Welcome back to our monthly blog. This month we are shining a spotlight on one of Norwich’s hidden gems, Little Shop of Vegans, owned and run by Rachel Cox, who have just won the Viva! Award for Best Vegan Store in England. With Christmas coming up and availability limited, Rachel kindly answered some questions via email about all things vegan, Norwich and how this city is leading the way in good quality, sustainable foods.
CS: Many thanks for taking the time to answer these questions for us, I know you must be very busy! So, how long have you been in Norwich for?
Rachel: I moved to Norwich 8 years after falling in love with the city. I used to live in Hemel Hempstead and visited Norfolk on holiday lots for the beaches and wildlife. During the holiday we often popped into Norwich and that’s when I discovered how much the city had to offer.
CS: Norwich is definitely one of the UK’s best kept secrets. I’ve been there only three times and I completely understand why people stay. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Rachel: I’m originally from Luton, I’m 44 now so almost a grown-up and I live in Norwich with my boyfriend, 2 dogs, 2 rats and a cat.
CS: Sounds like a very busy home life you have. What made you decide to open a vegan store?
Rachel: Several years ago, a group called the Norwich Vegans used to hold monthly pop-up vegan shops/ mini markets at the Quaker Meeting House on Upper Goat Lane (this was in the days before the city had vegan cafes, restaurants and shops). I used to volunteer for the Norwich Vegans and helped run their food stall at the events. I really enjoyed it and I thought I’d like to do something like it full-time so I left my sensible, paid job and used all my savings to set up Little Shop of Vegans by myself! The Norwich Vegans still exist (you can find them on Facebook) but the monthly pop-up shops have stopped now as the city now caters really well for vegans. In fact it was named the most vegan-friendly city in the UK earlier this year!
CS: Isn’t that how all dream jobs begin, leaving the sensible life behind. It’s such an amazing thing that you did go out and follow your passion. Especially in today’s society with equality and the massive shift towards being vegetarian, vegan and to be more self-conscious about the planet and how carbon footprint impacts the earth then there was a few years ago, just like how several years ago, Norwich only had the Norwich Vegans, and now like you said, Norwich has been named the most vegan-friendly city in the UK. That’s a massive shift in a short time, what are your thoughts on all of this?
Rachel: I think it’s great that so many more people are now aware of the huge impact that animal agriculture has on the planet. I think the climate strikes helped greatly as they led to wider media coverage of the environmental issues surrounding industrial farming. Other documentaries that have focussed more on the health aspects of veganism (The Game Changers Movie for example) have also meant that people are finding out more and more about the positives of adopting a vegan/plant-based diet.