Cambridge’s vegan street food restaurant VetoMeato moves to central London
Two Suffolk business partners, who opened their first restaurant in Cambridge, have now brought their vegan street food brand to central London.
Justin Bone and Natalie Pace are the people behind the plant-based restaurant VetoMeato, which was located in Market Passage in Cambridge city center.
They bonded around a common love for food after their first meeting at the gym.
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Back then, Justin was training every morning at 6 a.m. because he lived in a garage and didn’t want the owner to find out he lived there.
Five and a half years later they opened a new VetoMeato branch in Holborn, reports MyLondon.
The Holborn branch follows the success of their Cambridge restaurant.
It’s focused on the idea that “the food of the earth shouldn’t cost the earth” – and each dish on the menu costs less than £ 8.
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“I call garage days the best days of my life”
Opening a restaurant was far from foreign to Justin, now 51, who worked in the restaurant business for 25 years.
But that same industry left him on the streets six years ago.
Justin traces his story back to his teenage years as a successful 100m athlete – he holds the Suffolk record to date.
When he quit running at 19 and went to college, Justin “discovered a great void in life” which he filled with drugs and drink.
He worked for 15 years in bars and nightclubs, then 10 years in restaurants.
“I was able to intelligently position myself in an atmosphere where it was okay to be a party animal,” said Justin, a recovering alcoholic.
“I have led a very hedonistic lifestyle for those 25 years.”
Although he was very successful at what he did, it all caught up with Justin and he found himself on the streets, unable to work.
He realized he was going to be homeless and rented a garage, which was all he could afford.
Every morning he left at 6 a.m. so the owner wouldn’t see him living there, and the only place open was the gym – where a few months later he met Natalie.
Today he calls the garage days “the best of my life”.
He considers his six months there as his rehab and it was during this time that he realized he was done with alcohol for good.
“When you realize relief is off the scale,” he said.
“Every morning I jumped out of bed – I say out of bed but it was a sleeping bag and cardboard – but my passion for life was completely rekindled.”
Food is the “glue” of their relationship
Natalie, who is trained in the art world, says she has had “food-related issues” for about a decade.
Her eating disorder was at its peak when she was in college, but after that it was a very long journey to where she is now at 36.
“When I was 30, I thought ‘this must be something that I approach correctly’,” she said. “This has to change. “
So she learned about nutrition and holistic approaches to health.
Now, with VetoMeato, Natalie wants the message to be positive, not about deprivation or what you can’t eat – but celebrating all you can.
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When Natalie and Justin met five and a half years ago, food became the “glue” of their relationship.
This evolved into conversations about being healthy and living lightly on the planet, and after a stint in hosting fitness events, the idea for VetoMeato was born.
Justin believed he would never return to the restaurant industry after it took him to the bottom.
“When I ended up living on the streets, I blindly swore that I would never return to the industry,” he said.
But meeting Natalie changed that.
“After meeting Natalie, we felt it was necessary for me to come back. I’m here for a reason. I have the skills,” he added.
Plant-based food under £ 8
VetoMeato was launched last year during the Cambridge lockdown.
Natalie explained, “The pandemic has shed light on how planetary, environmental and physical health are so intertwined.”
The Cambridge branch was a success despite all the complications of the lockdowns, but ultimately the couple, who live in Bury St Edmunds, decided to open a new branch in London.
VetoMeato is located in The Old Crown pub in Holborn.
A low carbon approach is at the heart of the business, which is why Justin and Natalie are collaborating with existing bars and pubs rather than building something new.
The menu offers classic and comforting street food from around the world – burgers, kebabs, curries and bowls – and nothing on the menu costs more than £ 8.
It wants to be accessible to all guests, whether they are vegans or not.
The restaurant’s name comes from their main message – asking people to veto meat for at least a day.
But, VetoMeato isn’t just a restaurant and bar, the couple said.
Justin and Natalie hope to make it a vegan hub where they can host industry events and meetups.
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