As Limerick responds to the growing appetite for vegan and vegetarian menu options, Limerick Voice reporter Sarah O’Brien explores what’s on offer in the Treaty city.
With a population of over 191,000, Limerick now has three vegan and vegetarian restaurants. The latest addition located at 35 Thomas Street, is set to open just in time for the Christmas rush.
The Old Fire Station restaurant is owned by local actor Kevin Kiely Jnr. and business partners Sean and Marci McNamara and pending a liquor licence, will also serve a selection of vegan-friendly craft beers and wine.
“You don’t have to be a vegan or vegetarian to come in and try our food. Our aim is to challenge people’s palettes, not intimidate them. The last thing we want to do is become the vegan police,” Mr Kiely said.
Przemek Stawiarski opened Bubble Tea Paradise Café in 2014 with the aim of bringing healthy organic food to the people of Limerick. Nestled adjacent to Limerick’s Hunt Museum on Rutland Street, the 35-year-old’s family-friendly eatery also holds a colourful kiddie area.
Przemek believes in addressing the growing rate of childhood obesity and says it’s imperative parents start educating themselves and their families about nutrition. “It’s all about knowledge, if the parents aren’t informed how can they expect their children to make the right choices,” he said.
Some of Bubble Cafe’s most popular dishes include a gluten-free homemade quinoa red lentil and spinach burger, vegetable curry, chickpea stew and delicious sweet potato kale.
Limerick’s very first vegan and vegetarian restaurant, a rustic establishment on Upper Cecil Street, has been serving the people of Limerick for more than 30 years. The Grove Kitchen’s owner Sue Hassett is well known for using only the freshest, locally sourced ingredients in her dishes which has gained the restaurant a loyal following over the years. Some of the most popular dishes on The Grove Kitchen’s menu include cheesy spinach pie, vegan nut burgers, chickpea curry, mushroom leek and hazelnut soup, beetroot and feta tart.
“Vegan and vegetarians are not concerned about having tasty Christmas dinners because they know there are lovely alternatives available. However, sometimes their hosts worry about what to cook for their vegan or vegetarian guests as they associate Christmas with more traditional menu options. For the past 18 years one of our most popular demands at Christmas is for nut roasts which people come back time and time again for,” said Sue Hassett.
The latest figures from the UK Vegan Society show that veganism has grown by a whopping 360 percent in Britain over the past 10 years. Though there are no official stats for Ireland as of yet, if Britain’s are anything to go by, consumer demand is there and it’s growing at a phenomenal pace. Due to this demand, Tesco have curated a special vegan selection box for the 2016 holiday season.