The No Meat Company’s vegan sausage rolls – “No Porkies” – are a pretty good buy, in my opinion. Unlike many other sausage rolls, they contain no palm oil, and the packaging is a simple cardboard box – no plastic. Do they taste good? Put it this way: After buying one box to try them, I went back and bought four more boxes 🙂 The No Meat Company sausage rolls are available from the Grocery Outlet for $1.99 for a box of four pretty large frozen sausage rolls.
I actually came across some very similar vegan sausage rolls at the Grocery Outlet a couple of years ago, but made by Fry’s Family Foods – a South African plant-based food company that I reviewed here previously. It turns out that there is a connection: The UK-based No Meat Company and Fry’s Family Foods were both acquired by the Livekindly Collective, along with a three other vegan food companies (Oumph!, Like Meat, and The Dutch Weed). Livekindly is owned in part by Blue Horizon Ventures, which has invested in many of the biggest plant-based food companies at some point.
No Porkies sausage rolls – review
These could not be easier to prepare – open the box, slide the frozen sausage rolls out of the box onto a baking tray and bake until golden brown. I use parchment paper (sustainably made by If You Care) on the tray so there’s not even any need for washing up afterwards. The parchment paper can then be used to wrap any sausage rolls that you don’t intend to eat right away – they’re good hot or cold. The packaging can be recycled after a quick wipe to remove any flour.
For my first time cooking them, I brushed the sausage rolls with some beaten egg so that they’d go nice and brown. This turned out to be unnecessary and even a bad idea as it became hard to judge whether they were cooked or not because they become very brown. The second time, I didn’t brush them with anything and the result was better – they actually turn golden brown without any milk or egg wash.
The pastry was good – nice flaky puff pastry, the way it should be – which goes to show that we don’t need dairy or palm oil to make good pastry. The filling is quite good – I think it would benefit from more sage and cayenne but it was pretty good as-is. This blogger also mentioned that they could use more seasoning but did also like them, comparing them to famous vegan sausage rolls from Gregg’s bakeries in the UK. The filling is soy-based but I had no digestion issues, as I sometimes do with products made from soy protein concentrate.
No Porkies – Ingredients
Water, Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin), Margarine (Fully Hydrogenated Sunflower Oil, Fully Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Water, Salt), Textured Soya Protein Concentrate (6%), Sunflower Oil, Sage and Onion Seasoning (Rusk (Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Iron Niacin, Thiamin), Water, Salt, Yeast (contains Barley)), Dehydrated Onion, Salt, Dried Sage, Sage Powder, Dried Parsley, Raising Agent: Sodium Caronates; Barley Malt Extract), Modified Maize Starch, Stabiliser: Methyl Cellulose; Salt, Seasoning (Concentrated Mushroom, Salt, Rapeseed Oil, Water, Mushroom Powder, Suagar, Concentrated Onion, Cornflour), Onion Powder, Yeast Extract, Ground White Pepper, Ground Nutmeg, Cayenne Pepper, Wheat Protein, Colour: Carotenes.
Each sausage roll (100 g) provides 301 calories, comprising 17.3 g fat (7.8 g saturated fat), 25.1 g carbohydrate, 4.2 g dietary fiber, 2.1 g sugars, 1.3 g salt, and 9.3 g protein.
That’s a lot of salt in one sausage roll! So, going back to the seasoning, adding more salt would not be a good idea, but I think a little more heat (cayenne or paprika) and herb might work, maybe even allowing a reduction in salt.
Is fully hydrogenated oil safe?
The most interesting thing about the ingredients is the margarine – fully hydrogenated sunflower oil and fully hydrogenated coconut oil. The hydrogenation turns unsaturated fats, like those in sunflower oil, into saturated fats that become solid at room temperature. This is one of the reasons why they don’t need to use palm oil – so that’s good.
The food industry moved away from partially hydrogenated oils because this process results in the formation of trans fats, now known to be pretty harmful to health. These partially-hydrogenated oils were replaced by palm oil by many food companies, resulting in large-scale deforestation and destruction of peat lands in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Fully hydrogenated oils avoids harmful trans fats but another way would be to use more of the solid plant-based fats like coconut oil and shea butter, as used in Naturli’ vegan butter. The reason for The No Meat Company using fully hydrogenated sunflower oil, I’m pretty sure, is that it’s cheaper than coconut oil and shea butter. Perhaps it also results in slightly better pastry, but I’m guessing economics is the key factor here.
A 2016 review, Commercially available alternatives to palm oil, addressed this question, concluding that it is possible to replace palm oil by liquid oils, blends with exotic fats, or blends with fully hydrogenated liquid oils. Here’s a couple of more points from that review:
Even though the above mentioned fully hydrogenated fats do not contain trans-fatty acids, in many countries it is still necessary to label the process of hydrogenation on the food packaging.
One of the major drawbacks of non-palm and non-hydrogenated fats based on shea, cocoa butter or other exotic fats is the high price of the raw materials.
There is one recent study on the health impact of fully-hydrogenated oil – researchers in Japan compared the impact of canola oil with fully-hydrogenated canola oil (FHCO) and found that it appears to be significantly better than palm oil or even regular liquid canola oil.
FHCO remarkably decreased the serum cholesterol level [and systolic blood pressure] compared with canola.
That was just one study, however, so it’s early days yet. I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat fully hydrogenated oil, but it should be a lot safer than partially hydrogenated oil and possibly even better than some natural fats like palm oil.
So, we’ve wandered quite far from sausage rolls – let’s get back to the product with an evaluation on ethics 🙂
Ethical rating for The No Meat Company vegan sausage rolls
First of all, it’s quite tricky getting information here. The No Meat Company’s webpage for No Porkies is completely blank but there is a page for similar sausage rolls that come in 6-packs. The About Us section of the No Meat website is extremely sparse and there’s no meaningful information on sustainability. You have to know to go to the Livekindly Collective website for more information on all of the Livekindly brands. It would be quite easy to go to the Livekindly blog by accident – a media company that was acquired by the Livekindly Collective, which took its name. Ironic that communication is Livekindly’s biggest weak point.
Even the Livekindly Collective is sparse on sustainability info – the relevant webpage boils down to these two points:
- Adopting a plant-based diet is single best thing you can do to save the planet. All of Livekindly’s brands, such as the No Meat Company, are plant-based food companies.
- Livekindly brands such as the No Meat Company are using or moving towards sustainable packaging (e.g., cardboard, recycled plastic).
These are important points, and true. But as one of the largest plant-based food companies, the Livekindly Collective should work on communicating more. There’s a post on upgrading the food system that provides some useful information but is also quite vague in some areas. It mentions a collaborative project with Puris – an interesting plant-breeding company focused on breeding high-yield, disease-resistant, non-GMO crops. Puris was named in 2021 by Fast Company as the most innovative company in the food space for its development of a high-protein pea variety that’s viable across six climate zones. Here’s some more info on that upgrading the food system page:
We are the only company in the plant-based food sector to own and operate the entire value chain of production.
In South-Africa our dedicated Agric team has sourced suitable land where we are able to influence the crop rotation of the farmer to positively impact their long-term soil health. Our mission is not only to make a positive contribution to the environment through promoting a shift from degenerative to regenerative farming methods
I’m scoring the No Meat Company’s vegan sausage rolls 4.5/5 Green Stars for social and environmental impact, for these reasons:
- All No Meat Company products are (surprise!) all vegan. Adopting a plant-based diet is the top thing you can do to mitigate deforestation & climate change and to end animal cruelty and the negative impact that the meat industry has on society.
- The main ingredients (wheat, soy, sunflower oil, coconut oil) are generally far more sustainable than meat. More information on sourcing would be appreciated though.
- Instead of using palm oil, the sausage rolls are made with fully-hydrogenated coconut and sunflower oils. Palm oil is very commonly used in products like sausage rolls, so it’s good to see someone demonstrating that there’s a better way.
- The packaging is a simple cardboard box, which can be easily wiped clean and recycled. Packaging needs to be simplified, especially in the US, and boxes are the best option in many cases.
- The parent company, Livekindly Collective, appears to have some interesting projects going on around sustainable farming, but needs to better communicate on them.
Summary scores (out of 5) for The No Meat Company’s vegan sausage rolls:
- 4 gold stars for quality and value
- 4.5 green stars for social and environmental impact
If you have a different opinion, please share your rating! Until next time, stay safe : )