Easy ways to do Veganuary with Devon produce

A selection of vegetarian pies on platters.

Clive’s Beefy Ale Puff Pie (top), Chickeny Puff Pie (bottom left) and new Mushroom Nut Roast (bottom right). - Credit: Clive's Pies

With Veganuary looming, how hard it is to ditch the dairy and miss out meat for a month? AMELIA THURSTON caught up with one busy business to find out. 

Based in Dartmouth, Clive’s Bakery has an idyllic spot on the hill that looks out across rolling countryside, and the beautiful River Dart. Little would you know that inside is a flurry of activity, with the bakery team hard at work, making thousands of plant-based pies in the lead up to what is one of their busiest times…Veganuary.  

Last year, more than 580,000 people took up the vegan challenge, saving over 100,000 tonnes of CO2, more than six million litres of water and sparing the lives of some 3.4 million animals.  

This year is set to be even bigger, as more of us than ever before pledge to do our bit to help tackle the climate emergency. Here in Devon, we’re no strangers to plant-based eating - according to research 60% of us have tried vegan food in the last year.  

Woman in a floral blouse staring at the camera.

Esther Pearson, chief plant pioneer at Clive’s. - Credit: Clive's Pies

Esther Pearson, chief plant pioneer at vegan bakery Clive’s Purely Plants, who lives with her family in the South Hams, explains how her vegan journey began: “About five years ago, my eldest son Charlie started asking me about why we eat animals. Having grown up in South Africa where meat is a huge part of the culture, I gave him the explanation I had been given - that it’s just the way humans eat, to gain protein and grow strong and healthy.  

“He wasn’t convinced, and not long after we decided as a family to reduce our meat consumption. This is where my journey really began. Reducing meat was far easier than I thought, and as an outdoor enthusiast and true nature lover, it forced me to ask some pretty tough questions about my impact on the environment.  

“So, I challenged myself to go vegan and overnight felt fitter, healthier, and stronger. I even said goodbye to more than 20 years of IBS. We’re now a totally vegan household, and our diet is probably more exciting now than it’s ever been.” 

The growing number of people taking part in Veganuary is driving a huge amount of innovation within the plant-based food sector. Last year alone, more than 500 new vegan products were launched and over 250 restaurants added plant-based options to their menus. It seems the old days of bland lentil stews and uninspiring salads are long gone, but if you’re new to using your fork to save the planet, where do you start?  

Aerial shot of a mushroom nut roast.

Clive’s new Mushroom Nut Roast. - Credit: Clive's Pies

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Esther adds: “Well, I genuinely started with Clive’s. Going vegan isn’t without its challenges and when I was starting out, I had to do a lot of label reading. Then I would spend ages trying to work out what half the ingredients were. It’s a real learning curve when you start taking notice of what you’re actually eating.  

“When I found Clive’s, it was so easy. I could eat any of the products because they were all vegan, I had loads of choice, I could read and understand the ingredients, and everything was organic too. Feeding my entire family became super simple, I’d just cook up a big bowl of mash and steam some veggies to go alongside.  

“That’s when I went and knocked on the Clive’s door and asked if I could get involved. I really am grateful each and every day to be part of the Clive’s story and could not be prouder of the amazing team we have.” 

So, for anyone thinking of taking part in Veganuary this year, what would you Esther say to them? 

“We’re all talking a lot right now about what we can do to help tackle the climate crisis, but talk only goes so far,” she opines. “Sometimes you must take action.  

“Eating vegan is the single biggest way to reduce your carbon footprint and Veganuary is the perfect time to give it a go. January can be a cold, dark and dismal month, but having something to focus on with a really achievable goal makes it a whole lot more fun. It’s also a great way to make some healthy changes after overindulging at Christmas, and I’d bet money that you’ll enjoy it more than you think you will.  

A tray of pies being removed from the oven.

Hot pies fresh from the oven. - Credit: Clive's Pies

“Vegan food has changed so much since we started back in the 1980s and whilst our food is packed full of the same planty goodness as it’s always been, we now have a range of 23 products, so there really is something for everyone.  

“My top tip if you’re giving it a try, is to stock up on lots of fresh herbs, garlic, ginger and chilis. As there’s no reason why plant-based food should ever lack flavour.” 

A vegetarian pie on a blue tablecloth.

Clive’s new Chickeny Puff Pie, filled with seitan, mushrooms, asparagus and peas in a creamy white wine sauce. - Credit: Clive's Pies

Tuck in with gusto this Veganuary 

Beefy Ale Puff Pie 

Winner of the World Plant Based Award - Best Pie, Clive’s Beefy Ale is the newest kid on the block and is making mouths water. Made with a shortcrust base and a rough puff pastry top, it teams delicious seitan with sweet potato, parsnips, swede and carrots. It also has a dash of pale, whose aromatic citrus notes and sweet malty backbone adds a balanced bitterness to earthy root vegetables. This is comfort food at its finest!   

Mushroom Nut Roast  

Nut Roast is for life, not just for Christmas. And nothing is greater proof of that than Clive’s new Mushroom Nut Roast. Made using creamy cashews, Brazil nuts, pecans and pumpkin seeds, there’s no other roast that’s quite as nutty as this. It comes in a portion size perfect for sharing, so all you need to do is add your favourite green veg and enjoy.  

Lentil and Kale Tart 

There’s much more to Clive’s than just pies and this open-topped savoury tart is a favourite with the team there. With leafy kale, earthy lentils and a cranberry zing, it’s guaranteed to make lunch more exciting. It has garlicky undertones and a sweet nutmeg finish, and the gluten free pastry makes it an easy go-to if you have friends of family who avoid eating wheat or gluten. 

Why would you go vegan? 

For animals, for the planet and for your health.  

In 2021, 46% said they were signing up to help save the lives of animals, 21% for the environment and 22% for their health. It will be interesting to track people’s rationale for signing up in 2022 to see if this trend has changed at all.  

In November, the COP26 conference held in Glasgow fuelled global discussions around how to tackle the climate emergency, bringing focus firmly onto the environment. Having more people follow a plant-based diet is just one of the suggestions being made that could affect immediate action.  

In fact, according to a report cited in an open letter from Veganuary to leaders at COP26, plant-based diets can reduce emissions by up to 50% compared to the average emission intensive western diet.