Though “Veganuary,” a campaign to get people to eat vegan for January, may be coming to a close, the vegan food scene in London is growing like a weed. Plant-based eating is big business and becoming a very tasty one, too. Forget rubbery tofu and bland beans, vegan menus are now de rigueur everywhere from five-star hotels and pubs to fast food—plus, new dedicated street food markets, and even the big supermarkets, have introduced vegan products. Here are Luxury Travel Advisor’s top picks for vegan visitors.
From Elegant Eateries to "Junk Food"
Ormer at Flemings Mayfair, the elegant restaurant at the five-star Flemings Hotel in the heart of Mayfair run by Michelin-starred chef Shaun Rankin, offers a vegan menu that is both beautiful and delicious. Salads featuring beets or heirloom tomatoes, while delicate in appearance, are bold in flavor. The well-seasoned veg comes with accompanying sorbets. We also loved the lentil salad and the potato gnocchi with truffle and mushroom. We were wowed by a spectacular finish: a coconut parfait with mango and a tuile made of tapioca. Chocoholics will love the chilled vegan chocolates with coffee, each filled with different sorbets. Ormer was buzzing on a Wednesday evening in January; the vegan menu is a great value, as the starters and desserts range from £8-10 and the main was £14.
Notting Hill, catering to the local fit, on-trend "yummy mummies" and their healthy spouses and offspring, has several healthy vegan restaurants. Farmacy is best for poke bowls and London’s best veggie burgers (and even cocktails). Redemption, which has a vegan, sugar-free and wheat-free menu and an alcohol-free bar, may sound blah, but is surprisingly tasty. (Think: barbecue jackfruit, Buddha bowls and wild mushroom risotto.) And the restaurant that started the trend: Nama, where all the food is raw as well as vegan—everything from pasta and pizza to wraps and bowls; plus they offer raw food cooking courses.
Vegan "junk food" is a thing, let's not forget, and this is what you find in Hackney, Camden and Brixton, best described as neighborhoods where hipsters hang. The U.K.’s first vegan "chicken shop," Temple Of Seitan opened in Hackney last year and boasts a fast food menu of burgers, wings, wraps, fries and mac & cheese—all 100 percent plant-based. The Hackney branch is so busy they are opening a second location in Camden. Already thriving in Camden, however, is Biff’s Jackshack, which offers a similar burger and BBQ menu, but all made of the versatile jackfruit. London has its first 100 percent vegan pub as of this month, The Spread Eagle in Hackney, with sexy Mexican street food served Thursday through Sundays from Club Mexicana. The menu has all the standards: tacos, burritos and nachos—you won’t find chick peas and chia seeds here! A more relaxed place in Hackney, is Lele’s Cafe and Patisserie, which has stunning pastries and serves breakfast and lunch. For more vegan desserts, there’s Ms. Cupcake in Brixton with rich cupcakes (of course), layer cakes, cookies, shakes and even whoopee pies.
Soho House, which owns a group of private member clubs and restaurants, and operators of The Ned, a new, swanky hotel in London, has introduced vegan items across its restaurants. We tried a lovely roasted squash salad at the High Road House in Chiswick, and you can find similar at various Soho House locations. For delicious Indian that is fully vegetarian, head to Sagar, with locations in Covent Garden, Fitzrovia and Hammersmith. Top tip: order the vegan thali plate to sample a bit of everything. Note: Sagar has a vegan menu, as well.
A few ubiquitous (and delicious) London restaurant chains now offer vegan menus. Out top pick is pan-Asian Wagamama, particularly the Kare Burosu, a vast bowl of ramen with fried tofu and mushrooms. Pret a Manger has opened three veggie-only locations (two in east London and one in Soho), which have extensive vegan choices, and the healthy fast-food chain Leon has a strong vegan game with mezze plates, salads, black bean bowls and more.
Vegan-Only Street Food
London has two Saturday markets Broadway Vegan Market from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Hackney Downs Vegan Market, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; they are not too far so it’s possible to sample both, though the offerings are similar—wraps, dips, various burgers, BBQ and sweets.
Britain’s biggest supermarket, Tesco, unveiled its range of 100 percent plant-based meals to be sold in 600 stores this January, following nearly every other major supermarket chain: Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and, of course, Whole Foods, which already cater to the vegan market. It’s safe to say, vegans won’t go hungry in London!