• Zad

How it all started?

As we sit here, three years in, I thought the best place to start with this new blog, was to give a little background on how and why Zad's came about...

As part of my dayjob, I travel around the UK quite a lot. One of the few positives of this, is that I get to try tons of amazing vegan food and support lots of independent vegan businesses all over the country. As you can imagine, that means the HappyCow app sees a lot of action.

One wonderful place I discovered on my travels, was Mr Singh's in Birmingham. This place is veggie, not vegan, but they do fantastic vegan pizzas and it's fair to say we got a bit hooked. Whenever I was travelling home from the South, it involved a stop-off at their Handsworth Branch to take some food back up the M6 to Manchester. I'm also semi-ashamed to say, that it wasn't unknown to travel to Birmingham now and again, just to get a pizza...

As somebody that was very actively involved with the 'vegan scene' in Manchester, I knew there were a huge number of vegans in and around Manchester, so it started to grate on me that there wasn't anywhere to get a good vegan pizza, without driving to Birmingham, which admittedly, most sane people wouldn't even contemplate.

I remember driving past a row of takeaways and chip shops in Liverpool and casually voicing my frustration that none of them were vegan. It was then that it entered my head, how strange it was that we didn't have any vegan takeaways. None. This was early in 2016 and the seed was planted.

As somebody with a full time job and who also spent a huge amount of time doing vegan activism, the idea of starting a vegan takeaway, never really seemed like a realistic prospect, so I spent much of 2016 complaining that nobody else had done it and wondering why not.

I was also very frustrated at the level of service offered by many places. As mentioned above, I travelled a lot and tried tons of incredible places, but all too often, I'd arrive to find a post-it note on the door saying they were closed for the day (but hadn't updated their social media), or worse, no notice at all, just inexplicably closed. Another issue was always feeling like the venue was doing you a favour by serving you, rather than the other way around. Gradually, I was getting more and more frustrated with what I saw lacking, in terms of offering (vegan pizza) and service.

In summer 2016, I made the bold claim (still 98% joking at this point) that if nobody had done it (opened a vegan pizza place in Manchester) by Christmas, I was going to do it myself. Suffice to say, nobody did...

One major issue was going to be finding staff, but then I struck up a conversation with a vegan chef, whilst stood outside a slaughterhouse in Bolton over Christmas 2016... I floated the idea of what I was thinking and he seemed excited, though it's fair to say both of us were pretty certain it was a pipedream at that stage

The final piece to the puzzle, was driving past a dingy takeaway in Chorlton, with a For Sale sign outside, on a cold dark winter evening, on my way home from work - that would be perfect, I thought, so I went in and met the owner, Mohammed... things had started to get serious...

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