Going Vegan might be the hottest lifestyle choice at the moment, but the rise in its popularity has had the reverse effect on the fortunes of Blackpool’s first ever vegan restaurant.
Paul White from Faringo’s at the King’s Hotel on New South Promenade has said as the numbers of vegans has mushroomed nationally, rivals have jumped on the ethical food bandwagon threatening his business.
He says without more support from locals, the resort’s only dedicated vegan eaterie will have to close with the loss of eight full time jobs.
Ironically, this week new figures have shown that the number of vegans in Britain has doubled twice in the past four years, making it the fastest growing lifestyle movement – with 600,000 in 2018 compared to 150,000 vegans in 2014.
Paul said other restaurants, as well as supermarkets, have suddenly cottoned on to the growing trend and, although they can’t offer the range of specialist dishes, many vegans eating out with non-vegan friends are trying the alternative venues.
He said: “I am not criticising anyone, it is just business after all, but we cannot sustain it with the numbers we are getting at the moment.
“It started really well in June last year and it has been OK while the visitors have been here this year, but we are a 12 month round business and need support of local vegans.
“Unfortunately it seems that our success is becoming our downfall with so many establishments following our lead and offering vegan options on their menus.
“Because there is such choice nowadays our vegan friends and supporters are now choosing a mainstream establishment to eat in rather than our humble vegan abode. Running Faringo’s has been a pleasure. however, a very expensive pleasure. A pleasure that I can no longer afford. I have invested thousands and thousands of pounds of hotel profits.”
He said he had listened to comments from customers and had installed a separate kitchen to the hotel kitchen which handles only vegan produce and no meat so there can be no cross contamination.
He has also renovated the restaurant and called in a new chef to revamp the menu, which mainly offers Mediterranean style dishes, and has new recipes.
Paul, 55, who himself became vegan for health and ethical reasons, said he would never go back to meat eating and would never convert the restaurant to serving meat.
“If things do not pick up, we will have to close it. We will keep the hotel going, that is doing really well and was number one on TripAdvisor, but the restaurant will have to close.
“Our main custom has been tourist based for months now and local trade has been poor. Once the tourists have gone for the year we will be back to a handful of local diners per night if we are lucky. We cannot survive on these numbers I am afraid.
“I am open to ideas and happy to listen to anyone and everyone but sadly I am not open to lose any more money. I never wanted Faringo’s to make me fortunes, I just wanted it to run without a loss constantly.
“I think we are in a peculiar trough. There are more and more vegans, so it has attracted the attention of other businesses, but not yet enough to sustain us as well.
“It will improve but perhaps not quick enough. There are eight jobs at stake and that is the biggest concern for me.”
Paul and his wife Tina took over the 10-bed King’s Hotel near the Big Blue four years ago. He had previously run a car breakers yard in Walsall before having to give that up following a stroke.
“I will never stop being a vegan. It has been brilliant for me. I have more energy, feel so much healthier and feel better about myself not exploiting animals.”
READ MORE: Who's who of vegans
Research shows that 42 per cent of vegans are found to be between 15-34 years old, and with the millennials expanding the popular movement into the younger generation.
Simon Bandy, General Manager of supplements firm Veganicity, said: “Veganism has many benefits including the protection of the environment. The production of meat and animal products relies heavily on intensive farming and transportation – from growing crops to feeding the animals, to the transport and process from farm to plate. Plundering the environment for the meat industry can lead to deforestation, species extinction and habitat loss. In Brazil alone, 5.6 million acres of land is being used to grow soya beans for animals in Europe.”
He added that the diet had long term health benefits including a reduction in saturated fats, an increase in fibre, and a rise in potassium and healthier skin.
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Paul said the star dishes with Faringo’s customers include: Pasta Carbonara and vegan Bolognese.
Mock duck in Hoisin sauce and seitan steak.
Chocolate and Banana sponge and peanut and chocolate sponge are also popular as is the chef’s speciality vegan creme brulee.
Currently popular, Paul said is the seasonal apple and blackberry crumble.