A vegan stalwart, one of the hidden gems of Porthmadog

vegoniaI’m just back from a road trip through Wales with my family, all three of us vegan. Having learnt from experience – a recent similar venture through the East of Scotland – we decided we had three choices when it came to food: spend our days glued to the Happy Cow app, with hunting as a primary focus of each day; take whatever food presented itself (the approach we took in Scotland, which we knew to be a hit-and-miss, often grim, choice); or go Airbnb and self cater.

At this point, let me clarify – I’m not saying it’s impossible to get food in these countries – I know there are many great places if you do your research or stick to cities – but we were going off-grid a little and wanted to make good food part of our journey, and not a central focus.

We plumped for self-catering – a wise move, which meant we spent less money and expended less energy searching for suitable places to eat. That said, I kept a close eye on the web, just in case we missed one of those lucky vegan finds; one such place was Vegonia Wholefoods in Porthmadog.

This independent vegan and vegetarian wholefood store carries over 3,000 lines including chilled, frozen and ambient foods, organic, gluten free, pet and baby foods, hot and cold drinks, vitamins, minerals, remedies, toiletries, household cleaning, and home brew products. I know this because I’ve done my web research, but that’s pretty much all there is about this place on the internet.

Slap bang in the middle of this small town in North Wales, Vegonia started up over 20 years ago, and though it’s listed in all the usual places, it has zero web presence of its own. There is no website, and only an automatically-generated Facebook page based on what users are interested in with no affiliation to the shop itself. And yet it has kept going since its opening in 1997.

In a world so often dominated by Holland & Barrett (and here’s a shout-out for that company’s own plans to become increasingly vegan-friendly soon), a long-standing independent shop, which has survived with virtually no internet presence while keeping so true to its original vision deserves a mention and a visit if you’re ever in the area.

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