Veganism; it’s not raising eyebrows anymore. Even half a decade ago, the lifestyle choice was still met with scepticism — with dietary diatribes raining down on those who chose to cut meat, eggs and dairy out of their lives.
But times change. Today, studies show that as many as a third of Britons have made serious steps towards reducing their meat intake, while the number of people committing wholeheartedly to veganism has increased four-fold. Supermarkets have dedicated entire aisles to the idea, sportspeople have broken world records on vegan diets — and restaurants offering plant-only menus are springing up all across the world.
In fact, 2021 is predicted to see the biggest uptake of ‘Veganuary’ since the concept’s inauguration in 2014 — despite lockdowns and shut-up shops, cafés and pubs. But it’ll take more than a pesky pandemic to stop the Capital’s clean-eating brigade; so here’s where to get your vegan fix in London…
Best for fine dining: Pied à Terre
Who are they? London’s longest-standing Michelin Star restaurant, that’s who. But Pied à Terre’s real success story comes in the form of its much-celebrated vegan menus. Award-winning; mouth-watering.
What’s on the menu? Each week during lockdown, the Pied Team are creating new vegan dishes, based on those award-winning vegan menus, for us to eat at home — featuring everything from White Bean & Truffle Soup to Aubergine Papoutsakia.
What should I order? Go big and go home. The takeaway Vegan Feast For Two changes week-on-week — with dishes for early January including Gnocchi with Basil & Kale Pesto, Pineapple Panna Cotta and Globe Artichoke Soup.
Best for burgers, Neat Burger
Who are they? Lewis Hamilton’s clean-eating burger joint. Last summer, when the racing driver covered Gentleman’s Journal, he told us: “We’ve got three outlets now, selling burgers and fries. And it’s all vegan — even down the packaging…”
What’s on the menu? More than those neat, non-meat burgers, that’s for sure. There’s also Chick’n Burgers, Neat Dogs and Neat Nuggets begging to be sampled — along with vegan side sauces, drinks and ice cream.
What should I order? The Big Stack; a double Neat Meat patty, with triple bun, lettuce, onions and pickle. All finished off with lashings of the moreish Tangy Big Stack Sauce.
Best for a delivery box: Gauthier Soho
Who are they? Soho critics’ favourite restaurant; and the first Michelin-starred venue in Britain to offer a vegan tasting menu in 2015. They even won ‘Best Vegan Menu’ at the PETA Vegan Food Awards in 2016.
What’s on the menu? Decadent seasonal plates, with highlights including ‘faux gras’, truffle tortellini with golden Enoki mushrooms and rainbow Swiss chard parcels — accompanied by an optional wine pairing flight.
What should I order? With nationwide delivery, the lockdown-beating Gauthier Vegan Box. Just £75, it comes stuffed with delights from Smoked Kohlrabi Carpaccio and Pumpkin Thai Red Curry to a finger-licking Rum & Pineapple Financier.
Best for pizza: Purezza
Who are they? The UK’s first fully vegan pizzeria. Based in Camden, having initially made a reputable name for itself in Brighton, Purezza prides itself on its innovative cheese alternatives, which will have even the most militant dairy-lovers impressed.
What’s on the menu? The team here have created their own vegan mozzarella in-house from fermented brown rice milk, and also offer raw cashew cheeses, a ricotta-style cheese and a creamy coconut cheese.
What should I order? The One That’s Telling Porkies — A pizza on a white base with melted vegan cheese, mixed wild forest mushrooms, marinated pulled BBQ pieces and sundried tomatoes.
Best for ‘junk food’: Biff’s Jack Shack
Who are they? A hip haunt in North London billed as being “less vegan preachy, more Venice Beach-y” — and seeking to upturn any assumptions of vegan food being simply healthy salads or sad-looking bean burgers.
What’s on the menu? The team’s signature crispy jackfruit is the real standout here: an impeccable Kentucky-fried stand-in that’s braised, double dipped in panko breadcrumbs and fried to create a meat-like texture.
What should I order? It’s got to be the wings. First launched in 2017, these tender 12-spiced jackfruit miracles are even served on a sugarcane bone for an authentic feel. Perfect for those missing meat this Veganuary.
Best for a curry, SpiceBox
Who are they? Fiery mavericks in Walthamstow. The SpiceBox team make “fresh modern spins on curry house classics — which happen to be vegan”.
What’s on the menu? Cashew & Coconut Korma. Jackfruit Jalfrezi. Chana Masala. Shroom Keema. Red Lentil Tarka Dhal. Need we go on? Or are you are hungry as we are?
What should I order? Skip dinner, and try the fabulous brunch. The Full Indian boasts spicy jackfruit beans, crispy Bombay potatoes, organic Parsi ‘eggs’, pickled pink onions, date and tamarind chutney and coconut chutney — all served with an organic toasted naan.
Best for fried “chicken”: Temple of Seitan
Who are they? Real gamechangers. Temple of Seitan was set up by Melbourne couple Rebecca McGuinness and Patrick O’Shea back in 2016, when McGuinness (who used to work for KFC before turning vegan) wanted to find a satisfactory replacement for the chicken she was missing so badly.
What’s on the menu? Alongside its world-famous fried chicken substitute, the sides are also great. They include a delicious gluten-free organic coleslaw and a stand-out mac ‘n’ cheese (which you’d swear could never be dairy-free).
What should I order? Buffalo Wings — but not alone. Treat yourself to a full flight of sauces (Chipotle, Ranch, Classic, Lemon Pepper and Gravy) for the full Temple experience.
Best for a pub lunch: The Spread Eagle
Who are they? It’s an honorary mention — as it’s currently closed. But, opened in January 2018, The Spread Eagle is London’s first fully-fledged vegan pub. Everything here — from the bar stools to the drinks and the food — is 100% vegan.
What’s on the menu? The food offering is headed up by Merial Armitage, founder of vegan street food truck Club Mexicana, with dishes like jackfruit tacos and Californian-style burritos stuffed with ‘beer’ battered tofish.
What should I order? Head down on a Sunday, loosen your belt and order the Beet Wellington — with all the vegan trimmings.
Looking to try something new? These are the best London restaurants delivering fine dining to your front door…
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