Joining Waitrose, KFC, Heinz and Greggs, among others, Subway has jumped on the vegan bandwagon with the Meatless Meatball Marinara. Its ad teases non-meat-eaters into thinking they're eating a meat version of the sandwich, until it's revealed that it is actually meat-free.
The prank is meant to show that the plant-based sub is just as delicious as its counterpart. It may appeal to flexitarians, but it could alienate a group of people who take their decision to live meat-free very seriously.
Contrary to the stream of Veganuary posts drowning our Instagram feeds, the personal decision to go vegan is more than a trend confined to January. In fact, a British judge recently ruled that ethical veganism should get the same legal protections as religious beliefs, such as from workplace discrimination.
Any amusement I initially had at this spot was washed away when I remembered Gordon Ramsay reportedly tricking a vegetarian into eating meat and William Sitwell stepping down as editor of Waitrose's magazine after suggesting force-feeding meat to vegans. Just this week, KFC held its "hands up" for accidentally serving chicken burgers to vegans.
Subway's prank, even if only a joke, is too reminiscent of these nasty incidents. Brands must not jump on the plant-based trend without making a serious commitment to serving people who live meat-free.
Next time, find a more thoughtful and refreshing way to continue the conversation about veganism.
Title The taste test balls up
Agency Above & Beyond