How to eat more plants


In terms of the health of our bodies and the planet, eating more plants – and a greater diversity of plants – is one of the best choices most of us could make.

Whether you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of people taking the Veganuary challenge this year, or just want a delicious meal out, Lincoln has a lot to offer.

Here are five cafes in Lincoln making it easy and pleasurable for us to eat more plants!

Pimento

Pimento may be Lincoln’s most elegant cafe – the building on Steep Hill speaks for itself! – but it has a simple ethos: serving people good food.

“We want to make good food accessible,” Cara tells me. “We’re unassuming about being vegetarian and vegan; we’re making it mainstream.”

The season is reflected in soup of the day – carrot is a favourite through the winter months. Cara also makes good use of so-called “ugly veg” – it’s just as tasty and prevents pointless waste.

Cara’s tips:

  • Cook your own – don’t rely on ultra-processed food
  • Ask your local green grocer for what’s in season – they’ll be willing to help! 
  • Educate yourself: Get your head around food groups and nutrition, explore different flavours, try things out. Stock up with some core staples and fresh herbs, and don’t be afraid of food – enjoy it!

Cafe Shanti

Café Shanti is Lincoln’s original fully vegan café!

Under exciting new management, Mel and Jo, some things are staying the same – a commitment to veganism at its core; customers’ favourite curry dishes; and a connection with the charity Lincs to Nepal.

There have been renovations to the building afoot, though, and new seasonal specials coming in, along with a new chef, plus Sunday dinners.

Mel’s tips:

  • Do sign up to Veganuary: there are lots of useful recipes, tips and information.
  • Don’t be put off by people who say it’s expensive: it doesn’t have to be. Consider legumes!
  • Support independent vegan businesses – big chain restaurants put on specials to profit from Veganuary, but they don’t have their hearts in it.

Happy Culture Cafe

Happy Culture – a welcoming, cheerful, child friendly and 100% vegan café – is all about cultivating community.

“We come at this from a budget point of view, making sure that everyone can afford to eat here. Coming out for a drink is not a privilege.”

This is possible through a Pay It Forward system – you can buy pay in advance food & drink vouchers (as much or little as you want) that are pinned onto a board by the till.

Someone who needs it can help themselves. It’s super flexible, and no questions are asked. 

“What we find is that people are generous,” Natalie explains – and indeed the board is full.

I ask Natalie for her tips on eating better, and she is frank:

“That’s a hard question right now. I feel very uncomfortable with the marketing bandwagons. Right now, we just want to help people get through – to look after themselves and put food on the table.”

The Bailgate Deli

Bailgate Deli’s planted ethos is based on the conviction that we shouldn’t be eating meat and dairy, but also an awareness that it’s a long journey. 

“We’re not evangelical, just honest and straightforward. And we’re changing people’s views.”

The Deli’s menu is very simple, and that allows the kitchen to be thoughtful and responsive, and keeping the dishes seasonal.

When I ask Barry for his tips for people who want to try a more plant based diet, I like his response:

“It’s really simple: you don’t have to put meat in food!”

Barry’s tips:

  • Enjoy the diversity of your diet – that’s necessary to get the right nutrients
  • Try things out with mushrooms, nuts, lentils, and all sorts of proteins
  • It takes time, don’t do it all in one go

Root & Sprout

Root & Sprout, Lincoln’s vegan Supper Club, is on a mission to demonstrate how good vegan food can be.

”Veganism sometimes gets a bad rap, there’s a reputation for being militant or preachy, but we’re just showing how tasty it can be. It’s a kind of gentle protest.”

Chef Mark Bowery, Root & Sprout

Mark’s tips:

  • Eat fresh! Vegans sometimes fall into a trap of a tasty but ultra-processed diet, but whole foods are best: let’s celebrate veg and grains!
  • There’s an environmental impact of meat and dairy. Eating more plants is good for the planet as well as ourselves.

This article is published in the January 2023 Lincoln Independent

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