Banana Tree’s Veganuary Event: Fun, Food and Friendship

Banana Tree, the London-based South East Asian restaurant group, welcomed a host of special guests last Tuesday evening at their Soho flagship venue.

Organised in partnership with Veganuary, the Banana Tree event was held to celebrate the launch of the charity’s “Go Vegan in January” movement and the arrival of a brand new Vegan menu.

William Chow, founder and Head Chef, showed that sales of vegan dishes at Banana Tree increased by 120% in 1 year, and that he hopes that Veganuary will encourage meat eaters to try them. He also announced that Banana Tree will donate 25p from the sale of all Vegan main courses sold throughout January by its nine restaurants to Veganuary.  Rich Hardy, Head of Campaign at Veganuary, explained that already over 220,000 people have signed up to their pledge this year and that Banana Tree’s contribution will help them spread their message even further and save even more animal lives. In the new menu, which will be available in all London Banana Tree restaurants from 17 January, there are now six vegan starters and nine vegan main courses to choose from (over 40% of all menu items).

Also speaking at the event were Sue Sheward and John O’Mally of the Orangutan Appeal UK. Involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned baby orangutans at their centre in Sepilok in Borneo, East Malaysia, Sue and John spoke of the threats posed to this critically endangered ape and the complex issue of palm oil plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia. John explained that in order to stop deforestation, a switch to sustainable palm oil is preferable to the use of alternative crops that would take out more land space, and that there is a need for greater commitment by food producers all over the world to act in this sense. Banana Tree, who have donated over £60,000 to the Appeal since 2012, also announced their pledge to only use products and ingredients that contain either no palm oil or only Sustainable Palm Oil with Zero Deforestation, making this a first for a restaurant group.

A bonus talk for the evening was presented by James Jessop, a Canadian expert on Amazonian psychedelic plant medicines and their life changing effects on people’s perceptions of the environment and their decision in becoming vegan or vegetarian. Introducing him, William Chow explained how his desire to reduce his own meat consumption and impact on the planet came from his experience at an Ayahuasca retreat in Peru 12 months ago and led to his subsequent work to introduce new and ever more tasty vegan specialities in his menu.

Throughout the evening, guests sampled a selection of Banana Tree’s new vegan starters, main courses and desserts, as well as cocktails and vegan wines on offer. The night was rounded out by a fun draw and 10 lucky guests went home with a year’s adoption of a baby orangutan and a cuddly ape!

There’s still plenty of time to sign up for Veganuary! Click here to register and gain access to our free 31 day email series!

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Veganuary is the world's largest vegan movement, inspiring people to try vegan for January and throughout the rest of the year.