The Arty Vegan
The Arty Vegan are a father and daughter culinary duo who have been vegan for over thirty years! They are changing the game by providing food-lovers across London with fresh, handmade, eco-conscious, low impact goods. They specialise in sustainable uses of the soya bean and focus on producing high quality, vegan, deli-style foods. We got the chance to spend some time with the family & speak in detail about The Arty Vegan with Veena, and later Allora, who were both wonderful hosts…
1. Tell us about The Arty Vegan!
When Maurelio and I first met, we were travellers & we decided we’d continue to travel while also doing something with food in order to generate more income. We were given the opportunity, whilst in Japan, to use a small restaurant space and we made one room Indian & the other Italian - simply one dish a day and it was always packed! We had artistic evenings & Japanese classical music, and we created pastas and curries with Japanese produce - it was a wonderful fusion… Then our four girls came along and Ellora in particular just couldn’t stand cheese! We had this restaurant in Devon, in 1988, and it was vegetarian because my parents didn’t believe a vegan restaurant would be successful. One day, a regular customer of ours came in and invited us to the dairy farm where we sourced our cream, milk etc… and we were horrified! One of the most prominent dairy farms in the UK & it was awful - we decided to give up the place and move to Turkey to start our next adventure. There, soya beans were used to feed animals and to create soya oil and I just thought “why are we using so much land to rear animals for the rich minority when we can feed the masses with plants & pulses???”. Maurelio started making tofu from home & the people in Turkey really took to it! They didn’t know what to do with the raw ingredient, but once they saw how to cook it, they were sold! This whole journey started with ethics, but evolved into so much more than that! Our veganism is spurred on by social inequality, health, environment, sustainability…
2. What’s your process with recipe creation?
It’s a lot of trial and error. The cheeses were DEFINITELY trial and error - we had so much left over soy milk, since my dad was making tofu all the time, that I was like “why don’t we just try and do as much as we can with it?”. So the closest thing I could think of was cheese! A lot of vegan cheeses out there are cultured or made from nuts, but vegan cheese that has a low carbon footprint, is healthy, tastes good AND melts was hard to find!
3. How did Angel become your business home? How is it different from the other branches?
We’ve been in East London for a while and we didn’t see any refill stuff available in Angel. The vegan market is expanding, which is awesome, but in an area which is so diverse - you’ve got affluent, wealthy families & a more working class community all in one place - we felt something a bit different was missing!
4. Have you seen any changes in the community since opening? What’s your favourite thing about being here?
Yeah it’s amazing! What I love so much is the diversity - I know I keep banging on about it… You’ve got the guy who strolls in and buys 5 bottles of wine and 8 cheeses and tells you to keep the change, and then you’ve got the local who’s never heard what veganism is and wants to have a conversation. It’s quite rare in shopping to have both audiences coming to the same place and we love it.
5. Can you talk more about how you source your products sustainably?
Everything is relative isn’t it. Some people come in and comment on the fact that we sell the Here We Flo tampons & pads and say “well this isn’t the Moon Cup and so it’s not super sustainable, so are you even sustainable at all?” and yes you’re right, the Moon Cup IS more sustainable, but I am supporting an incredible company which is doing incredible things - where a percentage of their income goes to young women in need. There’s no one rule for all. Everyone who we source from has an amazing message behind their work. In terms of our own products, we try to keep it small but have that leeway so that it’s still expansive. I suppose we’re all just trying our very best to do everything that we can.
6. How did 2020 affect The Arty Vegan ?
I think people were a lot more interested in shopping local and getting to know what was around them. I think we’re starting to see it slow down a little, as are most independent & small businesses, so you hear a lot of people going “We’re still here! Don’t forget us!”. I suppose we’ll see where things go moving forward, but we’ve definitely felt hugely supported by our community!
7. Any 2021/2022 goals?
I think the way we work is very relaxed and organic. The reality of the matter is that we really enjoy what we do and having these kinds of conversations with people. If it all ended tomorrow, any regrets? No, that’s not why we’re doing it. I think moving forward, my dad and I would like to take a step out of the kitchen in order to do more things like what we’re doing right now - more workshops & conversations, that would be ideal!
8. What’s your favourite recipe to use with The Arty Vegan cheeses?
I love the Miso Brie stuffed in courgette flowers and then battered and fried - it’s just glorious! The tofu ricotta in cannelloni is also a staple in my home, I think I have it every week.
Nourished Communities was born during the pandemic. The idea was to take produce from producers that relied on farmers markets and restaurants and deliver the products to your doorstep! We spoke to Rollo...
1. Tell us about Nourished Communities!
We started at the beginning of Covid when many of the farmers markets weren’t able to trade. The idea was to give those producers access to communities which they used to serve. We started online and then we moved to our physical store about 8 months ago. We also started with simply local, seasonal produce but then more recently we’ve expanded to include and offer foods from other regions - Portuguese, French… world foods really; things that people were finding more difficult to locate.
2. How did Angel become your business home? What’s the community like?
It happened organically actually, the right place at the right time, but the response from the community here has been really good. People love shopping local and independent. We also try to be as involved as possible in community projects, we recently started the Curry Club and work with food banks in the area. It’s a really strong community and it’s really great to have a business which supports community projects like that…
3. How important is sustainability to Nourished Communities?
Hugely! Transparency in supply chains and trying to reduce food miles are a core part of what we do and why people are interested in us.
4. Any 2022 goals?
We’d love to be more plastic free - it’s something that we’ve wanted to do but hadn’t had time to consider since we grew so fast. We’d also like to have a bigger site so that we can do more deliveries and collections. Finally, we’d love to start something with kids so that they can see where the produce actually comes from - actually take people to the source!
Made in Little France
Made in Little France’s history goes way further back than the opening of its first London shop in 2013. Maxence’s independent wine merchant offers an exclusive and carefully curated selection, directly imported from local French producers. We spoke to Marjorie, manager of the St John Street shop…
1. Tell us about Made in Little France!
Made in Little France has been open now for 7 years, this was the first shop and we now have another in Stoke Newington. We basically sell French wines from small independent wineries located in France. We now also sell craft beers, from as local as possible - mostly microbreweries in London, but also some Belgian beers.
2. I see you sell refillable wine, can you tell me a bit more about that?
We’ve always done refillable wine - we buy in bulk and sell the wines here. You can either buy a bottle from us or bring your own. We currently have 2 whites (a chardonnay and a sauvignon blanc), a rosé, 2 reds (a pinot noir and a malbec) and one sparkling. We’re also starting a project with Marcel the Wineman soon - a home delivery service of French wine refills, based on the milkman model. Marcel will deliver wine, right to your door, in reusable bottles.
3. What’s the community like in Angel?
Really, really good! We see people coming in every week. So many regulars.
4. How did 2020 affect the business?
It was a weird time for all of us, but I think people started to realise that they could actually get a much nicer bottle of wine here with the same amount of money that they originally would have spent at the pub. We had a lot more people interested in shopping independent and getting to know what was in their area. Overall, it was good!
5. Any goals for next year?
We’re actually opening a new shop, in Westbourne Grove (Notting Hill), so that’ll be a really exciting time for us! We’ll see how the next year goes for the 3 shops…
6. How important is sustainability to you?
It is important in the sense that we’re trying to pick more natural, organic and biodynamic wines. I hope that in 5-10 years finding organic wines will be the norm…
7. What is your favourite wine, or perhaps a top three?
Oh gosh.. That’s difficult! Okay, I'll choose the following, and these are all organic!
- The first is really pale in colour, lots of tannins and super intense - amazing! It’s called ‘Clos Vacquerolles’.
- The second is white, aged in oak, rich and spicy. It’s called ‘Mas d'Espanet Eolienne’
- Something a bit more classic... A ‘Wilfrid Rousse Chinon Clos de La Roche’... A really nice intensity and depth, delicious!
Moxon’s is one of London’s leading Fishmongers, with over 25 years of experience in the industry. Dictated by seasonality and sustainability, they buy their fish and shellfish directly from all corners of the British coastline! We spoke to the lovely Sammy about their Islington branch…
1. Tell us about Moxon's!
I’ve worked in this shop for 6 years, it’s one of the younger ones out of the four we’ve got - it’s grown and grown and grown and been hugely successful! We have the best British fish you can get and try to base ourselves on serving the community over wholesale and restaurants.
2. How did Angel become your business home? How is it different from the other branches?
I think the location came about after seeing how vibrant the community feel was. Lots of local families and individuals coming in - we get so many regulars! I pride myself on making sure my regulars are happy with their purchases so that we keep them coming back! It’s key to me.
3. Have you seen any changes in the community since opening?
Lots of people are shopping more locally, especially during lockdown! There were a couple of times when we couldn’t even get enough fish in to supply the demand. People were queuing down the road! Valentine's day and Christmas were crazy - because there were no restaurants to go to, people were coming here to get quality ingredients for a special meal.
4. Where do you source your fish?
We mostly go straight to the boats. As a business we can buy a lot more directly from the boats, so we can try and do that as much as possible from Devon & Scotland. Obviously there are things that need to change in the fishing industry, but there’s also a lot of good if you do it in the right way.
5. Assuming you shop here, what’s your favourite way to cook fish?
The wild Sea Bass is fantastic, just simply pan fried - absolutely unbelievable!
The home of sustainable things
The home of sustainable things is exactly what the name describes. Still new to Angel, the store is the first of it's kind. From yoga mats to tables, you can find an array of household items from cups made from egg shell to orange peel lampshades. From a pop up store to innovative home decor The home of sustainable things has a lot to offer and we spoke to Petko about it all...
1. Tell us about yourself
We started this in 2018, using the space as a pop up with different brands. That went on for a few months and then we decided to do something for ourselves which was when we decided to do a pop up for sustainable designs. It was honestly important to me and we knew it was the right thing to do, it just felt like a good thing to do. We couldn't find anything that was the same.
2. Why is sustainability important to you?
No one puts their money where their mouth is, the conversation is normally on the cause of the issue rather than the alternatives. When you tell someone about a product or materials that may be produced in a few years you kind of lose them. Sustainability is something for the future and I guess some people block it out for another time. This point made us realise we need to do something about it so for almost 10 months we have been researching and curtating. When people buy a product they start to think about how it’s made and that could trigger more changes in their lifestyle.
3. As you said before there aren't many circular design home decor stores, how has it been opening one?
It’s been a fascinating journey, during the first few months people would come by and ask and we would explain about the reuse of waste and people would be in disbelief. People will come from outside of London to see what we do, it’s been fascinating and difficult as the market didn't exist and people aren’t aware of circular design so now we're in a stage where we educate.
4. Any key points to success and sustainability?
It’s simple, the price has to be affordable and people have to like it. Sustainable people have to be able to afford it. We’re much cheaper than the majority of design shops but we can never compete with the likes of MnS but everything is made from hand. We can tell people where their product comes from and who made it.
5. How do you source the artists you work with?
During the first few months we spent ours writing and speaking to people and that still goes on now, people are approaching us too now. Right now we have 37 artists, hopefully by September we will have another 2 or three names.
6. How was 2020 for you?
Unpredictable at the very least, but at the same time a lot of good things happened. Lockdown allowed us to finish things that we weren't able to previously and focus on it.
7. Any goals? Right now we have 37 artists, and we are hoping to have over 50 by next year.