When landlord Peter Gibbs decided to adopt a vegan lifestyle during the pandemic, it also transformed the way he ran the Hope and Anchor.
A Bristol pub that, over the years, had gained a strong reputation for its meaty Sunday roasts as much as its range of local beers, it suddenly changed its offering to make vegans the focus.
Now, like at sibling pub The Volunteer Tavern in St Jude’s, all the products served at the bar are vegan, from the ales and spirits to the ciders and wine.
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The pub, located along Jacob’s Wells Road, has even sourced a vegan alternative to Worcestershire sauce to use in the popular Bloody Marys.
A collaboration with Cotswold brewery Severn, which supplies many of the beers and also makes a gluten-free lager, means that many pints are around the £3-£4 mark, prices that give even the likes of pub giant Wetherspoons a run for its money.
And then there’s the food, which between Tuesday and Saturday is provided by Monica Patel of Naasto Baasto, a local Gujarati pop-up kitchen serving authentic vegan Indian food.
Dishes on the menu include chana masala chaat fries, pan bhaji (spicy, mashed vegetable curry served with buttery, fried bread roll topped with fresh red onion and a wedge of lemon) and kale, spicy chickpea and mango salad.
On Sundays, there are still two meat options for the roast but the rest of the menu includes three vegan options – vegan chicken, vegan beef and butternut squash stuffed with nut roast – supplied by Bristol company Soy Ahoy.
The Hope & Anchor in Hotwells
(Image: John Myers)
‘I wasn’t trying to tap into a trend’
Peter said: “I went vegan for climate reasons because a plant-based diet has a far lower carbon footprint.
“I wasn’t trying to tap into a trend but as a vegan myself I was finding it frustrating going into a pub and having to ask so many questions about whether drinks are vegan.
“I wanted to create a safe space in both pubs where vegans could go and know everything they order was vegan except on a Sunday when meat dishes are clearly labelled.”
The steep terraced beer garden at the back of the pub has always been a draw in summer and it has also enjoyed a bit of a makeover since Peter took over in April.
The tables now have more overhead cover thanks to new awnings and parasols, as well as new heaters to keep drinkers warm on those colder summer evenings.
Peter says he will keep the beef and chicken options on the Sunday roast menu for the time being due to demand, but if things take off, the menu may one day be 100 per cent meat-free.
He said: “I’ve been a bit scared about taking meat off the roast menu because we make so much of our weekly money on a Sunday.
“I’m not yet at a financial stage where I can take meat off as the demand for the vegan options changes from week to week but veganism is increasing and it will just take a bit more time to get the word out.”
The garden at The Hope & Anchor
(Image: John Myers)
Meanwhile, the Indian street food dishes from Naasto Baasto are going down a storm, as is the pub’s Wednesday Curry Club, the menu for which changes every week and costs £15 for three courses. It has become so popular that bookings are now essential.
Peter says: “Often, vegans have to scroll down to the bottom of the menu to find the vegan option, but for us the vegan options are the main option and that’s important because vegan people have done it for principled reasons and often feel sidelined by society.”
Hope and Anchor, 38 Jacob’s Wells Road, Bristol, BS8 1DR. Tel: 0117 9292987.
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