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Accept no substitute… for meat, that is

Camden Town's Purezza - worth a visit for even the most confirmed, blood-lusting carnivore - shows that meat-free meals can be done with flair

31 October, 2018 — By Tom Moggach

From Brighton to Camden – Purezza is not just for vegans

VEGAN food can all too often fall down due to the simple fact that the purveyors try to create something that is a substitute, rather than a dish that stands up on its own. Let’s face it – fake meat and fake cheese is often disgusting.

So the current boom in veganism – where a dairy-free, meat-free diet has become more and more popular – risks being knocked off course by the bandwagon-jumpers who decide that what a vegan eater really wants is something that looks like meat, tastes like meat, but isn’t meat.

Recently, vegan pizza joint Purezza, originating in that capital of great vegetarian and vegan food, Brighton, has moved into Parkway, Camden Town.

And while the idea of a vegan pizza might make your average foodie balk – how do you recreate the deliciousness of buffalo mozzarella using nuts and whatnot, and why would you even want to? – Purezza, one senses, knows this and instead concentrates not on substitutes but on using the foodstuffs they have at their disposal to make truly delicious dishes.

Their “mozzarella” is either rice-or nut-based and while you might think this isn’t what you’d get from a buffalo, it doesn’t matter as it is lovely to taste. There is no sackcloth choice to be made here.

And then check out the bases: they include a sourdough or, going full-on Brighton, a hemp base. Both have a decent crunch on the outside and a chew within. But what really tops it off is the tomato sauce – rich, warm, sweet – it is the beginning of all things good.

Away from the pizza, they offer courgetti spaghetti, which comes with a rich pesto, but perhaps the star of the show is their Pure Bowl – quinoa, butternut squash, apples, fermented onions and kale. It provides a ridiculously feelgood side.

Purezza is worth a visit for even the most confirmed, blood-lusting carnivore – and figures show we are switching more and more to meat-free meals. Purezza shows that it can be done with flair.

So what are the ethics of eating vegan every day?

It is a question many ask themselves as veganism rockets from about 500,000 a decade ago to 3.5m today (around 5 per cent of the population). There was a brilliant article in the Guardian recently by West Sussex-based small-holding producer Isabella Tree. She argues quitting meat completely might not be the answer to issues around global warming and health. Instead, we must escape the shackles of mass-produced meat and dairy supplies, with the accompanying horrendous animal cruelty.

She argues that “we should be encouraging sustainable forms of production based on traditional rotational systems, permanent pasture and conservation grazing. We should question the ethics of driving up demand for crops that require high inputs of fertiliser, fungicides, pesticides and herbicides, while demonising sustainable forms of farming that can restore soils and biodiversity, and sequester carbon”.

So, there has to be a place for vegetarians and vegans alongside meat eaters, and for that to happen, we need more restaurants like Purezza, which take the elements of your average Brightonian wholefood cafe and make it mainstream.

Purezza
43 Parkway, NW1 7PN
020 3884 0078
www.purezza.co.uk

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