I’M not a big meat eater, but I’ve never fancied going completely vegan.

After a trip to the newly opened The Mango Tree in Taunton, I am tempted to try it. Every dish was still full of flavour and as filling as a meal with meat and dairy.

Particularly the jack fruit burger and the vegetable tempura, which I was very sceptical about, but it was delicious.

The Mango Tree restaurant isn’t special because it’s vegan, it is special because the food is just as good as other Taunton restaurants, whether they serve meat and dairy products or whether they don’t.

Prem Rao, director of operations at The Mango Tree, said: “Herbs and vegetables are used to cure meats or make them tastier and so why, when they are served on their own, would they not be tasty? It is absurd.

“Everything we consume is based on vegetables – all the medicines, and vitamins. It is obvious that they have become a food on their own and it is ample enough to just eat them. It is just a mindset that people must have meat.

“But we are not against it, we want everyone to visit. We want to be the same as every other restaurant.”

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Opening just before Christmas last year, The Mango Tree is a vegan and vegetarian restaurant, with a focus on a variety of world foods.

Head Chef, Chetan Patel, 50, is very passionate about the food he serves and is known for his motto: “Do it nice, or do it twice.”

Chetan started his career on a Hotel Management course in India, where he learnt all aspects of the hotel trade, and after the course was finished, he decided that being a chef was exactly what he wanted to do.

He said: “When I was doing my training I realised that the chef was the most powerful person in any part of the hotel and no one could enter the kitchen without his permission and I thought ‘I want to be like him’.”

He continued with his training and then started working for P&O cruises in 1997, staying with them for three years. Despite the long hours and hard work, Chetan admitted that it was a great experience for him.

He added: “I was also part of the launching of one of the ships. Before a ship launches, about three months before there are only a few people from each department on board the ship and I was a part of the chef’s team. So, we went to Germany when the ship was about 80% complete.”

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Chetan moved to England in 2001 and started at Renaissance Hotel in London where he worked as a sous chef for eight months. Moving to Newick in East Sussex, Chetan worked in a country house hotel that achieved three rosettes while he was there.

Teaching was his next calling, and he worked at a college for nine years – he loved it, particularly the shorter hours compared to cheffing.

Prem and Chetan knew each other from P&O cruises and working together in London. So when Prem became director of The Mango Tree in Taunton, he gave Chetan a call straight away and asked him to be his head chef.

“People should be given a choice, but it is very important to let them know the facts. I had never been to an abattoir before I was a chef, but if I had been taken there before then I might have changed my mind” said Chetan.

“I think students should be shown from the beginning how things are made – they should be given the knowledge to make their own decisions.

“Human beings have evolved from the stone age to iron age and now it is move towards the sustainability age – I think that is how it’s going to progress.”

Sustainability is very important to staff at The Mango Tree, and as well as sourcing many ingredients locally, they also try to produce hardly any waste.

If there are any leftovers of the soup, made fresh each day, they are given to Lindley House in Taunton.

Prem added: “The food waste we give to Urban farming in Taunton. He grows mushrooms in Taunton. He supplies us with mushrooms and we give him peelings to help him grow them.”

Chetan loves to work with herbs and spices, his favourite being coriander. Her uses these to creative a variety of different cuisines, from Asian to Mexican.

He added: “One thing we have introduced out here from India is called Idli and it is a steamed rice cake and it goes with a lentil curry. It is one of my favourites. Idli is something we have for breakfast, lunch or dinner.”

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And trust me, after sampling a few of the dishes, they do taste delicious. Even if you are not vegan, the menu is still varied, exciting and the dishes very filling.

One thing The Mango Tree are also known for is their golden milk, which contains anti-oxidants and reduces inflammation, prevents cell damage, improves mood, is an anti-depressant, improves memory, and brain function.

In the future, they are looking forward to offering afternoon tea and from March, a breakfast menu too.

And they are still looking for passionate and committed staff too – so if you are looking for a chance to become a chef, then get in touch.

To find out more or to book a table visit mangotreetaunton.com or call 01823 283222.