Shaftesbury Pub Experiments With Meat-Free Meal Night

Shaftesbury’s Mitre Inn is marking World Vegan Day with an entirely meat-free menu.

The international event has been on the calendar since 1994 and was created to promote the human, wildlife and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. Over the last six years, the Mitre Inn’s manager, Jana Hackova, has noticed that the number of customers enquiring about vegan options has increased, especially since the Beggars Banquet restaurant ceased trading.

“Since they closed, there is a big void. We are asked every week if we can offer something vegan. We want to offer something more interesting – a different texture and flavour,” Jana said.

Jana Hackova

Jana has been inspired by the success of another Young’s brewery property, further north. “I’ve been motivated by a colleague who runs a pub in The Cotswolds. He held a vegan night in July. There was such high demand for it he had to stop taking booking two weeks before,” said Jana. “Most of our pubs are in London and to have two vegan options on the menu is normal. We’re a little bit behind with it, I think.”

The special evening menu on 1st November will assess demand for more regular vegan nights but Jana is committed to adding more animal-free choices anyway. “We definitely plan to introduce more vegan options onto the regular menu. If all goes well and there’s good feedback we’d like at least one vegan night each month. We could have them fortnightly and even weekly if there’s enough demand for it. Instead of fish and chip night or curry night we want to go vegan,” Jana said.

Jana says it’s important for the pub to adapt to changing demands and requirements. “Over the years, more and more people want to change their lifestyles and try something different. We want to offer more than a salad without the meat. We want to play with it, experiment and not be scared by it. We want to see whether people will be interested,” Jana said.

Jana’s kitchen team is busy trying out recipes. “The staff are practising already. They have had some challenges with it but we are looking forward to it. If we can do it well it could be amazing for us and for the town, it could bring us new customers.”

Much of the menu has been finalised. “Choices include beetroot carpaccio, a special bean veloute soup and stuffed mushrooms as a starter. There will be a lentil burger and a marrow stuffed with yummy cous cous. I’m excited by one of the desserts, a warm pannacota, because that is usually served cold. We’ll have to see what the chefs come up with.”

Jana says people wanting to sample one dish won’t have to have a full meal. “We’ve created a price for one, two or three courses. So if people just want to try a dessert, that’s fine,” she said. And Jana would like to encourage non-vegans to discover how tasty meat free meals can be. “Maybe even meat eaters would like to try something else.”

There’s no need to book but if this Shaftesbury vegan night proves as popular as the events in some Young’s pubs, you might want make a reservation in case there’s no room at the inn on the night.