Sunday, 10 January 2010

The 'Vegetarian' Black Pudding

Now any tourist who has had the joy of ordering a full English or Scottish fry-up breakfast will have seen their plate embellished with a burned piece of disc known as black pudding, this normally gets pushed to the edge of the plate. This is not unusual, alongside jellied eels and tripe, the black pudding is reputed to be one of the least palatable dishes amongst us British. Black pudding is a fat, round sausage-like product. It is traditionally made from fresh blood, pork back-fat, oatmeal, barley, flour, rusk, onion and a blend of herbs and spices.
So you can imagine my surprise when I learned in 2006 that a Vegetarian Black Pudding had been launched by The Real Lancashire Black Pudding Company's. Now the vegetarians amongst us may have felt a bit smug that something had been invented with our diet in mind, but the truth was the ingredients of fresh pig’s blood and ox intestines in a black pudding put off even the most hardcore of carnivores, so the aim of the inventor was to create an alternative that would win back this squirming audience.

In an interview the company's owner, Andrew Holt, explained how he substituted the meat components of the pudding, namely the fat, blood and ox intestines. 'We tried to make a liquid which would simulate the properties of blood and get the right colour as well. We used beetroot and caramel for the colouring, with GM-free whey and soya powders for the protein'. Just reading that made my stomach turn, anyway, the feedback received from regular black pudding connoisseurs and celebrity chefs was that the 'V Pud' was very similar in taste to the real stuff.
Many of you will be interested to note that The V Pud is approved by the Vegetarian Society in the U.K. I know many vegetarians and vegans, who have made a conscious choice about their diet, will be bewildered as to why would a person who prides themselves on eating vegetables would even consider buying something specifically created to resemble meat. But at the same time, I know of many vegetarians and vegans, including myself whom have products on their plate which impersonate meat such as: seitan (wheat gluten) meatloaf; tempeh bacon, TVP meatballs, Quorn ‘chicken’ or Tofu Turkey, as was the case over Christmas. I have even come across a vegan version of black pudding by Linda Majzlik's. The truth of the matter is that many vegetarians and vegans object to the rearing conditions of the animal, not necessarily the taste or texture.

I consider myself an adventurous diner (as long as it is suitable for vegetarians), so after years of ignoring the 'V Pud' – Black pudding in the refrigerated section of specialist shops, I finally succumbed primarily out of curiosity. As with most of these products, the ingredients are a guarded secret, but the 'V Pud' does contain wheat gluten, beetroot powder and some milk products. I found it soft, moist, a little oozy with a powdery aftertaste. It is not particularly spicy and has a flavour of its own, something that I cannot compare. Would I purchase the 'V Pud' again? Yes, I think I would and perhaps moreso as a talking point for when friends and family were over, for the novelty factor of a vegetarian Black Pudding (much in the same vain as the Macsweens vegetarian Haggis which is more popular than the 'real' haggis).
So that you know, this particular vegetarian product is being sold by large meat-based company whose focus is not the vegetarian’s diet, but a marketing strategy. Perhaps this 'vegetarian' and 'vegan' dietary gap should be redressed by a small business that wholeheartedly has vegetarians and vegans in mind. But I fall in between these two as I think we should praise the forward thinking of these companies. These companies are in an influential position to mainstream vegetarian products; and by doing so encourage other large companies to produce quality vegetarian and vegan alternatives.

I know this vegetarian black pudding does not contain an ounce of fresh vegetable, however I am a firm believer that vegetable based dishes should be made available to everyone who wishes to try it, not just those who choose to wear the labels.

To end, have you tried 'V Pud' black Pudding? If not would you? I would love to hear from you.


  1. I'd be interested in trying it once, simply because as a very-nearly-lifelong vegetarian I don't remember eating any meat, and so I have no concept of what a black pudding might taste like.

    On the other hand, I'd prefer not to spend my money supporting what is, essentially, a meat company.

  2. I'm not sure if I would try something like this...I am a vegetarian (I eat fish though) because I love vegetables. I don't really care for things that look like meat, even if they don't contain any meat.

  3. Ugh! I'll try anything once, but I'm not going to seek it out (even if it were available here, which I doubt). I'm not a big fan of "fake food" - for one thing it tends to be highly processed and made in a factory.

  4. wow, i had not heard of this product. my husband is quite excited by the idea of it, thanks!

  5. I always remember the smug glee I felt when I informed my younger sister who was recently introduced to black pudding (I was also introduced to it at the same time but found it looked a bit suspect and chose not to try it) and who loved it that it was made from pigs blood which I had recently found out due to my high school agricultural class field trip to an abattoir.

    Well that was the last time she ate for sure, hee! hee!

    I'm not that interested in trying the Vegetarian alternative either.

  6. Have to say, this does not sound in the least bit enticing and I'm not that keen on mass produced food anyway. Just an aside on the tempeh - this isn't a meat substitute, it's a bona fide vegetarian staple for millions of people in Indonesia (you know this anyway). Back in the old days CT used tp make tempeh and it is sooo much better than the bought stuff. Having said that, it is the nearest thing to bacon I can think of for vegetarians and one of the best ways of turning soya into a healthy and nutritious food.

  7. WOw, veg black pudding. How interesting. We of course do not have that across the pond. I have tried a vegan tripe substitute at a vegan/vegetarian restaurant. The texture was so real, I gagged on the first bite. Ugh. But I do like mockloaf, tofurky, and tempeh bacon. I do remember seeing black pudding on my breakfast plate when we were in Scotland. When I was told what it was, I politely put it to the side of my plate.

  8. I would probably try a bite and even swallow it to be polite but I don't think I would be buying any for my own meals. It just doesn't sound appetizing to me with or without the pig's blood! LOL!

  9. Hmmm. I don't think I'll try that one.
    I have enjoyed looking at the recipes on your blog and I will try some of those.
    Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a nice comment. Please let me know if you make some garden art and post it in case I miss it.

  10. I had no clue that the English and Scottish would eat such things for breakfast!! My stomach started to turn when I read that and then again with that tidbit from the interview discussing the vegetarian version, I was glad to see that it wasn't just me!

    It is an interesting dynamic, the vegetarian product being put out by a meat based company, that I haven't seen before. I don't object though, the more alternatives to meat there is out there the better, if you ask me. I'm really glad that there are so many options out there, I don't know many people (vegetarian or not) who haven't at least tried a veggie burger. I actually ate these products more before I stopped eating meat, I guess it was sort of a transition for me. I try to make homemade versions now and freeze them myself for quick meals, but I do splurge from time to time on some of my old favorites that I haven't been able to imitate at home.

    While I haven't tried V Pud, I certainly would :)

  11. I've never heard of black pudding, but it sounds and looks great.

  12. Gosh, Im not sure too many vegetarians would want to try this, I know I wouldnt. Interesting though.


  13. Hehe I've read about Black Pudding in British literature - and I have to admit it has always sounded scary to me:) But I'd definitely try the vegetarian version - why not?

  14. An interesting post, I'll look out for this and give it a try.

  15. Unless you invited me over to your house for breakfast, Mango, I don't think I would ever have reason to buy, or try, this "V Pud" stuff. Interesting, though, that the company is trying to appeal to vegetarians, so that is good. I'll take tofu any day. :-)

  16. Thanks Rachel.
    I only grew up eating limited amounts of chicken, lamb and fish - only because I never enjoyed the flavour or texture. My family has never consumed cow, deer, pig, rabbit, turkey etc. So my experience of eating meat is quite limited. I've never eaten the real 'black pudding' either, so that was another reason I was kinda curious.

    I understand your reservations about supporting a company that is essentially, a meat company - that was one of the reasons I wanted to highlight this too.

    Welcome Ameena and Thanks for your comment.

    Kate - Thanks - understand the 'Ugh' factor. You are right, most mock "meat" products are highly processed and made in a factory, but I think most ready made foods are.

    Hi Clare,
    Just a word of caution it is not suitable for vegans as it containes powdered milk.

    Hi Kella,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. It brought a smile to my face, I can just imagine your smug glee. Sisters eh!

    Good job your not interested in trying this alternative, as its not suitable for vegans.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, most appreciated.

    I totally agree that it does not sound enticing at all. As you know :D, I know tempeh, seitan and tofu are not viewed as meat substitutes, but a staple ingredient in many people around the world. However, we do live in modern times where people do use these as a 'meat' substitute (including me).

  17. Hi Mom of Two Vegan Boys.
    woah, heres me writing about veg black pudding and your telling me you've tried vegan 'tripe'. I am actually quite stunned. Thank you so much for sharing :D

    Thanks for your honestly Michelle.

    Thanks for coming by Kathy.
    I sure will.

    Thank you so much Sarah.
    Your first comment made me smile big time!
    I think black pudding was one of those thrifty dishes when every part of the animal was used.

    Thank you so much for your in-depth response it is most appreciated.

    Hi Nicci.
    Which version? :D

    Hi Rose,
    You'd be surprised. I mean look at me. I am so sorry to have disappointed you

    Thanks Alina.

    Thanks Ann.

    Hi Barbara,
    Ah your so kind :-)

    I would have been happy to post you all out a 'V' Pud, but it doesn't travel well!

  18. Ah, thanks for the hint! I shall keep away, my husband however is eligable I think!

  19. I learn something new everytime I visit your Blog! I have never even heard of Black Pudding and i do eat meat. But, it doesnt sound appetizing, maybe its the blood and the intestines! Thanks for adding something new to my brain :)

  20. mmm not for me! Even though I know it's veggie I just can't detach from what I know goes into real black pudding! And I think we're not meant to find black food appealing - I'm much more of a green, red, purple girl when it comes to drooling over food.

  21. I understand Nic, but what about chocolate :D

  22. Hey - there's nothing wrong with MacSweens veggie haggis - scrummy. But veggie tripe? No way ! What is the point of making a veggie version of something that is disgusting even if you're carnivorous?

  23. Hello Speaking Goat and Welcome.
    I agree nothing wrong with MacS veggie haggis and agree about your view on veggie tripe.

  24. I have to admit I was very dubious about V Pud - but having eaten it I'm completely won over.

    As a veggie of some 20 years+, I have no idea if tastes like 'proper' Black Pudding, but I think it's a brilliant product with a taste all of it's own - and much more interesting than any of the meat substitutes I've had.

    Excellent as an ingredient as well, have used it to add richness to mushroom pies and as part of a veggie paella.

    If you can get past the black pudding link - give it a go.


  25. So lovely to make your acquaintance Joe.

    Really appreciate your comment and enjoyed reading it. Too be honest, I haven't had it again since, but may give it another try in the future. Liking the sound of it in mushroom pies which make a lot and veggie paella, which I do not make much.
    Kindest of wishes.

  26. Tastes really nice when done in the oven in olive oil with a bit of pepper on it then served with poached eggs and toasted soda bread , it's grand i tell thee :0)

  27. Oh i trust thee.
    Thanks anon.

  28. Can any one tell me where i can buy this in London?

  29. Hi Anon,
    I don't know London that well to recommend, but if you try some of the specialist veggie deli's there or even Holland and Barrett, you may find some.

  30. For most of my life I have avoided eating (real) black pudding, but a few years ago I gave it a try and have enjoyed it on several occasions since. When our daughter took us to a vegetarian restaurant, and I saw veggie black pudding on the menu, I had to give it a try. I found it very tasty, though unlike the real thing. I might have a go at making it if I am entertaining a vegetarian. It would go nicely in a paella-style dish (but don't tell the Spanish food police).


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