In a market not exactly known for its vegan fare, Camilla Fayed's Farmacy works to create pleasing dishes with only plant-based ingredients, hopefully inspiring other businesses to make small but meaningful changes, too.
— Emily Zemler
Camilla Fayed, who opened London’s plant-based eatery Farmacy in 2016, turned vegetarian after the birth of her daughter and later turned vegan when her son was born. The British entrepreneur, daughter of former Harrods owner Mohammed Al-Fayed, was inspired by what conscious eating could do for her body.
“I had heard that a plant-based diet could lead to increased energy levels, improved digestion, radiant skin and even weight loss,” Fayed says. “Since I’ve began following a plant-based diet I feel much more energized. Over several years, I then gathered research in various elements of conscious eating, from nutrition to sustainability and decided to open Farmacy, a place where I could share my philosophy on nutrition and help bring the conscious eating revolution to London.”
Farmacy, located between the high-end London neighborhoods of Notting Hill and Westborne Grove, focuses on international dishes that are executed with plant-based ingredients. Its menu incorporates products that are organic, locally sourced and sustainably farmed, as well as GMO free. The restaurant is an anomaly in London’s dining scene, where the focus is often on meat-heavy dishes, and Fayed has worked hard to get the city to accept a restaurant that would be more at home in Los Angeles (which, notably, is where Fayed plans to potentially open an outpost of Farmacy).
“When Farmacy first opened just over two years ago, plant-based eating was still a relatively new concept In London, compared to the likes of LA, New York, Melbourne etc.,” Fayed explained. “This created a bit of a challenge as people can often be hesitant to try new things, and so there is an increased element of explanation and education needed, in order to attract new visitors, compared to more traditional styles of restaurant. Another challenge in London is the climate. Other cities that have a booming wellness scene such as Bali and Sydney tend to experience more sunshine — resulting in availability of more diverse and readily available, locally produced, seasonal plant-based crops.”
She added, “A lot of people expect plant-based food to be boring or limiting. The biggest challenge of running a plant-based restaurant is to therefore dismiss this notion, by constantly creating and serving an innovative and varied menu. Farmacy was an opportunity to show people that plant-based food can in fact be delicious and exciting.
My aim with Farmacy, was to make healthy eating fun, and to create a welcoming space that would appeal to everyone – not just those already following a plant-based lifestyle.”
Much of Farmacy’s menu, also on display in Fayed’s new cookbook “Farmacy Kitchen Cookbook,” is about accessibility. The restaurant’s most popular items, the Farmacy Burger, nachos, and a Nice Cream Sundae, are all created without meat or dairy, but still represent the sort of comfort food customers want. “At Farmacy we champion the notion that food is medicine and as such we count chemicals, not calories,” Fayed said.
Walk the Talk
Farmacy markets itself as a restaurant that embraces conscious living, a nebulous value that can be challenging to define in business terms. But Fayed has taken tangible steps to ensure that the food at Farmacy is free of dairy, refined sugars, additives, and chemicals, and that the restaurant uses only carefully sourced packaging. Currently, the restaurant is 100 percent plastic-free. Food waste is minimized by never throwing away any fruit or vegetable unless necessary (most are juiced or dehydrated for garnish). Fayed hopes the experience in the dining room encourages guests to be more mindful in their consumption choices overall.
“At Farmacy we believe that restaurants not only provide food to their guests but can also influence and inspire peoples eating choices longer term, and even at home,” she says. “There is a conscious revolution taking place, and at Farmacy, we are supporters of using education and information to create conversations surrounding this and helping to grow this movement. As such, the introduction to the book also includes both important information on how to best prepare meals and individual ingredients, but also where to source them from, and how to store them in order to be as kind as possible to the planet too. Taking better care of the land and people who grow ingredients is part of the ethos of Farmacy, bringing attention back to nature, simplicity and balance.”
Fayed plans to open further outposts of Farmacy in London and around the world, and feels there has been a real shift in the industry towards restaurants that embrace sustainability and eco-conscious models. She believes some of the methods used in plant-based restaurants could be used in other types of eateries as well.
“Aside from the obvious financial benefit of reduced waste – due to the longer shelf life of whole, plant-based ingredients compared with fresh animal products – there is, even more importantly, a plethora of factors that make environmental-sense,” Fayed says. “I would love to see increasing numbers of plant-based dishes on restaurant menus to combat the huge amount of environmental waste caused by the global meat industry.”
She adds, “People are finally becoming more environmentally conscious and recognizing the vast health benefits of a plant-based diet for both us and the planet. The wellness trend in general is booming and it has become increasingly popular to look after your body by keeping fit and eating healthily.”