Vegano Deli’s Ant – A Doting Dad And A Fine Vegan Baker
We got the opportunity recently to have a chat with Ant from Vegano Deli in Galway. After sampling his cakes, we can confirm this doting dad is also one of the finest vegan bakers around!
1. Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m originally from Brixton, but my parents are Irish, and I moved here when I was 19. I met a girl from Galway, and I’ve lived here ever since. I have one daughter whom I get to work with every day, which is brilliant. I really like working together. I’m a bit older and stuck in my ways, but she’s really creative and is always looking for ways to push the envelope. I genuinely feel enormously lucky to have that, you know, because we have the same working practices so I can have a day off.
2. Where Is The Bakery based?
57 Newcastle Road Galway H91 K7D7
3. How long have you been in business?
We opened just under 2 years ago, in January 2020, which was right before the start of the lockdown. We had to shut down after only 6 weeks for a couple of months, and then we opened up doing click and collect. We have an organic business model. We are not really advertising or paying influencers. We're just letting the business grow in a very kind of organic, self-determining way. We like to know our customers' names and wanted to get back to a traditional sort of local business where you’re kind of known. During the lockdown, we were aware that there were people who would come to the shop purely for human contact, and I realised that might be the only conversation they could have for the whole day.
4. Why are you plant-based/vegan?
There’s a bunch of reasons. There was some sort of health issues in my family tree, and then - you know - there’s factory farming. I was vegetarian for a good while first, but then one day – about 7 years ago – I was just sitting on my couch with my dog. I had an epiphany where I thought that if I didn't have any food could I eat my dog? And I realised no, I couldn't. So, I realised if I wouldn’t eat my dog, I shouldn't eat any animal products, and I haven’t touched any since then.
5. Why did you decide to open your business?
When I was 15, I worked part-time in this sleepy little village, and up the road was the most fantastic deli. The food was incredible, and I've never seen anything like that before, you know. People were literally queuing for 30 – 40 minutes at lunchtime. And that was literally when I was 15; I was kind of like I would love one day to own a place like this. We named the deli after the first vegan bakery we went to in Florence - Il Vegano. I couldn't believe I was in a place where everything was vegan, and I was like, just give me one of everything!
6. What’s your favourite menu item?
That's really tough; I really love my wraps. We do a Sage and onion seitan with crispy fried onions, coleslaw, and vegan cheese. On the sweet side, I like the chocolate hazelnut cupcakes.
7. What’s your go-to meal when you’re in a hurry?
It would probably be my leek and mushroom carbonara. I can put that together 100% ready by the time the pasta is cooked – in about 7 minutes.
8. What, if anything, do you find challenging about following a vegan/plant-based diet?
I don't really go out anymore; I had too many bad experiences where you get a piece of chicken in a meal or taste meat flavours up from the kitchen. I just wish there were more vegan places where you could eat. And non-vegan kitchens with a separate section for vegan cooking to avoid cross-contamination or anything like that.
9. What piece of advice would you give to anyone going plant-based?
If you’re hard into a meat-based diet, look at products that you can switch to that have parallels with the food that you're eating at the moment, such as beyond burgers and Denny sausages. Then you can change it incrementally at first, and then just pick a date where you could just go for it.
Vegano is open Tuesday to Sunday and also does a postal bakery direct to your door. Check them
out at www.veganodeli.com
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