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Blacksmith and Toffeemaker in St John Street goes vegan: 'Nothing on our menu has been tortured'

PUBLISHED: 13:01 16 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:45 23 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

A Finsbury pub has sacked off all meat and dairy to go 100 per cent vegan.

The Blacksmith and The Toffeemaker, in St John Street, made the change on New Year’s Day.

But this is no “Veganuary” fad. Sam Pryor, general manager of the pub, said it had long been in the pipeline.

“Most of the staff have been vegan or vegetarian for quite some time,” he told the Gazette. “It became increasingly frustrating providing a menu that the majority of us can’t get into.

“Seeing a couple of pioneers go fully vegan in recent times, like The Fields Beneath in Kentish town and Temple of Seitan in Hackney, we realised it might be possible to make the change.”

The pub was already known for being sustainable. It uses recycled biodegradable products wherever possible for things like menus, napkins and takeaway boxes. It doesn’t offer plastic straws with drinks. But staff wanted to do more.

“It’s tragic to see the huge amount of resources that go into feeding livestock for meat,” Sam continued, “only for us to have to throw unsold meat out once past its use-by date. No matter how smart you are ordering, there is always waste. Most people in the trade would acknowledge that it’s a big issue.

“For ethical reasons, obviously the welfare of animals is a massive concern. Intensive farming is fairly horrifying and it’s something we feel unwilling to be complicit in.

“Meat has always been eaten by people so the slide into inhumane and unsustainable farming practices has gone largely unnoticed. We hope to show people it’s easy to eat delicious food without having to waste a ton of energy, kill or torture anything.”

A lot of popular menu items, like mac and cheese and burgers, have been completely substituted with plant-based ingredients.

Two weeks on from the conversion, Sam reported: “Of existing customers, 99.9 per cent have reacted very positively – and we’ve been introduced to a whole new group of great customers who wouldn’t have heard of us if we hadn’t made this change.

“I really hope more places in Islington will do it. Already the results have been incredible. Once we get into the swing of things we want to show other businesses how easy it can be to make the switch to a kinder, more sustainable business model that is ultimately more profitable.”

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