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Stephen and Ita West: Proprietors of Cussen's Cottage, a vegetarian/vegan guest house in Ireland.Where is Cussen's Cottage located?
On the borders of South County Limrick and North County Cork in the Republic of Ireland.
Why did you decide to open up a vegetarian/vegan guest house?
Although I'm Irish I have lived in the UK and found when I came home to Ireland for holidays there was nowhere - with the level of comforts that I require - that was vegan to stay. So it seemed the obvious thing to come home and do.
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What's special about the cottage?
The peaceful, timeless atomosphere and most specifically the food.
How do your guests usually find out about you?
Huge very expensive advertising campaigns. It is very difficult to get your name around.
What are some comments/compliments people have given you over the years?
The best compliment of all; they come back.
Tell us about a sample vegan breakfast at the cottage.
Start with freshly squeezed juice of your choice. (Fruit/Vegetable) 2nd course: mix your own museli from separate jars of grain, seeds dried and fresh fruit supplied. Moisten this with soya milk and yoghurt (both made on the premises by ourselves) topped with honey - some vegans do not agree with the honey argument - or golden syrup or some of our home made jellies.
Alternatively, a hot breakfast would include: Griddled Tomatoes, mushrooms, potato cakes, soya burgers, home made Vegan cheese on toast, Oat cakes, Crumpets, Baked Beans, Toast. A mixture of all of these or a selection followed by Toast and home made jam/jelly or marmalade, herbal/decaffeinated or paginated Teas/coffee.
When is your busiest season?
June, July, August, September and October.
Do you have plans to expand the cottage or grounds in the future?
No. At the moment we can sit ten people comfortably around the dining table, twelve at a squeeze. If we were to get any bigger we would have to have outside help.
A) That would take away the personal touch, and
B) Our guests know that the only people to enter their room other than themselves is us.
What's the most rewarding aspect of running the cottage?
Providing a place where vegetarian/vegan guests can trust everything that is on the table to be animal free. The relief for them when they realise that they don't have to question things like "is the spread in the dish butter or vegan" or "does the soup have a meat stock."