Changing Plates with One Planet Abingdon

Post by Gina Davis on behalf of Replenish

My Vegan Journey

I have been involved in One Planet Abingdon Climate Emergency Centre from its opening on 25th September 2021.

I can’t remember when I became mostly vegan but it must be at least five years ago now. I still eat the occasional bit of dairy, very, very occasionally fish but never meat. I can’t think of it as ‘meat’ but as ‘animal flesh’ which seems to be a whole different thing, it’s connected with the living creature.

I started my vegan journey because of health reasons but animal welfare had always been a high priority so it was an easy step to take. Changing your diet to a more plant-based one is definitely one of the best and most effective changes you can make for our wonderful planet.

How Changing Plates Was Born

I started thinking seriously about this idea in August 2022 and decided I wanted to try and show people what good vegan food could be like. I love cooking and had the idea of doing ‘Taster Plates’ on Saturdays throughout January and with that ‘CHANGING PLATES -Make 2023 a veggie year!’ was born!

I asked our volunteers if they would be happy to help in any way, cooking for taster plates being the initial approach. I also invited two local food vendors we had previously met at the Plot to Plate event in Abingdon to come and do Street Food stalls throughout January. Planted Plates provide healthy, hearty and homemade vegan food for the soul. Damascus Rose Kitchen provides Middle Eastern dishes cooked with love by refugee women.

Pictured: Our first customer James, trying the chestnut stew and vegan shepherd’s pie tasters.

And How The Idea Grew

A chance meeting with someone who was quoted on one of our displays when he popped into the cafe to use the toilet and suddenly I had two speakers willing to present talks for us! (Beware of popping in to use the toilet!) When another of our volunteers, who is a nutritionist, offered to run a ‘Tofutorial’ I was delighted. Having once been served flabby uncooked tofu, cubed and coated in sweet chilli sauce from a bottle dumped on top of a salad I know how easy it is to be put off!

Another volunteer came forward to arrange a viewing of the brilliant film ‘Eating our way to Extinction’ followed by a light vegan lunch and discussion. Someone else arranged for a speaker to do a presentation on ‘Your diet and how it affects the Environment’. Climate Conversations have always been part of our timetable, in January they were, of course, about food!

Two volunteers have started doing a monthly Salad and Chat session and they also rally our fantastic team of home bakers who are providing vegan cakes for the whole month.

I researched and prepared facts, information and ideas for the display boards in the cafe which make, hopefully, interesting browsing when people pop in. There is a sign up saying what we are tasting that day and the recipes are available. So that’s how CHANGING PLATES came together!

What’s Next For Changing Plates?

It won’t stop at the end of January either as the Green Forum first quarter of the year is about all things food. There are plans for talks, displays and an event in the Market Place at the end of March to round the whole thing off.

OxVeg, Abingdon Carbon Cutters and One Planet Abingdon will all have stalls in the Market Place and our street food vendors are returning.

Would I Do It Again?

Yes, I think I will have to! I won’t get away with not doing it! Hopefully, now people know what it is all about they’ll want to get involved.

Things I would like to do differently next time: increase publicity to try and get more people into the talks and connect with people who don’t already eat a vegan or veggie diet. One of our kind volunteers has put together an online feedback survey, so you can let us know your thoughts.

It really is amazing what positive effect a small change in your diet can have on CO2 emissions. We need to make a change.

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