This week, Loui Blake joined us to discuss a plant-based future, his vegan restaurants, and his new collaborative podcast with Vevolution! We quizzed him about all things vegan.
Hi Loui! For our readers who may not know, give us a little information about who you are and what you do.
I'm Loui Blake, co-founder of Erpingham House, which is the U.K’s largest vegan restaurant located in Norwich (and soon to open in Brighton!) I also own Kalifornia Kitchen, a vegan restaurant in central London, amongst other ventures. I speak regularly on veganism & business and have just launched the plant-based business podcast in collaboration with Vevolution.
What inspired you to create Erpingham House and Kalifornia Kitchen? And what are the biggest challenges you come up against, serving only vegan food?
I wanted to help more people discover plant-based food but recognised that many exclusively vegan restaurants were somewhat intimidating to people who aren’t fully vegan. I have a branding & marketing background, so wanted to challenge myself to create and market concepts that transcend veganism, and help more people make more conscious choices, whilst having fun! I really enjoy the restaurants and it's great to see the impact they make at a grassroots level. The main challenges are people’s initial perspective, as naturally people who don’t consider themselves vegan often think they won’t enjoy it, but that’s part of our challenge and how we make the most impact!
Why do you believe in a plant-based future?
I believe that our current Western lifestyle is no longer sustainable, owing to the negative impact it has on the environment and an ever-growing population. Switching to a plant-based food system would use fewer resources and help feed more people, whilst saving the lives of millions of animals & creating a healthier population. It’s an absolute no brainer in my eyes.
What’s been your favourite thing you’ve done so far?
Opening Erpingham House was pretty cool. I had no idea what I was doing, but was super passionate about what it meant & could visualise what it would look like when it was working. It felt amazing to get it open & have customers come in after seeing it in my head. That was pretty good.
What’re you most looking forward to in the future?
I just want to keep learning, growing, having experiences & helping people. If I can play a role in making a better world, then that would be really fulfilling. In the immediate future, I'm excited to open our new restaurant in Brighton & I have an upcoming project, which I can’t speak much about yet, that is the biggest thing I’ve done to date! (Well, boy are we excited!)
If you were to convince a meat-eating, dairy-consuming, non-sustainable cynic to go plant-based/sustainable with five statements, what would they be?
1) From my experience, I find I have way more energy, I'm in much better shape and I sleep better.
2) The amazon burns to make way for grazing cattle, by eating plant-based you directly help prevent this.
3) Would you drink dog milk? Cow milk is no different, it’s just the cultural narrative.
4) Watch what The Health, Game-changers and Cowspiracy!
5) We grow enough food to feed the world’s population 11 times over but feed it to cattle, so we can eat them whilst other humans starve. Is that ok?
And lastly, if you were on death row, what would your last meal be?
I would have Erpingham House sticky cauliflower sesame bites for starter, the Moving Mountains cheeseburger for mains & the salted caramel cheesecake for dessert!
Big thanks to Loui for his time, and wonderful answers. Who wants to join us on our next trip to Erpingham House? Those Cauliflower Bites are calling me!