by Laura Barns
We love stories from vegan small business heroes. And we also love talking about all-things plant-based. So we were delighted to chat with Chanel, vegan bakery owner, about her life, her diet and what being vegan means to her.
Breakfast: a protein shake packed with kale or spinach, blueberries and lots of vitamins, as well as sea moss
Lunch: a chickpea or pasta salad. I love carbs! Or if I want a sandwich, I’ll go for vegan Quorn chicken mayo. When I am at markets or events I'll find the best vegan food around and eat that. What the Pitta is one of my favourites, as well as Biff’s Jack Shack, Temple of Seitan, Cook King Daily and Palm Greens
Dinner: fairly traditional Turkish Cypriot food, such as stews made with spinach or fresh green beans, dolma rice wrapped in vine leaves, or a veggie roast
Dessert: my new addiction is my chocolate fudgy brownies – it's the best vegan brownie I’ve ever had. Oh, and my custard and cream horns are moreish
I have loved baking from a young age. Feeding people is my ultimate gesture of love. This inspires me on a daily basis to cook and bake. In my culture – I’m from a Turkish Cypriot family – it's an integral custom to want to feed your loved ones, it was a natural step to want to do this in a business. And what is kinder than vegan cake?!
The highlight for me was becoming a core trader at Fat Gay Vegan’s Hackney Downs vegan market. Meeting Sean O'Callaghan himself was a highlight in its own right – his passion for veganism is so inspiring.
In terms of products, I impress myself sometimes as I constantly challenge myself with recipe testing, recreating Cypriot treats is the thing I have really enjoyed. Oh, and I love my doughnuts!
Over the course of running my bakery, I have served many celebrities, including KSI and Vicky Pattison.
I also feel blessed to have reached many members of the public with our treats. It’s very humbling when I have customers who order cakes every year for their children. It lights up my heart.
The thing that keeps me baking is the love and enthusiasm I receive, being at the market and making new friends out of my customers. Also meeting other business owners who share the same passion for serving our community is important to me.
The biggest concern is that the mainstream will copy little businesses like mine, While there are some major positives for vegans being able to buy cheap, vegan cake in your local Tesco, I still feel our place in the market is important. At Cake Cult, we use very simple ingredients in our bakes, no additives and preservatives that you wouldn't recognise, we make everything fresh and with love, and that's always been our ethos.
I have vivid recollections of favourite treats from my favourite bakeries whilst growing up. I focus on recreating things I love to eat and can’t find vegan versions of. When I was young I loved going to Southend with my family, and loved getting fresh hot doughnuts. So this was a major part of what we offered at the Hackney Downs market, and Vegan Nights.
You would have to ask them I guess! I presume they’re proud, they have all seen how hard I work and have each in their own way tried to support my journey. And I hope that I have inspired them too. My youngest sister started her own vegan business Baklava Bae and makes absolutely delicious baklava.