(28 Jan 2018) LEADIN:
Beef burgers, sausage and mash, and fish and chips are off the menu at one London pub.
The Blacksmith and The Toffeemaker in north London has made an unusual switch to a fully-vegan food menu.
But rather than seeing customers flee, its management says food sales have tripled.
The Blacksmith and The Toffeemaker in north London might look like any standard British pub.
But cast your eye across its food menu and there’s a couple of ingredients missing – meat and dairy.
Earlier this month, pub management took the unusual step of switching to a fully vegan food menu.
General manager and chef Sam Pryor – a vegan himself – says he was shocked by the wastage that meat and dairy products caused, particularly during the busy festive period.
He hopes the move will lessen the pub’s environmental impact.
“I’m not particularly bothered about alienating anyone,” says Pryor.
“I think there are a million pubs you could go to to get a beef burger or a pie and mash or what have you.
“And I think veganism is getting more and more popular, it just makes sense to have more options out there for people that want to try it.”
But rather than seeing customers flee – in search of traditional pub staples like pork sausage and mashed potato or fish and chips – Pryor says food sales have tripled.
“We’ve definitely been so much busier than we normally would be in January,” he says.
“I think on an average January Tuesday lunchtime there’d be like three people in the pub, maybe a dog, if we’re lucky.
“But now we’ve just been fully booked for lunch, totally and like every night of the week as well the same.”
Sales may also have been boosted by ‘Veganuary,’ a charity that encourages people to try a vegan diet during the month of January. Over 150,000 people in the UK signed up to take part this year.
The pub’s menu still boasts classics, such as a burger and chips, instead made from seitan, often referred to as “wheat meat.”
There’s also a green mac n ‘cheese’ grilled sandwich and polenta fries.
“I think this is like the appropriate amount of dirty food that they’re doing here,” says pub visitor and vegan Jess Thurley.
“It really like fills the spot, especially cause vegan food is always like quinoa and kale, you get mac and cheese grilled cheese sandwich that’s pub-y enough, it goes great with my beer and like, yeah, it’s awesome.”
The pub’s vegan switch is part of a broader global trend towards vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, particularly in developed markets.
Restaurants chains Pizza Hut and Pizza Express now both offer vegan cheese on their pizzas. Coffee chain Pret A Manger made a vegetarian pop-up permanent and has since opened a second.
“We see an increased appetite for vegan food, but also a vegan experience and movement towards a flexitarian diet,” says Pinar Hosafci, packaged food analyst at Euromonitor.
“Meaning that people are curious about vegan food and vegetarian food, but not necessarily want to make the full switch to veganism.”
But Hosafci says meat-eaters in the UK aren’t about to become an endangered species just yet.
According to research, commissioned by the Vegan Society in 2016, there are over half a million vegans in Great Britain.
That’s still a large increase in comparison to an estimate of around 150,000 ten years earlier in 2006.
“If you look at the statistics around veganism or the number of people who are adopting a vegan lifestyle, it’s pretty low,” she says.
“It’s less than one percent of the UK population who are classified as vegan or self-classified themselves as vegan and less than five percent of the population is vegetarian.
“So, the numbers are actually not much, but the growth is huge.”
“I don’t think it’s a fad,” he says.
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