Chatting with the Breakfast Punx

Whether you are part of the Hastings vegan scene, or you just appreciate delicious doughnuts and coffee, you have probably heard of Sham City Roasters (@shamcityroasters) and Deadbeat Doughnuts (@deadbeatdoughnuts) run by Dave and Siobhan. I spoke to the couple about their brand-new podcast, Breakfast Punx, how they started their businesses and their views about eating vegan in Hastings. 

Siobhan and Dave
PICTURE: Dave Cullern

How did your ‘Breakfast Punx’ podcast start? 
D: It was originally my idea and we had spoken about doing a podcast together previously. Lockdown gave us the time to think seriously about it and the podcast idea jumped into my head when we were talking about things we could do this year. We’d spoken about it so much that I said, “Why don’t we just do this podcast?” and two days later we recorded it, and now we’re podcasters! 

You’ve only released one episode so far, but what has the reception been like?
S: The reception has been crazy with everyone being really receptive. Originally, we figured that there was going to be just a small audience for it – friends who we haven’t spoken to in a while and individuals that used to come to the café and chat to us for hours about nothing. Since putting the podcast out, I’ve had my mum message me about it, old friends that I haven’t spoken to in ten years have told me they love it and even bands have asked to be featured on it next time. I really didn’t think anyone would listen to it, let alone like it, so it’s been really nice. Now there’s not much more to do but record another one!

Q: Sounds great! What are your plans for the content of the podcast?
D: Both of our businesses have a relationship with music, and we operate within the DIY punk scene a lot. My idea for the podcast initially was to be able to mix these two interests together. 
S: However, we knew that if we only spoke about DIY punk music all the time, some people might be confused! Along with music, each episode we’d like to feature a coffee and a vegan food item from a local business. Through our businesses we have made connections with so many bakers and cooks in Hastings and now we can use the podcast as an excuse to try new things every two weeks. 

How exciting! Moving away from the podcast, could you tell me more about how you both started your businesses?
D: I started Sham City Roasters about five and a half years ago from my spare room. Siobhan and I are both psychiatric nurses, and I was coming to the end of my tether. I roasted coffee for myself for a bit of fun and, after doing some financial prep and quitting my job, basically decided I would try to make a go of it. The café (which is now sadly closed) was born about 18 months later when we decided we wanted a change of pace and moved down to Hastings. 
S: When we moved down, I initially continued to work as a nurse full time for financial reasons. The café was getting busy, and Dave wanted to open more frequently with a bigger menu. I’d made a few vegan doughnuts when Dave needed extra food for the café and they always went down really well, which made me think that this could be my contribution to the business. The name ‘Deadbeat’ comes from a great B-52’s song, Deadbeat Club, and it ended up sticking. 
D: Since the café closed (about 10 months ago) I went back to selling online and to local businesses (such as Wow and Flutter) and Siobhan concentrated on local deliveries. It was devastating to lose the café, but it’s been great to have more time to spend on things we’re really passionate about. 

 I think Hastings is a wonderful town for vegans

Sham City Roasters was a vegan café, and both of you are vegan. When did you start eating vegan?
D: I’ve been vegetarian for about 23 years and ate vegan on/off during that time, before going fully vegan about eight years ago. The main reason the café was vegan was that it was just something I knew about – I never wanted to corner the vegan market or anything. When we opened the café, everyone was amazed that we had vegan options because there were no vegan options in Hastings. Today, I think Hastings is a wonderful town for vegans with so many options. A few of our favourites include: No Bones, St Marys in the Castle, Home Ground, The Birdhouse, Raffo & Ridgeway and Bake It Til You Make It. 
S: I’ve been vegan for about four years. When I met Dave, I wasn’t even a veggie and used to eat a lot of processed meats. Dave and I always ate veggie or vegan together and I would only eat meat occasionally when we went out. It got to the point with my meat eating where I questioned, “What am I even doing this for?” When we moved to Hastings it seemed like a good opportunity to kick eating meat for good and see if I could be vegan. Plus, it made it a lot easier to put the mozzarella sticks down when I couldn’t eat them… 

It’s currently Veganuary – a month where people are encouraged to try eating vegan. What are your views on the movement? 
S: The negative side to Veganuary is big businesses detracting from all the places that already serve vegan options, but I think the positives are far better. With corporations cashing in on vegan money it does mean that there are cheaper and more wide-reaching vegan options. I also love that loads of new food options get introduced due to Veganuary and then carry on because people like them. It’s also great that many people try it for a month and then continue with the vegan lifestyle afterwards. 
D: I think it’s a really great initiative and gives everyone a chance to
try veganism out. From an environmental perspective, if everyone went vegan for even just one month, it would have an incredible impact in the world. If I have anything slightly negative to say about it, it’s more to do with the narrative of Veganuary that makes out that eating vegan is this really difficult thing to do, that little side to it that’s like “I’m going to be really brave and go a month without eating cheese.” Today it’s actually really easy to be vegan. You can just go to the supermarket and the fridges are full of vegan options.  

You can listen to the Breakfast Punx podcast on AnchorFM, Spotify, Podbean and Google Podcasts. Their Instagram is @breakfastpunxpodcast.

Dave and Siobhan’s top tips for eating vegan 

• Resist the urge to just buy all the vegan options at the supermarket and take the time to explore cooking vegan yourself. Two recommended cookbooks for those starting out: Veganomicon (Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero) and The Little Green Roasting Tin (Rukmini Iyer). 

• Lots of resources exist online. Siobhan likes the videos/step-by-step recipes of @avantgardevegan (Instagram) and resources on local Facebook groups (Vegan Hastings and Vegans of Hastings). 

• Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake. Just carry on the next day. Eating vegan for five days a week and not two days a week is still a lot better than doing nothing at all. 

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