Every vegan thing I ate at Greggs this month, ranked

A Veganuary investigation of the venerable food-on-the-go chain

Every vegan thing I ate at Greggs this month, ranked

It seems obvious to me that if I had been living in the UK five years ago, I would’ve made Greggs my entire personality in a similar way I made Lucozade the center of my life after having one sip of the carbonated sports drink. I would’ve been a full kit wanker in my head-to-toe Greggs x Primark gear. But as fate would have it, a Greggs pastry never touched my tips until 2023, and so I’m just beginning my journey as a Greggs acolyte. Luckily for me, one of Greggs’ 2,473 locations is just down the road from my apartment, making their breakfast pastries easily accessible.

Greggs has grown massively since the first shop opened in 1951, and is now Britain’s largest food chain, overtaking American chain Subway just last year. The menu—all of it designed to be eaten on the go—is varied, but the core of it is pastries like the venerable sausage roll, the chain’s most popular item. If the smell of the bakes wafting out the front door doesn’t draw you in, the prices will—Greggs is wildly affordable compared to competitors, even with recent inflation price hikes, and a sausage roll clocks in at around £1.20 depending on the branch (approximately $1.50 for you filthy, backwards Americans).

Best of all, vegans and vegetarians don’t have to miss out on the cheap eats. With multiple vegan items on the menu made in partnership with Quorn, Greggs is well-prepared to cater to my needs as a cheap, hungry patron. As a service to you, my presumably cheap, hungry reader, here’s every vegan thing I ate at Greggs last month, ranked.

5) Vegan sausage breakfast roll

I’ll admit—it’s a little bit my fault that the vegan sausage breakfast roll—not to be confused with the vegan sausage roll—is so far down on the list. I didn’t realize until I left the shop with my sausage bap that I’d neglected to pop open the package and add ketchup or brown sauce. And without some sort of condiment, this vegan sausage breakfast roll is literally just two vegan sausages on a roll that you eat for breakfast.

A bread roll with two vegan sausages on it. No condiments in sight.
That’s two sausages on a roll all right.

Maybe my standards are too high, but I did expect at least one other ingredient on the sandwich. There doesn’t appear to be a popular vegan egg patty replacement here—Just Egg, please launch in the UK—so the multi-ingredient sandwiches are left to the meat eaters. But I could’ve done with some fake cheese or even just a sad piece of lettuce.¹

The sausages—made with Quorn—are fine. They’ve nailed the taste and texture of cheap sausage, so kudos to them. I just really wish I remembered to add a condiment.

What is Quorn?
This meat replacement is particularly popular in the UK, and the company has partnered with multiple food chains to power their vegan options. Quorn uses a mycoprotein made with a fungus called Fusarium venenatum, which they ferment and grow into a protein-rich ingredient that powers their various recipes. This process has a much lower carbon and water footprint than raising cows or chicken for meat, with the added benefit of being cruelty-free. Not all Quorn products are vegan, as some of their recipes use eggs as a binder. In addition to Greggs, Quorn has partnered with PizzaExpress, Pizza Hut, JD Wetherspoon, KFC, and Costa Coffee on vegan menu items.

4) Hash browns

Along with the vegan sausage breakfast roll, I picked up a packet of hash browns. They were just hash browns. Not bad, not great—solidly good hash browns. I did enjoy that they were triangular. That’s a really nice shape for holding and dipping into a sauce on the go (assuming you remember the condiment).

Now’s a good time to bring up price. The hash browns were £1.25 on their own. The vegan sausage breakfast roll was £2.30. When I went up to the cashier with my two items, she asked if I wanted a hot drink, as I would actually save £0.25 by getting all three. So somehow, £5.10 worth of food (already very, very cheap) became just £3.20.

Meme from the film Game Night. Jesse Plemons as a cop holding a dog by a mailbox. Subtitle: "How can that possibly be profitable for Greggs?"

3) Glazed donut

Greggs reformulated their glazed donut with a vegan recipe back in 2020, and the result, according to reviewers at the time, was pretty much an exact replica of the original. That’s a testament to the hard work put into this recipe, as vegan sweet treats often pale in comparison to their milk- and egg-based counterparts.

The Greggs glazed donut is light, airy, and sweet without being sickly. Was it the most amazing donut I’ve ever tasted? No—I think Krispy Kreme’s vegan glazed is the gold standard here, and Greggs doesn’t quite reach those highs, but there are a lot more Greggs out there than Krispy Kremes (even if you count in-store cabinets at grocery chains). If you’re in a train station and can choose between the two, go Krispy Kreme, but the £1.00 Greggs donut is perfectly satisfactory (and more accessible).

2. Vegan steak bake

A new and improved vegan steak bake recipe is Greggs flagship Veganuary item this year, back on the menu after being removed in 2021. A puffy pastry stuffed with Quorn pieces, diced onions, and gravy, the steak bake promises a substantial on-the-go breakfast. But I found my steak bake a little light on the filling. I was never just eating dry pastry thankfully, but I did have several bites that felt like it was just pastry and gravy, with no onion or Quorn.

A vegan steak bake with bit of the filling spilling out of the long side.
Bit of spillage there.

Overall, I liked the taste and texture more than the vegan sausage breakfast roll, and would choose the steak bake over that if I was looking for a larger breakfast item. Would it keep me satisfied until lunch? Unlikely, but maybe that’s a job for the hash browns.

A vegan steak bake is a flat £2.00, a great deal no matter how you slice it, and you can save a few pennies with a hot drink combo as well.

1. Vegan sausage roll

It’d be hard not to rank the vegan version of Greggs’ best-selling product as number one. The first vegan product Greggs introduced, the vegan sausage roll was an immediate sensation, leading to a massive increase in sales. It obviously wasn’t just vegans that made the product a success—almost 40% of the British population are actively trying to reduce meat in their diets, and accessible vegan alternatives appeal to them as much as the fully meatless. The economic success here reminds me of Plantega’s pitch to New York bodegas—as CEO Nil Zacharias told me last February, vegan options are broadly popular, and businesses make money by offering them. It’s simple maths if you can get the product right.

And Greggs has gotten the product right here, with a delightfully flaky pastry wrapped around a satisfying Quorn filling that is a believable facsimile of ground-up sausage. What’s not to love? As a big stick that’s easy to take a bite out of, the sausage roll is already the perfect on-the-go snack. And now it’s vegan!

A hand holding a vegan sausage roll wrapped, still in its little wrapper from the store, outside on the sidewalk.
A vegan sausage roll in its natural environment (a bus stop).

At just £1.20, a vegan sausage roll is the perfect breakfast snack whether you’re commuting or just walking around the neighborhood. I can’t imagine Greggs coming up with anything better than this, but I’ll be pleasantly surprised if and when their food scientists make a major breakthrough in pastry technology.

  1. To be fair, meat sandwiches that are literally just meat on a roll appear to be pretty popular here in the UK. I tried Googling to find out why that is and found a Telegraph headline reading “Sandwiches have become too complicated—one ingredient is all you need”, so it appears to be some sort of societal disease.