A FORMER chef who was unhappy with the meat industry has launched a catering business offering vegetarian and vegan food at events.

V. Dorset, based in Parkstone, is the creation of Keri Astill-Frew, who already has a diary full of festivals and also caters for weddings and other functions.

She was a fine dining restaurant chef and development chef whose recipes have been featured in Hello! magazine and the Independent, as well as in blogs and newspapers across the country.

After moving to Dorset five years ago, she worked at Christchurch Harbour Hotel, catering for staff at Amigo Loans in Bournemouth doing development work for the Watercress Company in Dorchester.

“I went vegetarian last year, so it hasn’t been that long, but it’s been on my mind for quite a long time,” she said.

“I went away from restaurant work, largely because I had issues with it morally, a couple of years go.”

She said she had a “light bulb moment” at lunch last year. “It was my 30th birthday and we went out for lunch and it was terrible, at quite a well-known hotel chain,” she said.

“That’s when I said to my other half, ‘I could do so much better than this’.”

The business is believed to be first of its kind in the county, offering meat-free street food as well as fine dining menus for weddings and parties.

Keri said: “After doing some market research I realised that there was a real gap in the market for a modern, meat-free catering service in Dorset and the South West.

“Although many caterers’ vegetarian and vegan options have greatly improved in recent months, I believe that customers who choose not to eat meat, dairy or other animal products deserve a service that is entirely tailored to them, as well as the opportunity to choose from a full range of dishes.”

Keri said the business was built around an ethos of local produce and sustainability, with a focus on environmental responsibility as well as animal welfare.

She has already had so many enquiries from festivals that she has had to turn some down.

She is gearing up to cater for 1,200 at next weekend’s Exeter Festival of South West Food. Other events in the diary include Exeter Beats Festival, Dorset Vegan Festival, Bournemouth 7s, Highcliffe Food Festival and Bridport Food and Beer Festival.