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Herts and Essex High School sisters Madi and Nancy Attfield launch vegan map of Bishop's Stortford to help diners navigate the town's food and drink landscape



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Two sisters are determined to put Bishop's Stortford on the map for vegans.

Madi Attfield, 14, and Nancy, 12, both students at Herts and Essex High School, are using social media to recruit restaurants, cafés and takeaways for their project to persuade more people to try a plant-based diet.

They were inspired to act after taking part in Bishop's Stortford's Community Climate Gathering last November, held to coincide with COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. Their vegan map project is just one action plan to emerge from the forum.

Nancy and Madi Attfield at The Sourdough Toaster in Eat 17. Picture: Vikki Lince (54155231)
Nancy and Madi Attfield at The Sourdough Toaster in Eat 17. Picture: Vikki Lince (54155231)

The girls have set up an Instagram account and created a QR code to direct diners to outlets across the town that offer meals, snacks and drinks suitable for vegans.

So far, seven businesses have signed up, with a sign in their windows to show participation, and many more have been approached to join the girls' culinary crusade.

Madi began her own vegan journey in January 2021 as part of Veganuary, a month-long initiative to encourage people to address climate change and animal welfare by removing meat from their menu. She was one of more than 500,000 people who pledged to try a vegan diet and she has never looked back.

The girls outside Buffalo Joe's in Church Street. Picture: Vikki Lince (54155227)
The girls outside Buffalo Joe's in Church Street. Picture: Vikki Lince (54155227)

But she is an advocate, not an evangelist, and keen to stress that any addition of pulses and vegetables and any reduction of meat and dairy consumption are steps in the right direction – and that even a small change can make a big difference.

"I wanted to create a vegan map to open plant-based eating to everyone," said Madi. "I want to remove the stigmas about being a vegan: that it's not just vegetables and you won't die of protein deficiency!

"I want people to realise we can still use a plant-based diet to save the planet without the whole world committing to Veganuary. Don't get me wrong, it would be great if the whole world went vegan. Is it going to happen? No. It's totally ok that you're not vegan. There's an extreme to cutting out animal products but there's also a halfway point."

Her own family is proof that compromise can work. Madi has gone the whole hog but Nancy is a pescatarian who eats fish – as is dad Jake – while mum Paula occasionally eats red meat.

Town Centre, Bishop's Stortford. Sisters Madi 14 and Nancy 12 are creating a Vegan map of restaurants in Bishop's Stortford. They are pictured with some of the businesses that have signed up. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (54155225)
Town Centre, Bishop's Stortford. Sisters Madi 14 and Nancy 12 are creating a Vegan map of restaurants in Bishop's Stortford. They are pictured with some of the businesses that have signed up. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (54155225)

As part of last year's Veganuary, more than 800 new vegan products and menu options were launched in key campaign countries, and Madi wants to ensure Bishop's Stortford plays its part in 2022.

She said: "The vegan map could potentially start someone off and introduce vegan food. It may be the first vegan meal you've ever tried.

"By eating food from a local café – which supports their business, too – you're most likely to enjoy the meal and avoid a disaster in the kitchen when you attempted to make something out of your universe from scratch. Or, if you're ready to brave the kitchen, the businesses can inspire you or you have a platform that could help you find an easy recipe. Hopefully it can inspire people in 2022 to try something new and show people vegan can be tasty and simple.

Madi and Nancy at Greens Organics in Market Square. Picture: Vikki Lince (54155226)
Madi and Nancy at Greens Organics in Market Square. Picture: Vikki Lince (54155226)

"The map also creates an easy way for people who already are vegan/vegetarian and flexitarian/pescatarian etc to find a place to eat without the stress of finding an online menu or winging it with fingers crossed."

Madi was particularly keen to promote businesses that offer drinks with dairy-free milks and interesting meat-free meals without charging extra and adding a "vegan tax".

The seven already on her map are Smoke BBQ Kitchen in Hockerill Street; The Pizza Guys at Millars Three, Southmill Road; Coffee House in South Street; Buffalo Joe's in Church Street; Veg Heads and The Sourdough Toaster, which both operate from Eat 17 in Potter Street; and Green Organics in Market Square.

The sisters at Veg Heads in Eat 17. Picture: Vikki Lince (54155229)
The sisters at Veg Heads in Eat 17. Picture: Vikki Lince (54155229)

Madi said: "I'm hoping this can inspire local businesses to add more plant-based options to their menu and explore new recipes to bring an even better variety of vegan food to Bishop's Stortford. I'm amazed by the options that are already available, and much more is to come!"

Her Instagram account, @veganmapstortford, also features her own recipes, especially utilising leftovers to create dishes as food waste is another major contributor to the climate emergency.

The girls have drawn up a survey here.



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