Sustainability Case Study: Happy Maki

Happy Maki


Happy Maki was started to show people that sushi can be sustainable and delicious without the fish. Sushi means seasoned rice after all. Inspired by time spend on an organic pearl farm in French Polynesia, I was sushi obsessed and started researching how our demand for salmon, shrimp and tuna were affecting our oceans. It was hard hitting information and after watching “End of the Line” an idea was born and Happy Maki has now grown to support more than just our oceans. I knew I couldn’t claim to be an ocean lover whilst contributing to the very thing that was destroying the oceans…eating fish!

A vintage Renault van was bought and converted on a tight budget, it was… interesting to drive but a real head turner. I had no experience with catering or cheffing when I started the company so it was an intense learning curve, a lot of blood sweat and tears. I started catering at food festivals marathons, shopping centres and Vegan festivals. We started off fish free, but sold real chicken and duck. After a year of cooking with meat on a large scale and that famous line in Cowspiracy “you cant be an environmentalist and still eat meat” Happy Maki and Anna had to go vegan and we’ve never looked back. The main driving force behind Happy Maki has always been my love of the environment and healthy fast food. After getting our first festival pitch at Bestival it was clear that music festivals were the best place to sell our sushi burritos. By the third summer Happy Maki was catering at most of the top UK music festivals including Glastonbury, which was so nerve wracking but ended up being and still is our most successful event of the summer calendar.

The first shop opened in the South Lanes of Brighton in January 2016, another big challenge as I had always feared and successfully avoided larger full time responsibility. Another steep learning curve of how things have to be done differently when in a shop versus a field.   Which takes us to now, we are soon to open our second restaurant in Brighton, with a larger menu and big eat in area and a really exciting experiment of Pay As You Feel. There is a full Happy Maki team not just myself doing every single job! We’re excited, nervous and once again our of our depth creating a pay as you feel vegan sushi restaurant, seating up to 50 people in the heart of Brighton North Lanes.


As I mentioned in “the story” Happy Maki went vegan for the positive environmental impacts.  Animal agriculture is the leading cause of, deforestation, water pollution, habitat loss, species extinction, soil erosion and global greenhouse gas emissions.  However as I’m sure you’ve heard by now its also great for your health and most importantly and rewardingly it means you’re no longer contributing to unnecessary killing and suffering of animals. Although previously not top of my priority list the benefits, on a soul level, turning vegan has been so overwhelmingly positive and rewarding.  Its hard to put into words how much sadness you feel when you finally connect to your contribution to the suffering. However there is also the huge relief and joy in knowing that you’re no longer part it that.  I would never have been able to kill a cow, pig, chicken or duck but the fact that I was willing to pay someone else to do that traumatic job shows a large issue of ethics.  Going vegan in the western world, is an easy decision, its just that the majority don’t want to give up food that brings us comfort and industries that we’ve been brought up supporting.

Before going vegan many feel that you’re going to miss out on things but your taste buds and opinions change very quickly after making the switch if you’re able to connect emotionally to the reality of the situation.  As a girl who’s favourite meal was rare steak I have experienced both sides of the coin and I know which I (and 99% of vegans I know) prefer.  I can only encourage people to try the experiment, 6 months or a year to get all the seasons in and give yourself time to get educated on the topic.  I really do believe that kindness and reconnection is what is going to save the world, yes we can hugely help the environment and our bodies by going vegan but if we are not being kind to each other and the animals that we have dominion over then whats the point. So I just want to stress that whether you’re looking to reduce meat intake, are vegan or just like good tasting sushi you’re all equally welcome at Happy Maki. We look forward to serving you good wholesome healthy food and hopefully getting to know you and learning what your passions and talents are. For more information on the full environmental impacts of animal agriculture please check out the link below.



Although we are a vegan company, the food we serve is only one of many factors taken into consideration when trying to develop a loving business model.   Our founding principles are :

– Love
– Truth

This relates to the transparency we aim for in the business that we do, and in our communication with customers and staff members.  Doing honest work is very important to us.  When making business decisions we ask “What would love do?” a lot of the time this takes us to an easy answer, other times we have to go against what we have been taught or what feels most comfortable, but thats the way change works not everyone understands it or feels comfortable at the beginning.   We work on our environmental impact which includes everything from how we deal with our rubbish to type of energy we us in store. We work on self responsibility and equality within the company and with our customers. We aim to ensure that staff are self responsible in their job rolls.  We don’t serve alcohol out of care for our customers and were hoping that an alcohol free space for people to hang will help change the norm around eating out and what we need to have a good time.  And of course we are now trialing pay as you feel, asking ourselves what would love do, love wouldn’t demand, love would give gifts. To learn more about this go to the “pay as you feel” page.

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