De Montfort’s campus Cafe proving a hit with vegan and vegetarian students

By Conor de Smith

The Riverside Cafe, De Montfort University’s latest addition to an ever-growing campus, is the perfect place for both vegans and vegetarians, according to its contract director Rebecca Reddan.


Contract Director at Chartwells, Rebecca Reddan.

The Riverside Cafe, located on the banks of the River Soar, opened to the public earlier in the month and has received plaudits for its modern and unique menu.

With vegetarians making up 2 per cent of the United Kingdom’s population and vegans 1 per cent, according to the NHS, demand for alternative meals have increased in recent years.

With the majority of them teenagers, news that a dining area that provided vegan and vegetarian food would be developed on campus was extremely welcome.

Managed by experienced catering company Chartwells, which oversees all catering and hospitality on campus, the reception has so far been positive by students and members of Leicester’s public alike.

Contract Director at Chartwells, Rebecca Reddan, realises how important food can be for those studying at De Montfort and believes the Riverside is able to provide the nutrition they need to get through the day.

“Food and what we put in our body has a direct impact on our health, well being, mentality and energy levels – so when students are studying hard they need to fuel their bodies,” said the University of Manchester graduate.

“It is really important to us here at Chartwells that we have a variety of offers so the Riverside Cafe gives us another branch of what we do.

“It has a heavy focus on vegan, vegetarian and gluten free dishes. Not solely those dishes, though, so we do not alienate part of the university campus. We have great products that tick a lot of boxes for people.”


Riverside Cafe has opened its doors to customers.

Young people will now be able to enjoy dishes such as Spicy Korean vegetable broth, butternut and sweet potato Thai orange curry and vegan-based desserts as part of a varied, international menu.

“We have had really positive responses and great feedback from students that are looking for a special diet menu.

“What we are trying to do is build a menu that fits for people and, although it’s early days, we are getting feedback and messages that are really positive from people at DMU.”

Kane Crilley, 18, a law student at DMU and vegan, said: “The options at this cafe are different to any other at DMU.

“The location is really convenient as it is so close to my halls of residence and the law building, meaning I do not have to walk to town. It is a great place to grab something to eat to or from lectures.”

Emily-mae Collins, 18, also a law student at DMU, said: “Despite not being vegan or vegetarian, I would actually choose most of their vegan options over a non-vegan alternative due to the taste.

“I like to have something healthy on the way back from the gym. It has a calming atmosphere to enjoy lunch and/or studying.”

When asked why people might pick the Riverside over the many other options in the area, Miss Reddan urged those in the area to come and enjoy the food and service.

“Come down, sample all of our different dishes,” she said. “It’s a great place to meet friends and relax. It’s a calm environment and it’s also got a great menu that works in terms of your health, well being and your mentality.

“Between great food and great service, we hope that we will be able to look after you very well.”

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