Veggie Campus fuses dynamic eats, learning and community bonds

Since relocating to 74 Lady Musgrave Road two months ago, talk of their lunch and dinner options has been on just about everyone’s lips. Accessibility, both in cost and location, are no doubt part of the sell.

Veggie Campus has a mandate to create “good food”. (Photo: Chris Lewinson/BUZZ)

Add a dash of welcoming vibes, a pinch of good music, a heaping spoonful of charisma, a serving of meals made fresh daily and it’s easy to see why the Veggie Campus recipe is a sure delight.

“The owner, Brent Blair, enjoys a good challenge…he started…on a single premise, “can I stop eating meat for a week, and actually enjoy it?””

Moving into their central, cosy new home shared with the Raggamuffin Hostel and Coffee Bar has given the team of young chefs a welcome advantage. It’s a full-package experience everyone can enjoy without breaking the bank, and the food is always lovely. But how did they get here?

Brent Blair challenged himself to create great plant-based food for a year which resulted in Veggie Campus. (Photo: Chris Lewinson/BUZZ)

The owner, Brent Blair, enjoys a good challenge, so while studying at the University of Technology [Utech] he started experimenting with food on a single premise, “can I stop eating meat for a week, and actually enjoy it?”

Patrons are able to enjoy delicious vegan meals in a cosy setting. (Photo: Chris Lewinson/BUZZ)

This became a creative endeavour which led to an updated version — cooking two plant-based dishes per day for a year without repeating any. Thus started the journey.

Veggie Campus is keen to provide unique, flavour-filled dishes. (Photo: Chris Lewinson/BUZZ)

Encouragement from his brother and good friend Allison spurred him on and he got so good at it, demands increased. He started selling meals from his home kitchen to fellow students and doing pop-up events.

A friend who noticed his zeal made him a free logo, word spread again and soon a very active delivery service came into play, then it was on to getting additional help and a location at Skibo Avenue. Before he knew it, five years flew by. 

Come in, eat, learn and have a great time at Veggie Campus. (Photo: Chris Lewinson/BUZZ)

The current move presented itself as a great opportunity in a prime spot. He seized it accordingly and things have been going well since.

So well that he now mainly handles the ideation, operations and marketing, barely touching the stove these days. Sharing with BUZZ that as much as he enjoys it, he is happy to hand over the kitchen to his two collaborators, chefs Fresh and I-Ron — who is known as The Plantbased Alchemist— because “dem man deh built fi the kitchen, dem passion just different” as they’re right at home cooking all day.

“We are Veggie Campus because we started with students, but also because there is always conversation… something to learn.”

Our amazing dinner— pigeon peas stew with garlic mashed potatoes, split pea hummus, fried ripe plantains and fresh veggies topped with a drizzle of spiced pumpkin sauce— all lovingly prepared by Chef I-Ron proved this theory undoubtedly true. Little wonder the spot is always bustling with regulars and wide-eyed newcomers eager to join their community. 

Yummy! Pigeon peas stew with garlic mashed potatoes, split pea hummus, fried ripe plantains and fresh veggies. (Photo: Chris Lewinson/BUZZ)

With the modern wellness wave, more vegan options are becoming available islandwide; in the Corporate Area specifically, there are now quite a few. ‘What makes you stand out?’ we ask…Blair gave us a few things:

“Accessibility. We open Mondays to Saturdays, close at 8:00 PM, easy to find, very well-priced, and our food is always made with love by people who love to do it. Our business model is simple, provide tasty, affordable, accessible, food in a great environment and share the knowledge.

Veggie Campus started with students and is now a thriving vegan hot-spot in Kingston. (Photo: Chris Lewinson/BUZZ)

We are Veggie Campus because we started with students, but also because there is always conversation… something to learn. We teach people more about plant-based food every day, sometimes because they ask, sometimes they come in with preconceived ideas, and sometimes they learn by trying something new.

Veggie Campus, CEO Brent Blair is now out of the kitchen and focused on business expansion. (Photo: Chris Lewinson/BUZZ)

His dreams of expansion come with a double meaning, not just more locations outside those walls, but also inside the minds of customers whom, he hopes, will no longer feel the need to label Veggie Campus’ offerings as “vegan or different”, because, as he rightly said, “it’s just good food”.

We couldn’t agree more.