THE Isle of Wight's first dedicated vegan restaurant has opened in Ventnor.

Diners flocked to the opening night at Pulse on Saturday — and it was so busy there were four sittings, each one fully booked.

Proprietor Sandra O'Toole said it had long been her dream to open a restaurant.

When she saw the Pier Street property — formerly the El Toro Contento tapas restaurant — was available, she decided it was now or never.

"I've always liked the look of the place, and I knew I had to go for it," said Sandra, 54, of Ventnor High Street.

"People say you have to follow your passions, and they're right."

Sandra founded the Isle of Wight Vegan Festival and used to have a mobile catering unit, The Keep Smiling Cafe, which she would take to festivals around the country.

In recent years, however, she has suffered with spinal arthritis and it became too physically demanding.

When asked if she had spotted a gap in the market, as more people choose a vegan diet, she said: "I'm not that clever. It's something I've wanted to do for a while because there's nowhere for me to eat.

"I'm taking a big chance by starting my own business, and doing it on a shoestring, but already it feels like my little haven."

A committed vegan, Sandra said a plant based diet was kinder, healthier and better for the planet.

The opening night menu at Pulse featured parsnip and watercress soup, bruschetti with salsa verde, courgetti with roasted vegetable chilli, dhal and carrot cake ice cream with fig coulis.

Sandra, who describes her food as home cooking with a chefy twist, will be cooking herself until she recruits a new chef.