ONE might safely assume that life at the only vegan club in football is a bit wackier than the norm but the idea that Forest Green Rovers is some kind of new-age, hippy commune masquerading as something else is clearly the stuff of stereotypes.

Since Dale Vince, the green energy industrialist who bought Forest Green in 2010, rocked up in this corner of the Cotswolds, there has been a revolution taking place at The New Lawn stadium.

Having become vegan in 2015, Forest Green's next step was to become carbon neutral in 2017; they hope to have taken up residence in a new landscape-friendly wooden stadium in the near future.

On a practical level embracing Vince's strategy has meant significant change: there is a ban on burger sales and the first-team kit is made from recycled coffee waste; meanwhile, the players have warmed to the theme by buying electric cars and installing solar panels in their homes. That's not to say the club has been distracted by these projects off the field. On the contrary.

One glance at the Sky Bet League Two table is enough to dispel any notions that the Gloucestershire-based outfit is not deadly serious about where it sees its future. Certainly the three Scots – Nicky Cadden, Regan Hendry and Jack Aitchison – who ply their trade at the club find nothing odd in the progressive methods employed nor are they in any doubt about the direction they are headed.

“It definitely does [make you more environmentally conscious],” says Hendry, who joined the club in the summer when his contract at Raith Rovers expired. “You can see it here at the training ground, they are doing a lot to help the environment. Little things like no plastic bottles, things like that. I was aware of it as soon as I came in, I changed the way I operate.”

“I've cut down on my meat a little bit,” agrees Aitchison. “I don't eat as much of it at home. I think the boys car share so that helps, it's one car between four.”

Cadden is another who has opened up his horizons. “I have been supplementing it [meat] with tofu. Some of the stuff you get [in the canteen] here I'm thinking 'oh, I don't know if I am going to like that' but it's actually really nice.”

The three are huddled around a table at the club's training centre on a beautiful autumn afternoon and are eager to convey just how good life feels at the minute.

Cadden has been tearing it up in League Two so far this season and has contributed three goals and five assists in the club's blazing start to the campaign that was recognised when the newly appointed Rob Edwards – formerly England Under-16s head coach – was named manager of the month for August.

The former Livingston and Morton winger was a member of the team that reached the play-offs last season and admits that while that squad – managed by Mark Cooper – was unlucky, he is enjoying a new-found freedom under Edwards.

“I just feel as if I am really confident at the minute,” Cadden, 25, says. “The gaffer really gives me a lot of praise and is saying 'just do what you do', and it is working. When I played in Scotland we [the teams he played for] never really had much of the ball. At Forest Green, we have 60 per cent possession, maybe even higher, so we're controlling games a lot more.”

Hendry, 23, laughs as he says he is finding the adaptation easier and pays an indirect compliment to John McGlynn, his former manager at Stark's Park who demands a passing game. “He [Cadden] came from a team that was just lumping the ball and chasing after it. The way we played at Raith last season is very similar to the way Forest Green play. The stadiums and the teams are just a wee upgrade from teams in the Championship. Down here you only play a team twice and that is a lot better because by the time you play a team a third or fourth time you know exactly what you are going to get.”

Whatever's in the secret sauce the chefs serve in the canteen it seems to be working for former Celtic starlet Aitchison – who arrived on a season-long loan from Barnsley on the final day of the transfer window – too. This is his second spell at the club having signed on for a similar deal two years ago, and he says there are marked differences between life in Scotland to that of England, albeit the presence of his two compatriots was a deciding factor in his decision to return.

“Compared to Scottish football it is a lot more organised. The ball is on the ground a lot more, [whereas] up in Scotland it is in the air more and that didn't suit my game.” The way you travel, the training ground . . . but a big one for me signing was because Reegs and Cadds were here.”

Hendry, a former Celtic youth team captain, who was a target for Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibernian in the summer, says that in making the journey south he was completing a move that had been set in motion a few years earlier.

“Rich Hughes [the FGR head of recruitment] had watched me for Celtic Under-19s against Man City in a Youth Champions League game so I think he was always keeping an eye on me,” he says.

It was a deal that emphasises the club's commitment to a moneyball strategy, the presence of which was in evidence when Forest Green signed Aitchison, another former Celtic starlet who played in UEFA Youth League games.

It also shines a light on the struggle young players at Parkhead encounter. Anthony Ralston has forced his way into the first-team reckoning this season but he has been trying to kick down doors for years; for every academy product that succeeds there are hundreds of others who slip out of that door almost unnoticed.

Hendry and Aitchison fall into the latter category. Asked what the club could do to be more proactive when dealing with their youth players their answers are predictably depressing.

“I think communication goes a long way and if there is a bit more of that it can help everyone,” says Hendry. “I just never got the chance to make that step and there were times when I could have. I played a [bounce] game with the first team and we won 6-2. It was against St Mirren's first team and I scored four goals, two days later I wasn't training with the first team. A couple of times at Celtic there was just a lack of communication: I was kind of on the edge of something but was I actually?”

Aitchison, now 21, was simultaneously Celtic's youngest ever player and scorer when he made his debut under Brendan Rodgers in the 7-0 Premiership win over Motherwell in 2016. He says that a big part of the problem was that he felt as if he was no more than a jersey filler.

“Sometimes you would go up and just be used as a number, sometimes you would play left-back or right-back and that's not your position so how could you impress there? Yeah, it's communication . . . and being told the truth.”

But that was then and this is now and with everything blossoming at The New Lawn, it is hardly surprising that they would encourage other young Scottish players to follow their lead.

“I'm kind of gutted I haven't done it sooner,” says Hendry. “I had a chance but I'm quite close to my family and I didn't think I could do it at the time. I would definitely advise anyone who hasn't made the cut at a big team to take a chance down here rather than to take a chance in Scotland and drop down a league there.”

If Hendry fancied a new challenge, Aitchison felt he had to get away for the sake of his game.

“Scotland just didn't really suit me,” says the midfielder. “I just wanted to get out of my comfort zone. That's what I would recommend – it's not always about being in your comfort zone, you need to make new friends, [it's] about doing things for yourself, growing up and maturing.”

It's barely six weeks into the new season but the signs are that Forest Green are in rude health. Today they travel to 17th placed Carlisle United with a four-point cushion over Leyton Orient in second. If they continue their trajectory they will likely fare better than last season by achieving automatic promotion to League One – but what of their three young Scots, what does the future hold for them?

“You want to be playing at the highest level,” adds Hendry. “I don't think the club are naïve. They know we won't be here for years. It was always the plan – come down, have a good few years, do a lot for the team, help them get promoted and get up the leagues. I want to go as high as I can.”

It is a sentiment echoed by Aitchison and Cadden but the latter has a loftier goal, too.

“I want to play for my country and to do that I need to play at the highest level that I can but my brother [Hibs midfielder Chris] has played for his country and I want to say that I have done that. That's my aim.”