Long before nut milks were in almost every supermarket, vegan leather was on the highstreet, and National Vegetarian Week was challenging people to ditch meat for just seven days, there was the Ital movement.

Those who follow the Ital diet – which stems from the Rastafarian religion developed in Jamaica during the 1930s – eat plant-based and unprocessed foods. So, like the diet of some southern Asian people, including many Jains and Hindus, the Ital diet is proto-vegan.

“Leonard Howell, one of the founding forefathers of Rastafari, was influenced by the indentured Indians on the island that didn’t eat meat,” Poppy Thompson, who runs the ItalFresh pop-up food van with her partner Dan Thompson, tells The Independent. 

Cooked on open coals, traditional Ital dishes include one-pot stews brimming with fruits and vegetables which grow in the Jamaican bush, including yams, peppers and rice seasoned with spring onions, garlic, thyme, scotch bonnet, allspice, nutmeg and limes.

Running through Ital food is the Rastafarian concept of livity, which is based in the idea that the lifeforce of God, or Jah, exists within all living things, from people to animals. The term Ital stems from the word “vital”.