Opening hours at Kirkgate Market, Leeds

Monday - Saturday, 10 till 5

Background

Welcome to Fat Annie's, established in 2014 after an inspiring trip to New York. We started out from a cart on the streets of Manchester's iconic Northern Quarter selling quality hot dogs, as well as feeding festival goers and football fans. In 2017 we got our first permanent home in Leeds Kirkgate Market in the Food Hall. In late 2020 we went totally meat free and expanded our menu to include a range of burgers and banging sides.

Going meat free, November 2020

2020 has been a strange year to say the least what with one thing and another. In amongst all the disruption I've been busy behind the scenes making plans for my business Fat Annie's and implementing some wholesale changes. When we return after lockdown 2.0 Fat Annie's will be back with a new look and most significantly will be going MEAT FREE.

It's something I've been considering for a while now after watching Simon Amstell's Carnage in 2018, but as a business it's a huge gamble to make when much of our brand identity, reputation and loyal customer base is built on our juicy pork hot dogs, tender steak sandwiches and maple bacon covered fries. Will it be financial suicide? Who knows, but for personal reasons it is the one that makes sense to me.

I personally gave up eating meat altogether last year after initially cutting down my meat consumption over time and trying to buy from higher welfare sources where I can. It had begun to resonate with me that the amount of meat being eaten in the developed world is no longer sustainable for the planet, as shown in the UN climate report of 2019. When KFC had issues with its supply chain, the enormity of consumption began to dawn on me, how many truckloads of chicken were being sent to one restaurant and how many there were all over the country, where could they all come from? Not only that, to produce meat in the quantities needed at the price people are used to paying for it can only be done through intensive factory farming which puts economic motivations over the animal's welfare. The current pandemic again brings into sharp focus issues of cross contamination of animals in the food chain leading to new diseases. One day, not too far in the future, we might all be vegan and look back on this period of time as insane as medieval Royals putting blackbirds in pies. It's the trajectory we are on and have to be, as it is the biggest factor in reducing climate change we can make.

I began to fall out of love with Fat Annie's and knew that it no longer represented me as a person, it was no longer authentic or built on passion, which is a crucial aspect of making an independent business work. The more that the business grew at Leeds Kirkgate Market and began to make me a decent living, the more I felt detached from it but the harder it was to make the jump to meat free and take the financial hit. It took me a while to build the courage and the situation of lockdown has given me time to think and an opportunity to stop and redesign the menu from scratch. We'll be meat free throughout the menu but not fully vegan yet, although pretty much every dish on the menu can be converted to vegan as requested, including all the milkshakes.

I pay my respects to the pioneering vegans who are leading the way, I'm not there yet on a personal or business level, but have made changes where I can and will continue to do so, as there a lot more I can do. Most of us are at least trying to reduce their meat intake and hopefully we can appeal to all, wherever you are on that spectrum.

Who knows if it will work financially, hopefully it will open us up to a whole new audience who show us their support and love. Whatever happens though I'm happy and proud to be moving to meat free and would prefer to be moving in the right direction as a business, being part of the solution not the problem. The world doesn't need another meat hot dog place, there's enough out there, but we can still do with more places offering some tasty meat free lunch choices and that's what we plan to do.

Buns for Hire!

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