We catch up with The Happy Pear brothers to talk about their brand-new book…
When did you decide to go vegan?
We decided to eat a plant-based/vegan diet almost 14 years ago after trying out various other options – it’s the one that suits us best.
What are your top tips for cooking delicious vegan food?
Focus on whole foods and fruit and veg rather than processed vegan foods. There are now lots of vegan equivalents to almost every non-vegan food, so it’s much easier than it was 14 years ago.
Which ingredients couldn’t you live without and why?
Porridge – we eat it every day. Fruit – we have a sweet tooth. Avocados – they’re a daily staple!
Why did you set up The Happy Pear?
We wanted to start a healthy food revolution and help people eat more veg, and become healthier and happier.
Has the response always been good?
We’ve been at this for over a decade and it’s never been about converting people but simply to encourage people to eat more veg, because we’ve found this to be a more digestible message!
Can you tell us about your sprout and shoot farm?
Our brother Darragh runs the food production side of our business and our sprout farm. He’s a gorgeous person and he has time for everyone. He has always been into growing things and when we started the business he got really into juicing, growing wheatgrass and sprouting for himself. And once he experienced all the positive changes it made to his health he wanted to share his knowledge with as many people as possible, so he started our sprout farm. Now we produce a variety of sprouts and shoots, grow-your-own seeds, wheatgrass, and award-winning pestos (sun-dried tomato, lovely basil and coriander) for our own cafes and shop and for hundreds of SuperValu supermarkets and independent retailers across Ireland.
Why do you think veganism has had a surge in popularity recently?
Because the world needs more plant-based living otherwise there won’t be an Earth to live on! We think it also comes as a result of Hollywood actors leading the way and realising how effective it is in terms of staying in shape and looking fab. It really does give you the edge, which then has a trickle effect down to the rest of society. It’s also as a result of the huge health epidemic and a rising awareness around the link between what we eat and how healthy and happy we are.
What do you think is the best way to educate people about the benefits of a vegan diet?
We have found an easier message for people to swallow is to focus on whole foods and fruit and veg, rather than lead them to think it’s an all-or-nothing thing, which is unobtainable and far removed from how they currently live and eat.
What’s the concept behind your new book The World of the Happy Pear?
Our new book captures our philosophy, the importance of community and more than 100 great plant-based recipes. It has a section on veggie BBQs, great quick dinners, feeding kids, and some great sweet treats – such as a pavlova with no eggs! It’s great for summertime and to help anyone incorporate more veg into their lives. We also cover some of the questions every vegan is asked: where do you get your protein? What do you do for calcium? And so on.
How do you come up with new ideas for recipes?
We’re constantly coming up with ideas. We could probably write a book every week! The creative bit and the recipe bit come very easily to us. We love food and trying new things, and when we travel we’re always gathering ideas to turn into recipes. We also get inspiration from our team, online community and customers in our cafes and shop.
What’s your favourite vegan recipe in the book and why?
In terms of breakfast we love the vegan full Irish! It started out as a crazy idea. On Christmas morning in our folks house they cook up a big Irish breakfast – we watched this for years and finally got fed up. So last year we came up with our vegan full Irish and it went down a treat! In terms of dessert, David loves the pecan pies and Stephen’s favourite is the chocolate salted caramel tart or the vegan knickerbocker glory.
You’re both vegan – so why do a vegetarian cookbook?
As we said, we’ve never been about converting people but simply about getting people to eat more veg. In our cafes and restaurant we serve vegetarian options, as we feel it gives people stepping stones. The book is mainly vegan but there are a few veggie recipes, as these are popular options in our cafes, and customers often ask for the recipes.
What’s next for you both?
Onwards and upwards! We started The Happy Pear to start a healthy food revolution so we feel we are only starting to gain traction now.We’re producing more products for retail (SuperValu in Ireland) and we’re part of their Good Food Karma campaign to help get Ireland cooking from scratch! It’s a great campaign that closely aligned to our values. We’re also hoping to share our message through a TV show, but really we see no limits to what we’re doing – if anyone out there wants to help out, then just send us an email!
Visit David and Stephen’s website thehappypear.ie for more great ideas. The World of the Happy Pear is published by Penguin, £18.99.