With the number of vegans in the UK rising by 360% in just the UK alone, it’s no surprise there are grocery shops dedicated to just vegetarians/vegans.
Manchester’s 8th Day Co-operative stocks the largest selection of veggie, vegan, organic and Fairtrade food in the North West.
We spoke to Jeniya from the 8th Day to find out more about their amazing work providing cruelty-free food for Manchester.
- When did the 8th day co-op open, who opened it and what was their aim from opening a shop/cafe like this?
On The Eighth Day which was originally located above a boutique on the now demolished New Brown Street in Manchester City Centre (somewhere under the Arndale Centre), was opened as a craft exchange and alternative centre by a group of like-minded individuals (the founders of our co-op). It had rather hippy beginnings and our name derives from “On the seventh day God rested, on the eighth day He (She or It) created something better” which was the idea of the moment at 11pm, September 11th 1970. It was a great place to tune in and drop out, but as an attempt to escape the clutches of capitalism it was less successful and in order to survive soon had to become a shop in the more conventional sense. The business officially became a Workers’ Co-op in 1976 and the Shop and Café (which came a little later) have always adhered to principles such as vegetarianism. Initially there wasn’t really an aim to spread vegetarianism to the masses, rather it was a place where people who shared those values could go. In the 1970’s there certainly wasn’t the variety of vegetarian or vegan friendly places to go there are now.
2. Since the shop is nearby to all the universities in Manchester, do you find that your main customers are students or locals?
Obviously because of our location, there is a large part of our custom base that is from the universities, however we have always tried to ensure that we contribute to and communicate with our local community and have a significant amount of locals as customers as well. Our focus on free professional advice, attention to detail, quality of produce and ensuring we always find new and exciting products for vegetarians and vegans means that we also attract customers from much further away.
- Has there been an increase in popularity of the shop since first opening?
Definitely, vegetarianism and veganism have become much more mainstream and more and more people are adopting a majority or wholly plant based diet. In addition to this, we have products which have a broader appeal such as natural and organic skincare, local artisan foods and nutritional supplements which attract people who are trying to live a cleaner/healthier/more ethical lifestyle.
- Is it important for the shop to only hire vegetarians/vegans and why?
Actually, as an equal opportunities employer, we don’t insist upon this, however when we do hire staff we stress the importance of knowledge that is related to vegetarianism and veganism and the majority of our staff over the years have followed or adopted the lifestyle.
- What do you feel are the main benefits of a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle?
There is research that indicates majority or wholly plant based lifestyle can be very beneficial to health. One of the main benefits for most people is the knowledge that they are not contributing to the meat industry or the exploitation of animals as well as helping the environment, those issues are probably the most important driver for people converting.
- Apart from having a great shop like the 8th day available, what do you think are other ways to encourage a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle?
It would be great if school/college/university/workplace canteens encouraged something like Meat Free Monday across the board so that regular meat free eating was normalised and people got to see how tasty and nutritious vegetarian and vegan food can be. Ultimately, it is always going to be a personal decision to adopt the lifestyle, but normalising rather than focusing on how alternative the lifestyle is probably the best method of encouragement.
The 8th Day Co-Operative supply a wide range of vegan cheeses- lower fat and cholesterol than diary cheese and cruelty free!
They also supply a great range of plant based milks- they last for weeks in your fridge and taste amazing!
Visit the 8th Day Co-Operative in Manchester to eat, shop & live more ethically