Both vegetarianism and veganism have grown in popularity.
Restaurants, pubs and cafes are all recognising the importance of including a good selection of veggie and vegan options on their menu.
Shops catering for the vegetarian and vegan diet have popped up around the county and festivals such as the popular VegFestUK in Brighton have seen thousands of people take part.
With this in mind we asked readers on our Facebook pages where to get the best vegan/vegetarian food in East Sussex and our gallery reveals some of your suggestions.
At the weekend (March 24-25), the tenth VegfestUK was held in Brighton and Hove.
Ahead of this, reporter Bex Bastable was set the challenge of being a Raw Vegan for a week. You can read how she got on with the challenge here.
Tim Barford, founder and manager of VegfestUK, said: “We did our first vegan event in Bristol in 2003, and in Brighton we did our first in 2009.
“So this is now our tenth year there, and Brighton has been brilliant. We were in Hove and then we moved to the Brighton Centre, and the show has grown and grown. We now sell out the Brighton Centre over the two days.
“Brighton and Bristol have always been natural friends to vegans and they both have a strong plant-based tradition in restaurants. There has always been a natural leaning towards whole foods. Why do some cities attract plant-based diets more than others? It is very difficult to say. But actually in recent years, London has overtaken everybody. It has been a real explosion, far quicker than anyone else.”
Tim has been vegan for 34 years. So how did he find the move?
“When I went vegan in 1984, it was very much a step further. In the 1980s, there was a vegetarian culture in places. Someone like Jeremy Corbyn had been a vegetarian since the 1970s. My father, who has passed away now, was a vegetarian for about ten years from 1925-1935, and that was usual. My great-aunt was a vegetarian all her life from the end of the previous century. So vegetarianism as a culture had been around for a long time.
“But I would say that things have really changed in the past five years, since the horse burger scandal.”
Tim points out that the outrage amuses the French who would actually pay more for horse meat; but here there was outrage – and a change of habits.
“If you look at Google searches and graphs relating to veganism, really it has been since the horse meat scandal that things have changed. It was just extraordinary.”
For Tim, though, the turning point was the use of lamb for cattle fodder in developing countries.
“My initial decision was on ethical grounds and an understanding of the misuse of lamb, and in terms of that misuse and awareness, I don’t think that understanding has yet become a part of British culture.
“But I do think that the way we treat animals and use animal products has actually become more a part of our culture, particularly with the millennials. There is a large number of young people going vegan on grounds of objecting to use of animal products.”
Read about the events which took place at this year’s VegFest in Brighton here.
If you missed this year’s event, then make sure you pencil in March 23-24, 2019 when the event will once again return to Brighton.
Back in October during National Curry Week, Parveen Ashraf looked at how curry lends itself to vegetarianism and veganism and shared one of her recipes. Click here to see her recipe.
The Vegan Society was founded in the UK in 1944 by Donald Watson and five other non-dairy vegetarians, who coined the word ‘vegan’, containing the first three and last two letters of ‘vegetarian’.
In Watson’s words, it marked “the beginning and end of vegetarian”.
To find out more about vegetarianism, visit www.vegsoc.org
To find out about the Vegan Society, visit www.vegansociety.com