Nottingham falls short

Nottingham almost got a new vegan cafe today, but pesky and harmful dairy made it on to the menu.

Such a shame.

Today marks to grand opening of a new food provider, The Bluebird Vegetarian CaféThis café is operated by Adrian and Kate, two vegans who (according to their website) were able to achieve their dream of opening The Bluebird thanks to the help of family, friends and Freecycle donations.

As happy as I am for the vegan community of Nottingham to have another location to dine out on plant-based food, I am puzzled as to why a vegan of more than 20 years (Adrian) would open a cafe with dairy on the menu in 2014.

The menu is filled with tasty-sounding comfort food including pasta, soup and brownies but several of the dishes are marked vegetarian with a vegan option available.

I know a lot of people think I verbally bash vegetarians on this blog, but a vegan cafe done well in Nottingham has just as much chance of survival as a vegetarian cafe and I think that needs to be highlighted. It is time for vegans to take the leap and not cave in to the perceived societal and financial threats of omitting dairy. We are not living in the 1970s where veganism is unknown.

Plant-based milks are one of the fastest growing areas in the freefrom industry and the general public are used to them. Take the option away and do vegan versions of everything in a way that people will not miss anything.

Take Cookies & Scream as an example.

You can get ice cream with brownies, a whole manner of teas and coffees as well as cookies, muffins, pie and milkshakes. It is all vegan. Vegan is not one of two options, it is the only option. The bakery does not compromise on this stance and they are never short of customers because what they do is world class. Ms Cupcake is another example. Mellissa Morgan has turned her love of cake into a huge enterprise promoting compassionate eating via a shop, wholesale supply, cooking classes, international speaking engagements, cook books and public appearances. Nothing she offers comes with a dairy option.

I understand a start up business is a frightening prospect and people want to eliminate financial risk, but as vegans we are in the business of being the leaders of harm reduction. We lead by example. Our vegan business owners can demonstrate to customers that café food without any cruelty is a reality.

This blog post isn’t just directed at The Bluebird. Longstanding vegan favourite Cafe Kino of Bristol serve cow milk on request. It boggles the mind how this award-winning food provider doesn’t believe it will still thrive without this one offering of dairy. The same can be said for inSpiral Lounge of Camden.

We are vegan to reduce harm to animals and most of these businesses are serving animal-free food for the same reason. The dairy industry is one of the biggest causes of animal suffering, resulting in multiple forced pregnancies, cows suffering from degenerative bone diseases, calves taken for the veal industry, lacerated udders from milking machines and the death of cows at the end of their milk lives. Dairy is not an acceptable foodstuff for a compassionate café to serve.

It is time for these otherwise vegan cafes around the UK to ditch the dairy and be at the forefront of compassionate food service.

Reach out via Twitter and let your local vegetarian café know how much you would love for them to remove dairy from their menu and how devoted you will be to them when they do remove it.

The Bluebird in Nottingham on Twitter

Cafe Kino in Bristol on Twitter

inSpiral in London on Twitter

The Old Hardware Shop in Liverpool on Facebook

For further information on the horrors of the dairy industry, visit this resource by Viva! Campaigns.


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Written by fatgayvegan

13 Comments
  1. Not to mention bloody Wai Kika Moo Kau in Brighton, who ask the question and then join in the kicking by serving dairy. Makes me so so angry. http://waikikamookau.co.uk/ twitter @waikikamookau

  2. Nottingham is the A-hole of Britain. The only good thing about it is leaving.

  3. A vegan cafe should have a sign up saying “if you would like cows milk, please let us know”. Then a kind member of staff can properly explain why they won’t supply it 🙂

  4. Nottingham’s a great city (it’s my adopted city and I love it). It’s small though (smaller than Hackney) and Sherwood is a suburban family area, without a large number of vegans looking for a strictly vegan food outlet. I’d rather have a veggie cafe that is mostly vegan than Adrian going out of business in 6 months and another kebab shop opening there.

    • But why would that necessarily happen? As FGV points out, if you open a welcoming, accessible place and do what you do well, I don’t believe it necessarily matters (especially to a casual, probably omnivorous passer-by) whether your establishment is vegetarian or if it’s vegan. Perhaps an omnivore needs to have a certain degree of openness either way. And if it’s about not putting off vegetarians, I don’t believe they generally veto vegan places just for not serving cheese or cows’ milk. As a vegetarian I certainly didn’t usually even notice if I went to an all-vegan place.

      Lots of people’s reactions seem to be “if only we lived in a perfect world”, working on the assumption that a vegetarian place has undoubtedly more chance of success.

      No, I have no business experience but I’m really genuinely interested what business model tells us a vegetarian place can succeed where a vegan place can’t. What exactly the data is. Again, as is suggested here, I feel a part of this, at least, is the socially-conditioned assumption that it will be viewed as more ‘normal’ and thus more accessible if there’s dairy on the menu. I’d say there are more important ways to ensure people walk through the door – familiar, enticing food done well, nice ambience, etc. One doesn’t even need to make a huge deal out of it being entirely plant-based if you want to keep it subtle.

  5. I honestly don’t understand how vegans, who presumably think dairy is inherently wrong and do not approve of the horror involved in it’s production can suddenly think it’s ok when it comes to their business. They had just as well go the whole hog and provide meat-I presume that they think milk is just as cruel as meat? That is what a vegan IS after all. You are either vegan or not-it’s easy. Someone using milk in their cafe is not a vegan. They are now vegetarians!

  6. As an update….

    Many, many people have been saying to me that a veggie place with vegan options is better than nothing. My personal opinion is that it isn’t.

    My blog post expresses concern that vegans are the people opening vegetarian cafes. Not vegetarians, meat eaters or flexitarians but vegans. We all have our lines we won’t cross and as a vegan activist (not as a pretentious, fat-faced, ivory tower-dwelling troll vegan…. yes, I have been called all of these things since this post went live) I find it difficult to understand that a vegan person would open a new business anywhere in 2014 and serve animal products. That is a concept I do not understand.

    I hope that the vegans under the impression that the only way to open a new business in their area is to include animal products will reconsider, go back to the drawing board and ask themselves if they can seriously justify contributing to the trauma inflicted on cows for the sake of a cafe.

    I would also suggest to the business owners claiming I am being too negative or trolling them to understand that anyone who opens a new business dependent on dairy should accept that vegan activists will have something to say about it. Sometimes it will be in the form of a benign blog post such as mine, sometimes it will be via more outspoken means.

    This post is not an exercise in belittling, berating or attacking individuals. It is my honest thoughts and feelings about vegans opening vegetarians cafes. I think the day when we ask vegans (or try to shame them) to not express concern about dairy is a day we take a step backwards as animal advocates.

    As a side note… regional 100% vegan businesses are possible. Lisa of Vegan Vox has opened The Vegan Grindhouse, a 100% vegan tea, coffee and food trailer in the West Midlands. I applaud Lisa and her partner for sticking to their morals and showing their part of the country how viable and tasty plant-based eating can be without any mention of dairy on the menu.

  7. […] seen vegan blogging god Sean/Fat Gay Vegan criticise a new Nottingham cafe being run by Vegans for not being completely vegan – he asked a legitimate question as to why two vegans wouldn’t open a vegan cafe when […]

  8. […] intimidation. BUT there is now another debate. Fat Gay Vegan angrily highlighted the hypocrisy of two vegans opening a vegetarian restaurant serving dairy. I haven’t visited his Facebook page as I hear the debate is raging and I know I would get […]

  9. You guys negging (being negative) about a couple doing something fantastic for society, i am vegan to but am greatful that there is even the vegetarian ethical standards taking step, it would be more ethical of you to support our fellow vegan entrepeneurs along there way with only positive comments and affirmations instead of concentrating on personal views and ideologies which are hard enough to maintain ourselves, never mind promoting to others and still creating a viable income to support there families, we arenot in london where the market is huge, there are approximately only 2,000-3,000 vegans in nottingham yet 10,000-12,000 vegans, give the guys a bit of respect and support, you should all be ashamed of yourselves for your slander.
    i am grateful for there work, effort and investment, thank you so much.

  10. (CORRECTION BELOW)
    You guys negging (being negative) about a couple doing something fantastic for society, i am vegan to but am greatful that there is even the vegetarian ethical standards taking step, it would be more ethical of you to support our fellow vegan entrepeneurs along there way with only positive comments and affirmations instead of concentrating on personal views and ideologies which are hard enough to maintain ourselves, never mind promoting to others and still creating a viable income to support there families, we arenot in london where the market is huge, there are approximately only 2,000-3,000 vegans in nottingham yet 10,000-12,000 vegetarians, give the guys a bit of respect and support, you should all be ashamed of yourselves for your slander.
    i am grateful for there work, effort and investment, thank you so much.

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