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Editor’s comment: I hope vegan pub can break stereotypes

PUBLISHED: 15:30 17 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:09 17 January 2018

The Blacksmith and Toffeemaker pub in St John Street, Finsbury, has gone completely vegan. Picture: Ewan Munro/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

The Blacksmith and Toffeemaker pub in St John Street, Finsbury, has gone completely vegan. Picture: Ewan Munro/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Archant

When I gave up meat as a first-year student, I did so not just because of nascent first-world guilt about the environment and factory farming, but because it was cheaper.

Four years later, I thought I was entering a world of bulk-bought lentils and Vitalite, not exclusive menus and social capital.

I lived in Manchester, and was lucky enough to be surrounded by budget cafes that catered well for people who didn’t eat animals. I remember with mouthwatering affection Glossop’s Globe Inn, where a largely vegan menu was dished up at £3 for a main course and where I first heard the word “seitan” (swiftly followed by “and ale pie and chips”).

The point I’m making is that while I’m delighted to see a pub relaunching with a vegan menu to a degree of fanfare – The Blacksmith and the Toffeemaker in St John’s Street – it’s important that it does its best to attract the people who might have drunk there 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Islington is a mixture of old and new communities, council estates and private developments, families and young professionals. Veganism is no longer a hairshirt-y cult, but what it has lost in one stereotype it has gained in another: vegan shops and restaurants are too often now a sign of gentrification.

Veganism is gaining a reputation for being exclusive when it should be the opposite: everyone can eat meat-free food but not everyone can eat meat. Which is why I’m encouraged not just by the fact a boozer or two is ditching the pork scratchings, but by cheap and cheerful offerings like the Nag’s Head’s burgeoning vegan market.

Chapel Market’s fruit and veg stalls were vegan long before cashew cheese was invented. Veganism isn’t just for judgemental elites: it’s for everyone.I hope vegan pub can break stereotypes

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