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Vegan baker donates 600 pies to charity after mix-up leads to student event being cancelled

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Hundreds of pies nearly went to waste, but quick thinking and looking to the local community meant food from the Vegan Bay Baker in Cruden Bay went to those who need it most.

An Aberdeenshire baker was left with hundreds of pies to distribute after a university event was called off after a mix-up over the arrangements.

Steve Buchan, owner of the Vegan Bay Baker in Cruden Bay, arranged to drop off 800 vegan pies for a free giveaway for Aberdeen University students in partnership with Million Dollar Vegan and Outreach Scotland, but was forced to put the breaks on his baking.

The event had not been signed off officially with the university which would have seen students in Hillhead Halls receive the free vegan pies.

Some of the pies the Vegan Bay Baker donated.

Mix up

Instead of going to waste, Steve and his wife Zoe got to work in formulating a plan to ensure the food they had purchased and made could benefit others and ended up donating more than 600 pies to Care Hub Aberdeen on George Street.

Steve said: “One of our customers is part of Vegan Outreach Scotland and she has a contact with Million Dollar Vegan – a non-profit campaign seeking to introduce people to the benefits of a plant-based diet – for their health, the environment, sustainability and animals.

“Our customer asked me if I would be interested in doing something with them. This was just after the lockdown with all of the students when they weren’t really able to go home, so she asked if we could donate pies to the students at Aberdeen University.

Steve Buchan, from Vegan Bay Baker outside his new premises which overlooks Newburgh and the River Ythan.

“A woman from Vegan Outreach Scotland organised it all and got confirmation from someone at Aberdeen University. We started promoting it and my cousin actually attends the university so Zoe asked her to promote it on a student Facebook page. My cousin was contacted by someone from the university saying they would love it to happen, but they didn’t think we’d be able to due to all of the restrictions and processes we’d have to go through.”

While the event is something Aberdeen University has said it would be happy to support at a later date, due to correct Covid-19 restrictions, it stated it was not possible to do so in the current climate.

A university spokesperson, said: “The university regrets that there has been some confusion surrounding an event to hand out free vegan pies.

“Due to Covid-19 restrictions set out by the Scottish Government, events of this kind are currently not permitted to take place on our campus. There was an original positive conversation in which the University expressed support for the initiative to provide vegan pies but the logistics of how this would work were not fully discussed.

“Now it is clear that the form this would take was not in line with our position to minimise the risks of group gatherings. We would be happy to support such an event at a time when Covid-19 restrictions are reduced or to discuss distribution of the vegan pies through other methods such as the food boxes provided to students self-isolating in our halls.”

The Care Hub Aberdeen

However, as a result of the misunderstanding local not-for-profit The Care Hub Aberdeen has benefited instead, with Steve now donating hundreds of pies throughout the month of November to those in need.

A vegan pie made by Steve.

He added: “I had been building up to make 800 pies which were meant to be donated to the students but that obviously didn’t happen.

“I had ordered more than £300 worth of sweet potatoes for the pies and loads of lentils so knew I had to do something with them. The Million Dollar Vegan stepped in to help and we came to the conclusion of donating it to a local food bank or care hub. We managed to link up with The Care Hub on George Street and Zoe and a lady from Vegan Outreach Scotland went along to donate the first 150. We will donate 150 each week in November.

Other products Steve is well-known for.

“The charity makes up their own bags of food for people to come and collect. I think the donations really go a long way and they were really chuffed we’re working with them. I actually really wanted to be donating the pies to a local charity in the first instance, so I’m really happy with how things have worked out in the end as it will help someone a lot more.”

New bakery plans

Looking to open Scotland’s first craft vegan bakery in Newburgh, Aberdeenshire, Steve says the plans to start operating at the new premises ahead of Christmas have been delayed, but he will offer a click and collect service to customers ahead of the festive season.

He added: “It has just been a bit chaotic and I’m really busy with the business as it is.  My first apprentice started this week and she has been great. She has taken a lot of pressure off of me as things have been very busy.

Vegan yum yums.

“We will have the click and collect in place by the end of the year which will really help us as last year’s sales for Christmas was pandemonium. I have some temporary workers coming in to work in the lead-up to Christmas again this year, too.

“The cafe and bakery will be open in spring next year and with everything still quite uncertain with Covid-19, it might be better just to have the click and collect this side of the year and then focus on the bakery and cafe next year.”

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