Burns Night was celebrated earlier this week, on 25 January. Given that Veganuary is celebrated throughout the month of January, we thought it was a prime opportunity to consider the rise of vegan haggis, not only in the run-up to Burns Night but also throughout the year.
Veganuary encourages people to adopt more plant-based eating habits in their lives, whether that be for the month of January, for one meal per week, or as part of a wider diet and lifestyle overhaul. As a result, we are seeing brands famous for their meat products release plant-based meat alternatives to not only retain existing customers who are now seeking to adopt more plant-based dietary habits, but also to attract those potential new customers already entrenched in a plant-based diet.
We are noticing that vegan haggis is a plant-based meat alternative that is becoming increasingly popular on the menus of cafés and restaurants and online recipes. We took this opportunity to speak to James Macsween, Director of Macsween of Edinburgh, to discuss Macsween's experience of the rise of vegetarian/vegan Haggis over the years.
James told us that his father invented the first commercially available vegan haggis in 1984 and the business has experienced a growing demand for vegan haggis ever since, stating that, “The amount of vegan haggis sales has typically grown in line with meat haggis sales growth”.
Although Macsween has built a hugely successful brand on haggis being consumed 52 weeks of the year, James told us that, around Burns Night, Macsween's customers sell around a 60/40 split of traditional meat haggis v vegan haggis. There is no doubt that traditional meat haggis is still by far the favourite of the family – however, Macsween's sales of vegan haggis have been increasing by 5% year-on-year.
James spoke of how consumer habits are evolving alongside the public’s reaction to calls for better environmental practices and sustainability; however, he also noted that, “Traditional meat haggis is an incredibly sustainable dish and 93% of the ingredients we use are locally sourced from within the UK”.
Although the popularity of vegan haggis is on the rise, it seems that not only is traditional meat haggis still the firm favourite of the family, but it is also a sustainable meat option. As James told us, it “plays a critical role in carcass utilisation by enabling nose to tail consumption of lamb and beef from the meat industry”. Less waste is always a good thing, and haggis does not allow for much in terms of waste.
If you are interested in trying out some haggis (which is not just for Burns Night!), vegan or otherwise, Macsween has a great host of recipes here. James has told us that the Veggie Haggis Poutine is definitely worth trying as a Scottish take on Canada’s national dish – Canada being Macsween’s largest export market!
A huge thank you to James for contributing to this article!