It’s official: veganism is hip – and it’s popular. No longer is it OK for a restaurant to serve up a bowl of undressed lettuce and call it dinner. Culture Trip has assembled a list of the newest, most delicious plant-based food available in the capital. You definitely won’t miss meat at these places.
Veganism is on the rise, with a 2016 Ipsos MORI poll of 10,000 people commissioned by the Vegan Society discovering that Britain’s vegan population had gone from 150,000 to 542,000 in just a decade. With these growing numbers comes an explosion of vegan food in London, from junk food to desserts to hearty traditional British dishes. There’s something for everyone.
True to its Soho location, Mildreds is a timeless combination of buzz and delicious food. With a no-booking policy, this spot is perennially full and bustling – expect a little bit of a wait. Once you gain entry to the crowded restaurant, the options promise a culinary trip around the world in which everything is vegetarian or vegan. The restaurant, which also has two other locations, is the true definition of a solid bet whatever you order. One favourite is the ‘bleeding’ burger, which looks and tastes like meat while being made from mushrooms and beetroot juice. Don’t forget to leave room for dessert, as there are plenty of delectable items to choose from.
You’re a vegan, you love being a vegan, but you miss fried chicken? Thankfully, Temple of Seitan is here to answer your cravings. The spot on Brick Lane makes chicken nuggets, fillets, wings and burgers that look and taste just like the real thing but are instead made of seitan, a wheat protein with a meat-like texture. They also make a vegan mac and cheese that’s a cheesy, creamy treat. Temple of Seitan proves that vegan food isn’t just lettuce leaves and lentils – and that going vegan doesn’t mean saying goodbye to junk food.
The appropriately named Redemption bar specialises in vegan, wheat- and sugar-free foods and alcohol-free drinks – but it’s actually a fun place to head to dinner. The food is prepared with care, and everything is fresh, seasonal and not as strict as you might think, with burgers, pasta and BBQ sandwiches all on the menu. There are two locations – in Notting Hill and Shoreditch – with a third coming soon. The drinks are also pretty adventurous, with the menu boasting creations such as an activated charcoal martini and a Raspberry Royale with raspberry purée and rose essence – perfect if you want a mid-week drink without the morning-after headache.
The first pub in London to go 100 percent vegan, it’s still flying the flag for delicious vegan food that will satisfy meat eaters as well as those on a plant-based diet. The kitchen is run by Club Mexicana, a restaurant that serves up banging Mexican junk food that you wouldn’t even know was vegan. Highlights include jackfruit barbacoa, baja tofish and potato-and-chorizo tacos, deep-fried cheese with vinegar red hot sauce and a Mexican fried chick’n burger.
This restaurant calls itself modern vegetarian, but there’s plenty of vegan fare on offer too. The dishes are thoughtful and seasonal and often come with a twist that surprises. Much of the produce is grown in the vegetable garden in the back of the property. Definitely sample one of the expertly mixed cocktails, and the sweet potato curry is always a good idea. Brunch is an excellent bet too, although the restaurant doesn’t take bookings, so head down early.
This is the best place to come for vegan chicken wings. Specialising in jackfruit, a neutral-tasting fruit whose texture when cooked resembles that of pulled pork, the guys at the Jack Shack bread, deep-fry and serve their vegan creations in the form of ‘chicken’ wings, burgers and pretty much anything else you can think of. They also serve London’s first vegan poutine, featuring fries topped with vegan cheese curds, porcini mushrooms, seitan bacon and gravy.
Vegan bakery Cookies and Scream is worth checking out for dessert even if you’re not vegan. Its little café on Holloway Road makes the most mouthwatering desserts like pies, cookies, scream shakes and doughnuts. The menu changes daily, but the offerings are so indulgent that there’s no way you’ll miss dairy. They also knock up a mean birthday cake, if you’re looking for one for a vegan friend.