Roots, a green-painted shop in the trendy Kings Road, sells a variety of raw salads and raw juices, and plans to start doing deliveries.
Bill Brewin, who opened the shop three weeks ago, says with the weather getting colder, he is going to start selling hot food from next week. He is looking at doing a Malaysian-style, peanut butter-based vegetable stir fry with noodles, and a pumpkin and coconut soup. After that, he is going to put on some Indian and Indonesian vegetable dishes.
“The food is plant-based, but it definitely falls into the category of vegan, so I might as well take the buzzword as it goes,” he laughs. “Effectively, it’s just to give the locals an opportunity to eat very healthy food.”
Bill, 29, got into vegan food after experimenting with his diet: “I come from a very carnivorous family. I ate meat with pretty much every meal I had, up until I was about 25. Having had some experiences travelling around and working in projects where everyone was vegan, and all the meals were vegan, I just noticed how much more comfortable that was for my body. My energy levels were much more consistent. I didn’t have that lethargic feeling after eating a massive meal.”
He says eating vegan dishes, and particularly raw food, has made him “much happier, mentally and physically”.
He adds: “I think it’s quite clear that your diet has to play a huge role in your mental health, and I think that’s an issue that a lot of people are dealing with, with the Covid situation. But the last thing I want to do is preach things to people. I see myself more as a silent revolutionist.
“People can come in, they can have some food, and I’m sure that they’ll be looking back at that day of the week, thinking, ‘I felt really good that day and I don’t really know why.’ And slowly enough people will realise that eating fresh produce speaks for itself.”
Bill hopes to get permission for a few bar-stools so people can eat in the shop, but he thinks he won’t be granted a pavement licence for outside seating.
He spent the last year helping his friend renovate a Victorian house off Warrior Square. Before that he worked at a permaculture farm in Greece. His experiences growing and eating organic food there - “probably the peak of my existence in terms of feeling good” - made him want to open his plant-based takeaway shop in St Leonards.
He added: “I’m really enjoying being here. The locals are lovely and I’m having repeat customers which is a good sign. And I’m slowly gaining a bigger social media following, and just enjoying it.”