‘I blind taste-tested Richmond sausages against vegan version’

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When my vegetarian colleague claimed that Richmond’s vegetarian sausages “hardly tasted different at all” to their original meaty counterpart, there was only one thing I could do.

I decided to do a blindfolded taste test to see if it was actually true. But was it possible to tell the two apart from taste alone?

Now, there are plenty of good arguments why eating less meat, or even cutting it out of your diet altogether, is good for you.

Primarily, it can be healthier for you, and for the environment – and it can also be cheaper. However, despite knowing all these benefits, many people like myself find that vegetarian versions of our meaty favourites just don’t taste as good.

Richmond sausages, in particular, are a favourite of mine, which was why when my colleague said those infamous words I knew I had to test this theory for myself. Could the vegetarian version really taste as good as the original?

According to their website, Richmond has been making sausages since 1889, which means families have been enjoying them for over 130 years. The humble sausage has become something of a classic, with its signature Irish recipe making it the most popular sausage brand in the UK – the same recipe that is still used today.

However, back in 2019, the company launched their “tasty Richmond Meat-Free range” in the hopes of having “something tasty for everyone, no matter who is at the table”. This saw the recipe switch out the main ingredients, replacing them with “expertly seasoned soya and wheat protein”. Soya beans are known for being low in saturated fat and high in protein.

This does mean that, in terms of health, the meat-free sausages are better for you – alas, one point to team meat-free. 

Nutritional breakdown

According to Richmond’s website, the typical values for 100g of sausage, as sold, contain:

  • Energy kcal – 266g
  • Fat – 19g
  • Fat of which saturates – 6.9g
  • Protein – 10g
  • Salt – 1.9g

Whereas, the typical values for 100g of meat-free sausage, as sold, contain:

  • Energy kcal – 148g
  • Fat – 6.0g
  • Fat of which saturates -4.4g
  • Protein – 8.6g
  • Salt – 1.5g

Comparing the cost

Secondly, I should point out that when it comes to cost, the meat-free sausages are cheaper.

Running across the road to my local Co-op, a standard pack of 8 sausages cost me £2.85, whereas the meat-free version cost only £2.00 for a pack – another point for the veggie sausages. 

Richmond sausage taste test

But now, it was time for the real test – could I tell the difference between the two sausages from taste alone? And which one did I prefer?

After roping my flatmate into my mission, she agreed to cook and serve them to me whilst I was blindfolded, and therefore unaware of which sausage was which. (Just another exciting Wednesday evening in our home…) 

Despite looking like I had entered into a hostage situation, and requiring help to make sure I didn’t stab the fork in my eye, I did actually manage to eat the samples and make my guesses. 

Richmond meat-free sausages verdict

The truth was, I could tell the difference – but only just.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that my colleague was right to an extent, as the two sausages did taste remarkably similar. Not only that, but if you were to make the switch to the meat-free substitute I could understand how you might come to not miss the taste of the original, as both were delicious.

Yes, I said it. The meat-free sausage was rather tasty – an opinion my flatmate shared after also tasting the two. However, we still preferred the meat option, which was what we had expected.

The biggest difference, for me, was the texture as the meat-free one was a little tougher. That was what really gave it away, but then again as a Richmond regular my senses may just be too well attuned to the original. 

Still, despite being a little tougher, the meat-free sausage was tasty and is both cheaper and healthier, which does make it an appealing option. So much so, that the odd meat-free substitute into dinners might just be on the cards for us, especially as the cost of living crisis continues. 

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