Colchester's original 100% vegan cafe has blazed a trail for all these other enterprising vegan businesses.
The Den at Twenty-Three, the very first vegan cafe in Colchester, was opened in 2015 by husband and wife team, Jennifer and Rob. Their aim was and still is to show how diverse vegan food can be, and that a vegan diet can still include the food you may have loved as a kid, such as burgers, cake and ice-cream!
While they still face some challenges, such as sourcing specialist products at good prices, The Den has gone from strength to strength, thanks, says Jen, to a great local community spirit. They feel they know their market well, and realised that many vegans love the taste of meat and diary but are trying to avoid it for ethical reasons. So 'meaty' and 'cheesy' dishes are their speciality, but they also serve flavoursome salads, paninis and snacks, as well as Jen's gorgeous cakes.
As old friends of Colchester Life we are delighted to report that The Den is continuing to offer a 10% discount to our cardholders.
Following The Den's success several vegan businesses have cropped up in the last couple of years - as we've seen in the featured businesses this week. Here's a round-up of the best of the rest:
The Nourish Co. is a popular cafe offering a regularly changing menu, depending on season and availability from local suppliers. Expect oatmeal and granola breakfasts, vibrant salads and sandwiches at lunchtime, cakes from The Moral Munch and fair-trade teas and lovingly brewed kombucha to wash it all down.
The other 100% vegan cafe in Colchester is Decouverte Shop & Cafe. They are 100% organic and have plenty of gluten-free options. We've heard their carrot cake has to be tasted to be believed! The shop stocks items like handmade vegan soaps and skincare from The Maldon Soap Company, organic food products, vintage crockery, clothing and ornaments.
Then of course, there's the vegan fish and chip phenomenon that is Battered. A food truck that serves cruelty-free, crispy, fried meatless treats, including vegan fish, burgers, pies and sausages and every now and then some veg. They donate 10% of our profits to local groups or sanctuaries.
V Catering offer a vegan food delivery service. They have a changing menu of food-boxes, with tempting titles such as 'Mucho Mexican' and 'Southern Soul Food' - delicious combinations that are 100% plant-based, salt and refined sugar free. Their website is well worth a look - it's packed with info and recipes too!
Conscious Creations are another vegan takeaway business. Their meals are not only vegan, but also 100% organic, gluten & sugar free.
Even mainstream venues in Colchester, like Zizzi and Wetherspoons now have decent vegan menu options and we've heard good things about The Warehouse Bar & Kitchen and the cafe at Perrywoods in Tiptree.
And while you'll have seen our mouth-watering photos from the Vegan Festival at the Charter Hall recently, there's another vegan fair coming up you may not have heard of. The Garden of Eden Vegan Spring Fair will be held in Coggeshall on May 27th. We'll send our Liz to bring you photographic evidence of all the tasty treats available!
The future is looking bright for vegan Colcestrians! Have we missed anybody out? Do let us know!