“I wanted to show how good vegetarian food can be”
I’ve been vegetarian for 36 years. We came to France 14 years ago and found that whenever we wanted to eat out, it was always almost impossible to find anything decent. I wanted to show people how good vegetarian food can be, which is why I set up the business.
I designed a food truck and had it built in the UK (as it was cheaper), and then Peter and I fitted it out here. I registered as an auto-entrepreneur (now microentrepreneur) and went to see the DDPP (Direction Départementale de la Protection des Populations) to find out about its requirements – for example, I have three sinks in my truck – one for washing up, one for hand washing and another for washing vegetables.
I had a little bit of a slow start as it took some time for people to get to know me and to build up a client base. But these days I do at least two markets a week at St-Lô and Vire all year round (often more in the summer months) and have two regular encampments at local organic shops. I also go to festivals and cater at private functions.
The vast majority of my clients are French and most aren’t vegetarian – they simply like what I do. I have a couple of clients who come every single day. Because I cook in the van rather than elsewhere, people often pass in the morning to see what I’m cooking and place an order or come back later on. In the summer I put out some tables and chairs so people can eat straightaway.
I always have wraps with falafels and hummus on offer, while the hot dishes will vary day to day and according to the season. Typical examples might include a vegetable ragout or a veggie chilli – I also make cakes and in winter, usually a soup too. All my ingredients are organic and I source as many as possible locally – I have a part-time job working with a market gardener so a lot of my initial products come from him. So I get to plant and harvest the veggies, then I take them and create my dishes, which I then see eaten. It’s very rewarding.
Vegetarians are still a very small minority in France, but people who are perhaps thinking of becoming vegetarian sometimes come to me to ask advice about nutrition and recipes. I’m in the process of trying to set up a vegetarian association locally – a lot of my clients seem to think they are the only vegetarian in the area, which isn’t the case. There are more of us than you might think!"
Sarah Wells serves healthy and delicious vegetarian dishes including falafels, flans and salads from her food truck in Manche
Sarah Wells, 49, lives in Lamberville, Manche, with her partner Peter White, 49, a building surveyor, and 14-year-old son Milo. She set up her vegetarian catering truck business, Cuisine Verte, in spring 2014.