Britain’s most famous tinned pie, Fray Bentos, is moving with the times. Whether out of noble inclusivity or naked opportunistic cynicism, the company best-known for its steak and kidney classic has released a vegan “steak” (soy-based protein), gravy, and kidney bean version for entry into the 2019 PETA awards. Indeed, and as reported by i News, it was victorious in the best vegan pie category.
The pie, which will be available to buy from late December, follows the 138-year-old company’s launch of a Vegetable Balti version in March and is a sign of the times, an age in which vegan food has moved well and truly into the mainstream Western discourse. While international fast food brands like Burger King and KFC are trialling plant-based burger patties and fake “chicken” substitutes, British companies like Greggs — the home of the steak bake — are attributing sensational financial results to its own innovations in the realm of meat- and dairy-less foods, such as its vegan sausage roll. Those have followed a number of independent pioneers in the field, as well, of course, those restaurants whose food has been vegan-without-slogans forever.
“Growing concerns about health, the environment, and animal suffering are driving more and more people to choose vegan options,” Dawn Carr, PETA director of vegan corporate projects said. “The forward-thinking businesses we’ve honoured this year have all responded to the booming demand with delicious, plant-based foods that appeal to vegans and meat-eaters alike.”
Where this leaves the vegan Fray Bentos pie in the realm of modern political satire is, for now, merely a source of speculation. The collage artist, Cold War Steve, has regularly used the original Fray Bentos pie tin as a symbol of the bizarre branch of British nostalgia and nationalism associated with the Brexit movement. Veganism, of course, is often weaponised by those on the right as a hallmark of modern liberal values that must be challenged and insulted, a new patch of land on which a 2019 class war can be fought. Just ask this guy, a broadcaster who was less than impressed by Greggs’ sausage roll.
One final thought: What will Her Maj, the Queen, make of this innovation?