Alexander Paul Burton grew up in the countryside in the south of England and moved to London for University. He co-created the vegan bakery Accidentally Vegan and ran it for over a year, and at the peak of its success, was beloved by members of the London vegan community, getting rave reviews like this one on A Vegan Obsession and this one on Fat Gay Vegan. But angry animal activists and the pessimistic side of veganism took psychological and financial toll on him, and he left the vegan cooking business and veganism behind — far more purposefully than he’d entered them.
What inspired you to create Accidentally Vegan?
I was asked to cater for a small community event in Covent Garden in May 2010 and decided to create food that would be suitable for anyone to eat. At that time I had the help of a colleague, and we created all sorts of awesome stuff that happened to be vegan. I wasn’t vegan at the time, but had prior experience of it during my time in Japan and just via contact with people at University. (I used to study Nutrition.)
We then decided to create a business based on the premise that everything would be ‘accidentally’ vegan. We had a good range of products that we started selling at a local market in Archway, in north London. It included: coconut macaroons, gluten-free cookies, biscuits, pain au chocolat, doughnuts, profiteroles (or cream puffs), focaccia bread, chili wraps and loads of other things. We did catering for some local councils, businesses, and groups in and around Covent Garden. We weren’t aggressive about our veganism, but we definitely had a passion for what we did.
We then started supplying a ‘boutique’ vegan store called Vx, in King’s Cross. This is a straightedge and vegan shop that had only started earlier that year, in 2010. We supplied food there until June 2011.
What happened once you became vegan yourself?
After a while, I became increasingly more negative in my outlook towards non-vegan businesses or non-vegan market stalls. Instead of showing that what I believed was a positive outlook on the world, I found myself thinking more negatively about anything even slightly non-vegan. I started doing more activist work too, food giveaways and events to show people how much ‘better’ vegan food was. I only wanted vegan employees as I worried that they’d spend their wages on food that wasn’t vegan and at one point I even stopped talking to my own family, as they weren’t vegan.
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