Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Rapid Rise of Veganism in Colchester

The Rapid Rise of Veganism in Colchester

Flashback two years, and veganism was just beginning to make ripples in Colchester. The summer of 2014 saw the very first Colchester Vegan Fair take place at Colchester Arts Centre, and exceeded all expectations with most stall holders selling out before the day was over.

Fast forward to summer 2016, with Colchester’s 3rd Vegan Fair about to take place and it is clear that the times are changing. We’re suddenly living in a very different vegan landscape to that of 2 years ago.

Credit for the rise of the vegan movement in Colchester must, in part, go to the opening of The Den at Twenty Three in March 2015. The Den has managed to seamlessly cross over into the mainstream whilst serving a wealth of hungry customers, from vegans, vegetarians, the v-curious, meat reducing, and omnivores alike; everyone is welcome. All the time using their brand of tasty, regular food (think burgers, paninis, cupcakes, hot chocolates, ice cream, etc.) to show just how indulgent eating vegan can be. Bland rabbit food this most certainly is not.

Whilst The Den shows that veganism doesn’t have to equal healthy; vegan eco-takeaway The Nourish Co. prove that if it’s quick and healthy you’re after, then you’re catered for too.

Stop off on your lunch break to pick up their hearty hot dish of the day, trademark mushroom and lentil ‘sausage’ rolls, ‘smoked aubergine’ BLT, or a plethora of raw, nourishing sweet treats courtesy of local business The Moral Munch.

As if two vegan cafés wasn’t enough, brand new for 2016 is café number three: Découverte. This vintage, tearoom-style eatery serving organic, home-made meals in quaint surroundings has given the vegan community of Colchester another option for when eating out, and shown the growing demand there is for plant-based food.

If you’re only in Colchester for the day, visiting one of the town’s many events throughout the year, whether that be Christmas markets, food fairs or the Colchester Free Festival, then you’ll be likely to see one of Colchester’s vegan catering companies #V Catering Co. or Organic Alex  armed with a stall full of vegan treats to fill up on. Each of these local businesses hold a monthly event at The Waiting Room on one Friday of the month, so be sure to head along to support them.

Veganism in Colchester doesn’t stop at food either. The Garden of Eden Beauty parlour at Lucky Rose Tattoo Clinic on Eld Lane has a fully vegan range of beauty products. So if it is cruelty-free manicures, facials or other treatments you are looking for, then Colchester have you covered.

The award-winning lifestyle magazine Vegan Life is also based and run in Colchester by local vegans, becoming so successful nationwide, that it’s now being shipped to the US too! Plus the creators have now started up the brand new Cook Vegan magazine too.

Colchester’s speedy rise to ‘vegan force-to-be-reckoned-with’ shows no sign of stopping, Battered is a new vegan ‘fish’ and chips business, further showing that eating vegan doesn’t have to mean missing out. Look out for their trailer serving vegan lard in Colchester and surrounding towns.  

There seems to be something about being vegan that brings out the inner entrepreneur in people, and the demand is always increasing, meaning you can expect to see more and more vegan businesses popping up around the town, in addition to more options at other cafes and restaurants too. Plus, what a great thing it is for our town and its tourism industry, encouraging more people from far and wide to visit historic Colchester; due to the fantastic cruelty-free offering we have available.

So if you haven’t already been to check out one of these local businesses, come on down to vegan town!
  • Colchester’s 3rd Vegan Fair takes place at The Waiting Room (11am-Late) this Saturday 20th August. There is no entry fee, and everyone, vegan or not, is encouraged to come along to support our local vegan businesses.
  • To keep up to date with the latest in vegan news and vegan finds, like our Facebook page here or follow us on Twitter here

Colchester’s growing list of vegan businesses(Click to be taken to their Facebook page)

·        The Den at Twenty Three 

·       The Nourish Co. 

·       Découverte 

·       V Catering Co. 

·       Organic Alex 

·       The Garden of Eden 

·       Battered

·       Wildflour Vegan Kitchen 

·       Truly Madly Vegan 

·       The Moral Munch 

·       Sunshine on a Plate 

·       Lucy’s Treehouse 

·       Roots Street Food

Thursday, 28 January 2016

#V Street Food Event- The Waiting Room

#V Catering Co.- Street Food Event
The Waiting Room, The Old Bus Station off Queen St. CO1 2PH
For those of you who are yet to venture to 'The Waiting Room', the location of the 2015 Colchester Vegan Fair and previously 'Vegan Pot Luck' meetings; the former bus station café is a strange and interesting hidden gem of a venue.

It has also become home to '#V Catering Co.', once a month, for their 'street food' events, with this month seeing the return of their popular noodle night.

Delicious Udon noodles surrounded by crunchy veg, juicy mushrooms, optional seitan and covered in a flavoursome hoisin and miso sauce. 

Alongside the main meal, there were pots of #V's homemade 'coconut bacon' available to buy, in addition to three sweet dishes.

Udon Noodles
Of course it only felt right that I should try all three sweet offerings. First up, the gooey chocolate flapjack with whipped vanilla and coconut cream. Yes, that does taste as good as it sounds! This was so nice I actually had to go back and get a second portion, which I believe tells you all you need to know.

It was great to see two other dessert options on the menu, both equally as yummy as the flapjack. A soft and tasty chocolate chip cookie, and well textured New York cheesecake. It's always great eating out and having a vegan dessert, but to have choice between different options was even better. 
Chocholate Chip Cookies

The desserts had my omni friend exclaiming that she couldn't believe the food had any of the traditional ingredients missing- and she couldn't tell a difference from their non-vegan equivalents- praise indeed!

I was also pleased to find that the sometimes slightly overbearing music of previous street food events had been held back until later into the evening, being replaced by some more appropriate background music which allowed for easier conversation.

So be sure to free up the third Friday of every month, and don't come expecting a restaurant-style atmosphere, this is very much a fun pop-up, canteen-type set up, which I feel only adds to its charm. If you're anything like me, you will leave full up, satisfied and looking forward to the next street food event to come along!

Sunday, 17 January 2016


6 Sir Isaacs Walk, Colchester, CO1 1JJ


As Colchester continues on its path towards vegan dominance, cruelty free consumers will be pleased to hear of Colchester's brand new vegetarian café. 

Following in the footsteps of Colchester's two fully vegan establishments, comes 'Découverte', which opened on Boxing Day 2015 and consists of a small vintage shop alongside an organic, vegetarian café. Much of the food they serve is vegan, and is clearly labelled with the 'V' symbol.
Lentil & Squash Soup
Due to the cold weather outside, I decided that I needed warming up with a cup of tea served in a beautifully delicate teacup, accompanied with oat milk. Whilst continuing along the 'warming' theme, I opted for the homemade 'lentil and squash' soup of the day, served with seeded bread. Coming in at £3.50, this seemed good value for such a tasty, hearty meal. The freshly heated soup was thick, flavoursome and incredibly filling. The gluten-free vegan chocolate cake which followed, allowed for a sweet treat to finish.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
Whilst eating my food I was able to enjoy the beautiful beams and busy walls filled with different vintage items. The café feels small (with 5 tables squeezed into the space) but this is what gives it its character and charm. The owners clearly knew what direction they wanted to go in, and have done that well.

Having spoken to the staff it is clear that they are passionate about the food they make and serve. The café was relatively quiet whilst I was in there, which allowed the owner to talk about the two years of hard work it's taken to get the business up and running, and I was pleased to see that they seem to have established the ways in which they differ from 'The Den at Twenty Three' and 'The Nourish  Co.'(Colchester's other vegan cafés) in the hope that they will also thrive. 

I wish them every success, look forward to paying many more visits to the café, and hope that at some point they will be able to drop the dairy and non-vegan options from the menu in the future.

If you pay a visit to 'Découverte' then let us know your thoughts!

Full menu: Show Menu
Opening Times: 11:00-16:00 (Tues, Weds, Fri, Sat, Sun) Closed- Mon/Thurs

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Nourish Co.

The Nourish Co.
36 St. John's Street, Colchester, CO2 7AD

It's only been 7 months since Colchester got its first fully fledged vegan cafe in the form of 'The Den at Twenty Three', and now the ever-growing vegan community of North Essex is to be treated to a brand new eatery!

The Nourish Co. is marketing itself as an 'Eco-Takeaway'. Think raw cakes, tasty whole food lunches, and lots of healthy snacks; all served with a smile. 

We popped by on their opening day and tried their freshly baked Mushroom and Lentil Sausage Roll with a Raw Chocolate Brownie afterwards, both of which were very tasty. 

The shop itself, though small, has been used to its full potential, with a breakfast bar overlooking the street and small table area for anybody who wants to sit in. Not necessarily a place you'd meet a friend for lunch due to the limited space, but perfect for those short lunch breaks or when passing through town and in need of a bite to eat.

How great it is to have even more choice in the town, and this can only be a good thing for making veganism more accessible. 

We're excited to watch the company grow and continue to spread their message of 'kind and conscious eating', and can't wait to try lots more of their wholesome, yummy food!

Be sure to drop in next time you need a quick snack on the go.

Friday, 21 August 2015

El Guaca

El Guaca
118 High Street, Colchester CO1 1SZ

The Restaurant

Having established themselves in Maldon and Clacton, the Mexican restaurant 'El Guaca' has now arrived in Colchester.

I was intrigued as to what options they might have for vegans as there didn’t seem to be anything explicitly on the menu that was vegan-friendly, so I dropped them an Email, getting a very helpful reply outlining the dishes which could be made vegan, and how to adapt them. So on Tuesday night I went along to give the restaurant a try.

Sizzling Fajita
I decided to opt for the Sizzling Mushroom and Courgette Fajita (without the jack cheese or sour cream) and sizzling it was. If anyone ever tries to claim vegan food is boring then this dish is here to prove otherwise. The sizzling courgettes and mushrooms came on a bed of sautéed peppers and onions, with pico de gallo and home-made (vegan) guacamole on the side, with a bowl of warm flour tortillas ready to be filled with all the tasty filling.

The staff were very attentive, friendly and helpful, and portions rather generous (though on the pricier side of things).  Unfortunately, as is often the case, the dessert menu was lacking in a vegan option, and perhaps this is something the restaurant could look to change in the near future.

If you want to make the experience a tad more authentic then ask a member of staff for a sombrero, and they’ll happily oblige!

It’s always great to see more local businesses thriving alongside the huge chains, so I highly recommend dropping in to El Guaca. Below were the other vegan adapted options that are available, as always be sure to check anything with the staff for peace of mind. Let us know your experiences and if anything needs changing or updating from the menu.

Nachos (without cheese) with Guacamole, Pico De Gallo or Chilli Sauce
Vegetarian Tacos (i.e. with no meat fillings)

Sizzling Fajita- Courgette and Mushroom (without cheese/sour cream)

Burrito/ChimiChanga/Enchilada with Vegetarian Bean Chilli (without cheese/sour cream)

Saturday, 9 May 2015

The Den at Twenty Three / The Den at 23

23 Crouch Street

Mon 12pm-4pm
Tue-Sat 10pm-4pm
Closed Sunday

"The Den at 23" opened in March 2015, and is Colchester's first cafe to offer an entirely vegan friendly menu!
It is run by Jennifer Dunn of vegan cake company "'s vegan!", and her husband Robert.

The Den sells breakfasts (such as sausage sandwiches and sausage tofu breakfast muffins), lunches such as burgers and toasted paninis, and sweet options such as cupcakes and waffles with ice cream.

Teas and coffees and hot chocolates are served with a choice of soya, almond or coconut milk, and can be topped with soya whipped cream (and vegan marshmallows!)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Vegan Colchester Christmas Guide 2014

As ever  this information is to be used as a guide only.  Please do your own research to check suitability before buying/booking!

Supermarket shopping:

Chilled Buffet food: Vbites "Vegi Deli" range is available at Holland and Barrett, and includes things like mini sausages, pate, ham style slices, etc.
Most supermarkets also sell chilled spring rolls, samosas and bhajis, which can be cooked for buffets.
Vegan cheeses can be found at Natural Foods (Eld Lane), Sunflower Natural Food store (St Botolphs Street), Holland and Barrett (Priory Walk) and Tesco (Highwoods).

Frozen Buffet food:  Linda Mc Cartney sausage rolls are sold in most supermakets. Supermarkets such as Iceland and Tesco usually sell frozen buffet food such as vegetarian Indian snack selections, veggie spring rolls etc. 

For more party food ideas visit "The Vegan Woman" website:

Crisps and snacks: Many  crisps are vegan-just watch out for whey powder/lactose, and perhaps honey.  
See a list of some suitable crisps/snacks on the Vegan Womble website, here:

Biscuits: Biscuits include hobnobs, Oreos and most brands of bourbons, 
For a list of vegan biscuits see the Vegan Womble website, here:

Festive sweet treats! (Mince Pies/Stollen/ Christmas Pudding): Mince pies can be found at Iceland, as can stollen, and christmas puddings. Other supermarkets also seem to often have vegan-friendly stollen and Christmas puddings.

Ice cream
-Most supermarkets sell vanilla Swedish Glace. 
-Tollgate Sainsbury's also sell "Food Heaven" icecream, in mango and raspberry flavour.
-Waitrose sell 4 flavours of Almond Dream, 3 flavours of Swedish Glace, and also ice cream by "Coconut Collaborative".  
-Holland and Barrett and Natural Foods sell Booja Booja icecream, made using cashew nuts.

Chocolates: Natural Foods (on Eld Lane) and Holland and Barrett will have specialist brands of vegan chocolates, as will most supermarket's "free from" sections.  
Other mainstream dark chocolates may be vegan..just watch out for whey powder, lactose or butterfat on the ingredients list. 
Tesco sell these very delicious and creamy hazelnut "Gianduiotti" chocolates, which just so happen to be vegan!

Sweet Pastries/pies:

-Most supermarkets sell frozen fruit strudels which are usually vegan.
-At last check the following Mr Kipling products were vegan:
Mr Kipling Jam Tarts, Lyons Jam Tarts, Lyons Treacle tart, Mr Kipling Apple and Blackcurrant Pies, Mr Kipling Treacle Tart.
(Add some Alpro cream or custard, and you're good to go!)
-Jus rol sell a few read-to-bake pastries, including pain au chocolat, and croissants.

Co-op and Marks and Spencer label which of their wines are suitable for vegans. Vegan beers include Heineken, Stella Artois and Budweiser.
The Barnivore website is a handy place to check the suitability of beers, wines, spirits and mixers when shopping:

Recipe Resources:

Christmas Mains:

There are some great looking recipes for vegan roasts on the "Mouthwatering Vegan" website.  Ie:

More festive recipes from Mouthwatering Vegan can be found here:

More recipes can be found at:
Viva! Christmas recipe selection:


Eating Out Guide

The Minories, High Street Colchester

2 courses £19.50
3 courses £24.50
Group bookings for lunch/dinner available from Dec 1st. Contact, phone 01206 712432

Homemade vegetable soup. 
Mushroom and Tarregon pate, served with melba toast and a rocket and cherry tomato salad

Chestnut and cranberry nut loaf,  with seasonal vegetables, roast potatoes and homemade vegetarian gravy

Vegan cake, to be confirmed!


The Rose and Crown, East Hill.

Party nights £25-£35 depending on date. Christmas lunches £17-£19 depending on date.
Vegan options
-Mixed vegetable sausages with mash potato and caramelized onion gravy
-Garlic cream Mushrooms on a homemade onion Rosti
-Filo pastry pillow, with Tuscan style vegetables and tomato sauce, served with seasonal vegetables and potatoes.
No dessert option. Information on drinks not available.
Visit the Rose and Crown website here

The Lemon Tree, St Johns Street

3 courses advertised at £22.50, although only 2 vegan courses available.

Spiced parsnip soup with fresh bread

Apricot, leek and walnut vegetarian roast with vegetarian gravy and roast potatoes**


Grilled artichoke and chestnut risotto topped with rocket (request no parmesan)

No dessert option.
No vegan drinks available.

*Edit: Large parties may be able to negotiate a better menu, including dessert! (I heard the staff at Lush did!) 

Visit The Lemon Tree website at


Toby Carvery, London Road Stanway

Nut Roast Wellington £6.29
Sweet potatoes, grated carrots and parsnips 
spiced with paprika and sage, then mixed 
with crushed walnuts, cashew nuts and butter 
beans and wrapped in a pastry jacket

Visit Toby Carvery website at


Further afield....

The Veggie Red Lion, Great Bricett, Suffolk
2 course £14.90 
3 course £19.90 


Creamed pea, brie & tarragon pithivier Can be made vegan  [pithivier is a pie, for those not in the know!]
Cauliflower, caraway & almond soup Can be made vegan 
Chestnut & sweet potato cakes with caramelised pineapple & ginger salsa Vegan


Chestnut, wild rice, parsnip & pistachio roast with red wine gravy Can be made vegan
Mushroom, cashew & port hotpot pie Can be made vegan
Pumpkin & aubergine tagine with cranberry and sunflower seed cous-cous Vegan


Dark chocolate, cherry and amaretto torte Can be made vegan
Xmas pudding Can be made vegan

Booking essential.
Visit The Veggie Red Lion website here:


Drink Guide

Use the Barnivore website to check the suitability of beers, wines, spirits and mixers when drinking out: