Meet the trader: Plant based supermarket

Harry El Araby in front of his shop Plant Based Supermarket. Pic: Lucía Mesa

In a quiet street in Hackney, nestled next to a Tesco, sits the only fully vegan supermarket in East London.

Plant Based Supermarket, on Well Street, opened in August last year. Since then, it has been “bridging the gap between vegans and non-vegans and change the negative way people see veganism”.

The owner Harry El Araby, from New Cross, talks passionately about changing the world step by step. He has had a two-year journey to create a place where vegans and non-vegans can find good quality, locally-produced, environmentally friendly plant based products.

El Araby says: “I have been vegan for more than four years and I have tasted a lot of stuff; I try to pick things that I know are good and I try to hit every angle. I feel we have the widest range of vegan products and all are very good quality”.

On any given day, you can find him happily advising his clients according to their needs. “That’s what the shop’s doing: trying to find people’s flames of interest and guiding them, help people open their minds about it. Trying to be more inclusive, not exclusive.”. This guidance is more important every time, given that by 2025, vegetarians (including vegans) will be a quarter of the British population.

The shop offers a wide range of vegan products. Pic: Lucía Mesa

There is no surprise then, that veganism is one of the fastest growing industries in food in the UK. In fact, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD),the UK was the country that launched the highest number of vegan products in 2018, with as many as one of every six new products having a no animal, plant based or vegan claim. In 2015 it was half that number, with only 8 per cent.

The local approach is important for Plant Based Supermarket. “We believe in the little man,” says El Araby. “Most of our suppliers are English, so we support the local economy and we impact the environment less”.

“There are a lot of smaller brands in here and we try to help them as much as possible, we use coffee from Climpson & Sons, a local coffee place brewed in Hackney that has a better-than-fair-trade policy, we get the bread from Better Health Bakery, which is a charity that helps people get back into work. We try to be local as much as we can and contribute to charitable purposes”

Fresh bakery, coffee and sweets on the main desk Pic: Lucía Mesa

“I feel that local and vegan local is the way to go. It’s trying to be ethical in every way possible and not being judgemental but help people as we can” said El Araby.

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