Last Sunday 24th February 2019, we had the pleasure of visiting Hooper and Howard’s Kitchen in Cannock (Staffordshire), and trying out their very first fully vegan Sunday lunch.

As a family of three, we’ve visited here a few times in the past, so know how great the food quality is. Although Hooper and Howard’s (known here as HH) are not exclusively vegan, they do have many suitable options daily. On the vegan menu they have dishes such as banana blossom fish and chips, and seitan steak. Not your regular old three bean chilli or falafel burger, that’s for sure! The best bit is it’s reasonably priced, has a cosy atmosphere and is run by a lovely local couple.

But what did we make of the Sunday lunch?

hooper howards kitchen bar area

Hooper and Howard’s Kitchen Review

On arrival, we were greeted enthusiastically by Katherine, one of the owners hooper and howards kitchen cannock vegan sunday lunch menu(who generally tends to ‘front of house’ and does a little of everything – super woman!). We have a 3-year-old daughter, and she is always fantastic at making her feel at home too, which helps with restless kids! The special menu for today’s lunch was up on the chalkboard with a set main course, 3 starters and 3 desserts to choose from. The seitan red brisket was priced at £8.95, which we agreed was very reasonable considering the price of a Sunday carvery at a chain pub. We were also informed that all options could be made into a child’s portion. After much deliberation, we settled on one mushroom pate dish, and one garlic mushroom plate to share as starters. That meant that we didn’t taste-test the soup, unfortunately. The main course was already pre-set, and we could decide on desserts afterwards. That was the food order out of the way! How about drinks?

vegan drinksWe chose our beverages with help from Katherine, who was knowledgeable about what was vegan, and the flavour/notes of the various wines and beers. I settled on a Pinot, my husband on beer, and our daughter enjoyed an apple juice.

As we awaited our starters, we enjoyed chatting and soaking up the cosy, casual atmosphere. Inviting cakes line the window display and the decor is clean and neutral. Although the restaurant is quite small, it was nice to sit near fellow vegans. HH was also only about 75% full, so it wasn’t cramped at all.

We shared the starters with our daughter, a self-confessed mushroom lover! The garlic mushrooms were sauteed perfectly, with just the right amount of garlic, and a little garnish. The pate was much the same – you could tell it was homemade, and there was a generous amount on each piece of toast. The pate on toast also came with a small spoon of chutney, which was a nice addition to the plate and full of flavour.

The only observation I will make is that the mushroom pate was served on 3 slices of bread, whereas the garlic mushrooms on one slice of bread. It might have been nice to have two of each.

The starters definitely got a thumbs up from all three of us.

hooper howards cannock vegan starters

And on to the main course we go!

The red seitan brisket was the obvious star of the show. It looked very much like beef, which I know some vegans may find off-putting. However, it didn’t taste and smell like meat, so that was fine with me. HH prepare the seitan by hand, and rub it with beetroot to give it the slight pink tinge of meat, which is a really inventive idea. I’m a big fan of seitan, and really loved the salty yet sweet flavours. My husband had never tried seitan at all before and was on the fence. He did enjoy it, but found it a little sweet for his personal taste.

hooper howards vegan seitan brisket

The dinner came with vegan gravy, roast parsnips, roast potatoes, mashed potato and Yorkshire puddings. The gravy was thick and rich, and the roasted veg perfectly cooked but not oily. I was a big fan of the mash as it was slightly firm; however my husband prefers it whipped and buttery, so we had to disagree on that one. It’s a matter of personal opinion – all 3 of us demolished it though! We did all agree that the Yorkshire puds were impressive – crunchy on the outside and fluffy inside. It was really lovely to be able to have those ‘proper’ roast dinner touches on a vegan meal, rather than just nut roast and veg.

Of course, we were also given a huge dish of mixed vegetables to share, which tasted great. There was plenty to go around.

The chef (Katherine’s partner and co-owner) came out to check on his guests and food at one point, which was a nice touch. Luckily, it was all positive feedback for him!

A profitable idea for the future may be to have some optional side dishes to order at extra cost, such as stuffing, vegan sausage wrapped in bacon and horseradish sauce.

hooper howards vegan seitan briskethooper howards vegan sunday lunch roasthooper howards vegan sunday lunch roast

I know you’re dying to know if we had room in our bellies for dessert… well of course!

We chose the chocolate orange cheesecake (me), apple and blackberry crumble (husband), and vegan Eton mess (daughter) – nobody opted for the rice pudding.

The cheesecake portion size was generous, and the chocolate was rich without being overbearing. You could taste a hint of orange (maybe an orange segment on top would have finished it off nicely?) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also stole a little of my husband’s crumble, which was delicious. It had a crunchy yet buttery crumble, and a nice soft fruity bottom. It came with a vegetable-based thick cream, which my husband was really impressed with.

I was only allowed a small taste of the 3-year-old’s Eton mess, but it was a good sized portion for a child, and the pink meringues were an impressive addition too. The cream was thick with chunks of strawberry inside. A big thumbs up from our daughter!

If I was really desperate to pick fault, the only thing I could say is that it would have been nice to have a cake on the dessert menu, as two of the desserts were quite creamy/ liquidy (Eton mess and rice pudding). Seeing all those lovely cakes on the display gave me a craving! With that said, I’m sure I could have asked for a slice to take away. My eyes are much bigger than my belly…

vegan eton messvegan chocolate cheesecakeapple blackberry crumble vegan

The meal came to £54 in total – for 2 beers, 2 medium wines, an apple juice, 2 starters, 3 mains, and 3 desserts. I was really pleased with this and think they could have charged more!

Overall, we were really impressed with this visit to Hooper and Howard’s Kitchen. Great homemade grub, lovely staff, and a modest bill at the end.

They will be running the vegan Sunday lunch all throughout March 2019, and there will also be a new seitan ‘chicken’ on offer, which I am tempted to try out! if you live in the Staffordshire / West Midlands area, you should definitely pay a visit. I think even hardcore meat-eaters would be impressed with this roast dinner. Let me know if you do go, but be sure to book in to avoid disappointment.

Vegans Visiting Non-Vegan Restaurants

Our experience at HH got me thinking about their transition since they’ve opened, moving over to offering more vegan dishes. The encouragement and repeat business from vegan clientele has been key in this.

So should vegans visit non-vegan restaurants? vegan gelato business

Let me begin by saying I am a huge fan of supporting completely vegan businesses – run by vegans, for vegans. We should be doing this first and foremost. It’s great to be able to get personal recommendations from the owners and feel safe that everything is 100% vegan. I love visiting my local vegan eateries and food stores. These businesses are few and far between though. They may be a significant drive to get to every week or more pricey than non-vegan establishments. For many of us, it is impractical to solely shop and eat at completely vegan businesses. It also completely separates veganism from the rest of society – and we do want more people to go vegan and get involved!

The development of Hooper and Howards Kitchen is a perfect example of why we should also eat at non-vegan restaurants and show the demand for cruelty-free food. They opened not too long ago, as an eatery with meat, vegetarian and vegan dishes on offer. All of their food was freshly cooked to order and made with local produce. Starting with some innovative vegan options such as banana blossom fish and chips, at a reasonable price, obviously gained attention from vegans. We visited, we spread the word, we showed demand for good quality vegan food.

HH then expanded their vegan menu, offering many starters, mains and desserts, as well as knowledge on vegan drinks they had. They started experimenting with more vegan ingredients. Next, they trialled vegan cookery classes, and now the Sunday lunch. The most exciting part is, they are trialling a fully vegan and vegetarian March 2019 – how exciting! None of these steps would have happened if they didn’t see that initial demand and support from vegans. Had we turned our heads and said “I won’t eat here because they serve beef”, the sale of vegan items would have been very small, failed to turn a profit and been eradicated from the menu. Even ethical businesses need to turn a profit. As it goes, we’ve actually shown such a demand for vegan food, that they’ve seen a gap in the local market for a vegetarian restaurant, and eradicated meat completely. The best bit is, many of their existing non-vegan customers will continue to eat here, trying delicious vegan food and opening their hearts and minds.

Spreading veganism everywhere also normalises it for people – many still see veganism as extreme, niche or just don’t understand it. The more the general public see the word, try the food, the more mainstream veganism becomes. Normalising veganism rather than animal exploitation should be high on our to-do lists.

Veganism is growing and has no indication of tailing off any time soon – let’s encourage it by supporting vegan businesses, influencing non-vegan businesses and integrating it into society for good. The animals and environment will thank us!

Have you eaten at Hooper and Howard’s Kitchen – what did you think? Do you believe we should support non-vegan businesses? Let me know!

 

 

 

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  • Why try vegan?
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1. HEALTH:
Many objective studies show that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and stroke. It also cuts your risk of certain types of cancer, such as colon and breast. Processed meat is classed as a carcinogenic.
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2. THE ANIMALS:
Can we justify the suffering and death of animals, when we can live happily and healthily without inflicting it? A high proportion of 'meat' animals never see daylight, and many die in their cramped, unhygienic surroundings before they reach the slaughterhouse. Even humane meat is marketing. Is there a humane way to kill somebody that doesn't want to die?
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3. HUMANS:
Veganism isn’t just an animal rights issue, it’s a human rights issue too. Feeding grain to livestock reduces the amount of food that is available to underdeveloped nations. Around 75% of soybeans produced are fed to animals, for example. People go hungry, while that same food they could be eating is given to animals raised for slaughter. Many of these slaughtered animals are then transported to affluent countries such as the UK, for us to eat!
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4. THE ENVIRONMENT:
Most of us have realised by now that climate change is real and happening as we speak. Raising animals for food uses many more resources than growing plants. 30% of the ice-free surface area of the Earth is used to either rear livestock, or grow the food to feed it. They produce a huge amount of methane (cows alone in excess of 150 billion gallons per day!), and methane is thought to be 25 to 100 times more harmful than CO2. This is all without mentioning pollution, deforestation, land degradation, and water scarcity.
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These are brief explanations, do feel free to conduct your own research or ask questions.
Do you think it's worth it so we can eat meat?
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Did you read it yet?⠀
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Have a look over my latest post: ⠀
Which Vegan Documentary Should You Watch?⠀
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Not all documentaries are graphic or about animal abuse. I've included films about health, marine conservation and the environment. Find out which one suits you!⠀
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LINK IN BIO⠀
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I'm always going on about how great vegan food is... but even the best of us can make some fatal errors at meal time!⠀
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Crumpets, melted cheese, and marinated grilled tempeh.⠀
A nice easy lunch, I thought. Not the healthiest, but I'm busy and pregnant.⠀
WRONG!⠀
It was awful - dry and hard. But it seemed like a good idea at the time...⠀
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Spill the beans! What's the worst meal you've had?⠀
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  • Which Vegan Documentary Should You Watch?⠀
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That's the big question!⠀
Many people have heard of vegan documentaries, but are either too scared to watch one, or have no idea where to start. How about you?⠀
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Those of us who have watched documentaries found them vital in our vegan journey, allowing us to make an emotional connection to animals and the suffering we pay for them to go through, and take our health more seriously.⠀
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This post includes documentaries that span a range of topics, and I narrowed it down to those that are crucial for new vegans too. Give it a read!⠀
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Of course, there are plenty more documentaries out there. Have a recommendation? Comment on the post and let me know!⠀
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Katy⠀
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LINK IN BIO - CHECK IT OUT!⠀
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We can 100% thrive on a vegan diet.⠀
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Don't believe me?⠀
Even the NHS, WHO and Association of Nutritionists and Dietitians have confirmed that a well-balanced vegan diet is suitable for all stages of life, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and childhood.⠀
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There are many misconceptions around vegans being weak or deficient, but many athletes, bodybuilders and regular people are thriving as vegans. Just look at Tony Gonzalez, Venus Williams and the 'Hench Herbivore'!⠀
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Any lifestyle can be unhealthy if we don't eat the right things. With the fast-food culture, many of us are consuming too much saturated fat, refined sugar, refined carbs and processed foods. ⠀
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We could all do with a rundown in nutrition! I've created two guides - basic nutrition, and advanced nutrition, which are in my bio.⠀
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I’ve met wonderfully supportive people along my vegan journey, but also a few judgemental folks that criticise and argue in a non-constructive way. There’s been masses of complex information to understand along the way, on a huge variety of vegan-related topics. Some of it can be a struggle to understand.⠀
Veganism doesn’t have to be as hard as I made it for myself! And that’s really why I wanted to create this site.⠀
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Firstly, to create a safe space. Somewhere you can come if you fall off the wagon. No judgement, no criticism. Just a friendly face and support to reach that vegan goal, whatever it may be or however slowly you are working towards it.⠀
Secondly, to help people who were like me 6 years ago. People with no clue about veganism, perhaps even with pre-conceptions and doubts about the whole lifestyle. But with a thirst to find out more, to make some kind of change, because supporting these violent industries doesn’t sit right with them anymore.⠀
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Does any of this sound like you?⠀
You may not know where to start. You’re probably overwhelmed by the masses of conflicting information out there. I was too!⠀
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Learner Vegan is a one-stop shop. It makes everything simple and easy to understand. I’ll talk you through ethics, shopping and cooking… plus everything else! I’m on hand as your vegan guide. To answer tricky questions, motivate you, and help you back on the wagon if you slip up.⠀
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Remember: reading this is your first step toward a compassionate lifestyle. I’m all for celebrating these small changes, because every change is an animal saved.⠀
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