By Ben Cornwell 

January is often a month with little going on. Everyone is recovering from the chaos and celebrations of Christmas and New Year’s Eve: the weather is miserable, and the days seem to drag. But while many may consider it dull and gloomy, The Hempist – Hastings’ only entirely vegan restaurant – is trying to change the narrative and treat January like ‘the new August’.

To celebrate Veganuary this month, The Hempist are not only introducing some brand-new cuisine, such as their vegan tapas, but will also be hosting several free interactive events and workshops every Monday to Thursday from 6pm. The event schedule includes vegan-themed quiz nights (Mondays), clothes swap (Tuesdays), Earth painting workshops (Wednesdays) and psychic night (Thursdays). 

CREDIT: Ben Cornwell

While at The Hempist on Wednesday night, I was lucky enough to see the Earth painting workshop in action. The session run by Georgina was very welcoming and we started by making our own natural paint using minerals and rocks foraged locally from Rock-a-Nore beach. The process of grinding down the rock and minerals to make the paint is quite a contrast to my usual method of heading down to the local crafts store. The final results were quite impressive, with some of the shades of gold and brown paint resembling the colours you might see in some ancient Egyptian artwork. The restaurant plans to hold a special exhibition of all the artwork created at the end of the month.

Dan Wiltshire, the owner of The Hempist, explained how they felt an obligation, as the only vegan restaurant in the area, to get people involved in Veganuary; and not only vegans but also the wider local community. He explained how even the smallest changes can have a significant impact on the world and our environment: “We’re not trying to get people to change their lifestyle completely, just to consider the idea of incorporating a different type of food into their diets. Even if it’s a small change like using soya milk rather than dairy or having one vegan day a month, it all makes a world of difference. You can eat new foods and save the world while you are doing it!”

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