Veganuary... it's surprising to be reminded that this annual 31-day, meat-free challenge is now in its 10th year.

Started in 2014, the January event promoting veganism has firmly established itself in the foodie calendar, although Veganuary is more than just a one-month campaign. Founded by husband and wife team Matthew Glover and Jane Land, the non-profit organisation aims to educate and inform about the benefits to health, climate and animal welfare of relying less on animal protein and embracing a plant-based diet. It claims to have participation in 228 countries.

Of course, not everyone agrees. When it comes to everyday debates about various aspects of our complicated modern world, veganism is one of the most divisive subjects, up there with EVs, heat pumps and the video assistant referee. But vegan cafes and restaurants are now a fixture on our high streets, a welcome addition to the rich mix of culinary offerings, and it's unusual not to find vegan dishes on most menus.

All arguments aside, after a month of meaty festive indulgence it's probably a good idea to restore the balance. Veganuary provides a focus for that and, after all, it's not forever; the message is about trying something for a short while (and perhaps not the whole month). Go meat-free, or just a bit meat-less; you may find you'll want to eat veggie meals more often.

Great British Life: The Greenhouse cafe in Felixstowe specialises in all things vegan PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BONDThe Greenhouse cafe in Felixstowe specialises in all things vegan PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

The Greenhouse Cafe, Felixstowe

It's been a big year for Alice Davies, owner of The Greenhouse Cafe in Felixstowe. Not only has she taken over the business started five years ago by her mum, Kate White, she also got married. As the cafe celebrates its fifth anniversary, she's launched a cookery school at The Greenhouse, and has more exciting plans in the pipeline for 2024.

The Greenhouse opened in 2018 when Kate spotted the vacant building in Orwell Road – formerly locally famous as Compton's tea and coffee shop – and decided to fulfil an ambition to open a good vegetarian cafe/restaurant in the town. Alice had been vegetarian for a couple of years, followed by Kate and others in the family. Here was an opportunity to offer something completely plant-based that would appeal to vegetarians, vegans and people who just wanted to try something different.

So, Kate acquired the building, redecorated and sought ideas about what to put on the menu from her daughter. Alice had valuable experience in this area, having worked at the Farm Cafe at Marlesford after university and before living and working in London.

As she put down her ideas for a menu – plant-based dishes she enjoyed making and eating herself – Alice realised she had found the thing she wanted to do with her life.

Great British Life: The Greenhouse cafe in Felixstowe specialises in all things vegan PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BONDThe Greenhouse cafe in Felixstowe specialises in all things vegan PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

'I was in a pretty ordinary job, in admin, and ready to leave, and this was so satisfying,' she says. 'I needed a change.' So she helped her mum to set up The Greenhouse, eventually moving back to Felixstowe to work alongside her. The cafe quickly gained a loyal following, rode out the Covid pandemic, and has since launched a Sunday brunch club and themed supper clubs.

In April last year, when Kate decided to step down, Alice took on the business. She's continued to build on its success by taking The Greenhouse to local events, such as Love Felixstowe, and markets, as well as catering for weddings and parties. Last autumn she launched cookery classes to share her experience and acquired expertise in plant-based food preparation and cooking.

While entirely self-taught, she says she's learnt a lot over the seven years she's been cooking plant-based dishes. 'People seem to really like what I do,' she says, 'and I really enjoy passing that on.' Her beginners' classes introduce people to ingredients, methods and techniques for building flavour and creating a repertoire of new recipes. Alice also makes superb celebration cakes and offers a class in plant-based baking.

This year she hopes to do more supper clubs, possibly more events (Mother's Day Afternoon Tea, anyone?), but she will stay true to The Greenhouse ethos of keeping things small, local and seasonal.

'As far as possible, we source all our produce locally and everything is created locally,' she says. Vegetables come from a supplier in nearby Bucklesham and the menu is planned around what's available. The Greenhouse has become known for its staple items – a no-meat 'Nossage' roll, Greenhouse quiche, seasonal soups. The week’s menu, posted on social media, is just three main dishes – for example, autumn veg cobbler; squashed beets toastie; pumpkin and pesto. On Saturdays there's an all day breakfast.

Great British Life: The Greenhouse cafe in Felixstowe specialises in all things vegan PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BONDThe Greenhouse cafe in Felixstowe specialises in all things vegan PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

'We started small, then the menu grew,' says Alice. 'But after Covid and then with the cost of living crisis we pared it back, to keep it affordable and manageable.' And very reasonably priced it is; hearty hot dishes are £9 and £8.50, satisfying soup £7, add crusty baguette or granary cheese toastie for £2.50.

It needs to be manageable too. Alice is doing all the food prep and cooking, which means long days when the cafe is open Wednesday to Friday (10.30am - 3pm) Saturday (10am - 3pm), plus brunch club on Sundays. Plus she's filling the other days with cookery classes. But there's nothing she'd rather be doing and she especially likes being back in Felixstowe.

So, if you're planning a trip to the seaside why not give it a try? For brunch, lunch and snacks it's best to book – The Greenhouse is just 16 seats in a friendly, fun atmosphere with local art around the room, including work by Alice's graphic artist sister Evie White.

The Greenhouse, Orwell Road, Felixstowe IP11 7HE

T: 01394 279311

Great British Life: The Greenhouse cafe in Felixstowe specialises in all things vegan PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BONDThe Greenhouse cafe in Felixstowe specialises in all things vegan PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

9 more to try...

Hullabaloo Cafe

Jennie Debenham and Jon Halls have blazed a trail since opening the first plant-based cafe in Ipswich. Support came quickly and they now have a great reputation for their fun, quirky cafe with a superb seasonal menu made from fresh ingredients. Jennie has a real passion for wholesome food and lots of experience in organising food events, managing cafes for independent companies and also started a surplus food initiative. Hullabaloo won Best Cafe in a 2019 Suffolk Food and Drink Awards.

St Peter's St, Ipswich IP1 1XB

Open: Wednesday - Friday and Sunday 10am-3pm

Saturday 10am-4pm

T: 07790159669

The Walnut Tree Thwaite

Vegetarian & vegan pub restaurant

An eclectic menu of dishes that are vegan or vegetarian, some of which can be adapted to vegan. Expect roasted mushroom wellington; black bean and sweet potato enchilada; sweet potato Thai red curry; mushroom and broccoli stroganoff; Walnut Tree Budda bowl; and warm pesto pasta and halloumi salad. Lots of desserts and a children's menu.

Norwich Road,Thwaite, Eye IP23 7ED

Open: Wednesday - Saturday 10.30am- 3.30pm, 5.30pm*-10pm

(*Saturdays 5pm); Sunday 10.30am to 4.30pm

T: 01379 730483


Cradle is a plant-based café and bakery in Sudbury, a social enterprise and community interest company with the profits going towards community gardens and food waste solutions. Drop in during the morning for ‘hot from the oven’ handmade French pastries, freshly roasted organic coffee and stone baked sourdough bread. The lunch menu uses seasonal British, organic produce; in winter you could try celeriac and roasted cashew nut soup with a red onion cracker and fresh sourdough; a tartine of lemony Capel mushroom carpaccio, sesame dressed Savoy cabbage and roasted sunflower seed and garlic cream on toasted sourdough with fermented cashew brie; and dessert such as hazelnut and chocolate ganache tart with a rum and raisin ice-cream. There are also bookable Friday Night Supper Clubs.

North Street, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 1RD

Open: Wednesday-Sunday 9am-3pm

Supper Club Friday 7pm -11pm

T: 01787 464656

Edmundo Lounge

An eclectic restaurant in the heart of Bury St Edmunds. With William Morris wallpaper and tassel lampshades, it's an intimate venue with little rooms, nooks and crannies over two floors. Find yourself a cosy sofa, relax and choose from an impressive vegan menu with tasty items such as Vegan Sweet Potato Waffles with black beans, avocado lime ad coriander, avocado brunch with lime, chilli, coriander and tomato on toasted ciabatta; falafel and hummus cabatta; falafel salad; butternut squash, sweet potato and black bean rice bowl; Goan vegetable curry; and sweet potato falafel burger. There’s also a selection of cakes and a Tapas menu.

Cornhill, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 1DY

Open: Sunday-Thursday 9am - 11pm, Friday and Saturday 9am-midnight

T: 01284 700166

Tuddenham Mill

Chef patron Lee Bye and his talented team produce exceptional food using fresh local ingredients, many of them from the hotel's own kitchen garden. This includes the six-course vegetarian menu that you can enjoy with wine pairings, as part of the fine dining offer Upstairs at the Mill, the hotel's four rosette restaurant. Sample Grain Culture bread and Bungay butter, Berkswell cracker, Mushroom parfait; Smoked Lincolnshire Poacher, duck egg, and sorrel; eight hour celeriac, red kale, apple; Lion’s Mane mushroom, bhuna onions, cauliflower, mint; Honey parfait, cobnuts, rhubarb.

High Street, Tuddenham, nr Bury St Edmunds, IP28 6SQ

T: 01638 713552

Allison’s Eatery

Vegetarians and plant-based food lovers will enjoy this cosy cafe in the heart of Bury St Edmunds. Allison ran a stall selling vegan food at Bury's market for many years before opening the town's first plant based/vegan cafe, so there's also a small shop with the cafe selling vegan snacks, soaps and pottery.

St Olaves Rd, Precinct, Bury St Edmunds IP32 6SP

Open: Monday - Saturday 9am-4.30pm (Wednesday 3pm)

T: 01284 705533

Hank’s Dirty

This family run business started as an online delivery enterprise, before adding a deli, shop and a pub/restaurant. Expect vegan versions of hearty pub food favourites – everything form burgers and kebabs to hot dogs and 'fish and chips'.

St Helen’s Street, Ipswich IP4 2LA

Open:Tuesday 5pm - 9pm (takeaway); ​Wednesday & Thursday 5pm - 9pm; ​Friday & Saturday: 12pm - 9:30pm; ​Sunday: 12pm - 8pm

T: 01473 845411

Old School Cafe

Inside the Just Traid Shop, which sells a variety of fairtrade goods, with a menu of tempting grazeboards, flatbreads and sourdough toasties, plus delicious cakes.

St Johns Centre, St John's St, Bury Saint Edmunds IP33 1SJ

Open: 9.30am-2.30pm

T: 01284 756860

Marlesford Farm Cafe

This really excellent cafe serves a wide variety of wholesome delicious food (it's famed for its breakfasts) and has been serving vegan dishes since 2005. It offers both vegetarian and vegan alternatives to its most popular dishes on the breakfast and lunch menus. Everything's cooked to order from fresh produce, locally sourced as much as possible.

Main Road (A12) Marlesford, Woodbridge IP13 0AG

Open: everyday, 8am – 4pm

T: 01728 747717