In one sentence, what do you do?
k. Co-founder and creator of Not Dogs
j. Co-creator of Not Dogs ‘meaty… without the meat’ - unique, meat-free fast food that’s focused on tasty, food for everyone - no labels!
Why did you start?
k. Once the idea of reducing meat clicked and after months of research into ways to solve the problem I was fascinated by the idea of how Not Dogs could bring everyone together, in the same way the legends of McDonalds, Starbucks and Nando’s has, but without any contribution to the meat industry… just tonnes of fun, exciting and addictive fast-food! Now we are on a relentless pursuit to push the boundaries and grow Not Dogs into a brand that really is at the forefront of exciting the masses with meat-free fast-food!
j. When Katie and I started our first business (in social media) together, I’d been vegetarian for about 6 years and we simply started talking about the lack of food places where we could both go and enjoy fun, delicious food with a meat-free difference. So… we put our heads together to come up with the idea of a meat-free brand starting with testing the idea at festivals and events. We got in touch with a brand I personally love, Quorn, and asked them if they would like to collaborate with us and they did! The rest is history!
What do you want to be known for?
k. Creating inspiring, innovative brands and products that have a fundamental and positive reason for existing.
j. Creating a brand that helps to combat climate change, makes people healthier by simply reducing their meat intake in an easy way and finally (a passion of mine) saves millions of animals around the world.
What are you most excited to create?
k. The 1001st Not Dogs location!
j. A difference in the world; a house-hold name that has massively contributed to improving the world and everyone on it.
What are your plans for the future?
k. Not Dogs = Everywhere!
j. We could like to have a Not Dogs presence all over the world… in many fun, exciting, unique ways from restaurants to pop-ups, festivals to merchandise!
Why do you think there has been an explosion of interest in meat-free food?
k. Slowly but surely people are opening their minds and respectable high profile people are sharing their work, research and beliefs around the meat industry, their respect for animals and their concerns around the huge impact that meat production has on climate change. This has resulted in a significant shift in people being more open-minded about going meat-free or in fact just reducing meat for health reasons or becoming more educated with documentaries such as Cowspiracy and movements such as Meat Free Monday.
Incredible companies such as Quorn have shifted their focus into inspiring and educating people every day on how to incorporate plant-based products into their diets with nutritional benefits so that it’s accessible to the masses, not just to people who have already pledged a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, but inspiring those to consider trying a meat-reduced diet.
j. I think the shift has been that people are thinking more about their food whether that be for health, environmental or welfare reasons - everyone has they own passion. Maybe we’re all just becoming more thoughtful and thinking, ‘no I don’t want to put unnecessary processed meat in my body every day’ or ‘if I remove meat from my diet for just one day a week, that is my simple contribution to combatting climate change’ or (for me) ‘I no longer look at a chicken nugget, for example, as a food product but I think about what it is made of - an animal and just do not want to inflict suffering on them if I don’t have to’.
What makes you different?
k. Not Dogs is an all-inclusive brand for everyone, no labels, lots of fun, delicious fast-food and so unbelievably good… you wouldn’t miss the meat. Actively engaging thousands of customers everyday from students to families. Making ‘meat-free’ exciting and creating magic around meat-free food is what we do so well.
j. We created Not Dogs to create great tasting food that we want to eat, that just happens to be meat-free! It’s the food that veggies and vegan miss, and that meat-eaters are starting to think more about the impact of like burgers and hotdogs. Everyone is welcome and our ultimate aim is to create an experience that leaves customers feeling happy and positive.
What is your favourite item on the menu, and why?
k. The Queen B Burger - it oozes sassiness, it’s irresistible and it was created for our mums!
j. The Kickin’ Katie Nacho Dog - not only is is delicious, but it means so much to me that it’s named after my amazing business partner and I’m so proud when I tell people that.
What has been your proudest achievement to date?
k. One moment I’ll never forget was our appearance on Dragons Den and the sigh of relief once Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones tasted their first Not Dog and loved it… we knew that regardless of how the rest of the pitch went; if all the Dragon’s enjoyed eating Not Dogs then that was a win for us and for all the customers that have supported and believed in Not Dogs.
Little moments of love for Not Dogs from customers every single day fuel us and of course our Not Dogs Crew keep us motivated to keep pushing the boundaries of possibilities - these are the proud moments that keep us ambitious and helps to keep our confidence in what we are creating.
j. Getting through the first year (nearly!) of our first restaurant. It’s taken so much hard work (we can’t even put how much into words) but we’ve done it and seeing all our fantastic customer feedback online makes it all worthwhile. I am so proud to have put something positive into the world that wasn’t there before.
What makes you happiest about what you’re doing?
k. Knowing in our hearts that in creating Not Dogs and striving forward we are giving it the chance to shine a light on fast-food and elevate it to be something that can be kinder to our health, animal welfare and the world we live in. Welcoming thousands through the door each week we know that Not Dogs has the power and potential to drive this change forward across the globe.
j. Making customers happy, improving the lives of animals and showing people that meat-free food can be tastier and more interesting than meaty alternatives. It’s those that aren’t vegetarians or vegans that I personally get excited about… hearing that they choose Not Dogs over say McDonald’s makes me so so happy!