favourite comfort foods, you were very wrong.
Plant-based burgers are now almost mainstream but it’s still quite difficult to find one that could really replicate the same experience of a classic beef patty. If you miss the taste of a decadent burger, Honest Burger has got you covered. Their vegan sandwich is filled with a Beyond Meat patty, plant-based bacon and smoked vegan gouda cheese – it’s so good it will have you wonder if the kitchen made a mistake.
Price: Bacon Plant Burger £14.50
Images: Getty, courtesy of brands