The Vegetarian Butcher is supplying the plant-based steak for the Subway sandwich. Grace Dean/Insider
  • Subway UK rolled out a teriyaki-steak sandwich with a plant-based version as well as a meat one.
  • I tried the fake steak which is made by The Vegetarian Butcher, a Unilever-owned brand.
  • The meat and plant versions cost the same which suggests a desire to make meat alternatives mainstream.

Subway rolled out a teriyaki-steak sandwich in the UK, available with either meat or plant-based meat. It says this is the first time it has offered plant-based steak in all its stores in the UK and Ireland.

Subway plant-based teriyaki steak

Grace Dean/Insider

I’d previously tried Subway’s vegan chicken tikka sandwich, which I’d found delicious.

Subway vegan chicken tikka TLC sandwich
I tried Subway’s Tastes Like Chicken vegan chicken tikka sandwich. 
Grace Dean/Insider

Source: Insider

So I headed to my local store in London to try out the newest addition to Subway’s plant-based menu.

A Subway store

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Subway stored the plant-based meat at the counter alongside the vegetables and plant patties and away from the meat and fish. I’m not a huge fan of steak, but producing the same texture in a plant-based equivalent can be challenging, and I was intrigued to see how Subway’s version stacked up.

Plant-based steak in a tub at a Subway store

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The plant-based steak is made by The Vegetarian Butcher, a Dutch fake-meat brand now owned by Unilever. A Subway spokesperson told Insider that the steak was made of “plant structure” – which itself consists of water, soy protein, wheat gluten, and wheat starch – as well as other ingredients like onion, herbs, spices, and yeast extract.

Subway plant-based teriyaki steak

Grace Dean/Insider

The Vegetarian Butcher also makes fake chicken, sausages, and burgers that people can buy in grocery stores, though not all its products are plant-based.

Packages of The Vegetarian Butcher (De Vegetarische Slager)'s plant based sausages

Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images

I opted for a footlong, which lasted me for two meals. I got mine toasted and served in Subway’s nine-grain bread.

Subway plant-based teriyaki steak sub

Grace Dean/Insider

There was an option to add dairy or plant-based cheese alongside Subway’s array of toppings — I filled my sandwich with spinach, tomato, cucumber, sliced pepper, and vegan garlic aioli.

Subway plant-based teriyaki steak sub on a plate

Grace Dean/Insider

This is what it looked like inside. It smelled really good, and the cheese had partly melted when the sandwich was toasted — which doesn’t always happen with plant-based cheese.

Subway plant-based teriyaki steak sub

Grace Dean/Insider

There was a decent amount of fake steak — but given all the toppings I got, I wished I’d had even more steak to help even the ratio.

Subway plant-based teriyaki steak sub up-close

Grace Dean/Insider

I could tell the meat was fake because of the buttery flavor I often notice in plant-based meat. The texture was great, and the teriyaki sauce helped disguise the fact that it wasn’t real meat.

Subway plant-based teriyaki steak

Grace Dean/Insider

Subway introduced the plant-based steak in January. It says the teriyaki-steak subs will be on the menu until March 7, and after that customers will be able to order plant-based steak and add the teriyaki sauce to it, but it will no longer appear as a set item on the menu.

A Subway store

Grace Dean/Insider

In a survey of 2,100 UK adults conducted in January 2022 by Ipsos, a third suggested the price of plant-based meat was one of the biggest barriers to their eating more of it.

Subway's menu

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Source: Ipsos

Plant-based meats, cheeses, and milks cost more to produce than animal-based products – at Walmart, for example, many brands of vegan cheese slices cost twice as much per ounce as their dairy equivalents. And restaurants typically order them in smaller quantities, meaning they don’t benefit from economies of scale.

Close up shot of a woman enjoying pizza at a restaurant

Oscar Wong/Getty Images

Sources: Pizzeria menuStarbucks menuWalmart

Subway is charging the same price for both the steak sandwich and the plant-based steak sandwich. Both cost £5.49, or about $6.65, for a 6-inch sub or £7.49 for a footlong, with an option to add a side and a drink for an extra £2.

Subway plant-based teriyaki steak on the menu

Grace Dean/Insider

By pricing plant-based items the same as their meaty counterparts, fast-food chains like Subway, McDonald’s, KFC, and Burger King seem to want to help make fake meat more affordable, which could help to get rid of the so-called “vegan tax.”

McDonald's McPlant burger
The McPlant, a plant-based burger sold by McDonald’s. 
Grace Dean/Insider.

Sources: InsiderInsiderInsiderThe Guardian

With the launch of its vegan chicken tikka sandwich in 2021 and its teriyaki steak sandwich now, Subway seems to be trying to create more exciting options for vegans and vegetarians — in the UK at least. Subway’s vegan menu in the US, in contrast, is pretty lacking.

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