The vegan food scene has come a long way since the dull days of lentil soup and tofu sausages. There’s a steadily growing demand for the cuisine as more and more people are dabbling in, if not completely adopting, a vegan way of life.
London has taken the hint, seemingly sprouting up a new vegan spot every month. The results are varied and delicious, making it an excellent time for omnivores to enjoy a vegetable-filled treat, and vegans to revel in finally having more than a token choice on the menu.
While not all exclusively vegan, here are some of the British capital’s best spots to savor a plant-based plate.
This U.S. export screams of being made for the Instagram age, with neon tube light messages scrawled on the wall, hanging chairs, tropical-print restrooms and playfully branded menus and packaging. It all feels fresh rather than forced and, most importantly, it delivers on the service and food front.
By Chloe’s wide-ranging menu makes use of organic and seasonal ingredients, with pleasing results — you’d never think the banana bread wasn’t loaded with butter and eggs.
The guac burger and quinoa taco salad are staples for good reason, as are the air-baked fries, which are as crunchy and indulgent as their deep-fried counterparts. The seasonal lemonade (sweet and spiked with basil leaves) is a great take-out cooler for sunny days.
Lunching with your pooch? You’ll find oat-based Pupcakes and peanut butter dog bones on the menu, too.
This elevated bohemian café is particularly charming in the summer, when the windows are open and you can look down onto Neal’s Yard, one of London’s most colorful courtyards tucked off the beaten streets of Covent Garden.
Take a seat at one of the long wooden communal tables and dine on beautifully presented, raw-centric vegetarian and vegan dishes, such as pear and hibiscus cheesecake, baked sweet potato wedges with cashew aioli, and the favorite green burger (a meaty shiitake mushroom patty sandwiched in a vibrant gluten-free bun), before reemerging full and ready to take on the crowds in this ever-popular part of town.
Over on Islington’s Upper Street, you’ll find the newest incarnation of Wild Food Café, which opened at the end of 2018. This sleeker sibling serves up the same selection of dishes with a Moorish-tiled pink counter lined with tall stools that offer a prime view of the open kitchen action — great for solo diners.
This East End curry house has all the flavor and spice you’d expect from Indian cuisine (as well as equally punchy décor), and it just so happens to be 100 percent vegan.
The former street stall, which started life on founder Grace Regan’s doorstep (literally) on Columbia Road in 2016, opened its first permanent restaurant in January. Head here for weekend brunch and opt for one of the doffles, the venue’s signature dosa waffles made from fermented lentil and rice flour batter and topped with savory and sweet toppings. Spice up your order with a rum chai cocktail.
And for dinner, you can’t go wrong with the creamy cashew and coconut chick’n korma, a convincingly meaty curry packed with vegetables and served with a just-baked naan (Indian flatbread).
Book ahead to guarantee a table on those busy weekend evenings.
The first outpost of this plant-based eatery opened in Soho in 1988 at a time when vegetarianism was still considered a bit on the unconventional side. Shaking up the scene with a more flavorful take on the cuisine (and a no-reservations policy), it slowly but steadily won over the crowds and became a hit.
Thirty years and three more restaurants later (including King’s Cross and Camden locations), Mildreds is still as popular and busy as ever. You still can’t pre-book (except for large groups), but the restaurants serve a varied selection of cocktails and beer to enjoy while you wait.
And you’ll be rewarded for your patience. Many of the dishes are either vegan or can be adapted to be vegan, such as the deliciously buttery pumpkin and sage tortellini.
Elsewhere on the menu, expect golden slabs of warm, spicy cornbread; Sri Lankan curry, and homey mains, such as the wood-roasted mushroom and ale pie. Those who think they’ll be left hungry or missing meat will be pleasantly converted by Mildreds’ hearty fare.
Another London newcomer, this vegan café (abbreviated to WAVE) aims to serve up the same variety of indulgent food and drink that omnivores have the pick of — this means brunch-friendly “salmon” and “cream cheese” bagels, mushroom “sausage” rolls and indulgent soya ice cream Freakshakes.
Owners Caitlyn Badham-Thornhill and Sophie Beale took design inspiration from some of their favorite destinations: Bali, Australia and Morocco. The result is décor as delicious as the dishes, transporting you to a beachy-chic retreat with peach-colored walls, dragon trees and cushion-piled seating atop patterned rugs, with a courtyard that will be packed come summer.
Though not a vegan restaurant per se, this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel’s new vegan afternoon tea menu is a worthy addition to the list, allowing plant-faithful followers to have their cake and eat it, too.
There’s everything you could want from a traditional afternoon tea — delicate finger sandwiches, scones with housemade jams and dairy-free cream, a selection of cakes and patisserie — including the white tablecloth, bone china and silverware you’d expect from this iconic London stay.
Served under the glass atrium roof of the Thames Foyer, the service is accompanied by the tunes of the piano, under the watchful eyes of some of the hotel’s most famous past guests: Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner and Charlie Chaplin — or at least British pop artist McAlpine Miller-painted portraits of them.
Japanese cuisine may bring to mind photo-worthy platters of sushi, but you won’t find fish on the menu at this no-frills spot. A short stroll from King’s Cross underground station, this cozy venue is cited as “Europe’s first organic and vegan Japanese restaurant.”
The menu focuses on the healing power of food, and ingredients are selected for their health benefits — for example, seaweed is served with tempura to offset the negative effects of oily food on your digestive system.
Everything is freshly prepared to order (bear that in mind if you’re in a rush), and there’s a selection of vegan wine and beer to sip while you wait. Skip the bento boxes and order an array of starters and vegetable-packed sushi to share with the table.