Standout with Seaweed: Happy Maki's Vegan Wave

August 21, 2023
standout with seaweed

Welcome back to the second feature of our series, “Standout with Seaweed”. Today, we turn our focus to Happy Maki – a culinary gem in the heart of Brighton that is trying to reshape the food industry and set a new standard for vegan sushi brands.

This unique venture started with a simple goal – to serve delicious sushi without fish. Today, it has evolved into a thriving business that prides itself on its commitment to environmental responsibility. In this exclusive interview with the founder, Anna MacDonald, and operations manager, Georgie Aylwin, we unravel the story of Happy Maki.

Can you share the origins of Happy Maki and what inspired this venture?

Anna, Founder: Happy Maki started around nine years ago. I had spent some time in French Polynesia and was deeply impressed by the pristine ocean environment and sustainable fishing practices. On returning, I realised that there was a lack of transparency in the seafood we consumed from supermarkets. This sparked the idea for Happy Maki – a place where people could enjoy delicious sushi without fish. Initially, the concept was met with scepticism but as veganism gained popularity, our venture has been widely admired and appreciated.

Sustainability is a central component of Happy Maki. Could you elaborate on this?

Georgie, Operations Manager: Sustainability is not just a part of what we do, it defines who we are. Whether it’s a major decision or a minor one, we evaluate it through the lens of sustainability. We use green electricity, ensure no waste goes to landfill and strive to use compostable packaging. We also believe that sustainability means ensuring that our practices are sustainable in the long run. We always consider whether a change is feasible, whether our staff will engage with it, and whether it genuinely makes a difference.

We’d love to hear more about your partnership with Notpla. How did this collaboration come about?

Anna, Founder: We had been following Notpla’s work even before they launched. We were fascinated by the idea of seaweed-based material and shared it with our team. When Notpla was ready to launch, they approached us and we began testing different designs and materials. We’ve been using Notpla’s products ever since.

How have customers responded to the seaweed-based takeaway boxes?

Georgie, Operations Manager: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Customers are often excited about the seaweed-based packaging and appreciate the transparency about its origins. In fact, the eco-friendly packaging is often highlighted in customer’s social media posts about us!

What does the future hold for Happy Maki? Any exciting plans or initiatives you can share with us?

Anna, Founder: We’re constantly looking for ways to enhance our sustainability practices and make our food more accessible. If the opportunity arises, we’d love to expand to other cities, making healthy vegan fast food more widely available. We’re also eagerly anticipating the development of more products from Notpla, especially a sustainable alternative for our sauce pots and sushi box lids, which would enable us to go plastic-free once again.

In their pursuit of sustainability, Happy Maki has emerged as a trailblazer, demonstrating that businesses can thrive while remaining committed to environmental responsibility. Their partnership with us signifies a shared commitment to creating a sustainable future, one box at a time. As we conclude this insightful conversation, it becomes clear that Happy Maki is not just a food business, but an experience – an experience that showcases the joy of simple, good food, shared in a nurturing and sustainable environment.

As part of their ongoing commitment to sustainability, Happy Maki uses Notpla’s seaweed-coated takeaway boxes for their popular ‘Portobello and Cauliflower’ dish. To learn more about Happy Maki’s journey or to experience their delicious vegan sushi, visit their website or follow them on social media. Learn More

This article is part of our series of interviews with businesses leading the way in sustainability. Stay tuned for more inspiring stories and practical insights on how to integrate sustainability into your business.

Read one of our most recent articles

Notpla vs. Plastic
Plastic pollution has reached pandemic proportions, posing a severe threat to the health of our planet. Every year, millions of tonnes of plastic waste contaminate our oceans, rivers, lakes, and ecosystems, jeopardizing marine life and disrupting delicate ecological balances. The statistics are alarming – projections indicate that plastic pollution could more than double by 2030 if decisive action isn't taken now to reduce plastic use and improve waste management practices globally.
A spoon made of seaweed? The all-natural solution to single-use plastic cutlery is here.
Enjoying ice cream is one of life's simple pleasures. But let's be honest, the plastic spoons that often come with it can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Well, we have some exciting news… following a number of years of intensive research and testing, we've created a revolutionary new ice cream spoon made entirely from seaweed and plants. This new spoon offers a sturdy construction, a smooth feel in the mouth and a guilt-free way to indulge in frozen treats while caring for our Earth. 
A Peek Inside Notpla’s Design Lab
We recently sat down with our Product Designer August Ford to share an inside look at the new product development process of our packaging solutions, tailored to our customers' needs. At Notpla we prioritise the ability to constantly design new products, of different shapes and sizes, that meet our consumers' evolving preferences while reflecting our commitment to sustainability.