Veganism has skyrocketed in recent years, with more and more of us choosing to adopt a plant-based diet.
According to a recent survey, more than 3.5 million British people now identify as vegan, while almost 250,000 omnivores gave Veganuary a go this year. This change in attitude towards our diet has not gone unnoticed by the London restaurant scene: many of the capital’s finest dining spots are adding innovative and delicious vegan dishes to their menus to meet modern needs. The days of bland, boring vegan dining are long gone. So, we’ve rounded up some of the best vegan-friendly spots in London…
Vegan fine dining is on the up, thanks to restaurants like Michelin-starred Mayfair spot Alyn Williams, found inside swanky hotel The Westbury. Diners can enjoy a creative vegan tasting menu centred around seasonal British produce, with dishes including roasted cauliflower with seaweed and celeriac pasta with black truffle for the main event, and a tasty rhubarb, custard and marjoram for dessert. £90pp
One of London’s best vegetarian restaurants known for its adventurous, innovative dishes, Vanilla Black offers an impressive five-course vegan tasting menu. Enjoy savoury dishes like cauliflower croquette with pickled cauliflower, endive and cocoa; and fried shiitake, pine nut puree and crispy enoki, followed by a refreshing coconut sorbet served with coconut crumble to finish. £55pp, wine pairing an extra £32pp
Plant-based restaurant The Gate was ahead of the curve, opening back in 1989 – years before vegetarian fever took off in the UK. A staple on the London veggie scene, they have two locations across London in Islington and Hammersmith, with another opening this year in St John’s Wood. Most of their dishes are vegan, including the delicious aubergine schnitzel, layered with cashew cheese and basil pesto, the wild mushroom risotto cake, and the spicy tortillas served with sweet potato, corn, black beans and guacamole. You’ll be spoilt for choice at this gem of a restaurant.
A little oasis of calm amid the hustle and bustle of central London, Selfridges Hemsley + Hemsley café is a delightful place to go for lunch after a spot of shopping. With a menu created by healthy food gurus Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley, it’s no surprise the café has a hearty selection of wholesome vegan dishes on offer. Expect big plates of goodness: quinoa with roasted vegetable and basil pesto; spiced red lentil soup and squash and spiralized beetroot noodle salad. Bonus – everything is free from gluten, refined sugars and hydrogenated vegetable oils, so you can leave feeling suitably smug.
Hidden away in the streets of Vauxhall you’ll find Bonnington Café, a green-living, eco-friendly community café. Due to the rolling roster of cooks from different nations, the menu changes regularly, but you can guarantee vegan-friendly, wholesome dishes amid a friendly, cosy atmosphere. Cash only, BYOB
Indian has long been a favourite among vegetarians, but Dishoom – arguably London’s most popular Indian restaurant – have taken it a step further with their designated vegan menu. Feast on vegetable samosas, spicy chickpea curry and the cleverly named ‘No-Butter-Bhutta’, grilled corn-on-the-cob rubbed with chilli, salt and lime. Alternatively, head there for wholesome plant-based breakfast, paired with a refreshing vegan lassi.
Thought Peruvian cooking was all about ceviche? Let Old Street hotspot Andina change your mind. Vegan offerings include plantain fritters with chancaca honey, fried yucca with salsa verde, squash stew, lime-scented quinoa salad and wok-fried mushrooms with papas fritas and garlic rice.
Husband and wife duo Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer head up Fitzrovia’s Honey & Co., a Middle Eastern restaurant with plenty of plant-based options to offer. Think butternut squash falafels with tahini, lentil stew with burnt aubergine, marinated aubergines with tomatoes and herbs, and creamy hummus with pitta bread. Décor is clean and bright, with a friendly, relaxed ambience.
The OXO Tower has been a recognisable London institution since it was built in the 1900s, but what’s inside it is by no means antiquated. The OXO Tower Restaurant has tapped into the undeniably huge spike in demand for plant-powered food by launching a vegan afternoon tea, available throughout the month of January. The creativity behind this menu is clear and appeals to vegans and non-vegans alike. If you’re not completely stuffed from the array of sandwiches on the first tier, which includes homemade ‘cheese’ and pickle and golden beetroot with aged balsamic in rosemary Russian rye bread, continue on with the second tier which holds an ‘avocado shot’ made with creamy avo and almond, chestnut and mushroom ‘sausage’ rolls. All this is to be enjoyed with the homemade piccalilli, and a minty-coconutty dip. The sweet selection includes scones with clotted ‘cream’ and jam, mini lemon ‘meringue’ pies. To top it all off, the view from the OXO Tower Restaurant, along with the ultra-friendly staff, make this afternoon tea experience a memorable one. £45pp (including a glass of prosecco).
Chef Vivek Singh has introduced vegan tasting menus across all the Cinnamon Collection restaurants, which offer up innovative Indian cuisine. A number of vibrant plant-based dishes are available, including a banana chilli with fenugreek, raisin and bitter gourd; watermelon chaat; spiced aubergine and cauliflower fritters; and kale and quinoa kofta with date and ginger. Available through January and beyond
Middle-Eastern inspired eatery The Good Egg has always had a great plant-based offering, but they’ve recently collated it into one menu for ease. Available at their Soho branch, the ‘Green Menu’ has both brunch and dinner dishes, including their famous Tel Aviv-inspired aubergine pitta, known over there as the ‘Sabich’: a simple concept – pitta stuffed to the brim – but notoriously tasty. The vegan version is filled with tahini, amba, zhoug, fried aubergine, pickles and crispy spiced potatoes, with the option to go gluten-free by taking out the bread. Other menu highlights include Beetroot Reuben, a whirlwind of flavours within a pretzel challah – roasted beetroot with tabasco-spiced cashew Russian dressing, dairy-free coconut cheese sauce, garlic, dill and crispy onions.
While not totally vegan, the plant-based offering at The Daisy Green Collection is one to highlight. We can personally vouch for their delicious vegan sharing board, featuring fire-roasted aubergine, smoky tofu steak, crispy wild rice salad and a vegan Bolognese stuffed pepper. They also recently launched a new vegan collaboration between Plates’ Kirk Haworth (Sat Bains, The French Laundry) and Daisy Green’s Prue Freeman, available at Scarlett Green. On the menu you’ll find dishes including BBQ vegetable and kimchi taco with whipped avocado, aubergine, slow baked carrot and house pickles; beetroot and cumin falafel with rare grains; and a butternut and carrot curry with black rice, toasted broccolini and kaffir lime. Various locations. daisygreenfood.com
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