A woman who was a meat eater until she was 30 has seen her vegan business thrive and grow during lockdown after making the switch to a meat-free lifestyle.
Rachel Jamison, from The V Hub, started running a vegan cookery school from her Swansea home in a bid to make her dream of opening a cafe a reality.
But now she is snapping up the premises next door to her Craddock Street business under expansion plans.
She only set up the firm just before the pandemic happened but her customers have helped to pull through the crisis.
Rachel said: “I ate meat until I was 30. I never thought I’d become fully vegan by 39, run a vegan cookery school at my home in Uplands, and open a vegan café in the centre of Swansea.
“We were living in our caravan in Llangennith while our house in Uplands was being renovated.
“It was the wettest winter for a decade and one night, after getting stuck on the wrong side of the caravan park gates, in the pouring rain, we spontaneously booked tickets to watch Morrissey in sunny LA.
“During our holiday, we noticed that vegan culture was completely normal; there were vegan cafes everywhere and you could purchase vegan produce in most stores.
“‘Veganism’ was completely accessible. It made me realise that this was needed in Swansea.”
She added: “I started by launching vegan cookery workshops from my home in Uplands. Environmental health approved my set up and it grew from there.
“Those workshops were wonderful, people travelled across south Wales to see what vegan cooking was all about.
“Friends would attend together, or people would come alone – it was a great opportunity to socialise, meet new people and experience vegan food.
“A lot of my customers were meat-eaters – it’s not about converting people, it’s about showing them the excellent alternatives to meat – through simple, delicious recipes.
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“I also make vegan cheese and meat alternatives from my kitchen at home and have supplied to Brontosaurus Vegan Lifestyle Store in the Market and Garbo’s – great, local businesses.”
Rachel said she held off opening The V Hub for years as she wanted to start a family and thought it would be difficult to juggle both.
“However, we had experienced a lot of heartache through unsuccessful rounds of IVF and several miscarriages. I got to my mid-40s and realised that it wasn’t going to happen for us, so I decided to make my dreams of opening a café a reality,” she added.
“We opened just before lockdown hit but our customers have been fantastic. We’ve had such a great response that we’ve now had the go-ahead to take over the unit next-door to the café – which will become Cool beans@TheVHub. This will be home to fantastic vegan produce which we create onsite. It’s just the start for us.”