The small enclave of Stoneybatter north of Dublin’s city centre just might be a candidate for vegan capital of Ireland, with a slew of new vegan eating spots adding to the area’s existing foodie credentials.
Stoneybatter has carefully cultivated its hipster haven status in the last few years. It’s a great place to socialise and eat out in, with an ever changing food scene. Several of the more traditional pubs in the neighbourhood have even embraced food trucks including the eclectic Glimmerman Pub on Manor Street where a Vietnamese food truck serves vegetarian meals from Thursday to Sunday.
On the vegan front, estimates vary, however vegans are believed to represent between 1-3% of the population of the developed world. Vegans could be forgiven for feeling a certain vindication of late. Interest in plant based diets has never been higher. Their time has come. This is a movement that is proceeding at a high octane pace and no one wants to be left behind. Veganism has become mainstream, and very quickly.
It’s not so long ago though that veganism was very much in the margins, an activism-driven hardline community.
I myself had a short sharp introduction to veganism. After I moved to the UK some years ago I arranged to meet a friend from college who was then living in Oxford. We decamped to a nearby restaurant and revelled in our grown-up status. A proper restaurant that wasn’t the college canteen! Then my friend rather ominously announced that she had become a vegan and hoped there would be something on the menu she could eat.
I soon found myself hiding behind the large plastic menu as my friend grilled the waitress about the provenance of every ingredient on the menu, resulting in several trips back and forth to the kitchen. 30 minutes later, very little had passed the vegan test, and she ended up settling for a salad. On balance, I decided it would be better not to talk too much about my new job selling meat and dairy products.
The situation couldn’t be more different now, with many establishments almost falling over themselves to promote their “vegan friendly” credentials. The traditional food industry is also making great efforts to meet this growing demand. A full 14% of all new product launches in the UK in 2017 were vegan.
People cite one or more of three key motivations for going vegan – animal welfare, environmental concerns and personal health – and it is being accompanied by an endless array of new business startups, cookbooks, YouTube channels, online shopping options and polemical documentaries.
The hugely successful Veganuary was launched in the UK in 2014, with 3,300 people signing up; by 2016, there were 23,000 participants, then 59,500 in 2017, and a staggering 168,000 in 2018. Notably 84% of the registered participants in 2018 were female, while 60% were aged under 35. It’s also estimated that far more people “do” Veganuary than actually register – up to 10 times the number.
Attitudes have shifted as well, with veganism now viewed less as a restricted diet and more as a positive lifestyle choice which empowers people. Importantly, this is a culture rather than a movement, with many believing that worldwide conversion to veganism is the only way to save the planet.
Stoneybatter’s Vegan Options
Beo has set up shop in a unit formerly occupied by a clothing shop. The slightly unusual space (narrow at the front, wider at the rear) has been expertly designed into a comfortable and modern homage to vegan food.
Famous for their vegan smoothie bowls, Kale and Coco’s first permanent outlet is now open in a ground floor unit within Swuite, one of the many student accommodation buildings now open in Dublin 7.
V-Face is a pop-up vegan burger stall which will reportedly shortly open in a site on North Brunswick Street. There is much speculation locally as to where this will be exactly. The former hairdressers? The former tattoo parlour? Or a hybrid offering all three?
Other vegan friendly outlets include Woke Up Café and Token on Queen Street. Vegetarian café Woke Up has been open since September while Token offers up a restaurant, bar, retro arcade, pinball parlour and event space with over 32 machines, 22 taps, and a range of vegan items on the menu.