Ask many meat eaters if they could adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet and most would struggle with where to start. The thought of giving up precious meat or even all products derived from living creatures seems like a huge change to make – step in Forever Vegan Kitchen.
Born from this very notion, Natasha Gibbens set up the food delivery service to provide those looking to incorporate more plant-based meals, those who are vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian, with delicious dinners and treats from all over the world.
We caught up with the North London-based chef and entrepreneur to find out how this all works, what you can expect from her menu and her big plans for the future.
Tell us a bit about the idea behind Forever Vegan Kitchen, what encouraged you to start up the business?
I became vegan nearly two years ago now. I had been initially toying with the idea of having just a few plant-based meals a week but then I spoke to a vegan friend, did my own research and went vegan overnight!
My son took part in Veganuary 2019 and I tried to encourage my parents to do the same, but they all expressed concern over what they would cook and eat. I decided to take matters into my own hands and cook up a variety of meals for them, and Forever Vegan Kitchen was born.
I wanted to show people how simple it is to enjoy your favourite meals with a few tweaks so I came up with the idea of a plant-based meal service for those who possibly don’t know where to start and for those fully fledged V-gang members, flexitarians or those who may just be curious.
What do you provide at Forever Vegan Kitchen?
We offer a wide range of meals, sides, desserts, and smoothies, influenced by dishes from all around the world. My meals are delicious, varied and good for your health as well as the planet.
The menu is changed seasonally to ensure good quality, fresh ingredients with all ingredients being sourced locally via weekly deliveries from nearby suppliers.
What are the most important considerations when crafting your menu?
When crafting a new menu, I consider what foods I am passionate about currently, ensuring I have plenty of gluten free options and am, of course, mindful about what fruit and vegetables are in season.
I love to find new recipes and ‘veganise’ them, ensuring customers still get the foods they know and love. Family favourites but cruelty free.
How do you operate? What area do you cover?
I am based in Barnet, North London and offer a great selection of vegan meals, delivered to your door. I also can cater for events, large and small and will be trading at vegan food festivals later in the year.
I am on Deliveroo, and Indie Hob (a new online platform for independent chefs). Sadly, at the moment, I can only deliver within a 10-mile radius but plans for expansion are there!
What sort of dishes would we expect to find on your menus?
My current menu has a delicious range of mains including BBQ jackfruit mac and vegan cheese, Thai red curry with coconut rice, Jerk jackfruit, rice and peas with plantain and coleslaw, and classic lasagne with pesto. Aloo saag gobi and vegetable fried rice are just some of the sides available, desserts include sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce, banana loaf and chocolate chip cookies, while smoothie options consist of tropical, berry and oat and maple. Hungry yet?
What is your most popular dish?
My most popular dish is, most certainly, the chili no carne. My non-vegan customers have commented that it tastes great, if not better than a meat-based alternative.
How has COVID-19 affected business for you?
There have been positives and negatives during COVID-19. As a delivery-based service my orders have increased but the food festivals I had planned to do have been cancelled.
The biggest highlight for me during this crisis is to have been part of a project called You Donate… We Deliver. This initiative has provided over 2,000 meals a day to front-line NHS staff and I have provided over 100 meals a week to vegan NHS staff in hospitals all over London, rough sleepers and children in care.
I feel incredibly proud and privileged to be part of this community project. A recent thank you note from an intensive care worker at St Thomas’ Hospital cemented this.
What are your plans for the future?
My plan for the near future is to trade at a variety of food markets, continue my delivery service and continue to work hard to grow my business.
My long-term plan is to have a premises, and my dream is to own a vegan bed and breakfast, with an animal sanctuary, abroad. I love the idea of growing my own food for the restaurant and rescuing farm animals. I know this will require a lot of hard work and dedication, but I am up for the challenge!