Sophie’s Scran changing the face of vegan food in Derry
Jemma Heath and Kerrie and Rachael Costello opened their vegan food van Sophie’s Scran just under two months ago. Since then, the trio are paving the way for veganism in Ireland.
Customers travel as far as Monaghan to their premises beside the Collon Bar to try their food, which is fully vegan, but the friends-turned-business partners don’t discriminate against meat eaters either.
Jemma said: “We’ve had a few people who have ordered and you could tell by the way they’ve ordered that they don’t realise we’re vegan. We will tell them the craic and sometimes people who were a bit anxious about trying something will absolutely love it! It’s great to see.
“Sophie’s is a safe space for everyone, no matter what they eat, and we welcome everyone to come and try something. To our knowledge, there hasn’t been anyone who hasn’t enjoyed a dish and that’s all down to our chef Kerrie. The dishes that Kerrie can come up with are amazing. We said a couple of weeks back about possibly changing the menu and giving something a bit different and Kerrie just changed the full menu no problem. That first weekend that we tried the new menu was so busy too and everyone loved it! It’s all credit to Kerrie and her skill level.”
When people think of veganism, healthy food is often the first thing that comes to mind but Kerrie jokes that you can have everything from a ‘healthy option to a dirty burger’ in Sophie’s and be sure there’s no cross contamination with meat products.
She said: “I have been a chef for years but I found that there was a real lack of options for vegans to eat out in Derry. It happened to me before where I was eating out and they told me something was vegan. After I started eating, they came and took it away again because it actually had mayonnaise in it. It was awful but there’s no fear of that happening here.”
At the minute, Sophie’s Scran only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday but they have big plans for the future. Jemma said: “We all have full time jobs Monday to Friday so it’s mad pressure on us. We could do ten hours of prep before we even come out the door. It’s mental but it’s worth it.”
“It’s something that we all wanted to do,” said Kerrie, “and the feedback we’re getting from people is encouraging us to fight through the tiredness and keep showing up. People are asking us to open up during the week, too, and they do understand when we tell them about our other jobs but it’s really lovely to hear that people want more.
“We have all our repeat customers who come back every week and we’re so thankful for them. We also wouldn’t be here without all the staff at the Collon Bar and the owner, Susan Diggins, who let us use the space. All our lovely family and friends have given us immense support, too, and Anne Marie O’Hara, who runs the Derry Vegan and Vegetarian Society. From day one, she came down and has been going above and beyond to promote us and encourage people to come down. She’s one of our biggest supporters and has helped us massively. The response has been really, really good and we’re just getting busier every week. We have people travelling from Belfast, Monaghan, Malin Head and places to try our food and that’s just unbelievable. We welcome people from everywhere, whether they’re vegan or not!”