Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Is Hastings the UK’s most vegan town?

With a new vegan cake shop (1066 Cake Stand), vegan bed & breakfast (BayTree House), vegan brewery (Hastings Brewery), and now a vegan cafe (Moose’s Kitchen) soon to open, it looks like Hastings could be the place to visit for vegans looking for tasty treats, as well those who choose to cut down on meat, dairy and eggs for health, environmental, or other reasons.

Whilst Brighton has long held the veggie crown, Hastings and St Leonards seems to have far more exclusively vegan businesses being set up in recent years. There is good reason for this, because St Leonards is the former base of The Vegan Society, and so many vegans moved here to work at the national charity, creating a vibrant local market, as demonstrated by the large numbers attending the regular Hastings Vegan Dining Club meetings.

But it’s not just vegan businesses that are getting in on the act. Coast Training Restaurant at Sussex Coast College recently put on a special vegan six course meal and now regularly has vegan options on the menu, and many other local restaurants and cafes such as Boulevard Books, Eat@ and Love Cafe always cater for vegans too, as does vegan run, Hastings Shakeaway.

This just makes good business sense, as the national market for vegan food is growing fast.  The most recent figures estimated there to be at least 600,000 vegans in the UK, although there may now be up to one million. The reasons for adopting a vegan diet range from animal welfare to nutrition to environmentalism. The shelves of supermarkets are increasingly being stocked with products designed for vegans and the market for vegan food is thought to be increasing by up to 15 per cent a year. Although there are no specific figures for veganism, the market research group, Mintel, estimated the meat-free market to be worth £626m in 2004, a rise of 38 per cent in five years. People are becoming much more aware of lactose intolerance and other are turning to a vegan diet as a way to stay slim.

Local vegan businesses aren’t just targetting vegans though, as everyone can enjoy a tasty meal made with good ingredients. Maresa Bossano is setting up a new vegan cafe, Moose’s Kitchen, in Kings Road, St Leonards on Sea and has been running hugely successful pop up restaurant nights at the Beacon and Franks Front Room over the last two years. She says “at least half the people who come to my pop up nights are neither vegetarian, nor vegan, they just want to eat delicious inventive food made with local, organic produce, which is sourced from farms such as Pannel Organic and Hankham Organics”. Moose’s Kitchen has just launched a crowd funding appeal to help raise more money to start up the cafe and run cookery courses. To find out more go to

Posted 14:55 Saturday, Jan 19, 2013 In: Food & Drink

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