The start of the new year has once again brought Veganuary – the initiative to raise awareness of veganism and its benefits by encouraging people to go vegan for the month of January. Like last year, (post here) I’m doing my own version – Veggie January, as I’m not quite ready to give up mayo or butter just yet. Businesses are increasingly getting involved and now, people who don’t consume animal products can eat at more and more places like Greggs, KFC and Subway if they so wish. Meat eaters can still eat at these places, just like before, and their products have not been tampered with in any way. I repeat, people can still access their meat. Everybody wins! Or so you’d think. People seem to really be concerned about all these meat imitations. Last year’s prime offender – the Greggs vegan sausage roll has been knocked off the top spot for causing most offence, beaten this year by the Greggs vegan steak bake, followed closely by the KFC vegan chicken burger. These vegan replicas have caused quite the stir, with most of the offence seemingly being taken by the people who aren’t even consuming them (who I bet are the same ones calling other people snowflakes!)
What’s been going on?
The prolific uproar that ensued last year when Greggs introduced the vegan sausage roll seems to have, dare I say, worsened this year. Honestly, people have protested outside Greggs stores against the products and the fact they’ve got names like ‘vegan sausage roll’ and ‘vegan steak bake’ when they have no meat (apparently the term ‘vegan’ isn’t enough of a differentiator). Others have made sure that the world knew they would under-no-circumstances be trying these horrific vegan creations by ranting all over social media with such venom you’d think the vegan steak bake had murdered their families. I was almost scared to try it in case it somehow poisoned me to death with its eggless pastry. People are absolutely losing their shit. I know it’s really difficult to not worry about other peoples’ dietary choices, but I’ve never seen so many people be so opinionated about non-meat products. You don’t need to eat it, nobody is forcing it down your throat. I’m telling you, it’ll be the catalyst for world war 3, you heard it here first.
Why all the fuss?
Now, like me, you might think ‘are people genuinely offended by vegan food products and what they’re called?’ But think about how serious this is. How can they call it a vegan sausage roll when it has no sausage? How can they call it a vegan steak bake when there’s no steak? And whilst I’m on the topic, WHY ARE THEY MAKING MEATLESS PRODUCTS TO REPLICATE MEAT IF VEGANS ARE SO AGAINST EATING MEAT?! It’s all just too much to handle.
Here’s my two cents. Aside from the question ‘does it really matter?’, I suspect its name is primarily for marketing purposes. If Greggs just whacked out the name ‘vegan roll’ would we know what it was? Unlikely. We’d probably think it was a bit of lettuce and tomato on a barm (no butter obviously) because apparently we already have issues understanding how vegans eat anything but salad. But we sure as hell knew what a vegan sausage roll was, even before Piers Morgan got his knickers in a twist and whinged about it all day on daytime TV. Same goes for the vegan steak bake – it’s easy marketing.
But why make it look like meat?
So why are these products made to look and taste like meat? This one’s really easy if you think about it. Believe it or not, many vegans and veggies enjoy the taste of meat, the texture of meat, everything about meat, they just don’t enjoy an innocent animal dying to produce said meat. By having a meatless replica, they get the enjoyment of a hearty foodstuff, without eating a dead animal in the process. Admittedly, some companies have taken this idea a bit far – Aldi’s vegan burger bleeds whilst cooking, in a way that meat burgers don’t even do. I don’t know who is in charge of their product creation but I’m guessing based on their burger that it’s someone who used to eat their beef direct from the cow.
But vegans get to tell us how to eat!
I understand that people are fed up of Veganism being shoved down their throats and seemingly being told how they should eat and so are taking their chance to get their own back. There is so much to be said about the vegan vs non-vegan argument, and that’s a topic for a whole other post. I disagree with the idea that veganism is the only option, and I can’t bear obnoxious judgemental people as much as the next person (and you’ll find loads of them in the Veganuary Facebook group!), but at least there’s a reason for their argument and that’s ultimately that they want to cause less harm to animals. Hating on a pasty or sausage roll because you think it’s ridiculous to be accommodating meatless products in 2019 just seems a bit daft to me. All these people having meltdowns over it are sending me under.
If you’re seething because you can’t deal with the fact that a vegan steak bake doesn’t contain steak, or because a restaurant you’ve never been to has developed a full vegan menu and you’re panicking that you’ll never eat again, ask yourself this. In a year, or even five years, will you be worrying about all that vegan food you didn’t eat? Will you care what Greggs decided to name its meatless sausage roll? No? Then maybe it’s not worth stressing over now. If you want to eat meat, eat meat. If you don’t want to, don’t. If everybody focused on their own life and stopped disagreeing with what other people are doing (and yes – obviously I appreciate the irony here!), the world would feel like a much nicer place.
It’s really that simple.