As Veganuary continues to inspire people to try vegan for January (and the rest of the year), those in the business in this part of the region offer their own positive messages
Joe Hill – One Planet Pizza, based in Hethersett:
I’m Joe, co-founder of the UK’s leading frozen vegan pizza brand! Having been vegan myself for nearly a decade now, I’ve seen the huge impact Veganuary has had on the UK in recent times. This month is undoubtedly the best time of the year for people to and eat more plant-based foods. Eating less meat and dairy is better for the Planet and can be an effective way for consumers to make a real difference. In fact, recent research from Oxford University suggests you can reduce the carbon footprint of your diet by over 50% by adopting a plant-based diet alone.
Here at One Planet Pizza, we’re experiencing an uplift in sales and increased interest in vegan pizza already this month. Research suggests many consumers are increasingly looking to plant-based alternatives for health reasons; from losing weight to increasing energy levels, which has been supported by recent science-based documentaries like ‘You Are What You Eat’ on Netflix. As more evidence supporting plant-based diets continues to mount up, younger, more health-conscious consumers are looking for convenient swaps for their favourite meals that still deliver great taste and quality.
To meet changing consumer demands, we’ve recently improved our range, swapping over to a restaurant quality, wood fired, sourdough base and using a healthier plant-based cheese with cleaner ingredients. this year we’re focusing on driving trial in store with our biggest customer – Asda, and building up awareness of our brand across the UK. We’re currently partnering up with the world’s most famous ice cream brand, Ben & Jerry’s, for Asda’s first ever frozen vegan meal deal. Available exclusively online, Asda customers can buy a pint of non-dairy ice cream and our Peppernomi Pizza for just £5 throughout January.
Alice Davies – The Greenhouse Cafe, Felixstowe:
The ethos behind the Greenhouse is putting plants at the centre of the plate and making them taste absolutely delicious. We cook with locally produced wholefoods as much as possible and have a weekly rotating menu to reflect the season (and weather) changes! This month we are sharing some of our recipes on our Instagram page (@felixstowegreenhouse) and we’ve released more dates for our brand new cookery school.
Oliver and Bekky – The Greenhouse, Somerleyton Hall:
Opening a plant based café in the beautiful grounds of Somerleyton Hall was a whirlwind of excitement and challenges. I’d say we jumped straight into the deep end. Our first day was coupled with the Summer Plant Fair. Imagine soaring heat and a continuous stream of service, the two of us running on the smell of coffee and adrenaline. From opening in mid June of 2023 we saw through the later half of the season as The Greenhouse Café at Somerleyton.
We knew heading into it we would tackle the project with clear conscience decisions. Driving sustainability, championing local suppliers and leaving as little a footprint as possible. Not to forget our friendly faces, a beautiful environment and a delicious range of incredible café bites made by Bekky.
2023 was a learning curve. Testing, trialling, reflecting and adapting as we go, day by day. We’ll still find ourselves adapting as we go this year, playing with the seasonal produce as and when different harvests rise and fall. We’re very lucky to have access via the incredible gardening team to the kitchen garden within the grounds. Bringing a whole new meaning to knowing where your food comes from.
This year we’ll be back open for garden and event visitors, starting with Easter weekend. With veg centric produce and café classics, hopefully we’ll have something for everyone with some interesting options on top of that. Recently we’ve been discussing sandwiches way too much! The topic of subbing vegetables into a classic sandwich has been hot on the agenda. Ideas around maple roasted celeriac and treating beetroot as a pastrami have been thrown about if you’re curious!
You can find us on somerleyton.co.uk/visit/greenhouse-cafe where you’ll find a link the our socials and closer look at our journey so far.
Trudy – The Iced Vegan, based in Mundford, Norfolk:
I believe your wedding cake should be more than just the final event at the end of your special day – I believe it can be an expression of yourselves and stand out to your guests, be ridiculously tasty and even talked about for weeks to come! My cakes are not only vegan but eco friendly and sustainable, so you can do your bit for the environment too! Without using eggs or dairy, I create beautiful tasting cakes no one would believe are vegan so why compromise on your values? I do this by using quality, local and organic ingredients where possible. My cakes are all baked fresh to order and are complemented by my homemade jams, sauces, and vegan curds. I’ve been a vegan since 2018 and have a goal to create unique and stunning vegan cakes that every guest can enjoy.
Clare-marie Heapy – Vishcakes & Vibs, Castle Quarter, Norwich:
As Veganuary turns 10 in 2024 Vishcake & Vibs are creating innovative plant based products to inspire and offer meat alternatives now more than before in their pop up shop at Castle Quarter by increasingly expanding into a plant based deli.
There has been a decrease in some countries, whereas an increase in others. As the Guardian newspaper stated the market is maturing – my plant based deli offers plenty of fresh food choices for anyone whether it’s for meat free Monday, dietary restrictions or for any of the 700,000 people who have already made the pledge and want to shop local and buy products that have no added preservatives or additives!
Since opening new customer interest and return custom growth is increasing each week. Sales in January is always going to be temperamental: as most shops around the shopping centre are saying. It’s important to keep working on our brand awareness and ensure people are aware our prices are in line with any other product on the market, but is made fresh with no preservatives and our deli hopes to give a traditional style of customer service where all are made to feel welcome.
Vishcakes & Vibs offers Veganuary weekly offers, collaborations with restaurants in Norwich and an offering of delicious handcrafted products – including some from independent food producers (fudge, pastries, bread, cake selections and the infamous la fauxmagerie plant based cheeze range!).
Plans for expanding the deli in the upcoming weeks is well under way with charcuterie boards, cold lunch items coming soon along with valentines cook at home specials. Long term plans would include to offer hot lunch takeaway and dine in deli options could be available
Vishcake & Vibs continues to open Tuesday to Friday, 9.30am-2pm; Saturday 9am-4pm currently until the end of March.
Geoffrey Bligh – Hank’s Dirty in Ipswich – Felixstowe – Colchester – Norwich – Cambridge:
Hank’s is always excited to see Veganuary roll around again. It’s wonderful to see so many new products launch and hear about people trying vegan food – some for the first time. For us, it’s vegan month every month, but we love to get involved and this month we’ve got 2 great offers running for the whole of January.
You can try our incredible Heura Chick’n Shawarma Kebab or the amazing Redefined Meat flank steak – both on 2 for 1! So grab a friend and come enjoy a great vegan meal for half the price.
We’ve also settled into our new home in Castle Quarter – a full-on sit-down restaurant with bar. We’re pleased to now offer table service, cocktails, mocktails, draft beer, milkshakes and even smoothies – all vegan of course. With picturesque views of the Norwich Castle – it’s the perfect place to pop in for lunch or dinner. We now take bookings and can even offer space for group events.
Whatever you’re doing for Veganuary, we hope you get out and try something new!
Main image of Joe Hill, One Planet Pizza. All featured images – supplied