Tom Kerridge criticised for ‘parodying’ plant-based food with new restaurant Bad Vegan

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Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge has opened a new concept restaurant in Camden called Bad Vegan, but it is being criticised for not being fully plant-based.

Campaigning charity Viva! is calling out chef Tom Kerridge for misleading consumers about his new Camden restaurant, Bad Vegan, as the menu isn’t fully plant-based.

The mains on the Michelin-starred chef’s concept restaurant are plant-based, but some of the sides and toppings are not. It caters to people “committed to adding more plant-based foods into their diet”, but Viva! believes the eatery has ignored the environmental, health and welfare issues surrounding the consumption of animal products.

“Bad Vegan is the latest in businesses clinging to the success of veganism as a means of deploying its frankly parody product line of plant-based food,” said Faye Lewis, Viva!’s head of communications.

She added that the real issue is in the messaging: “The hallmark of a good marketing campaign should mean you don’t need to explain yourself. However, on the Bad Vegan website, they’ve half-apologetically, half-self-righteously tried to justify the reason for their existence.” She called the result “at best confusing”.

“Rather than send out conflicting messages neatly packaged up as ‘revolutionising’ restaurants from offering vegan alternatives to offering non-vegan alternatives, just call a spade a spade,” she continued. “They’re a restaurant aimed at meat reducers, so say that — the use of the word ‘vegan’ is totally misleading, and it makes their marketing tactics seem disingenuous.”

She accused Kerridge of capitalising on the popularity of veganism and perpetuating old stereotypes about the lifestyle. “As a self-styled fake vegan brand, surely this is just a massive step backwards from an audience they are trying to align themselves with,” she explained. “In a saturated vegan market, clear messaging is key to success, and surely at some point somebody wondered whether or not this could be misinterpreted?”

She added: “While it’s 100% acceptable to target plant-based alternatives to meat reducers, their messaging actually hurts the vegan movement to claim to be radical while having non-vegan sides and toppings.”

Check out our Ultimate Guide to plant-based food in Camden.

Anay Mridul
Anay Mridul
Anay is journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.