A deep sustainability dive with The Vegetable Diva

AUTHOR: Hannah Dean-Wood, Food Made Good Membership Manager

From the very beginning it was clear that The Vegetable Diva, one of the Rising Stars at the Food Made Good Awards 2019, would be a force to be reckoned with. Offering a transformative vegetarian, zero waste, package free takeaway food experience, this Bristol operation was founded with sustainability at its core.

For starters, it has its very own no-dig field where it grows seasonal organic vegetables which are considerately packed into every tasty recipe. In line with the zero waste values the team takes extra care to use the whole vegetable by incorporating a creative approach to menu planning with daily changes. Outside the kitchen, customers are encouraged to play part in reducing the restaurant’s impact too, by bringing their own containers to collect their food or renting or buying a multi-layered tiffin. Want your food delivered in an environmentally friendly, zero emission fashion? The Vegetable Diva has got you covered with deliveries on foot, by bike or electric car!

Head chef and founder, Sonya Devi-Clarke is the driving force behind the concept. She says: “I wanted to set an example and show that healthy vegetarian food can be accessible, affordable, delicious and sustainable”. Since its inception Sonya has been able to bring on a brilliant team of like-minded conscientious food lovers, happy to work in an environment where the planet comes first.

After travelling to Buenos Aires over Christmas to further her knowledge of South American produce and expand her fine dining skills we asked Sonya what she has planned in 2020 to do more and go further. True to form Sonya offered an impressive and ambitious response that was almost impossible to compact into one small newsletter blurb. Her full and inspiring response has now been included below:

· “To make the food better, we are planning on doing a lot more research and development in the types of pulses which we use. I have a Gujarati background and I want to ensure that traditional dishes are kept alive. We will be delving into lesser known pulses and incorporating them in our dishes and researching farms which are springing up across the UK who are growing pulses in the UK. We will be doing a lot more recipe development as to how we can incorporate Somerset vegetables into these Gujarati dishes and fine tuning our spice mixes so they become diva mixes in their own right.

· “We are exploring more inventive pickling and want the shelves to be brimming with the stuff that adds extra buzz to everything.

· “We will be launching Sunday Roast club, which is focused on vegetables not meat substitutes. It will be all about the veg, no mock sausages or chicken or additives.

· “We are investing in our interior so that we have more seating as we are a package free take-away a lot of our clients wish to eat in, more than expected.

· “On the farm we have just put together our planting list for the New Year with some new squash varieties which are full of flavour and we are going into mass herb production in the greenhouse, so we no longer need to buy plastic packaged herbs. The local school will be cultivating an area of land on the field and making it their own and learning about the process of bio-dynamic farming.

· “We have recently been sharing the love with 91 Ways, a Bristol based charity, and we hope to be doing more collaborative charity events with them in the future, including a one day take over by the wonderful ladies which they help in our cafe as they are the most amazing cooks!”

It is clear that The Vegetable Diva are serving up a full course sustainability agenda for 2020 and we are excited to follow and support their journey in the years ahead. You can learn more about The Vegetable Diva by checking out their website here.

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