With World Vegan Month taking place throughout November, Holly Skelton takes a look at the popular lifestyle movement and how you can get involved in Nottinghamshire.
Research shows that over half a million people in Britain now follow a plant-based diet – and with a 360 per cent increase in the last decade alone, veganism is showing no signs of slowing down.
As well as offering numerous health benefits, such a lowered risk of heart disease and type two diabetes, a meat-free lifestyle promotes a greener environment and encourages people to be more mindful about where food comes from.
Nottingham has seen a rise in vegan outlets over the last few years, including popular pub The Peacock, on Mansfield Road, who recently replaced their traditional menu with a selection of vegan-friendly alternatives.
Bluebird Wholefoods, which opened in June, is also based on Mansfield Road and specialises in vegan food stocking over 40 varieties of vegan cheese.
Shop owner Adrian Bhagat said: “There are a number of reasons for the huge rise in people becoming vegan.
“People are more aware of how their food is made and what goes into it now – although the main issue for most vegans is animal welfare and how the animals are treated.”
What is veganism?
- Veganism is a lifestyle which avoids all animal foods such as meat, dairy, eggs and honey.
- It also excludes all animal derived products like leather, fur – and where possible – products tested on animals.
- Vegans avoid exploiting animals for any purpose so choose not to visit zoos and aquariums, or take part in dog or horse racing.
Adrian, who has been a vegan for over 20 years, says the lifestyle is much easier than it used to be.
He said: “It’s seen as ‘less weird’ now and there’s a lot more places offering vegetarian and vegan food.
“Most supermarkets sell their own brand stuff so we try to sell things that are a little different – like pies, sausages, steaks and over 40 varieties of cheese.”
Debbie Bryan craft shop and tearooms, based in The Lace Market, is also supporting Vegan Month and has introduced a range of meat-free and vegan menu options.
Shop owner Debbie said: “We’re introducing vegan afternoon tea with a selection of vegan wines, ciders, champagnes and cocktails.
“Customers will get a free badge with all vegan food orders and we’re working together with Amala Living Foods to host our first vegan supper club.”
The shop, who recently won Nottingham’s Best Independent 2016, stock a range of locally sourced, eco-friendly products including clothes, condiments, gifts and jewellery.
Debbie said: “It’s important to us to support the local economy and sell products that have a story behind them.
“We stock condiments and cakes made by local businesses and at least 50 per cent of our menu is vegan.”
Veganism is no longer seen as being socially unacceptable
Catering group Veggies has been promoting vegan food for over 30 years and were one of the first vegan caterers in Nottingham.
Group member and animal rights campaigner Patrick Smith said: “Veganism has come a long way in the last few years and there’s a lot more positivity and understanding around it.
“Nowadays most people know someone who’s vegan and it’s no longer seen as being socially unacceptable.”
Patrick, who has been vegan for 13 years, attends several of the 70 vegan events happening around the UK each year, and encourages anyone interested in trying the lifestyle to start now.
He said: “You don’t have to do everything all at once – start by taking the vegan pledge for 30 days or eating meat-free on a Monday.
“Go to a vegan market and look at the range of foods available or reach out on social media and join a vegan community.
“There are lots of vegan groups in Nottingham and so many amazing foods out there – now is definitely the best time to get involved and make the change.”
What’s on in Notts?
Saturday, November 5 – Sneinton Vegan Market
- A selection of food, drinks and meat-free dishes will be available from local traders from 11am-3pm at Sneinton Market, on Gedling Street.
Friday, November 18 – Vegan supperclub
- From 7pm Debbie Bryan and Amala Living Foods will host their first vegan supperclub complete with a three-course meal in support of local charity My Sight Nottinghamshire.
Sunday, November 27 – Nottingham Vegan Festival
- The festival will take place at Nottingham Conference Centre from 10.30am – 5.30pm and feature over 100 stalls selling a range of vegan products along with live kitchen demonstrations.