Meet Truffleupagus Vegan Yums

Truffleupagus Vegan Yums is a Northern Ireland based vegan catering company, owned by Sheena Bleakney, specialising in innovative recipes for all things vegan and aiding in the ever growing popularity of delicious plant-based foods.

When did you start up your artisan business?

Truffleupagus Vegan Yums was set up in 2013. Originally just making handmade chocolates and truffles, each year I have grown and expanded to include more options. From sweet to savoury, and from individual orders to huge wedding catering.

What inspired the concept for your business?

A trip to palm springs where I bought vegan chocolate for $1.50 and was massively disappointed. I thought I can make much better than that. When i was 17 I was one of the founder members of The Belfast Youth and community group and we opened Belfast's first vegetarian/vegan cafe as a result of the lack of space for young Catholics and Protestants to socialise at that time we had dark rooms, practise space for bands and a cafe to mix and get great value food. We all volunteered and I ran the cafe 3 days a week. I loved it. This is a link to a film about it:

What was your business mission at the outset? Does this compare to where you are now?

My business mission has never changed. To provide great tasting vegan food, with all the trimmings. I believe very strongly in ethical veganism, and that no animal needs to suffer, or die, for a taste preference, and at Truffleupagus vegan yums it's possible to get great tasting and catering to match that ethos. As I have developed over the years I have also become more mindful of the kinds of packaging I use and also the importance of

buying locally source ingredients, where possible.

Why do you think it is important to promote and sell a vegan product?

I think veganism is extremely important for many reasons. We know a whole food plant-based diet provides the best nutrition available, that the environmental impact, on land, water use and greenhouse gas emissions are vastly reduced and the most important aspect for me, is, as an animal lover, that no animals suffer needlessly. So rather than viewing veganism as a fad, it's vital in 2021 and beyond, to view it as a potential lifesaver for the animals, ourselves and the planet. Truffleupagus allows you to have some fun with your food and enjoy hearty comfort food.

What do you enjoy most about your business and working with Urban Events?

I have loved being part of Urban Market by Urban Events. They came along at a very pivotal time for me, as the catering had been a part-time business, I had been teaching drama for 22 years and during covid-19 I lost all of that and cooking became my comfort again. I won a place on a business course that inspired and motivated me to make a full time go of the catering and along came Urban market. The whole process from contact with Thomas, to the whole setup of markets, is seamless. The support is always there and Urban Market has provided a lifeline for new, and existing business to become noticed. The stallholders have fantastic camaraderie and the locations are fantastic. Also, the Urban market seems to magic thousands of customers from thin air and they are so well attended. I can't wait to for the NI Vegan Festival 2021!