It's a fair cop for animals! Retired policeman fed up of missing out since going veggie age 12 sets up UK's first ever vegetarian sweet shop – with NO hooves and NO crushed beetles
Former Met policemen John Baldock runs Sweet Expectations, in Rochester, KentMost common sweets use gelatin – made from animal bones and hooves or cochineal – a red colouring made from crushed beetlesBaldock, who served 30 years in the force, says he was fed up of missing out on sweets after becoming vegetarian aged 12Baldock's sweets use plant extracts and beetroot as substitutes
23:05 GMT, 30 November 2012
A former Met policeman has come to the rescue of sweet-toothed vegetarians who want to enjoy treats made without animal extracts.
John Baldock, 56, has opened the UK's first entirely vegetarian sweet shop with products made using plant extracts instead of gelatine.
His store, called Sweet Expectations in Rochester, Kent, is modelled on a traditional sweet shop with the animal-free treats displayed in giant jars and served by weight.
Serving up animal-free treats: John Baldock runs the UK's first-ever entirely vegetarian sweet shop in Kent
John said he decided to open the store because he was fed up of missing out on eating sweets after becoming a vegetarian at the age of 12 when growing up on a farm.
He said: 'I
gave up meat because I loved the animals too much. When I told my mum
she told me I was going through a funny phase.
'It is very difficult when you are a vegetarian to find products that you know are 100 per cent meat-free. Most people don't know when they buy
some red coloured sweets they are coloured with cochineal – in other
words they are eating crushed beetles.
Sweet expectations: The store is modelled on a traditional sweet shop but only has products made using plant extracts not gelatine
'Now we only sell sweets which contain beetroot. There are so many vegetarians across the UK now and I think my shop has filed a gap in the market.'
Many sweets contain gelatin which is derived from collagen from animal by-products. Confectioners traditionally extract the chemical from animals then use it to make most chewy and boiled sweets
John uses carnauba wax from Brazilian palm leaves and agar agar from red marine algae to make his vegetarian versions.
Business is booming: John said there is a gap in the market for his sweets and his success has meant he can take on staff like assistant Megan Clayson, pictured
His shop is the only entirely veggie sweet shop in the UK according to the Vegetarian Society.
The father-of-two said business has been booming since he opened his store and the lifestyle is a complete change of pace to his old police job.
He served 30 years with the Met – including five years in London's West End – before investing his pension in his dream to create a sweet heaven for vegetarians.
Change of pace: The former policeman, pictured in uniform on the day of his wedding to wife Virginia, served with the Met for 30 years
He said: 'Working for the police is all encompassing and it can be hard when you retire. Now I have a new challenge to focus on.'
He added that his wife, Virginia, 56, 'wasn't that keen' on the idea at first as she thought it would mean he would be working on Saturdays. But the business has been such a success John can afford staff to cover the weekend shifts for him.