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Five weeks ago I decided to go vegan, both for moral and environmental reasons. While I have found it relatively easy to adjust to the change both at home and work, going out for meals has been a complete nightmare.
While there are always quite a large number of vegetarian meals on offer- vegetarianism being seen as almost socially acceptable now; there is rarely a vegan meal in sight. Usually I’ll manage to find one vegan main on a menu, so I guess I should count myself lucky, though it’s usually just steamed vegetables. Dessert on the other hand? Forget it.
So you can imagine how excited I was when Flickabelle’s Vegan Bakery was brought to my attention. Felicity Harrison, the brain behind Flickabelle’s Vegan Bakery, decided that instead of simply complaining about the gap in Canberra’s vegan market (like I have been doing for the past five weeks), she was going to do something about it.
“Starting a vegan food business is something I’ve wanted to do for years – it was just a case of grabbing things by the horns and doing it!” said Felicity.
“When I became vegan five years ago I was incredibly frustrated by the gap in the market for wholesome, tasty vegan bakery products – muffins, cakes, biscuits, anything! Sometimes all you want to do is sit down at a nice cafe with a coffee and a muffin – but when you’re vegan, that’s a lot to ask for, and in Canberra virtually impossible!
Spurred on by this frustration I thought, what the heck, if no-one else will make it, I’m going to make it myself – and Flickabelle’s Vegan Bakery was born!”
I headed on down to try Flickabelle’s fares last Sunday at the Old Bus Depot Markets. To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting too much. Having had an intolerance to cane sugar when I was younger, and being vegetarian for the past four years, means that I have had my fair share of faux products. While they’re always edible, they are very obviously a second-rate version of what they are trying to be (fake mince anyone?). And after buying vegan biscuits from Coles, it was pretty apparent that vegan baked goods were just not up to the same standard as their lactose-and-egg-containing counterparts.
When we got there, I was surprised at the wide range of freshly baked muffins, and the appetising loaves of banana bread. I was even more surprised when I learned that Felicity manages the business completely solo.
“The business is well and truly only me and I put a good 10-12 hours a day into it. I started off baking on the side to fit in with my law degree and two part-time jobs, but demand got so intense so quickly I simply couldn’t handle it. After a LOT of soul-searching I decided to put my law degree on hold and launch myself into the business full-time. It’s incredibly hard work – literally blood sweat and tears (a lot of tears) – but it’s a labour of love and I wouldn’t dream of turning back!”
Despite the range, I made up my mind very quickly, purchasing a Pumpkin Spice muffin for myself, and a Wholegrain Banana muffin for my husband.
It was love at first bite. IT WAS THE BEST MUFFIN I HAD EVER HAD. That includes all non-vegan muffins that I have ingested in my life- which is a lot. Worried that the lack of dairy and eggs had affected my taste buds, I turned to my husband.
Now I should point out that my husband does not like anything vegetarian, and certainly not vegan. I think that even when he eats cereal he is thinking the whole time ‘this is good, but it would be better with meat’. He is also someone who, on the odd occasion he does get something sweet, eats a small bite and then leaves it for weeks until it is rotten. Because of this, my husband really did not want a muffin and protested when I bought it for him.
I took a bite of his and decided that it was a good thing he hated muffins because I was looking forward to inhaling the banana one as well. However I did manage to convince him to try a small piece and he was pleasantly surprised.
Thinking no more of it, we took the remaining muffin home. Once there, I reached inside to finish it off, when he suddenly yelled ‘Don’t touch it, it’s mine!’. I was stunned. He has never before told me to leave his food alone, even when it’s apparent that me eating all of the chips off his plate is killing him inside. By the time I finished doing my homework he had eaten the entire thing.
Needless to say, I think that we have found our new favourite week treat.
So where can you find these yummy vegan treats that appeal to both vegans and non-vegans alike? Currently you can find Flickabelle’s at the Old Bus Depot Markets, doing a baking spot at the Lonsdale Roasters on Wednesdays and Fridays, and baking fresh every morning at the Food Co-op Shop and Café. Aside from the Food Co-op shop and Café, things might change with the other venues now and again so it’s best to add Flickabelle’s on facebook to get all up-to-date information.
Great food never remains a secret for long in the nation’s capital; so understandably, Flickabelle’s Vegan Bakery is increasing in popularity by the day.
So what is Felicity’s ultimate goal for Flickabelle’s?
“My dream is to open a vegan cafe – a cosy, vintage-inspired, meet-and-greet space where vegans and non-vegans alike can get a great coffee, a wholesome tasty treat and relax! My focus has always been to de-stigmatise veganism, to bring it to the mainstream and eliminate the eyebrow-raising so to speak. My products never look or taste vegan, they taste just like regular baked goodies and I’m committed to bringing that to the cafe environment – particularly my own!”
Have you tried Flickabelle’s vegan fare? Is it as good (or perhaps better) than the ‘full strength” stuff?