Keen to impress a vegan friend recently, I suggested a walk in the lovely Yorkshire countryside to a café I’d heard serves nothing but plant-based products. I settled on a 45-minute walk from Bishopthorpe, along the solar system route and across the river, to the tiny village of Naburn which is in fact within my practice boundary. Oddly, despite having been there many times, I've never actually had a proper Miss-Marple nosey around.
Naburn is very beautiful. It could be straight out of Midsomer Murders with its bunting-festooned green, sunny marina, and the centre-point of our expedition: the lock. I'd fended off an escalating tirade of "are we nearly there yet" with the parenting equivalent of a killer crosscourt smash plus added topspin: a game of 'cottage-name bingo'. Luckily for me, the chocolate-box façades didn’t disappoint (though if you have younger participants in tow, I’d recommend your chances of a higher-yield game are better in a seaside village where you’ll quickly tick off ‘mariner’s cottage’, ‘fisherman’s cottage’, ‘seaview’, ‘gull’s rest’ etc. It's almost as if there's a law mandating these names). Once at the lock we were spoilt for choice, with a little bridge for running across, and the canal for dangling legs over the side with 100% chance of losing sandals and water bottles. I became so caught up in the romantic vista before me, that I launched blind into explaining how the water levels can be changed to let boats pass safely through. Irritatingly, as I was by now ready for a third coffee, the effort of reaching back into the depths of my weary brain for the necessary physics to appease the baying crowd was too much of an effort. Sigh. I cunningly remembered we needed to join the queue for food. Immediately.
Tea By The Lock is a stunning Georgian building whose downstairs is completely given over to a lovely relaxed café. Ruth and her team were friendly and explained all the delicious-looking cakes, pointing out that everything they sell is plant-based. What a refreshing change to not have to ask (in characteristically British uber-apologetic fashion) for non-dairy milk or the vegan version of x, y or z, whilst an imaginary neon arrow points, flashing like Tara Palmer-Tomkinson's hat, at my face, and my family/friends shrink away in embarrassed disassociation. We bagsied a sofa in the snug, leaving only a small number of body-checked casualties in our wake, and read through some of the interesting local history books as well as exploring the larger room with its piano! I was itching to jump on and play something suitably 18th century, but was headed off early by death-stares from the younger members of our party, even before I’d made this apparently mortifying suggestion. Our order soon arrived to wide eyes and open mouths; massive slices of cake served on prettily mismatched vintage china, and we felt thoroughly fuelled for the walk home (aka 45-minutes of solid whinging for some).
Now whilst not 100% vegan, I follow a largely plant-based diet and am vocal about its benefits both in the consultation room and out. So if you’re at all plant-curious but sceptical, my eco-gauntlet to you is to check out Plant-Based Health Professionals UK. They have a superb repository of leaflets for everyone, as well as posters for healthcare and professionals and teachers, explaining the myriad benefits for specific conditions and stages of life. And if you’ve seen my frustrations on Twitter about the cost of living crisis and how eating healthy is often more expensive thanks to the current [insert derogatory adjective] government, then you’ll be pleased to know that there are still some affordable recipes that taste delicious. Click here to go to the very excellent chef Jack Monroe's vegan collection.
Finally, friends, find your local plant-based café and tell me something yummy from the menu! Why not see if you can persuade your office/team/department/class to do meat-free Mondays? It might seem best to wean off it slowly, but trust me, the best way is just to quit cold turkey…