Ex-model Heather Mills officially opened her vegan concession within Chester’s Holland & Barrett store where she explained how health issues surrounding the loss of her left leg led her into veganism.
Heather showed off her VBites range on Monday (June 8) alongside professional snooker player and fellow vegan Neil Robertson.
She and Neil chatted with members of the public while her daughter Beatrice, 11, handed out free samples outside the Foregate Street store.
Heather, who lives in Brighton, came to public attention in 1993 when a collision with a police motorcycle in London resulted in the amputation of her left leg below the knee. She continued to model using a prosthetic limb and is today the fastest disabled woman on skis in the world.
Chester has 'super smart people'
Heather, who has previously been to the city with ex-husband Sir Paul McCartney while visiting family at Christmas time, said: “I’ve been to Chester quite a few times. We used to come every Christmas and New Year seeing family up here and do loads of quizzes and get beaten completely, because [there are] super smart people up here. And I just used to wander round all the beautiful Tudor buildings. I love it, it’s really, really nice around here and I’m very proud that we’ve joined up with Holland and Barrett and it’s such a fantastic store.
“The reason I became vegan was because 26 years ago I was crossing the street and a police motorcycle chopped my leg off, punctured my lung, split my head open. My leg went across the street and they got me to hospital eventually and said ‘Okay, she’s gonna die’ and say goodbye to my family, apparently, my family said and four times this happened.
“I ended up in hospital for five months and an infection kept going in my leg – up and up and up – and they kept chopping my leg off more and more and more. I was like, I don’t want to lose my knee. And the next day my girlfriend came in who had breast cancer and said ‘I’ve cured myself of breast cancer’. I was like ‘How did you do that?’. And she said ‘I went vegan’. And of course I’m a Geordie and we’re brought up with meat and potatoes. And I said ‘Do you know what, I’ll try anything, I’ve just got to get out of this hospital’.”
Heather recalled she was put on ‘this disgusting wheat grass juice’ and ‘raw stuff’, but explained: “My leg closed and healed in three weeks so I went ‘Hang on a second, I need to take this a bit more seriously’.”
Heather did more research, healed herself completely and wrote books on veganism but was still missing the taste of fish and meat so developed ‘things that taste like it’ because what was available for vegans at the time ‘tasted like cardboard’. Then she bought a small company, which she rebranded as VBites, and launched a whole range.
She has plans to open up to 25 more concessions around the country in partnership with Holland & Barrett.
Peter Aldis, Holland & Barrett international’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted to support the VBites range and are fully behind Heather’s aim to bring innovative vegan food to a wider audience, which appeals to the whole family. The synergy between Holland & Barrett and VBites made it a natural decision to place concessions in-store and we are excited about the future roll out.”