“How do you make a haggis vegan? Feed it grass, of course!” But really, how do you make a Scottish savoury pudding, predominantly made from lung and other animal odds and ends, suitable for a plant-eater?
Well, it appears that there are quite a few plant-based haggises (haggi?) on the market, substituting offal for the classic Burns Night combo of neeps and tatties, as well as a mix of beans, lentils, oats and seeds for that classic crumbly texture.
“But it’s not haggis if it has no offal!” I hear you cry – or at least, I hear Douglas Scott, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Meat, cry. Earlier today he commented that the mere thought of vegan haggis would have Rabbie Burns himself “scoffing” after it was announced that Tesco would be stocking a popular brand of vegetarian haggis. But perhaps it’s time to let our traditionalist values slide a little in the name of inclusivity.
Besides, the meat-free delicacy has been around for longer than you’d think. “We actually made the first vegetarian haggis in 1984” says James Macsween, managing director of the famous Macsween butchers, which opened the first haggis factory in 1996. “Since then it’s always been a solid contender, nowadays though it makes up a quarter of our haggis sales.” He’s even serving it up at his own Burns Night, “I’ll be having a bit of both, meaty and veggie. I’m a die-hard carnivore, but I can’t say no to a bit of our vegetarian haggis.”
And as it turns out, some of them really aren’t half bad. Here’s my pick of the best and the worst vegetarian and vegan haggises.