Updated: Jul 5
Along with around 400,000 others this year I have turned January into Veganuary! Actually, it hasn’t been hard for me as I have been ‘almost vegan’ for quite some time – my only foodstuffs that were non-vegan were fish from Ventnor Haven Fishery, eggs, organic and free-range from the farm down the road, and the odd bit of cheese.
So, it didn’t take much to go the whole hog, and what has made this all pretty easy for me is the availability of wonderful produce on the Isle of Wight, along with its many great restaurants that are either solely vegan, or cater wonderfully for vegans. The Island is increasingly being seen as a gourmet destination. Add to the above the fact that some of the best chefs in the country work here and it is easy to see why. Below is a list of my favourite places to eat and get supply.
Living Larder deliver weekly fruit and veg box to us. The produce is delicious and heralds the seasons. My favourite points of the years are when the radishes appear and when the asparagus comes in. They also always give a weekly recipe suggestion, which has improved my cooking ability immeasurably. Any guests who want to have locally grown organic fruit and can add a box on to their stay!
I pride myself on my home-grown tomatoes, but they aren’t in the same league as those grown at The Tomato Stall. They grow 40 varieties as well as ketchups, juices, and passata. Guests usually have a little bit of this or that as a welcome gift.
The Garlic Farm is run by a world expert in garlic and is not only a great place to grab lunch (open the car windows on the way back to The Granary), stroll the ground and let the kids play, but the produce is wonderful: All sorts of garlic stuffs from marmalade to beer, even ice cream. And a bulb or two of the delicious garlic is always left out on the guest’s table for cooking up a storm.
A new discovery and new personal favourite is Isle of Wight Mushrooms. I love foraging my own mushrooms and the parasols I find around here in late August to October are as good as fungi get. But what about the rest of the year? That’s where these guys come in. They grow five varieties of mushroom all year round and the Phoenix is a great substitute for those who are craving meat in Veganuary. A little box of these is often left for guests too.
The monks at Quarr Abbey can teach anyone a thing of two about self-sufficiency. They grow and sell most of what feeds them, most of which is wonderful and vegan. You can also have a crack at bookbinding while you are there – a far different craft to what we publishers produce these days.
One of the most beautiful spots on the Island is Adgestone Vineyard and I love their wine too! I pretty much only drink red and the full-bodied one produced here is exactly to my liking. Opening a bottle and settling down with a Chet Baker LP, is a good as it gets. They also do a few whites and a bubbly, and just thinking that this organic, vegan wine, is produced just down the road is amazing.
Move on to the harder stuff? I’m not much of a spirit drinker but occasionally, on a warm summer night, I’ll mix myself a G’n’T using Mermaid Gin, just to widen my eyes. The bottle too is something to behold – it is absolutely elegant and designed so that slicing off the base with a glass cutter give you a very chic light shade. Upcycling your old booze bottles! What a concept!
If gin or wine is not you thing, and you just want to grab a simple beer, then Goddard’s Brewery will provide. Pick something out of their vegan range.
Ventnor Haven Fishery! Clearly non-vegan, but if you are going to cheat this is the perfect way. Each day they go out in a small boat and fish the inshore waters carefully selecting what they catch so as to preserve stocks and the marine balance. And the crab is superlative in a simple linguine, or just is a sandwich with a splash of lemon and some spring onion.
Cooking in The Granary and eating by the pool is one of the nicest things in life. But there are also some fine places to eat out a stiff walk, or short drive, away. Cantina and Sripped, sister restaurants, are a couple of my personal favourites. Other than buying my daily sourdough bread from the former, I often stop in for a tofu akuri. The plant burgers at Stripped are amazing, particularly when they do them as katsu.
Tansy’s in Godshill does a Vish’n’chips that is close to heaven. They use mostly local ingredients for everything on their menu and the atmosphere in their tiny restaurant is a joy.
The last on the list, Django’s, is as yet untried by me, but I sent a few of our guests there on reputation. Said guests were elated by the vegan tapas and the live jazz, all at an old lavender farm.
I'm sure there are many other great places for Vegan's to fill themselves on the Island. And many places for non-vegans too. The above just represent some of those that I love from my own corner of the Isle. Guests here are always ready to suggest new places to me, and they also write them in our guest book, so you can get the best recommendations from the horse's mouth, as it were. Note though that none of our guests yet have been horses - they live in the stables across the yard and are perfect examples of lean, muscular, shiny vegans!
A link to another, and far better, blog about vegan restaurants on the Island can be found here.