If you read the news, there are some big questions on everyone’s minds this week.

No, it’s not whether World War Three is about to break out or how much money Meghan and Harry will need for ‘financial independence’. For the record, we don’t think they will struggle!

The big question is……….

What tastes better, Greggs vegan steak bake or the meat-free Burger King Rebel Whopper.

Both were launched to much fanfare this week and not surprisingly to coincide with the start of Veganuary, although in Burger King’s case they are already on sticky ground here, but more on that shortly.

Both products have been in short supply, but we managed to get our hands on them (it’s not what you know but how you know) and we sat down this week to give them a try. Eating new, exciting food is a tough job but someone has to do it, right?

We’ll start with the steak bake. Launched following the massive success of last year’s vegan sausage roll, Greggs has taken one of its best-loved products and made it fully vegan. As with the sausage roll, it has enlisted the help of Quorn to provide the ‘meat’ or mycoprotein to be exact and tried to replicate the real Steak Bake’s classic features, including 96 layers of light and crisp puff pastry, diced onions and a rich gravy.

Visually, like the sausage roll, you can tell it’s different. It looks much paler because it hasn’t been washed with egg to give the sheen we are used to when buying Greggs’ regular products.

But what about the taste? Well, we have to say we were quite disappointed. The overriding taste you get is of salt. It’s very, very salty. And as for the rich gravy. Well the one we bought didn’t have any, so it was rather dry as well.

On the positive side, the vegetarian mince is nice enough and unmistakeably Quorn and the pastry is the same lovely pastry made by Greggs, bar the egg of course.

It sadly just didn’t do it for us I am afraid, although like the sausage roll, we are sure it will continue to fly off the shelves and us meat eaters are obviously able to compare it to the original steak bake, which is not a point of reference vegans or vegetarians will have, so they will no doubt love it.

That’s not to say we are not looking forward to future vegan offerings which Greggs are undoubtedly planning, with chicken rumoured to be the next to be reinvented.

So, now to the BK Rebel Whopper. We won’t keep you in suspense though because OMG! It is is absolutely amazing!

Where do we start with this one? Well, the first thing to say is that it comes in fetching green packaging and in your hands, it feels substantial, just like the original Whopper.

Inside it looks almost identical to a meat Whopper, coming flame grilled with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, mayonnaise, ketchup, pickles, and sliced white onions on a toasted sesame seed bun. The difference obviously is the patty so rather than meat, it consists of soy produced by The Vegetarian Butcher.

We say almost because the patty doesn’t quite have the same look as the meat patty. But the smell is exactly the same.!

The taste however is indistinguishable from the original. If we had done a blind taste test, we would have thought we were eating a normal Whopper and that’s the best compliment we can give it. It holds together like a good burger should, it’s juicy, meaty and if anything there is less grease with the meat-free version.

It’s also cheaper than the standard Whopper with a few less calories as well so in our book it’s a winner all round and we’re not sure we will ever need to eat a regular Whopper again.

One caveat to mention here and to be fair to Burger King they have addressed this from the outset, is that this may not be suitable for vegetarians. That’s because although plant-based, the patty it is cooked on the same broiler as the original Whopper to “deliver the same unique flame-grilled taste”.

It’s definitely a no, no for vegans due to the mayonnaise, although they could ask for this to removed during the preparation process. Burger King however are aiming this more at the flexitarian market, i.e. the majority of us who are still meat eaters but recognise the benefit of eating more plant-based foods.

The fact they have launched such an amazing product can only be a good thing for consumers and the environment. Now McDonalds need to get their act together. There’s talk of a McVegan Burger being launched worldwide soon. They better be quick though because their current vegetarian offerings are dire, and they may find that BK have already won the day when it comes to plant-based alternatives.

Next week, we taste test Subway’s Meatless Meatball Marinara and KFC’s Vegan Chicken Burger.

About Sean Flint
Development & Innovation Chef of SK Foods.
Your food. Our Passion.