Being Vegan in Teesside
Green shoots of hope are emerging from Teesside pavements. Shop fronts, like news headlines, increasingly appear to be adorned with one specific word. One that is often unfairly maligned as an expensive fad for the affluent middle class, a new-wave hippy protest movement, or a haughty health diet. Veganism is becoming increasingly popular. So much so, an estimated 1.2% of the population, 600,000 people, now identify as vegan – with 25% of Brits now opting for plant milks. And given the constantly evolving food innovation benefitting plant-based living, that number is only expected to expand further.
Perhaps surprisingly to some given the common misconceptions, that expansion has already enveloped Teesside. A thriving community exists across the area with several businesses providing a variety of services, from food to household items to beauty products. Whatever you’re looking for, chances are somewhere in Teesside a green alternative is readily available. And here with us, The Vegan Lilith alongside Independent Teesside, discovering these places has become cheaper and easier than ever.
As with food, avoiding animal derived ingredients has almost become the expected decorum across the board, something which The Little Vegan Market caters for brilliantly. Unfortunately, The Little Vegan Market will be closing on August 3rd. However sad that may be, their mark has been made: the community is now fully aware of alternative, eco-friendly ways to shop. Hopefully, plans to take the store on the road to visit various events around the area will broaden their appeal and expand their reach, allowing their positive, kinder business practices to continue serving those who seek less destructive ways of living and eating.
For a full sit-down meal, Middlesbrough is serviced by a couple of delightfully inclusive vegan restaurants. Alkaline Kitchen offers a smorgasbord of inventive meals ranging from fragrant curries and flavourful stews to pizzas and wraps, right down to crisp fresh salads. These dishes not only look like culinary art, the tastes emitted with every forkful also pass the pallet test with flying colours. Complete with a selection of beautiful desserts, the “it’s not interesting” or the “it’s not filling” common complaints will not fly here. Nor will they often be heard muttered in The Green Room. Another favourite amongst those familiar with the vegan community, this family-run business have cultivated a fan base for their impressive selection of world inspired dishes and classic meals: pies, mash and gravy, steaks, surf and turfs, even plant-based parmos for those itching for a taste of Teesside.
As food services evolve to become increasingly accessible, vegan options have finally mobilised alongside. Delivery services are booming with more and more people electing to spend evenings relaxing in front of box sets. If that’s you at the end of the working week, The Dirty Vegan and Vegan OG have extensive menus targeting every possible craving. Towering burgers, hot-shot parmos, meat-free feast pizzas… whatever your choice, it can create cruelty-free and be delivered straight to your door.
Towards the coast, Saltburn has its own delightful, welcoming vegetarian and vegan eatery, Shanti Café. Housed in the community focussed, art and culture driven Earthbeat Centre, their dedication to fresh local ingredients and homecooked meals provide a mouth-watering menu of delicious dishes, including their showstopping half chilli, half dahl creation. Guaranteed to provide a serene and peaceful atmosphere, Shanti, and Earthbeat as a whole, is an ideal place to spend a relaxed afternoon experimenting with meatless meals.
Travelling around the region visiting different markets and festivals, chances are Ellephant Bakery will catch the eye of any passers-by. Fast becoming the sought-after vendor, reaching them quickly is certainly important as their delectable cakes, brownies and baked breads are known to rapidly sell out. Seeking out one of these sweet treats is certainly worthwhile as the soft, airy, moist cakes will convince anyone that plant-based is the future.
As the brilliant minds, chefs and bakers above prove: far from being a restrictive diet, veganism swaps the constraints of eschewing meat, fish, dairy and eggs for the chance to open up and explore new channels of taste. Exquisite flavours conjured up straight from the earth are not only found in the 100% vegan restaurants. Most places offering food have become infatuated with the plant-based transformation. It’s a matter of stepping away from the tried and tested, moving beyond comfort zones and making a conscious effort to experiment and try something new. You may just discover a new favourite food.
A true example of this can be discovered at Umi Japanese. Specialising in the wonders of Japanese and wider Asian cuisines, a colourful selection of traditional vegetable orientated sushi and other dishes stand out here. Promising to be fresh, crisp and vibrant in flavour, one can experience the trip of a lifetime with every bite.
For something a little more familiar, or perhaps required earlier in the day: the ultimate hangover cure, a Full English, usually elicits thoughts of fatty sausage, runny eggs and fried bacon. The Baker Street Kitchen provide the perfect rebuke to those first thoughts. Offering a Full Vegan breakfast, proof of an equally indulgently satisfying, but less unhealthy option exists here. Also carrying a full vegan menu in store, spending a little more effort seeking the options may just pay big tasty rewards.
As David Haye and Patrick Baboumian will attest, followers of a plant-based diet aren’t all stick thin. Entirely dedicated to everything health and fitness, Neanderthals Deli offer sit-in and takeaway meals made good. Offering extensive breakfast and lunch meals to cater for a range of diets and workout regimes, Neanderthals are looking back to the future with their menus selecting only the best that nature has to offer, with inspiration taken directly from the Palaeolithic age. Avoiding additives and preservatives, Neanderthals prove it is possible and affordable to be fit, healthy and make gains whilst following a plant-based diet. Something that many top-level athletes are currently learning and using to their advantage – including tennis legends Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams and Venus Williams.
Of course, veganism is a lifestyle and not just about great food. Contrary to popular belief, most vegans believe haircuts are necessary and welcome in grooming and self-care routines. Based in Eaglescliffe, Black Lace hair and beauty salon operate on a cruelty-free basis, even stocking an impressive selection of vegan shampoos, conditioners and dyes. Priding themselves on their compassion-based operation, Black Lace prove it is possible to look and feel beautiful without the needless animal testing and exploitation.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but a short selection of The Vegan Lilith’s current recommendations; there are many places across Teesside proudly boasting their ability to cater to dietary requirements and providing vegan options: Hope and Glory, 12 Harland Place, No. 60 (ARC), Napoli Woodfired Pizza, The Tea House and The Copper Kettle to name but a few. It’s a matter or exploration and experimentation with food. The world is becoming smaller, cultures are combining, and tastes are transforming. Every meal can be a new experience should one decide to embark upon it.
Whether you find yourself concerned about the frequency of scientific reports linking meat consumption to higher cancer rates and other health problems, the detrimental environmental impact of animal agriculture, or the constant scandals surrounding animal welfare – it has never been more pertinent to adopt plant-based meals into everyday eating habits. Teesside is perfectly equipped to aid any desire to reduce personal reliance on animal produce. With a friendly community existing and ready to answer any questions, seeking advice towards discovering the goodness of green eating has never been simpler. Just remember your Independent Teesside card to top your newfound favourite meals off with a sweet discount!
This article was written by Laura & Michael who run www.theveganlilith.com – check out their website and follow them on social media @theveganlilith to stay in the loop with what they are doing and more vegan related articles.