A UK food chain's tweet about a vegan sausage roll went viral earlier this year after controversial TV host Piers Morgan vented his disgust.

And according to the boss of Greggs Plc, the predictable outrage caused such an online buzz that the #VeganSausageRoll became the company's fastest selling new product ever.

"Nobody was waiting for a vegan bloody sausage, you PC-ravaged clowns," Morgan tweeted to his 6.5 million followers in January in response to Greggs' tweet. The brand wrote back, "Oh hello Piers, we've been expecting you."

Speaking to Bloomberg, Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside credited the social media campaign and post-New Year's resolution timing for an "exceptionally strong start" to the year for the chain's 1850 locations.


"More and more people are choosing to eat less meat and more vegetable-based things," Whiteside said. "That's the trend we were looking to appeal to, and if we can make it vegan, then the pure vegans are also prepared to come and shop."

He said Greggs first came up with the concept for a non-meat sausage roll two years ago. "Probably the most challenging thing was how to get the pastry to be nice when you weren't allowed to use things like egg glaze," he said. "It's drier basically because it doesn't have the glaze on it, so therefore it's more a matte finish rather than a gloss finish."

Whiteside wouldn't say how many vegan sausage rolls had been sold but said it was the fastest-selling new product since he became CEO in 2013. Greggs sells 1.5 million traditional sausage rolls a week.

"It's a very strong seller," he said during a media call, according to Bloomberg. "People like it and they're buying it more than once, which obviously is very encouraging."