Marks & Spencer has been praised for making its Percy Pig range 100 per cent vegetarian-friendly.

In a series of Tweets responding to customer enquiries this week, the supermarket revealed that it has removed gelatine from the recipe of every range of its Percy Pig sweets in response to consumer demand.  

“For the last eight years we have been working to help our favourite pig move away from using pork gelatine,” M&S wrote in one response on Twitter.

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“We learned a lot when removing gelatine from our Colin range in 2014, and in 2016 launched our first Percy with our new gelatine free recipe.

“In the three years since, we have progressively introduced the new recipe across all of our Percy range and from May this year we will be able to celebrate that Percy is 100 per cent gelatine free and can be enjoyed by everybody."

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), gelatine is a protein obtained by boiling animal skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water. It is usually obtained from cows or pigs.

Gelatine can be found in a range of products, including shampoos, cosmetics and as a thickener for jelly, sweets, marshmallows, cakes and ice cream.

“We have worked to keep Percy’s taste and texture as close as possible to the original recipe. Rest assured we haven’t changed any of the really important things that make Percy as great as he always has been," the retailer continued.

“He still has real fruit juice and never has artificial colours or flavours.”

The move has been praised by a number of M&S customers, with many insisting they now taste much better.

“Veggie Percy Pigs honestly taste better and have a much nicer texture than the ones with gelatine in. I'm not a vegetarian but I always buy the veggie Percys,” one person wrote.

Another commented: “I think they taste better even as a non-vegetarian.”

However, not everyone has welcomed the new recipe, with some Twitter users going as far as to brand the vegetarian-friendly version as “disgusting” and “inedible.”

“Bought two packs today as I’d given them up for Lent... Awful, these are the same recipe as the Christmas pigs and I gave them ones away... Mine are going to be returned…no notice on the pack that you’d changed the recipe,” one person wrote.

On Wednesday morning, Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan also weighed in on the topic, saying: “Vegans and vegetarians, go and get your own sweets. Seriously, go and get sweets that aren’t called Percy Pigs. Go and get ones called 'Kale Nicies' which taste disgusting and you can all be happy because they’re made of kale.

“Leave our pig sweets alone you people. Utterly ridiculous, the world’s gone nuts.”

The backlash was met with dismay from fans of the new recipe, with many people asking why people would rather have gelatine in their food. 

“When you look into what actually goes into gelatine, I am baffled why anyone would passionately campaign for it to be in Percy Pigs!” one person commented.

Another added: “Piers, the original Percy Pig were not made from meat but ground down bones and gristle called gelatine These new ones are made from vegetables...cruelty free....no harm to animals....what side are you on?”

Vegan news website Vegan Food UK also chimed in on the debate, writing: “First they complained because Mcdonald's removed their plastic straws. Now they are complaining because the gelatine has been removed from Percy Pigs."

Earlier this week, the fast food chain faced criticism from customers complaining that its new paper straws were ruining their drinks, specifically milkshakes.

Last June, the US fast food chain announced it would end the use of plastic straws in all 1,361 branches across the UK after nearly half a million people called for the company to make the change.

“Are we really living in a society where sweets are more important than a cow's life?”

Percy Pigs were first launched in 1992 before the retailer introduced a vegetarian version of the classic sweet, “Veggie Percy” in 2011.

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Since then, a number of iterations have followed, including the introduction of “Penny Pig” in 2013, and “Globetrotting Percy” and “Percy piglets” in 2014.

There have also been a number of seasonal offerings including “Percy meets the Easter Bunny”, “Merry Percymas” for Christmas and “Pumpkin Percy” for Halloween. 

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