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The Monument in St DunstansThe Monument in St Dunstan’s

Canterbury’s plant-based pub

I’ve always had a fondness for the Monument pub in St Dunstan’s as it was my local for many years.

Like many pubs it’s gone through good times and bad. On occasion it’s looked like it wouldn’t make it, yet every time it has managed to claw its way back.

A year ago, the business was taken over by Jo Brookman and Tom Boughton who relaunched it as Canterbury’s very own plant-based pub, being purely vegan.

An all-vegan pub is a great soundbite, but it presents a challenge as a business model. Vegans and vegetarians are fairly well catered for around the city. Most eateries provide options to suit a range of diets. But where’s the meat option in a vegan restaurant? Unless your party is all-vegan, choosing the Monument as a place to eat might be a hard sell to red-blooded carnivores.

Cask ales are also off the menu as they contain isinglass finings, a product derived from fish used to improve the clarity of the beer.

Nevertheless the pub keeps going.

Helped by its position – it’s the first pub students heading down from the UKC campus arrive at – the bar is seldom completely empty. As it’s normally pretty quiet it has actually become a popular choice for social club meetings or political discussion gatherings.

The nicer end of the garden

There is a sizeable garden which is a real sun trap, although the grassed area could do with a little tender love and care.

A glance over the menu and you might forget you are in a vegan establishment as every product seems to contain beef, bacon or cheese. But of course, these are the vegan alternatives. Look carefully at the spelling of prawnz. There is even vegan biltong on offer which is surprisingly tasty, albeit something you may regret a bit later.

The pub has definitely moved on from its rather questionable past. Twenty years ago it had a reputation – deserved or not – for drugs. This isn’t something one can imagine rather humourless landlord Boughton tolerating for a minute.

Although Brookman and Boughton were reluctant to discuss their musical preferences, one would be forgiven for imagining there could be a heavy metal influence with the long hair, tattoos and Boughton’s biker beard.

Naturally they are both vegan, even though they don’t exactly fit the stereotype.

Brookman has been spied sporting a local pole dancing club branded hoodie around town but didn’t want to be drawn on it.

Talking to the Journal Brookman said: “As both of us are vegan ourselves, we have travelled extensively between us and were always on the hunt for somewhere to eat delicious vegan food.

“In Canterbury at the time, there were considerably fewer options than there are now and nowhere that was 100% free of animal products.

“One night whilst trawling the internet for commercial property listings we stumbled across The Monument. We quickly discovered that all Shepherd Neame bottled and keg beers are vegan friendly, so we got in touch with the brewery.

“With Tom’s background in bar work spanning almost ten years and Jo having grown up in pubs, it almost seemed like a no brainer.

“We believe the pub has an incredibly warm and welcoming atmosphere. All of our staff are incredibly helpful and chatty as well as eager to help. Not to mention with the addition of a couple of wonderful pub cats roaming around, the atmosphere at The Monument is very friendly and positive.”

Veganism has become more than just a diet. Veganism has become an entire lifestyle. Members of the club gang together, and this must be one the pubs strongest assets.

I hope the Monument survives. It certainly has its busy nights. But tenant landlords with a brewery tie can have their work cut out for them, especially after the first year.

Vegan burgers with vegan bacon and vegan blue cheese all round!

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33 responses to “Canterbury’s plant-based pub”

  1. Humourless? You’ve obviously never been to the quiz.

    I’m not sure what music taste and pole dancing have to do with anything. What’s your point there? Did you actually eat or drink anything? An opinion on the menu and bar offerings would be far more relevant to a review than weird comments about Tom’s beard.

    • Diana says:

      If they are doing well then they are obviously doing something right. – good for them. Canterbury needs a completely vegan establishment, as other restaurants may offer only one or two vegan/vegetarian, dishes at the most and even then some chefs haven’t a clue about the ethics of veganism. Who knows how how meticulous they preparing vegan dishes! There are some restaurants I wouldn’t trust 100%.

  2. Becky says:

    So what’s your review on the food then? This review doesn’t seem to include much about the most important part of this pub…

  3. John johns says:

    Great review, always bound to get some people’s backs up though. Each to their own.

  4. No mention of the regular live music & spoken word events, cocktails, extensive gin selection, quiz nights (with plenty of humour too), or recently expanded menu? I would have thought they’d be more important to potential customers than creepy remarks on people’s appearances and hobbies.

    Also a couple of points of correction. Many cask ales are fined with isinglass, but by no means all, and veganism has never been a diet, plant-based is the diet. I would have thought someone sent to review a vegan pub might have found that out for themselves while doing some background research, but maybe that isn’t the kind of thing the Canterbury Journal expects of their journalists.

  5. As an experienced writer and restaurant reviewer I have to say this is very sloppy journalism. The landlord likes metal music and the landlady does pole fitness? It’s a pub review – please don’t resort to grasping for a pseudo-sensationalist angle just because you can’t fill your word count.

  6. Faith says:

    I completely agree with the other comments made to this “review”. I can’t tell if you’ve enjoyed your visit or not? You’re all over the place and not really giving relevant information, or asking the right questions by the looks of it. Clearly your interview skills need work.
    Personal experiences of this pub have been completely pleasant on every occasion I’ve visited it. The monument is my go to when I’m in Canterbury.

  7. Christian Sinclair says:

    Poorly written and badly researched review.
    Definitely seems like the ‘journalist’ has their own agenda prior to visiting the pub and already had their mind up.
    Also just so you know, not all cask contains finings and therefore it isn’t necessarily not vegan.

  8. Elaine says:

    This does not sound like a review as little about the quality of the food. It is more your opinion on veganism and quite biased. I am a carnivore but often eat at vegetarian and vegan restaurants for the tasty food. No one needs meat in every meal. I have met the proprietors and find them lovely and friendly and Mr Broughton far from humourless. I can also see no relevance on commenting on their appearance or interests. I am probably old enough to be your Mum or even Grandma as I am assuming from the standard of your article you are fairly inexperienced as a journalist. I wish you well in your career. Try to stick to the point and be balanced in your analysis.

  9. Rachael says:

    He probably was malnourished, missing vital areas in his nutrition when writing this.

    Perhaps because he refers to himself as a carnivore, his mother may bot have been able to get him to eat his vegetables.
    Therefore, only ascending his fragile human brain so far.

    Common courteousy was a lesson that also alluded, from the discussions around the breakfast table.

    I think the promotion of ethical businesses and healthy life style, including cruelty free products and food, pole sport exercise, is deserving of an unbiased critique atleast.

    Perhaps a nutritionist review would do a better job at encouraging the diversity of peoples lifestyles and businesses. Someone who also considers the impact on current climate issues.

    Not slate them purely based on the lack of meat in a “VEGAN PUB”.

    Give him the sack…. of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. He needs to grow his brain for his children’s sake. We don’t want this kind of prejudice bred into our future leaders.

  10. Emma says:

    Do you whine about the lack of Chinese food when you go to an Indian?

    Didn’t have the patience to read the whole article. The writer’s argument is pathetic and hardly decent quality reporting. You can survive one meal without meat. It will do you, the planet and the NHS a lot of good if more people are open to the idea.

    I’ve been to The Monument several times. It’s by far one of the most welcoming, accepting and great quality places to go in Canterbury.

  11. Sarah Victoria says:

    “Brookman has been spied sporting a local pole dancing club branded hoodie around town but didn’t want to be drawn on it”

    That, to me, sounds an awful lot like you’re attempting to embarrass a woman for her choice in exercise class. In the review of her pub. Which speaks far more about your own puritanical views and existing bias than anything else.

    But the rest of it was poorly written/informed too, just FYI.

  12. Summer Regan says:

    This sounds more like a personal attack on the owners than a review about the pub. Tom and Jo have been friendly and fun every time I have seen them in the pub, as well as the rest od the staff.
    Mentioning a pole dancing branded hoody is irrelevant and unprofessional, I’m apalled and would be shocked if you are not reprimanded for trying to pass judgement on a woman’s recreational/sporting activities in an article supposedly about a pub.
    The pub is doing very well and every person I have taken in there, vegan or not, has enjoyed the food, drink and atmosphere.
    There ARE cask ales and plenty of pubs you cab go to if you would prefer your booze filtered through fish swim bladders.
    Well done on all the hard work and the wonderful pub Tom and Jo! See you soon

    • Summer Regan says:

      Apologies for typos I don’t have autocorrect on my phone and was shocked and eager to reply

  13. Joanna Bailey says:

    I’ve been to this pub for food 3 times now. Food is always very tasty and presented nicely. Pub is cosy and clean. A wide range of drinks are available. Staff are friendly. Long may they continue to serve up great cruelty free feasts.

  14. Harry Kemp says:

    What a terrible article, seems full of preconceptions and has a sneering condescending slant. Hatchet job and very very poor ‘journalism’.

  15. Dunsty says:

    Spare us the weird ad hominem nd review the actual food, would you?

  16. Hi guys,

    Thanks for all the comments. Sorry you felt the review was unfair. I just told it how I saw it.

    We never thought this review would get so much traction. All the comments have catapulted it into one of the week’s most read articles.

    All I can say is we can never please everyone. We hope the pub does well. You guys are obviously all fans so hopefully you can help them make it successful.

    Alex

    • Fiona Kettle says:

      Alex,

      If you had said “the food was bad” or “the beer selection wasnt great” or “the staff were very unfriendly” then I wouldn’t of agreed with you, but you would have been as you say, telling “it as you saw it.”

      The fact that you don’t mention the quality of the food at all, you don’t mention that you had a drink (by the way Vegan Cask Ale is a thing, better look into it) or spoke to the bar staff or customers, make this an uninformed and quite frankly useless review.

      What the Landlord and Landlady do in their private lives, whether they like rock music or not, whether they pole dance or not, has absolutely nothing to do with a pub review. You seemingly target them personally on issues no one cares about when they want to know if a pub is worth a visit or not.

      I am not as you so patronisingly put it, a “fan.” I’m a bartender to a different pub in Canterbury and firmly believe that the city’s businesses whether they be bars, shops or “newspapers” should support each other, and provide helpful, constructive criticism where necessary.

      Your review was not a pub review and thats where my issue is. It read as personal, petty and unhelpful which is the way I think many other “fans” feel. I’m glad you’re happy that your article has been signal boosted although, contrary to popular belief, not all press is good press and many people now doubt your ability to submit an unbiased, useful review.

      Good Luck in the future, mate.

      Sincerely

      A non-vegan barmaid of Canterbury

  17. Sam says:

    Jo and Tom and the rest of the staff have alealw been lovely and far from “humourless” – I’d hazard a guess that this response to the author says more about how he spoke to them…
    As a pub review it’s very limited in reviewing the food, drink, atmosphere. So here’s my take:
    It’s great to have a 100% vegan pub in Canterbury because it means that vegans, veggies and omnis can all enjoy hearty, delicious pub classics together, with a large range of dishes so everyone can find something to get excited about. The triple layer brownie is to die for!
    There’s also a huge range of drinks, on tap and bottled, to suit everyone’s tastes, and a decent selection of hot drinks for those who prefer a cuppa instead.
    The decor is contemporary and slightly edgy, with lots of prints in a traditional tattoo style, and some repurposed machinery as furniture. The dog friendly policy and resident felines
    means there’s almost always a friendly fur ball to fuss! And the garden is a fabulous little sun trap perfect for sitting out and enjoying a nice meal or cold pint of cider.
    Prices are a little steep, but not really higher than most restaurants in Canterbury, and you certainly get plenty of food for your money! Don’t be put off by the vegan label if you’re a hard-core omnivore because you will definitely be pleased with anything you try

  18. How can you call it like you see it when you didn’t actually sample anything in the pub? Comment on the service? The events calendar? The drinks menu? Scanning the menu and poking your head in the garden does not an informed opinion make.

  19. Candy Gregory says:

    Thank heaven I don’t buy this Journal if this is the quality of journalism. Half mocking a great ethical business is very idiotic and says more about the authors morals than the pub. I’ve been to the Monument many times as it’s food and service are excellent

  20. Nikki says:

    As someone who had been to The Monument when it was a classic “old man’s pub”, and then being able to go back to such a lively, all inclusive pub I’m a little confused by this “review”.

    The pub has such a wicked vibe, caters for plant based, runs quizzes and spoken word. They have loads of different types of music (No matter what Mr Boughton looks like his taste runs to) and I’ve never regretted anything I’ve eaten there. My red blooded, meat eating family members really love the food as well.

    If you wanted to review it properly, maybe you should have gone in and actually spoken to the people in there whilst trying the food?

    Oh, and those old men? Still drink there, and even get a burger!

    Wouldn’t pay much mind to the journalist that wrote this, you should go in there to see what it’s really like!

  21. Beth says:

    I went here for s birthday meal with vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters. They all loved the food and were more that happy to all eat vegan burgers and drink vegan wine.

  22. Ruth says:

    I don’t think the point of this article is particularly clear. It seems to me the aim of the writer is to undermine this business…what is the use of an article like this? It is entirely condescending in nature. There is no real detail of the writers experience of the pub which surely is the only thing people would want to read an article like this for? In addition I can’t work out the relevance of the personal descriptions of the owners in the article either. I find it both badly written and highly ignorant.

  23. Tim Higgs says:

    This is nothing but an example of how rubbish your journalism is. What’s the point in reviewing something if you have the mindset that you won’t like it because there is no meat option? It’s a vegan pub, that’s their USP! It is not often that someone that is Vegan or Vegetarian can go out for a drink and meal knowing that they can have anything on the menu!

    I’m a meat eater, that’s unlikely to change. That said I still enjoy a meal here. The food is well presented, tasty, filling and well priced. The pub is nice and clean, bar staff are always welcoming, there is a lovely garden which I have enjoyed sitting out in sipping a cold beer and having a tasty meal in the summer sunshine.

  24. L. Johnson says:

    It’s a shame that you see the large number of comments and assume that your article has received lots of attention for you and made it the most popular article this week – you’ve actually drawn lots of negative attention to yourself for claiming to write a review which actually just comments on the past of the pub, makes dubious comments and assertions about the landlord/landlady, slates the entire premise of the pub and the only food you managed to ‘review’ was a pack of biltong??!

    The joy of vegan food is that it can be eaten by meat eaters as well…..clever that!

    As for your stereotyping of vegans, this is another failure of yours as a journalist and just masquerades even more of your ignorance. Pray tell, what do you expect us all to look like? I’m very interested to know?

    Here’s my review of the pub.
    The range of drinks on offer is comparable to any other pub I’ve been in. I’ve always been able to get a beer, soft drink, cocktail or short of my choice.
    The atmosphere always friendly and welcoming.
    The food is loved by everyone that I’ve ever known to eat there, even my non vegan husband really enjoys eating here (shock horror!).
    My only complaint about the place? That I always forget to book a bloody table and it’s always busy!

    Now go and do some well informed and fair journalism, believe me, you need the practice!

  25. Adam Stones says:

    Mental. How thin-skinned is the vegan mafia? They are a thin-skinned and vindictive bunch who don’t understand the first thing about PR. They attack the Journal for saying what? That the landlord was ‘rather humourless’? Poor precious snowflakes.

  26. Claire Mansell says:

    Interesting that your comment cites “the vegan mafia”, Adam, when the vast majority of the comments are from self-professed non-vegans. Just saying.

  27. Kyle Taplin says:

    So this started with vague comments on the pub, a complaint that there was certain things containing meat or animal products, in a vegan pub (some genius writing there) . Then just turned into a bad social commentary, based on first appearances on them. Not to mention that a great deal of things that you’ve dwelled on are totally irrelevant to the pub.

    Both have been friends of mine for a long time now and for some reason, you’ve tried to pick them apart instead if letting them explain their choices into the pub, how they run it and their lifestyle in terms of veganism and how that incorporates into the business.

    Shite journalism written by a bottobottom feeding mouthpiece.

    Also as an extra please fix your comments box, it’s jumped back multiple times whilst attempting to write this comment.

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