Greenbay London is the first fully vegan supermarket in London, we chat to owners, Paula Alcalde and Anderson Caicedo. Both are passionate about veganism and have used this new venture as a way to make it more accessible to the general public.
What were the motivations behind creating GreenBay?
We decided to create GreenBay when we realised there was nothing like it in London. Having visited the supermarket chain Veganz in northern Europe, we wanted to create something similar, a space to make it easier not only for vegans but also for people transitioning to veganism to find all the products they were looking for in one single place, without having to visit 3 or 4 different stores; from food to toiletries, alcohol, household products, pet food… and without having to read any labels! We understand that transitioning to a plant based and cruelty free lifestyle involves a lot of new information and sometimes can be overwhelming; we just want to facilitate this process in the hope that more people will adopt this lifestyle. We also want to encourage non vegans to try this lifestyle by normalising the whole shopping experience, where everything is like a normal supermarket, it just happens to be vegan. For us, this is our way of activism.
How has the response been since opening?
Our opening weekend was a total success; now we are working on creating a strong customer base and diversifying our distribution channels so we can reach more people.
What are the big sellers in the shop?
Some of our best sellers are the Ichoc chocolate bars, the Follow your Heart range, and of course the Vego Bars. Also Sgaia Mheats are very popular.
Did you have any trouble sourcing any of your stock? Are there any products you’d like to introduce that you’ve not yet?
We are currently working and updating our stock to keep introducing new and exciting products. There are lots of products we haven’t managed to get in the store yet, mainly because we’ve been so busy! But we are slowly working towards it.
Could you give us some thoughts on the affordability and accessibility of vegan food and its importance in reaching a wider audience?
Finding ‘vegan food’ is relatively easy and affordable. Grains, legumes, seeds, vegetables, fruits… are usually the most affordable and healthier plant based products out there. Restaurants and food chains are slowly increasing vegan options in their menus due to demand, which means you can go almost everywhere in London and have at least one vegan option available, which helps out a lot when going out with nonvegan friends. And of course there are plenty of Vegan Vegetarian places to eat out in London. In terms of meat and dairy alternatives, every day there are new options in the market. You can virtually buy anything in a ‘vegan version’, from meat, cheese, chocolate, egg mix… even black pudding (if you are into that sort of thing)! Although none of these things are essential for a healthy and balanced vegan diet, we believe they are extremely important as they help people who are transitioning, or vegans that might miss some of the flavours that they grew up with. For instance, we are personally big fans of Sgaia Vegan Mheats. We don’t even consider these kind of products as substitutes of anything, just good quality food products that anyone can enjoy.
Have you had many people who are not vegan visiting the shop?
Most of our customers are in fact not vegan, which is our main goal: to reach as many people as possible and provide them with a normal shopping experience, where everything happens to be vegan. For us it’s our way to normalise a plant based and cruelty free lifestyle to the masses.
What does being vegan mean to you?
Paula: For me being vegan is following a lifestyle that seeks to not only exclude but also oppose the use or abuse of animals for any purposes.
Anderson: to me being Vegan simply means; compassion, strong ethics, better health, self-preservation, progress, plant power and commitment.