RESTAURANTS and other eateries increasingly face losing out on business if they do not provide vegan or vegetarian options, Oxford cafe workers have said.

To mark World Vegan Day today, the Oxford Mail visited cafes in the city that offer a variety of plant-based dishes.

The Organic Deli Cafe in Friars Entry near Gloucester Green is a health-oriented cafe and wholefoods store that offers a wide variety of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, and also sells everyday dairy-free alternatives to mayonnaise, chocolate and cheese.

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Sales assistant Miranda Smith said even though the cafe sells meat and dairy dishes, it is considering moving towards primarily plant-based cuisine.

She said the business even listens to requests by loyal customers, and recently incorporated the Moving Mountains burger made of pea protein to the menu after it was suggested by a customer ‘desperate’ for a local business to recreate a similar burger he tried elsewhere.

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Ms Smith said: “We are known for our plant-based dishes and gluten-free menu, and some customers are even surprised that dairy and egg-free cake can be so delicious.

“It’s a business incentive to provide vegan options because the demand is so high, and restaurants and cafes will lose out if you don’t provide those things.”

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She also said that many people who would not previously have considered veganism are now trying to cut their meat and dairy consumption because of the impact it has on the environment.

However Ms Smith, who graduated from a nutrition studies course at Oxford Brookes University a year ago, also admitted that changing dietary habits could be difficult.

She said: “Our food habits are tied to our personal beliefs and culture. It’s hard for people to let go of those things, even if the science contradicts them.”

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Ms Smith, who even experimented with raw veganism for a while – eating only uncoooked and unprocessed fruit and vegetables – added: “Sometimes it’s hard for me to fully restrict myself to a vegan diet as there are so many temptations out there, but I do eat mostly plant-based.”

Five minutes from the Organic Deli Cafe, there is another establishment that caters for plant-based eaters.

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The Art Cafe on New Road offers a range of hearty vegan and vegetarian meals, like jacket potato with marinated tofu, alongside meat and dairy options.

The cafe introduced plant-based options on its menu three years ago, but manager Andreea Baciu said that while vegan dishes and desserts were popular for a while, this year they no longer seemed trendy.

She said the cafe had started selling a variety of plant-based milks like oat, coconut and almond to meet customers’ requests and now the place has regulars who come in specially for the vegan treats, but this only amounted for a few percent of the total sales.

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She added: “We do have a few visitors who aren’t even vegetarian but still enjoy the range of vegan options.”

According to the Vegan Society, which turns 75 years old today, the number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupled between 2014 and 2019.

In 2019 there were 600,000 vegans, or 1.16 per cent of the population, compared to 150,000 (0.25 per cent) in 2014.

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The British Takeaway Campaign, meanwhile, says that orders of vegan takeaways grew 388 per cent between 2016 and 2018 while vegetarian orders rose 137 per cent.

November 1 also marks the start of World Vegan Month, and Oxford will have its own vegan market at the Town Hall on St Aldates this Sunday kicking off at 10.30am.

The market will feature up to 50 stalls and entry will cost £2. See