Rick’s Vegetarian café, Oxford

Readers who like to eat out might have spotted a new vegetarian café and take-away in Oxford: Rick’s Vegetarian at 71 St Clement’s Street (near The Plain). Paul Freestone, who visited the café in early February, writes: “I tried the falafel burger with fries (£7-99) and it was very good. The portion size was substantial, the filling included avocado and the fries were crispy and delicious. The menu is almost entirely vegan (see Paul’s photo below), and on the basis of this sample, it’s definitely recommended. The café occupies a small space with just 15 chairs, and is open from 10am to 3pm and 6pm to 10pm daily.” Heather Saunders adds: “I spoke to the owner over a cup of tea, and he seemed pretty passionate about serving up good quality, natural, cruelty-free food, which is fantastic. I had the ‘lunchbox’, which was delicious and amazing value with a big plate of veggies, pulses, grains, and salad for fiver; and shared the vegan pancakes with my boyfriend and they were also very good. Definitely recommend visiting when you can.”

Update 19/2/2018: According to their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pg/Ricks-Vegetarian-165972104167106/about/?ref=page_internal), Rick’s Vegetarian is open from 10am to 4pm daily (but not in the evening, as stated above).


Food Thinkers Lunch, Friday 16 February

There will be a “Food Thinkers Lunch” at Linacre College, St Cross Rd, Oxford, on Friday 16 February, when I will be one of two speakers each giving a brief ten minute talk on the growth of veganism in the UK, followed by a Q&A session. The event, which is free to attend, starts at 12:20 in the Private Dining Room at Linacre College. Food is available and the meeting is very informal, but you can only attend if you sign up via the following link:

Paul Freestone

Vegan Eats Oxford

OxVeg supporter Heather Saunders runs a blog called Vegan Eats Oxford (http://veganeatsoxford.wordpress.com/).  Heather writes: “I post weekly updates on Vegan Eats Oxford of reviews of vegan-friendly establishments around the local area, as well as write-ups of events, and general tips on vegan living. My hope is to help new vegans navigate eating out, as well as to provide support for people new to Oxford or who are visiting and maybe don’t know the area well. I do feature chain restaurants on the blog but I also really want to support local businesses that are making the effort to offer vegan options.”

Paul Appleby

Vegan full English breakfast in Sandford-on-Thames

Whether you are vegan, are trying out Veganuary* or just like good food and company, Carrots & Curls are offering a vegan Full English Breakfast in the lovely setting of the Talking Shop Café, Sandford-on-Thames (https://www.facebook.com/TalkingShopSandford/) on Sunday 28 January, 9.30 – 11.30 am.  The cost is £ 9.50 per person and plenty of parking is available for those coming by car.  Please send an email to CARROTS-AND-CURLS{at}HOTMAIL.COM to make your reservation as places are limited. Payment on the day, cash only.

Carrots & Curls plan to hold similar events at monthly intervals, the next one being on Sunday 25 February.  For details of forthcoming events please send an email to the address above, or see their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/carrotsandcurls.

* Veganuary ( https://veganuary.com ), where people take a pledge to go vegan for the month of January, is now in its 5th year and is proving more popular than ever.

Paul Appleby (with thanks to Eva Sommer for the information)

Vegan Life Live

I’ve just heard about this event at London’s Alexandra Palace on Saturday 10 & Sunday 11 February: https://london.veganlifelive.com/ .  It’s organised by Vegan Life magazine and admission at the door costs £12 (concessions £10, under 16s free).

Paul Appleby

Down the mean streets of East Oxford a man must go

(A short story in the style of Raymond Chandler.)

The dying embers of the late autumn evening were slowly replaced with the stark cold shadows cast by the neon streetlights. I swiveled the office chair to stare out through the first floor bay window. The buildings opposite were silhouetted against an almost dark sky, and huge cumulonimbus clouds were billowing towards me. I figured that a storm was coming, but I didn’t know that it would arrive in the shape of a beautiful woman. The Cowley Road was busy, noisy and rather smelly. All those takeaway joints packed a punch when they had their extractor fans going full blast. It looked like a vivid painting, a combination of Hopper’s Nighthawks and one of Magritte’s surreal streetscapes. My mood was a mixture of melancholy, and laid back laconic introspection. I was a middle-aged private detective, and the current case had me utterly perplexed. Why would anyone murder a small time cook and crook, and steal his secret recipe for a tofu and lentil burger? The victim was found in a large puddle of passata sauce, a courgette was rammed down his throat, and organic baby peppers (one red and one yellow) were sticking out of each ear. One of his nostrils was blocked with a large clove of crushed garlic, and the other with a squashed stock cube. None of this seemed very unusual for the Cowley Road, except for the fact that the killer had scrawled “too much salt” in tomato ketchup across the victim’s t-shirt. The police had immediately concluded that this was a revenge attack by a disgruntled customer, but I knew there was more to it. They had ignored all the culinary clues and that meant just one thing – a notorious chef killer was on the loose in East Oxford.

I needed a strong drink. I reached down to the bottom draw, and pulled out the box of ginger & lemon tea bags. It was a heady brew and I knocked back a slug of the steaming infusion, but didn’t notice the figure that had appeared in the office doorway. It was a broad, and she was broader than Broad Street. She looked like a million bucks and there was nothing phony about this dame apart from the boob job, the fake tan, the bum lift, the collagen pumped lips, the Botox scars, and that wig. It was as if she read my mind, and suddenly jerked the blonde tresses backwards to reveal a smooth shaved skull. I mumbled “alopecia”, and she replied: “that ain’t my name, it’s Gloria”.

I was lost from the moment she pulled that shiny wig off, a dame that could instantly switch from blonde to redhead or brunette was irresistible. I should have known that I was just a patsy, or even a pasty from the way she gobbled me up. It was all about the dead guy, and my investigation revealed that he’d stepped on a lot of toes, and had his fingers in a lot of pies. In fact, the local environmental health officer had issued several hygiene violation notices against him as customers had complained about finding fingernails in their food. Subsequently, that officer was found submerged in a large vat of spicy bone broth. The police filed it as “death by misadventure”, and claimed that he’d slipped on the greasy floor and somehow flew up in the air and landed in the soup. Yeah it was all very suspicious, but I kept my mouth shut.

Months later I gazed out onto another typical street scene. I was in a lonely place, my double indemnity had expired, I’d been through the long goodbye and I needed a big sleep. In the gloomy dusk people were slowly making their way home, and I usually sneered at these poor saps but right now I envied the grinding monotony of their dull lives. I pondered what I might have to eat later on, and something hard-boiled seemed appropriate. I was persona non grata at all the local eateries, despite the fact that the so-called “griller killer” had ceased his activities and was now a cold case. My stomach rumbled as I reached for the bottom draw. There wasn’t anything else to do, except think about ‘shiny wig’, and I never saw her again.

Paul Freestone

A tribute to Pam Hopcraft (1930-2017)

OxVeg supporter and committee member Pam Hopcraft passed away on 28 November 2017, aged 87.  Pam was a lifelong campaigner for peace and environmental issues: she was a founder member of Oxford Friends of the Earth and OxFoE Reclaim, and a leading figure in Campaign Atom, the forerunner to Oxford CND, attending several major anti-nuclear weapons demonstrations in the 1970s and 80s.  In the last decade of her life Pam served on the OxVeg committee and was a regular helper on the OxVeg stall at events such as the Oxford Green Fair, selling home made jams and chutneys and her ever-popular Sosmix rolls.

I attended the memorial service for Pam held at Oxford Crematorium on 12 December 2017 where I learned much more about her remarkable life.         Born in Grove near Wantage in 1930, Pam married in 1949 and raised five children, including the current OxVeg secretary David Huish. Her love of gardening led her to join the Henry Doubleday Association, now known as Garden Organic. Pam followed a wholefood diet long before she became a vegan, baking her own bread and using home grown fruit and vegetables grown on her allotment. Indeed, I first met her selling wholefoods from a stall at the Oxford Green Fair. In later life Pam joined Ruskin College in Oxford as a mature student to further her interests in photography and creative writing. She wrote poetry and had a large collection of books covering a wide range of subjects. At Ruskin College, Pam became a member of the Agewell group, once arranging for me to give a talk on vegetarianism to the group. She worked in the Earth ‘n Wear shop in Cowley Road, Oxford, and later helped at the volunteer-run village shop in her home village of Radley.

Pam’s determination and steadfast principles were an inspiration to the many people who knew her.  She supported many charities and good causes including the RSPB (birdwatching was a particular passion of her’s), UNICEF, NSPCC, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Free Tibet and the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. A collection at her memorial service raised more than £100 for two of Pam’s favourite campaign groups: Amnesty UK and Viva!

Paul Appleby

(The picture below shows Pam on the OxVeg stall at the Elder Stubbs Festival, Rymers Lane, Oxford, in August 2007.  She made the cotton carrier bags for resale shown at front right of the stall.)


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