Beanie-boy Steve still has to watch his diet

Family mealtime: Steve and Alison Kinneavy, with son Gabriel, sitting down to their vegan supper.
Family mealtime: Steve and Alison Kinneavy, with son Gabriel, sitting down to their vegan supper.
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So you think going without meat this National Vegetarian Week would be hard-going? Spare a thought for Steve Kinneavy.

He is a rare old bean... he’s a vegan with a nut allergy.

“When I tell people they seem amazed I’ve survived,” says Steve, 50, who ran Sheffield’s vegetarian store Beanies for eight years.

“It’s true, nuts can be significant in a vegan diet.

“They ask me what I can’t eat – and I tell them anything that has bleated, burped, buzzed, bobbed or breathed – and nuts too.

“It is bad luck though – I have to say I haven’t heard of another vegan with a nut allergy!”

Steve now works for Sheffield Council’s youth Services and has raised a family of four on a vegetarian diet, with wife Alison – who he fell for over the lentil counter at Beanies.

“A vegetarian family diet is very easy. My advice to any families wanting to do the same, though, is explain your reasoning and beliefs and be prepared to be challenged on them. And don’t be too rigorous in your approach.

“Don’t send your kids on a guilt trip if they want to try meat, or they happen to be given some at their friends’ houses or when they are eating out.

“They need to know you’re going to be fine about it.”

Steve’s other tips? Keep plenty of eggs, flour and quick-rise yeast in the house.

“Our mealtime stand-bys were always omelettes and home-made pizzas, which our four boys loved decorating with whatever bits and pieces we’d got lying around.”

Steve decided to go vegetarian at 21 after watching Channel 4’s ground-breaking film of animal factory farming. “It changed my life,” he says.

He went vegan, on ethical grounds, when he joined the team at Beanies in Crookesmoor; “I felt I was in the most supportive environment to make the change,” he says.

“To me, it’s all about the 4 Es – Ethics, Economics, Environment and ’Ealth,” he says.

“In the last 50 years, worldwide meat production has more than quadrupled.

“A meat eater uses at least three times as much land as a vegan and over five times as much water.”

He has never missed meat, although he does admit to “craving a decent chunk of Wensleydale now and again.”

Fancy putting down your steak knife and turning green this week?

Many families already go without meat regularly. Research says 86 per cent of Brits eat non-meat meals once or twice a week.