This week Holly Keenan caught up with the owner and manager of Vida Haus, Bilyana (known as Billy) Dawson. 
Any new plant -based cafe naturally piques my interest. Add to that a zero-waste shop and some vinyasa yoga classes and I’m hooked!
Billy (pictured below right) explained that her vision for Vida Haus was for it to be more than a vegan café or yoga studio. “I wanted to create a space where people can feel accepted, where they can be their true self.” Before Vida Haus, Billy had taken a trip to India for one month to experience the yogic life with her long-time yoga teacher Tina Pashumati James. Billy had what she describes as a “change in perspective” and aspired to follow a different path than the one she had previously been on.
“I knew I didn’t want to continue living the corporate life in London and stay in marketing. After completing my teacher training in yoga, I realised how much yoga had assisted me in my life which got me thinking, maybe I could share these teachings with other people, and hopefully the practices would serve them in the best possible way”.

Thus, Billy’s ambition to create the perfect well- being centre, complete with a plant-based café and zero- waste shop, was realised.
Thus, Billy’s ambition to create the perfect well- being centre, complete with a plant-based café and zero- waste shop, was realised.
On entering Vida Haus, I couldn’t help but be struck by the beauty of the vibrant pink hydrangeas that Billy had just picked from her garden, this along with all the other stylish touches creates a delightful space for customers to relax in. Clad in natural timber, Vida Haus creates the sense of entering an alpine retreat.
Unlike the yoga studio, the café was an unexpected addition to Vida Haus. Billy explains: “The property had previously been an old pub that had served food, and one of the requirements when I bought the place was that I also served food. At this point, I knew if I was going to serve any food it had to be plant based otherwise it would be going against everything I believed in – an added bonus is that I really loved baking.”
Billy chose to adopt a plant-based diet when yoga became part of her life more than 14 years ago – Ahimsa or non-harming is the first of the Yamas and Niyamas – the ethical codes and guidelines to living a yogic life.
“Ahimsa is the choice to avoid harm in every aspect of our lives. Whether that be causing harm to human beings, animals, our environment or ourselves – it involves our actions, words and thoughts. I already knew something didn’t feel quite right, but after watching a documentary called Earthlings, I knew I had been living an unconscious life. By eating meat, I had been complicit in causing harm to animals. Next morning I have already made my choice and I never looked back.”

Billy’s café is currently serving a wide range of delicious vegan options, from homemade green pesto, scrumptious savoury lunches to mouth-watering cakes; there is something for everyone to enjoy. Billy is already gaining a reputation for her homemade cakes and recently made a decorative carrot cake for my brother’s birthday – I can testify it was delicious.

One of Billy’s delicious vegan cakes

To find out more about Billy’s plant-based café, yoga classes and the zero-waste shop, visit the website here.
Or visit Vida Haus Facebook page here
Shifting Perspectives

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