Vegan experiment continues
Staff at Raupo Riverside Cafe expect "crazy, vegan man" Ben James to turn up for work in a robe and sandals next.
The Blenheim sous chef has decided to stick with his vegan diet after a 30-day pledge that was to finish on Monday.
Mr James said he was feeling full of life and had lost a couple of kilos despite eating five times a day.
"You have smaller meals, more often but you don't feel bogged down."
Mr James decided to go vegan for September with colleague Diana Kovacs and Hotel d'Urville chef de partie Thomas Cresswell.
A vegan diet takes vegetarianism a step further, excluding all animal products, including dairy and honey. Some practitioners extend the practice beyond food, and do not wear animal products.
Ms Kovacs gave up alcohol and coffee too, which Mr James said was just lunacy.
She had planned a glass of bubbles and carrot cake on Monday morning along with a cup of coffee while wearing leather shoes.
But after a tiny slice of carrot cake, her favourite, Ms Kovacs didn't want any more. "I'm so open to this lifestyle," she said. "But I think you turn a little bit crazy [about being vegan]."
Mr James was amazed by the number of people in Marlborough intrigued by veganism and its health benefits, he said.
"I've had so many phone calls and emails wishing us well and hoping I'll do it for longer. Someone came over from Nelson to lend me a recipe book."
A vegan family from Invercargill heard about his month-long challenge and stopped in Blenheim to offer their support, he said.
They were on their way to Wellington to protest outside a cafe that served foie gras, he said.
"Which is beautiful by the way, but I didn't tell them that."
Mr James was trying to persuade his boss at Raupo to have a vegan menu one night a week. It would be full of tasty, seasonal food that even meat eaters would love, he said.
The chef advised any potential vegans to start taking meat and dairy out of their meals gradually.
"Just be careful you are getting the nutrition you need," he said. "There are so many great recipes and information online but it takes about two weeks before you start to notice the difference."
The Marlborough Express