As a vegan it is not impossible to still enjoy the pleasures of eating out, you may require some phoning ahead (or checking of websites), and you may not be able to be so spontaneous, but once you know the places to go and the types of dishes that are easily veganised in any restaurant there’s no stopping you!
It is very common now for establishments to have separate vegan menus, most will happily prepare you something off menu and if all else fails, many a vegan has survived on chips and salad and endured the pitying looks of their non-vegan friends.
Tips when dining on particular cuisines:
- Indian – although these restaurants can have a great choice of vegetable and lentil dishes it is traditional for ghee to be used in the preparation, however many places use vegetable oil so be sure to ask. Naan bread also contains dairy, try chapattis or paratha instead but make sure you ask for these without butter which is sometimes added before serving.
- Thai – fish sauce may be added to vegetable dishes (and still listed under vegetarian on the menu!)
- Italian – in some cases the pizza bases will be vegan in which case you can order without the cheese, check the pasta is egg free. In London chains like Pizza Express, Zizzi’s, Ask and Village Pizza all have vegan cheese options, it is not uncommon now for independent pizza restaurants to also have vegan cheese (this brings tears to the eye of THV from 10 years ago).
- Chinese – noodle dishes may be made with egg noodles so ask for rice noodles (vermicelli) instead. Also you may see vegetables with oyster sauce listed under vegetarian dishes (!), although a veggie alternative made from mushrooms is available it’s unlikely this will be used in a restaurant so check.
- Ethiopian – most if not all the vegetarian dishes are vegan too. Go eat it!
By the far the best part of eating out is visiting new vegan eateries turning cruelty free never stopped us from being foodies if anything we are more into trying new/eating out than we were before. In London especially we are very fortunate to have a wealth 100% vegan places to eat at. In recent years chain restaurants noticing the growth in veganism have created dedicated vegan menus (, it is also not unheard for previously non-vegan independent restaurants, cafes and vendors to switch to 100% plant-based (we always do a little dance when this happens). Everywhere that you contact and ask about their vegan produce will help promote veganism and encourage companies to provide for us. When writing or phoning it is best to actually define what being vegan is to ensure that the person really understands your requirements and there are no misunderstandings! And if they get it wrong give feedback, nobody wants to be an arsehole but if you inform them in a polite respectful manner what the issues are they can learn. If you don’t tell them they will continue and upset the next vegan down the line, personally we believe all chefs should relish the challenge of creating an imaginative vegan meal and if you advertise vegan options ALL staff should understand what that means.
Some of THV’s favourite places to eat (♥ indicates a vegan establishment):
We recommend Vegan London for a more comprehensive list of restaurants that serve only vegan food or try following vegansofldn on Instagram (and their hashtag) to see the latest places the kids are eating at these days.
2017 was the year London became home to not one but two all vegan markets. Both every Saturday and within 1.5 miles of each other. Still check out regular markets too though, vegan stall holders are infiltrating everywhere (we also do a little dance when this happens) but also the non-vegan stalls may have vegan options. Also look out for one-off events, Planet Organic had a series of mini markets at several branches inviting customers to meet their vegan suppliers. Some of our favourite markets and we’re also including the vegan markets in though we haven’t tried them yet below (marked with a ♥) because duh VEGAN!:
- Whitecross Street Market
- Hackney Downs Vegan Market♥
- Broadway Vegan Market Market♥
- Boiler House Food Hall
- Borough Market
- Greenwich Market
- Spitalfields Market
- Camden Market
Caterers & Supper clubs
Want someone else to cook for you in the comfort of home? We feel that. Lucky for you London has some amazing caterers who also do pop-up supper clubs. We have been to a few in our time, it’s a different kind of experience to eating in a restaurant, for one you get to meet the person cooking for you and it also gives you the opportunity socialise in an intimate setting, if that’s your bag. Try websites like Eventbrite to see what is going on in your area. Below are some London based vegan chefs and cooks that THV has had the pleasure of being cooked for by *swoon*.
If you’re a newbie you won’t remember that back in the day vegan festivals used to take place once a year. Generally at Christmas time and were pretty small scale. Vegan festivals are these days take over huge venues and can run for days at a time. What hasn’t changed is that amazing feeling of being in an environment where you know everything is vegan and not a single label needs to be read. It’s all a good chance to try before you buy and discover new products. We’ve listed a few festivals below, some of these will appear in more than one location up and down the country:
Events & Meetups
Vegan meetups and potlucks are one of the oldest and easiest ways for vegans to make friends, find support and the opportunity to socialise with like-minded individuals. Facebook is a good place to find meetups and groups in your area. A more recent development is events which combine or present certain aspects of vegan festivals, meets up and vegan markets in a new format. This can be a night of music, drinks and food or an education-focused forum where attendees can attend talks and workshops.
All the major coffee houses (as well as some independent ones) will offer plant milk. Why not do the planet a favour and use a travel mug? We like Keep Cups who have a glass option if you prefer not to use plastic. As a financial incentive, certain coffee chains will also give you money off if you bring in your own cup, so the cup will eventually pay for itself. But we guess that’s if you drink as much coffee as us!
Friends and family brave enough to invite The Vegan over for dinner? We are fortunate enough to have very supportive folk around us who make sure that we are catered for – buying in ingredients specifically, Googling what vegans eat (*wonders if they end up here* *waves*) and usually pretty damn pleased with themselves. We recommend offering to bring a dish along or a dessert to make life a little easier for everyone.
These days most supermarkets or sandwich shops stock the token vegan sandwich including seasonal options. Independent sandwich shops are good, where they make sandwiches fresh as you can make sure they don’t use spread etc. Should you be really stuck, yes even McDonalds has some vegan options.