You’d hardly expect someone who calls themselves the Vegan Food Pimp to be a wallflower, but Lynn Nicholson is more than just outgoing and a little confident.
With platinum blond hair, dark-rimmed glasses and permanent spring in her step, Nicholson makes an impression as soon as she walks into a room.
Her enthusiasm is infectious and even a brief encounter leaves you feeling more invigorated than a Vitamin B12 shot ever could. This is a woman who clearly wants to change the world.
For the animals
And thank God for the animals that she does.
As uncompromising in her ethics as she is on the taste of her food, everything Nicholson sets her sights on has a love of animals at its heart.
Her advocacy has taken her from Britain to Spain, to Africa and back to the UK again. And, somewhat unsurprisingly, it was one of our most vegan-friendly cities that called her back.
Setting up shop
In the space of 16 months, this adopted Brightonian has established two restaurants in two non-vegan pubs, with the Saint George Inn in Kemptown being home to her latest.
When regulars heard that a vegan was setting up shop, bets were placed on how long she’d last.
Many people might find this intimidating, but not Lynn Nicholson. In fact, it was a challenge she was more than delighted to accept.
Because you see, this is the Vegan Food Pimp’s reason for being…
Despite huge progress in food technology and a surge in media interest over the past few years, when it comes to Joe Public the majority of people still regard plant-based meals as bland and boring.
The work of the Vegan Food Pimp is to help people see that vegan food is everything and more than they ever assumed it could be.
One definition of the word pimp is to ‘make something more showy or impressive’ and Nicholson’s food is certainly that.
Bursting with flavor, her recipes have evolved from her travels across the word.
It was in the Sahara as a 10-year-old girl that she was first shown how to make a tagine, for example – a dish that remains a signature to this day, along with paella from Spain and a proper roast dinner for the Brits.
“A chap stopped by the pub the other day,” she says.
“He wasn’t vegan and initially screwed his face up at the thought of a roast without animals in it.
“But he was hungry, so he stayed. I kid you not, when he finished his meal he actually picked up his plate and licked it clean! He had an epiphany that day and my hope is that his first vegan meal is just the beginning.”
For the animals
The name ‘Vegan Food Pimp’ came about during Nicholson’s time at Jacobs Ridge – the animal sanctuary she co-founded in Spain.
One of her greatest joys there was feeding the sanctuary’s volunteers and watching the delight unfold on their faces as they sat down to a veritable smorgasbord of vegan delights.
“Seeing them enjoy every mouthful gave me such pleasure – it still does,” she explains.
“One day a volunteer referred to me as the ‘Vegan Food Pimp’ and the name stuck!
“It’s not a name that people forget either, and as food is my advocacy that can only be a good thing. Food is a powerful tool for change. Memories are made through the meals we eat, and my hope is to create lasting, powerful memories.”
So what’s next? For the Vegan Food Pimp, it really is a case of sky’s the limit.
With food that’s being described as ‘epic plant-based amazingness’, Nicholson’s work is catching the attention of non-vegans as well as the already converted.
This year sees her branching out into weddings, parties and private chef work – taking the Vegan Food Pimp brand to a whole new level.
“I’m already booking into 2020, which is pretty unbelievable!” she says.
“But I’m a firm believer in putting it out there and seeing what comes back. Catering for weddings means I’m giving vegan food a whole new audience.
“It’s a huge opportunity for advocacy and one I couldn’t be more excited about.”
With one recipe book written, one in progress, and two more in the pipeline, foodies and animal lovers everywhere will be able to pimp their meals the ‘VFP way’ – anywhere, anytime.
And ultimately that’s what Nicholson’s food is all about: real food for real people, living real lives.
She says: “I want people to embrace eating this way and then they can embrace living this way too. Food, after all, is the way to our hearts and it’s through changing hearts that we’ll change the world.
“Every time someone chooses a vegan meal they’re choosing a better world. And that’s the one I’m fighting for.”