Local Portrait: Michelle and Davina Pascal-O'Mahoney Owners of Cafe SoVegan

Written by: Shanna F. Jones

When Michelle and Davina Pascal-O’Mahoney first met six years ago they weren’t vegans and they hadn’t got a clue what the hell vegan cheese was, let alone entertained the possibility that it could be anything other than utterly vom-inducing.

Four wedding anniversaries, a campervan, a vegan dog, and a lot of kitchen experiments later, the couple, both aged 33, have set up their own successful vegan café despite never having worked in a professional kitchen before. Their Stoke Newington based business venture, Café SoVegan, boasts mac’n’no cheese, cheeseless cheesecake and cheese toasties – hold the cheese please – and, believe it or not, are not revolting.

Seven months ago Michelle and Davina decided to throw caution to the wind by ditching the greasy meat slabs for a month. They’re now so over animal products that apparently even a really tasty looking burger wouldn’t sway them. That is some pure dedication – enough to rival an Olympic sprinter’s faithfulness to anabolic steroids. Davina explains:

Watching the Cowspiracy documentary cemented our veganism, opening our eyes to the damage large scale animal agriculture causes to the planet and people, not just the animals involved.

Before the café Davina was an electrician, which she loathed, and Michelle was making a living selling artistic cakes.

Despite having next to no capital they took the risk and left their current work to follow their vegan dreams. Because if you don’t eat cheese before bed, you can’t have nightmares, am-I-right?

The idea behind the café was to provide comfort food to both scarily enthusiastic vegans and terrified, sceptical non-vegans (who think they’re doing something daringly healthy) alike. No one wants to be Awkward Arnold when out to dinner with hot company, but what’s an animal welfare-conscious girl to do when there’s only a few peas and a handful of broccoli on the menu?

We wanted to give vegans another place to eat out at without having to scour the menu figuring out what you can eat, and to show non-vegans how tasty vegan food could be, and maybe convert a few!
Vegan food at Cafe So Vegan, Stoke Newington, North London, North Four Magazine

Michelle and Davina are women after our own hearts: they’re convinced that vegan food, alcohol and all day parties go hand-in-hand. They created quite a ruckus among the locals on their grand opening party in February; “The first day in the kitchen serving over 100 people was hectic and exhilarating! I did almost crumble but it showed us what we were capable of” exclaims Davina.

The café is a pop-up located within the Royal Sovereign on Northwold Road – a legendary pub in itself. The Sov is adored by locals, punk bands, techno DJs and bar staff and has often been the underground haunt of the odd wayfaring rock star’s daughter or 80’s punk superstars on their Sunday family outing. “The Royal Sovereign has been our local for the best part of a decade and we love the atmosphere, staff and regulars,” said Davina.

The couple keep their menu frisky by changing it up on the regular. Some favourites to date are the vegan breakfast burrito, Oreo ‘cheese’ cake, crispy kale and their newly developed seitan burger. The London Vegan Society has clocked the Café’s dedication to the cruelty-free lifestyle and has just had their first vegan meet-up there.

In the kitchen at Cafe So Vegan in Stoke Newington, North London, for North Four Magazine

Michelle and Davina are hosting yet another all-dayer party (read: WOOOOOO!) on 30th April with Reel Reebel DJs and live music. They also have plans for a sausage-less sausage fest in the summer, we could do with a bitta’ that.

Despite Michelle suffering with fibromyalgia and often being in invisible agony, the pair both work hard around the clock and keep a smile on their faces. They reckon despite the challenges it’s all worth it. “Everyone who has eaten our food, vegan or non-vegan has gone away happy and that is the best feeling in the world. Both Michelle and I are the happiest we’ve ever been and cannot imagine doing anything else.”

Keep up with Cafe SoVegan’s wild parties here.


Photos: Michael Barry

North Four, North London magazine, pop up space, stoke newington, hire, north london, bar, food, restaurant
Eat & Drink Lifestyle

Listen Up Pop Ups, Stokey Space Wants You

Got a supper club, guinea pig cafe, unicorn tears cocktail pop up? Stoke Newington wants it. Luckily a cafe close to Columbia Road has the space you’ve been looking for all along. Probably. Think exposed bricks, boutique lighting and tiled counters, like you’ve just stumbled off a long haul flight and ended up in a trendy Brooklyn coffee house.

North Four, North London magazine, kerb food, street food collective, kings cross, granary square, food festival, foodies, vegan
Eat & Drink

Great British Veg Off: Vegan Street Food Battle

“I’m on the veg… of reeeeason” Sang Lady Gaga, whilst cavorting around a staircase in shorts. The very same can be said of Kerb Street Food’s latest event organisers. The amount of quality vegetarian food stalls they’ve gathered together for us is teetering on the unreasonable. It’s not fair on our stomachs, nor on our eyes that are bigger than said stomachs.

Stroud Green, Tavia Davies, Bike, Cycling, North London, Davies & Davies Estate Agents

Love Local: Stroud Green on Film

What’s it really like to live in North London gem Stroud Green? This short film gives you a glimpse into local life. See if you can spot yourself on Stroud Green's streets; walking your dog, buying bananas from the fruit and veg shop, cheering to a bad joke over a pint outside The Worlds End...

North Four, North London magazine, stoke newington town hall, hackney council, maintenance, budget, proposed changes, refurbishments

Have Your Say: What Would You Do With Stoke Newington Town Hall?

Ever walked past Stokey Town Hall and thought, oh the things I’d do with that space. What would you do exactly, if you had the chance to take over? It’s a question we’ve often asked ourselves. Well now Hackney Council are finally asking us. Residents and business owners in the surrounding areas are being consulted on their draft proposals.

North Four, North London magazine, Telemachy, Camden Fringe, play, theatre

Beyond The Binary: Steps Toward Gender Neutrality

Sadiq Khan’s decision to change London underground announcements from ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ to gender neutral greetings might have seemed like an obvious, positive step in the right direction. Unfortunately the news was met with some resistance and negativity. Some saw it as an attack against gender, deeming it ‘pathetic’, unnecessary and even ‘demeaning’. Presumably that affectionate term, Snowflake was also bandied around for good measure.

North Four, North London magazine, tube, underground, travel, underground, mind the gap, commute, lifestyle article

Small Toon Girl: The Pissy Commute

I'd had a bad day, so I thought reading the Slimming World magazine while eating a family-sized bag of crisps would help. This was the day I realised London was ridiculous. And it had rubbed off on me. I started out the day wet. Wet in my cute summer dress with a raincoat on top. It was July, pissing it down. But hot, very hot.

North Four, North London magazine, london queer fashion show, hackney, fashion, showhouse, fashion designers
Culture Lifestyle

Beyond The Binary: London Queer Fashion Show

Beyond The Binary is our mini series breaking down gender norms and exploring queer theory through events and interviews. We're kicking things off with an explosion of fashion, identity and expression. This September it’s London Queer Fashion Show. LQFS showcases the greatest new talent from people who know that ‘gender exists beyond the binary’, that clothing doesn't take male or female forms.

North Four, North London magazine, espresso martini, espressotini festival, coffee, caffeinated, bar, cocktail
Eat & Drink Events

It’s The ‘No More Sleepy Fun Sponge” Espressotini Festival

Did you know, the recipe is a relatively new invention? Back in the 80s, a soon-to-be infamous supermodel (sorry but it was blats Naomi Campbell) walked into a bar feeling sleepy and sober and in need of a pick me up. Asking notorious and rakish bartender, Dick Bradsell for something that would “wake me up and fuck me up”, she watched him crack his fingers and deftly shake up the tasty Espressotini we all know and regret ordering today when we look at our bank statements the next morning.

North Four, North London magazine, sutton and sons, fishmonger, fish and chips, islington, essex road, food review, fishery, lobster, crayfish
Eat & Drink

Posh Nosh: Date Night at Sutton and Sons

This family run restaurant has been sourcing the best of date night seafood the for the last twenty years, sourcing the finest and freshest fish from their very own fishmongers in Stoke Newington. But not only are they super sustainable, these guys are also super on trend with a signature lobster sub. So you can feel posh and down to earth all at once, stroke your beard then passionately get off with an avocado once you’ve finished cycling home on your fixie.

North Four, North London magazine, life drawing, neon, fluorescent, ultra violet, paint, art, class, duke of wellington
Culture Lifestyle

Neon Naked: Ultra Violet Life Drawing

Have you ever sat in the pub with ol Vick and Charlie and whatsherchops and thought, I’d love to draw a nude right now? No? Well what about a neon nude? Yeeah, now you’re keen! Well luckily that tasty Duke of Wellington pub happens to have just the right set up for a life drawing class. Not to mention a fluorescent one. So that is exactly what they do now. Every other Monday Jylle leaves her superb gin and tonic pouring duties to host Neon Naked.

North Four, North London magazine, the finsbury, live music, festival, performance, august, marshall amp
Events List

Top Six “Have You Heard Them Live Though” Music Nights

The last time I checked it was March 18th and I was watching someone drink green beer in a big hat and wondering whatever happened to Boxing Day. But someone has informed me that it is August and we need some kind of plan for the month because all logic has flown out the window and nobody knows what anything means anymore and I can’t remember if I had breakfast yesterday no but thanks for asking. Time for some live music to zone out to and tap along blankly while we gather our thoughts.

North Four, North London magazine, mally harpaz, hazel iris, piano, live music, cello, violin, percussion, band, the waiting room, stoke newington

Haunting Melodies and Soundscapes at The Waiting Room

Haunting melodies, rich ambience and devilish lyrics: indie folk singer Hazel Iris comes to Stokey all the way from California. Joining her is musician Mally Harpaz on accordion, cello, guitar and even percussion to create a pretty special double bill of musical awesomeness together.

North Four, North London magazine, stoke newington, walking tour, history, guided tour, event, to do, streets, shops

Small Toon Girl: London, Where All The Jobs Are

I’m Emmie, I'm 24 and from Newcastle. J'adore le foot. Ou est les piscine? I moved to London 6 months ago because 'it's where all the jobs are'. The above new-life-motto was a graffiti tag I saw in my first few days of London life. Capital R and all. I certainly followed through when, that night, I went to a gig and nipped to the loo... Sitting on the uncomfortably warm seat I looked up to see a club night poster advertising: '4 Jägerbombs for £20!'

North Four, North London magazine, mint gun club, aperitifs, cocktail bar, teahouse, stoke newington
Eat & Drink

Mint Gun Club: Exciting Little Gimlets in Stokey

Who’s Richard Hunt and what are exciting little gimlets when they’re at home? Take a walk down Stoke Newington High Street this month and you’ll find out. An intriguing new cocktail bar and teahouse has opened, calling itself The Mint Gun Club and offering up a three fold menu of teas, cocktails and pantry style food.

North Four, North London magazine, mammory tapes, club night, cheese music, vfd, dalston, stoke newington

Bring Your Bedroom to the Club at VFD

If only there was a club night that could tap into that special pre night out time. Or at least play your taste in music, sometimes on repeat. Imagine! Lucky for you musical homebirds, bi-monthly club night Mammory Tapes intent to do just that at VFD in Stokey. All night long you can expect an all girl playlist and the best of your bedroom beats on the dance floor. So get ready to finally showcase your once unseen pyjama/half ready outfit based choreography.

North Four, North London magazine, kerb, street food collective, donuts, ice cream, milkshake
Eat & Drink

Kerb’s Guiltiest Pleasures, All Weekend

“He said, I know It’s only arctic roll but I like it like it yes I dooooo” Those are the lyrics right? Well this weekend they certainly are, at Kerb’s Guiltiest Pleasure in Kings Cross featuring an arctic roll of pure indulgence. Over Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd July, the street food collective from your wildest dreams are hosting the most indulgent hits from all their pop ups at Granary Square.