Tom Lawrence – August 2019
Plant based sausages, beloved of vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians everywhere, have raised the ire of meat manufacturers – but is this fair?
Beyond the more moderate meat eaters of this world, there exists a radical substratum who have raised their dietary habits to quasi-religious status. Their antichrist? The plant based banger.
It’s a familiar refrain from fervent flesh devourers: why use words like “burger” and “sausage” for plant-based products? And don’t get them started on meat-free meatballs, a blasphemy akin to farting on an altar.
Thanks to the likes of Quorn and Linda McCartney, vegan sausages have become a supermarket staple. Consider, though, the sight of a ham-faced Piers Morgan spitting out a vegan sausage roll on live television earlier this year. Their popularity has made meat-free bangers a flashpoint for tension.
Here at Stoots we are a kitchen of peace. Most meat eaters bear very little resemblance to Piers Morgan, in the same way most vegans bear very little resemblance to iguanas. With 14% of the UK population now flexitarian, we believe in high quality plant based alternatives for all! Using the power of the sausage, we hope to end inter-dietary conflict and look to the future. Big meat processors and pressure groups are our enemy, not the common or garden full English enthusiast!
While the conflict rumbles on, however, the short-term priority of plant-based producers everywhere must be to counteract the overweening meat industry. What are the latest battle lines?
August 2019 saw a group of pro-banger barons and lorne-loving lords weigh in on the side of the vegans. In response to impending EU regulation on the issue, a House of Lords committee found no evidence that consumers were being misled by meat-free products. “Further,” says the report, “witnesses were unanimous in the view that current naming conventions around vegetarian burgers and sausages in particular are clear and easy to understand.”
The findings are unlikely to deter the Piers Morgans of this world. It’s not hard to imagine the angry protests tumbling from his greasy lips: they might not be deceptive, but they sure are disgusting! Just because they’re not tricking anyone, doesn’t mean they’re real sausages!!!
We hear you, Piers, God knows we hear you, and as you skirt closer and closer to cholesterol-based calamity with every passing year no one blames you for being so cross. But we think a banger is a banger – whatever the filling. Here are three reasons why.
The history of the word “sausage”, like the product itself, is a long and mingled one.
The term is thought to derive from the old Norman “saussiche,” a word tracing its roots back to the Latin “salsus” meaning “salted.” So the word itself has nothing to do with meat – its history suggests the seasoning, rather than the ingredients themselves, raises a mish-mash of materials to banger status.
And anyway, who are the meat lobbyists to decide what ingredients constitute a sausage! The butchery section of most supermarkets hosts all manner of bizarre bangers based on recipes where meat content plays second fiddle to fillers (more on this below). About time they got off their high horses (if they’ve not already stuffed their sausages with them).
Modern-meat based sausages trace their roots back to several centuries BC. While vegetarian sausages are a more recent invention, there’s no doubt they’ve earned their place in the history books.
Consider the Glamorgan sausage, a cheesy Welsh treasure dating back to the twelfth century. Its medieval origins make it older than the oldest family business in the country (a butcher, by coincidence), the country itself, kilts, and time.
Where will meat zealotry end? Would they rename a national dish in pursuit of purity? WOULD THEY?
Sausages of all kinds – meaty and non-meaty – have coexisted peacefully for centuries. Butchers and plant-based companies should be working together to make the world a better place, not fighting against each other!
Our gripe isn’t with high street butchers and small-scale delicatessens; sitting at the heart of local economies and dedicated to high quality produce, they’re everything Stoots aspires to be.
But even the best bangers contain a range of ingredients – rusk, cereals, spices and other seasonings are just as important in creating the end product as the meat itself. Yet for meat lobbyists, the pork, beef and/or lamb element overawes all others – how convenient!
Additionally, the higher up the meat industry you get, the more dubious the “meat” becomes. If beef haemoglobin powder and disodium diphosphate are your thing then fair enough – but don’t go around claiming it makes for a more convincing sausage than a Boris or a Red Helga!
In our view, if it’s got the name, the history and the recipe, it’s a sausage! Whether it’s 100% pork or completely meat free, if it goes well with mash and looks nice on a barbecue it then let it be.
Let’s all just get along, and agree if there’s one group deserving of the name it’s the silly sausages (or, as they would no doubt prefer to be known, the silly constituted flesh and organ tubes) trying to drive a wedge between producers of delectable bangers.
Stoots Bangers and Dippit Cheese are available now in The Good Food Shop at 20 Bishopthorpe Road, York.