First vegetarian black pudding has Lancashire meat lovers spluttering

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Black pudding is about as carnivorous as it gets - fresh pig's blood and ox intestines go into a Lancashire speciality which was narrowly edged out by tripe and jellied eels in a recent survey of the dishes which the British find least palatable.

But in an attempt to overhaul the pudding's image, one of its most successful producers has done the unthinkable - and produced a vegetarian version.

The Real Lancashire Black Pudding Company's decision has been greeted by howls of protest in Bury, the home of the black pudding. "What is the world coming to?" asked the local writer Jonathan Schofield. "A black pudding without pig's blood? Big wrong."

Customers seem to feel differently. First impressions of the "V Pud", as the veggie version is known, seem so positive that the producers have just earned their first contract with a supermarket, Booths. The Vegetarian Society has also given a ringing endorsement.

The Real Lancashire company's owner, Andrew Holt, explains how he substituted the meaty elements - blood, fat and ox intestines - of the pudding. "We tried to make a liquid which would simulate the properties of blood and get the right colour as well. We used beetroot and caramel for the colouring, with GM-free whey and soya powders for the protein.

"People were telling us they either loved or hated black pudding. They hated it because of the ingredients, and we decided a vegetarian version could persuade both vegetarians and meat eaters to try it."

Mr Holt has won 136 awards for his puddings, and in 1998 he was sworn in as a Chevalier du Gôute-Boudin - Knight of the Black Pudding - in France.