One of my vegan fantasies is for revered organisations in the UK with plant-based missions to embrace veganism. On a recent visit to one of them, I saw my fantasy become a reality.
At the entrance to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew visitors are greeted with the declaration ‘Our Future is Botanic’. Established in 1759, Kew Gardens is a 330-acre World Heritage Site in South London. There, I saw its exhibit, ‘Future Food Stories,’ and imagined their declaration could read one day, ‘Our Future is Vegan.’ The visit’s occasion was prompted by the opportunity for me and Gary to meet for lunch with Cleve West and his partner, the printmaker Christine Hencke.
Cleve is the author of two highly recommended books, Our Plot a how-to based upon his and Christine’s decade nurturing an allotment, and The Garden of Vegan: How Plants can Save the Animals, the Planet and Our Health. A designer of several gardens for the Chelsea Flower Show, Cleve won six Royal Horticultural Society Gold Medals and was the only designer to win Best in Show two years in succession. Cleve and Christine are long-standing vegans.
As part of the Future Food Stories event, Kew invited four chefs to offer plant-based meals at its Pavilion Bar and Grill. This included Anna Jones, author of the best-selling book ‘One’; chef and writer Zoe Adjonyoh; award-winning chef Tom Hunt; and Dr. Rupy Aujla, NHS doctor and founder of the app, ‘The Doctor’s Kitchen’. Sadly, this special arrangement at the Pavilion ends on September 18.
After our delicious meal of shiitake pea burgers, chickpea stew, chips, and chocolate cherry cake, we walked over to the Future Food Stories outdoor exhibit. While I may not agree with everything the exhibit said, it was encouraging to read the panels and how key issues to do with food production, including the use of animals, are presented and discussed. (Please refer to the photographs of the panels.)
It is very much hope that other institutions and attractions similar to Kew, like the Royal Horticultural Society and The Eden Project, address the global challenge of climate change and explore the solution of plant-based, vegan ways of living.