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Many pizza companies these days are adding vegan options to their menus to keep up with the growing demand worldwide for plant-based proteins. UK chain PizzaExpress took that idea one step further recently when it opened the doors on its very first Vegan PizzaExpress. As the name suggests, the pizzeria, located in the Aldwych area of London on The Strand, will serve exclusively all-vegan, plant-based items, including all “cheese” and other toppings for the pies.
The location is in celebration of the launch of the chain’s new menu, which drops today (Tuesday, September 21). A blog post on the PizzaExpress website notes that the new menu “sees the biggest ever number of new vegan additions, including exclusive new vegan versions of the most famous PizzaExpress favourites.” The all plant- based store debut echoes a move made by Pret A Manger back in 2016. The popular British QSR chain opened a vegetarian Veggie Pret as a pop-up experiment and it was so popular they quickly made it permanent. There are now 14 Veggie Pret locations across the UK.
A plant-based twist
Those five reinventions of PizzaExpress classics include the American Jack, the Vegan American Hot, the Vegan Diavolo, the Vegan Ad Astra, and the Vegan Forza. Three of the five feature Pizza Express’ new jackfruit “pepperoni,” which the chain says took more than a year to develop in terms of getting the taste and texture to match that of a pepperoni made from animal-based meat.
“Every single one of our new vegan pizzas stays true to the unique flavours of the original versions. It took just over a year to develop an exclusive new Vegan Pepperoni ingredient with our partners Jack & Bry, working tirelessly with our tasting panels to perfect them,” PizzaExpress Food & Beverage Director Jane Treasure said in the post.
“Our new vegan menu is so wide-ranging and delicious that it deserves a pizzeria of its own – so that’s exactly what we did,” added Shadi Halliwell, Chief Customer Officer at PizzaExpress. “‘Vegan PizzaExpress’ is our first restaurant that will serve our vegan menu exclusively and is a true showcase of these authentic flavours that we’ve been perfecting since 1965.”
More vegan options worldwide
While PizzaExpress Vegan is by far the chain’s biggest initiative around offering plant-based foods, it isn’t the first. In 2019, PizzaExpress Singapore launched a vegan menu with items from Beyond Meat, Omnipork, and Daiya. Prior to that, it launched a breakfast pizza with Eat Just’s JUST Egg at locations in Hong Kong and currently offers Omnipork and Daiya vegan cheese options.
More recently, the UK chain offered up its Sloppy Vegan pie earlier this year, using Quorn to create a meat-free take on its beloved Sloppy Giuseppe pizza.
Worldwide, pizza chains of all sizes are adding more plant-based items to their menus. Recent developments include Domino’s Indonesia launching two new “beefless” pizzas and Beyond Meat launching a vegan pepperoni at Pizza Hut locations in the U.S.
And according to one survey, Brits are keen to cut down on their meat consumption. The Vegan Society and recipe site BOSH! recently said that roughly 40 percent of Brits have “actively reduced or removed” animal products from their diet.
The all-vegan PizzaExpress location also comes just days after McDonald’s launched its first 100% vegan burger in the UK that was developed in partnership with Beyond Meat.
Vegan PizzaExpress is currently open and serving up exclusively vegan fare seven days per week.
Lead image courtesy of PizzaExpress.