We caught up with Rachel and Neil, founders of the plant-based burger stall that’s been the talk of this summer’s festival scene…
What made you first decide to switch to a plant-based diet?
Neil had been suffering with a debilitating stomach illness for years – actually for as long as we can remember. He’d taken so many tests, tried various different medications and had endless medical appointments but no one could tell us what was wrong with him. It was when we were advised that he would need to have an operation, despite nobody being able to tell us what they would be operating on, that we decided to take matters into our own hands and do our own research. This led us to discover the health benefits associated with eating a plant-based diet, just before we jetted off on a birthday trip to California. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as plant-based dishes are incredible there, and there’s absolutely no labels or stigma attached to following a vegan diet either. By the time we returned to the UK we were feeling better than ever and decided we would adopt this lifestyle permanently, and we’ve never looked back. And best of all? Neil never had that operation and he hasn’t been sick since!
When did you decide to start The Vurger Co?
It wasn’t that long after actually. When we returned to London we thought it would be just as easy to grab a plant-based burger with friends after a busy day at work, in a nice, casual restaurant – but we never did find what we were looking for. We quickly got sick of being served a meagre Portobello mushroom in a bun (or when the bun wasn’t vegan – in a lettuce leaf) and felt ostracized for eating this way. We really couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a better option in a city as progressive as London. Then the lightbulb moment came – we realised that if we were looking for a restaurant like this, chances are others were, too. And so we decided to start an entirely plant-based burger restaurant that would make customers feel welcome and give them options (yes, plural!) and The Vurger Co was born.
You’ve been on quite a journey since then! What has been your highlight so far?
When you do work that you love and are passionate about, it’s amazing what can be achieved in a short space of time, but we genuinely wouldn’t be here without our supporters and our customers! The turning point for us after having run months of pop-up restaurants was having the opportunity to be part of mainstream festivals and events like Balance Festival and Wilderness Festival. Both were real turning points in our business, allowing us to reach a wider audience of people that wouldn’t necessarily have had access to plant-based burgers before.
Talking of exciting advancements, what does the future have in store for you?
After an extremely successful crowdfunding campaign, we are now at the point, after just 12 months, where we are able to open our first permanent restaurant! This is everything we have been working towards since day one and we couldn’t be more excited. We are working with an amazing team behind the scenes to make this a reality and we are almost there, so stay tuned via our Instagram feed @thevurgerco for more info!
As told to: Chloe Hay