...What do vegans even eat?
Potatoes? Beans with a side of beans? Raw kale from a hessian sack?
Anyone who has even so much as flirted with a plant-based diet knows that the above couldn't be further from the truth. When the term 'veganism' was first coined back in the 1940's, then there probably was quite a lot of self-righteous carrot-munching going on. As you can probably guess, it wasn't exactly easy to be vegan in the 40's - the 1944 edition of The Vegan News published a list of cruelty-free products, which, along with fruits and vegetables, included Kiwi shoe polish and Colgate toothpaste. Yum!
But now, veganism is so widespread and widely accepted that if you can think of a food, there’s a vegan equivalent. Pizza? Yep. Burgers? Tick. Afternoon tea? You bet. …Even Scotch eggs? Yes sir, even those. (Sorry about that.)
Vegan junk food is easy to come by in the U.K., from New York import by CHLOE to Camden Market staple Rudy's Dirty Vegan Diner. Don't worry, we're not dipping our toes in the 'is veganism healthy?' debate today (we like our toes, and wouldn't want to see anything happen to them...) It's just that with the advancement of cruelty-free meat and cheese substitutes, vegans are no strangers to some gut-busting indulgence. If anything, we tend to overcompensate. (Triple-stacked seitan cheeseburger topped with a hash brown, anyone?)
Even fast food establishments like Subway, Greggs and KFC are starting to see the benefits of introducing plant-based items to their menu ...and by benefits, we mean money. Lots of vegan money.
The colonel's eyes obviously have some very green dollar signs in them - or pound signs in this case - as KFC have taken a sharp left turn to release their very own vegan 'Impossible' burger at selected UK branches. The Impossible Burger is a Quorn fillet covered in the colonel's signature blend of herbs and spices, and is maybe so named because it's completely 'Impossible' to imagine a queue of hungry vegans falling over themselves to give money to an establishment not exactly famous for its empathetic attitude towards chickens. (But we're also not getting into the 'is it ethical to order the vegan option from KFC?' debate today. Again, our toes. We need them.)
…Yes, thank you, you can congratulate us on our stealth-like ability to talk about veganism whilst acrobatically dodging its hot-button debates later. Right now, we’ve got a list to make.
Read on to find out the best vegan-friendly experiences in the U.K!
Looking for a fun day out to whet your plant-based whistle? (Gross, sorry.) Need a gift for a picky vegan friend? Want to expand your culinary repertoire? You'll find something fun and cruelty-free from our selection below.
From vegan fried chicken to meat-free tacos, London is fast becoming a vegan’s paradise, so it’s no surprise that a savvy team of plant-based guides decided to create not one, but two tours of our trendy capital city. Vegan Food Tours offer both a street food tour of Camden for those with bottomless stomachs, and a more eclectic, varied vegan food tour of Shoreditch, featuring a mixture of small plates, desserts and indulgent dishes. Whether you want to dive into some junk food classics whilst soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of Camden, or sample a variety of plant-based offerings in Shoreditch, London Vegan Food Tours have you covered. Read on to find out more about their Shoreditch tour...
There’s no place quite like Shoreditch! Explore London’s artiest neighbourhood with this Shoreditch vegan food tour. During the 3 and a half delicious hours, you’ll explore the best vegan food Shoreditch has to offer, from raw vegan tapas, to street food and seasonal delicacies. Don’t let the word ‘tapas’ put you off – you’ll leave feeling very full! While you discover London’s finest vegan gastronomy, you’re likely to run into a few works of art along the way, painted by brilliant street artists who use the city as their canvas. This tour has the perfect balance of food and sightseeing, making it the ideal candidate for a day out. Prefer a more indulgent option? Read on to hear about the Camden tour...
This 2.5-hour tour will see you hop between Camden’s best street food vendors, sampling veganised junk food staples from fried ‘chicken’, to loaded nachos, to spicy tacos, so you don’t have to miss out on any of your old favourites. Explore the eccentric stalls and hidden gems of the market between feasts, and find the perfect souvenir to take home with you!
Vegans shouldn’t have to miss out on the British tradition
of afternoon tea, and luckily Brigit B’s Bakery is here to help. With plush,
feminine interiors and smartly-dressed waitstaff, Brigit B’s doesn’t look like
the sort of place you could typically get down on some quinoa. However, they’ve gone the extra mile to make the experience of afternoon tea accessible for all
Their afternoon tea boasts three delectable tiers of vegan indulgence, including mini baguettes filled with a mozzarella alternative and pesto, quinoa and mint verrine, sumptuous lemon cake, and – of course – vegan scones! Vegans heading for a day out in London with carnivorous family members needn’t fret. Brigit B’s Bakery also serves traditional afternoon tea, and most dietary requirements are catered for, including gluten-free. If you fancy a tipple with your food (and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t?) you can upgrade to a sophisticated Gin Afternoon Tea. After all, the only beverage more beloved by English people than tea is gin, right?
Perfectly-crafted cakes and savoury offerings, great service and a central Covent Garden location make Brigit B’s the perfect place to rest your feet between sightseeing in the capital.
The flavourful delights of Caribbean food needn’t be out of a vegan’s reach. Mother-daughter cooking duo Monica and Lee founded Tan Rosie Foods in 2010, offering a range of authentic sauces, spices, fudge and more. Since then, they have expanded to cooking lessons, perfect for anyone looking to learn the closely-guarded secrets of authentic Caribbean food, or to expand their cooking repertoire. Vegans booked onto one of their plant-based classes can look forward to cooking unique delicacies such as Fried Dumplings, Ital Stew, and Coconut & Callaloo Rice. The passion that Monica and Lee have for Caribbean food is obvious to see – and when food is made with love, it just tastes better!
When it comes to authentic Indian cooking, Kari Club founder Minesh Agnihotri knows his stuff.
Minesh learned how to cook as a child, taught by his mother, and carried this knowledge into adulthood. He founded one of Brighton's best loved Indian restaurants, Indian Summer.
Now, Minesh has turned his attention to teaching others through his meal-kit delivery service and practical classes, which he runs from his shop in Brighton. His encyclopaedic knowledge of his cuisine means that students can expect to learn a LOT of new things, from the origins of different Regional delicacies, to how to tell if the oil is hot enough by the behaviour of mustard seeds. Vegans certainly won’t be left out, as Minesh is happy to cater for all dietary requirements upon request. The genuine real life vegan writing this list can testify that Minesh’s class is a brilliant choice for meat-free customers, as a group of us recently took part in one of his classes. It was fantastic to see the amount of fresh vegetables used, and the way that the perfect alchemy of Indian spices can transform some grated sweet potato and carrot into the salad of dreams. Highlights include barbecuing a whole aubergine directly onto a gas hob, and attempting to roll Chapatti dough with a special rolling pin. (We can only thank Minesh for his patience, and apologise for our wonky Chapattis.)
“So many different cultural beliefs in India make the cuisine diverse and interesting. Vegan recipes in some parts of India are a way of life, and so nutritious. The use of cashew nut, gram flour, and melon seeds are a common sight, and are packed full of flavour! It’s not trying to be something new, just natural, healthy ingredients that tantalise your tastebuds. Including vegans in my class is important as it showcases how flexible and diverse Indian food can be.”
Greenwich Pantry are a cookery school based in London, and they host this fantastic 2 hour vegan cookery class – ideal for those new to plant-based cooking, or for vegans looking to expand their horizons. During the workshop, you’ll learn all the techniques you’ll need to produce perfect vegan dishes at home. Vibrant, nutritious ingredients, expert techniques and knowledgeable chefs make this experience the perfect all-rounder for those interested in making vegan meals at home.
Lara from Greenwich Pantry says:
"At Greenwich Pantry, our vegan cooking and baking classes have seen enormous popularity with veganites as well as those looking for new ideas. Cooking with plant-based ingredients is not only on-trend, it adds a lot more variety to everyone’s dietary options, is practical and delicious.”
Who’da thunk it? Chocolate seems like something that would never be available to vegans to make from scratch, and yet The York Cocoa House have pulled it out of the (decorative) bag! Provided with advance notice, they will happily cater to vegans – so nobody needs to be left out of the luxurious process of chocolate making. Whether you’re looking to treat yourself, or want to create some delicious gifts for a vegan friend, The York Cocoa House have you covered.
One of the sneakiest products that can be non-vegan is wine. You wouldn't think this delicious tipple would be unsuitable for vegans, but occasionally it is! It's so difficult to keep up with which wines are vegan-friendly, and reading the label isn't always sufficient research. With all that being said, you would think a wine-tasting experience would be a vegan no-go zone, right? Wrong! That’s where Wine Unearthed come in. This full day wine tasting and three-course lunch can cater for vegans with advance notice, so join in the fun, why don’t you? Sip and sample your way through a series of high quality wines, while you learn all about the different elements that make them unique. Get ready to swirl your glass like a proper sommelier, as you'll soon be detecting subtle tasting notes with the best of 'em! All that sampling is sure to work up an appetite, so this experience includes a gourmet 3-course lunch.
Adrian from Wine Unearthed says:
"We have noticed a marked rise in the number of our guests requesting a vegan option for lunch as part of our Wine Tasting Days. At Wine Unearthed, our venues will always offer a vegan option for guests. Whilst most wines these days are suitable for vegans, the frustrating thing is that not every bottle of wine provides you with this information. So far this year we have been contacted in advance on 2 separate occasions by vegan guests requesting that all the wines served during our days be vegan friendly. We are only too happy to oblige (and most of our wines already are) however to ensure that this is 100% the case requires cross checking to importers' websites, and sometimes directly back to the producer itself. The sooner there is a universal adoption of bottles clearly highlighting that they are suitable for vegans, the better."
Despite being home to possibly the least vegan food of all time in the form of Haggis, Scotland is also bursting with vegan-friendly restaurants, cafes and bars. The eclectic Scottish city of Glasgow is home to some delicious plant-based gastronomy, so it’s no surprise that Glasgow-based Tennent’s Training Academy are providing us hungry vegans with some guidance in the kitchen. Using fresh, local ingredients, innovative cooking techniques and years of culinary experience, Tennent’s Training Academy’s vegan cookery class welcomes everyone – from staunch vegans looking to improve their dinner parties to those who have a vegan relative they’d like to cater for. You can expect to be greeted on arrival with a crisp, refreshing glass of Tennent’s or Magners, plus a freshly prepared vegan snack. You’ll then be shown how to prepare and cook a mouth-watering 3 course meal under the guidance of an expert chef! Another home-run for Glasgow’s vegan food scene.
… Thank you for reading!
That concludes our 9 favourite vegan-friendly experience days. Whether you’re looking to explore London for vegan treats, hand-make your own plant-based chocolate, or expand your knowledge in the kitchen, we hope you’ve found something useful. If you're still looking, or just want to browse a wider selection, then check out our full range of vegan and vegetarian days out here.