Sheffield restaurant tells us what it really means to ‘go vegan’

"Just because someone is vegan, doesn't mean they're healthy," Adam Clark says with a shake of his head.

Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 3:21 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 4:35 pm

"People think it's all vegetables and fruit, but you can be silly about how you eat regardless of your diet; I've known vegans that live on chips and chocolate, just like anybody else."

As the head chef of a vegan restaurant just outside Sheffield's city centre, Adam understands the concept of veganism better than most. And although he's experimented with vegan food for a number of years, he only recently made the full transition over to a plant-based diet.

"As someone coming from a chef background, it wasn't easy for me to commit to giving up meats and dairies, because I was constantly having to taste things in kitchens where I was working," explains the 30-year-old.

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Feature on Veganuary at 'Make No Bones' in Sheffield. Dave Shaw, Adam Clark and Lauren Hird. Picture Scott Merrylees

"It's something that's happened quite gradually for me until finally, last year, I took the leap."

But contrary to popular belief, Adam says veganism, with a little innovation, doesn' have to be restrictive.

"People always want to know what it's like giving things up - how can you give up meat, how can you give up dairy? - but a big part of my work is about using innovation in food development to ensure there are great options and alternatives, so that you don't feel like you're giving up anything

"Announcing that you're vegan is eye-opening; nobody cared what you were eating before, but suddenly it's all anybody can talk about, there's such an interest, particularly in the last couple of years as I think the conversation around consumption has grown."

Adam Sharp with his co-owners at Make No Bones, Dave Shaw and Lauren Hird, who are all vegans

At its core, a vegan diet consists of cutting out meat, dairy, eggs, fish and honey. It can also extend to the way people dress and the products they will have in their homes, including leather, wool and cosmetics.

"People come to this way of eating for all kinds of reasons, and there is a distinct difference between veganism - which is more of an ethical structure and is anti-animal abuse language - and someone eating a plant-based diet, which could be purely be for health reasons," says Adam.

In his case, Adam reveals the choice was an ethical one.

"I like the tastes and textures of meat," he says.

Feature on Veganuary at 'Make No Bones' in Sheffield. Okonomiyaki loaded fries. Picture Scott Merrylees

"Some of the things that drove me, as a chef, to glorify meat and dairy was to do with respect for the animal.]

"I would think, if you're going to kill and consume an animal then it must be handled with respect - the animal needs a good life, it must be killed humanely, handled with care in the kitchen, prepared nicely, and end in the creation of a good product. Over time, my own ethical conscience made me question this thinking, and I now believe the ultimate respect has to be not to kill the animal in the first place.

"In my opinion, food is food. There's no such thing as vegan food and non-vegan food, we don't look at a carrot and decide who it belongs to. Food is just food."

Adam joined forces with local vegan couple, Dave Shaw and Lauren Hird, in 2015, and together the three partners launched Sheffield vegan kitchen, Make No Bones, which last year made its move to its current base in Church Temple of Fun, on Rutland Way.

Their menu features everything from burgers and fried chicken, to ribs and kebabs. And this month, Make No Bones is even expanding into the supermarkets, with a line of their vegan brioche bread buns launching in Tesco stores nationwide.

Adam explains: "People enjoy the flavours of meat, and we're focused on finding ways to replicate the flavours and textures that people enjoy without causing harm.

"We want to create food that people enjoy eating on a pleasure basis, without contributing to the killing and caging of animals. Simple.

"And in terms of inclusivity, there's nothing quite like one of our tables, we can have people with milk and egg allergies, vegans, carnivores, and those with religious specifications - such as Kosher and Halal - all sitting together and eating all the same food. How many places can say that?"