DECLAN O’Toole is a self-confessed, meat-eating Australian, so you might assume that vegetarian sausages would not be to his taste.

But today the Southbourne-based businessman will be rolling out his meat-free bangers at The Nutri Centre at Tesco in Bournemouth.

“I would never have thought I would be in the business of selling vegetarian sausages,” he agrees.

“But I was surprised at how good they taste.”

For the past 10 years, Declan has been running a meals on wheels service, providing 280 hot lunches for the elderly and 650 children’s meals to local schools and nurseries.

“We have got this wonderful facility here in Southbourne, but we finish cooking by 2.30pm every day, which seemed a bit of a waste, so we have been looking at ways we can make more use of all these resources,” he explains.

“In April 2013 we were invited to make some vegetarian sausages for a restaurant chain which didn’t work out, but we felt we were onto something.”

Declan’s head chef Chris Blake got to work on three recipes: beetroot and horseradish, chestnut and mushroom and cheesy leek and mustard.

Chris explains: “We wanted a few flavours that were a bit different and not available on the market.

“We tried them out on some of our vegetarian friends and family members and they all loved them.

“My mother actually had them for dinner on Christmas day.”

And so the Original Meat Free Gourmet Ltd (OMFG) was born and Declan is now in talks with buyers for some of the major supermarkets. OMFG sausages are hand-made on the premises, they are free from additives and preservatives and contain locally-sourced ingredients.

Go along to meet Declan and Chris at The Nutri Centre at Tesco in Iford today from noon to 3pm for a free sample.

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