If you needed any more proof that veganism is here to stay, then the news that Greggs has just launched a vegan sausage roll for Veganuary will surely be the clincher. The fact that the nation’s favourite spot for a cheeky steak bake has committed to its first plant-based alternative speaks volumes for the ever-increasing popularity of plant-based diets. Not only is it now easier than ever to join the meat-free movement, but here in London there are more ways to try it than ever before. With an all-time high of dedicated vegan restaurants in the capital, as well as more vegan dishes on mainstream menus, there is now a place to suit whatever type of food you fancy, from plant-based junk food that still gives you that meat fix (should you want it) to full-on four-course tasting menus and good old fashioned pub lunches. Whether you’re giving up meat for Veganuary or have canned your carnivorous tendencies for good, these are the best vegan restaurants in London.
Rudy’s Dirty Vegan Diner
The Jackal visited Rudy’s when we investigated the new breed (sorry) of vegan meat that popped up in 2018. Although we concluded that the industry hasn’t come up with an exact replication, the team at Rudy’s are certainly doing amazing things with seitan, cashew nuts and vegan pastrami. Their menu of vegan takes on classic junk food – ribs, wings and hot dogs – is as filling, comforting and naughtily delicious as you could wish for. Go and try their Reuben Sandwich. It might just change your life.
North Yard, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AH, camdenmarket.com
The Blacksmith and the Toffeemaker
Clerkenwell stalwart The Blacksmith and the Toffeemaker converted to being a vegan-only pub back in early 2018. It now serves up a short but tasty plant-based menu of homemade pub classics, to be washed down with an array of local London beers. Their chorizo, jalapeño and refried bean grilled cheese should heat things up, while their banana, cinnamon and date bread and butter pudding will make you forget it’s even a vegan menu at all.
292-294 St John St, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 4PA, theblacksmithandthetoffeemaker.co.uk
Four Hundred Rabbits
If you’ve got a pizza craving, but don’t know where to go to dodge the cheese, south London sourdough pizza specialists Four Hundred Rabbits have a vegan special in collaboration with award-winning nut butter maker Pip & Nut on the menu for January. They get around the cheese problem by using Crown Prince squash pesto and Pip & Nut’s crunchy maple peanut butter topping it with wood-roasted beets, chickpeas, crispy onions, celery, and sultanas.
30-32 Westow St, London SE193AH, 400rabbits.co.uk
Perhaps post-Christmas you’ve had enough of foil-wrapped chocolates, but if you’re irredeemably fond of puddings, then Ms Cupcake is the place to go for afters. Every single cake (or cookie, muffin, sandwich and savoury treat) they bake at their Brixton hub is entirely vegan. They also do quite a few gluten free options too in case you’re in that tricky dietary squeeze.
408 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London SW9 8LF, mscupcake.co.uk
Shoreditch restaurant Lyle’s is a bastion of British-style cooking and seasonal produce, and in spite of having a daily changing ‘no-choice’ menu, there’s always both vegan and vegetarian options on the list. Chef James Lowe is one of the capital’s finest, and a believer in making sure everyone gets to enjoy top notch food, not just the meat-eaters.
Lyle’s Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ, lyleslondon.com
If you’re looking for a complete mind, body and soul overhaul this January, then your first stop on the road to recovery should be Farmacy. The Notting Hill restaurant serves up plant-based dishes from around the world, with a firm focus on organic ingredients and promoting a healthy lifestyle. A bit too devout for you? Their loaded mushroom tacos, mac ‘n’ ‘cheese’ and chocolate and peanut butter cup means keeping on the right track is easier than ever. Wash it all down with a ‘syringe’ of nutrient-rich juices, like the ‘Fire Starter’ with ginger, turmeric, cayenne and lemon, and the ‘Melt Away’, with Ginkgo biloba, turmeric, gotu kola, garcinia, milk thistle & cucumber juice.
74 Westbourne Grove, London W2 5SH, farmacylondon.com
Vegan mezze restaurant Comptoir V are going all out for Veganuary this year, hoping to persuade more people into the veggie-loving fold. From 3 January, they’re running a four-course tasting menu, featuring the likes of vegan mac ‘n’ ‘cheeze’, spicy ‘shrimp’, and an Oreo ‘cheezecake’. Throughout the month, diners can also take part in a hot wings eating contest, with the victor winning a three-course meal at the restaurant. We’re assuming not on the same day, though.
1 Keslake Mansions, 12 Station Terrace, London NW10 5RU, comptoirv.co.uk
Wulf & Lamb
Comfort food is the order of the day at this Kensington eatery. Tucked away off Sloane Square, Wulf & Lamb pride themselves in their 100 per cent plant-based menu, created by head chef Franco Casolin, who was previously at vegetarian foodie mecca Vanilla Black. Go for the Chilli ‘Non’ Carne, a smoky chilli of spiced mushrooms, lentils and kidney beans on basmati herb rice with cashew sour cream, for a hearty bowl of comfort on a cold January night. Their homemade vegan cakes and brownies are well worth trying, too.
243 Pavilion Road, London SW1 0BP, wulfandlamb.com
ROVI by Ottolenghi
Surely the king of delicious vegetable-based dishes is Yotam Ottolenghi, and if you’re going the whole hog (pardon the pun) to not just be veggie but vegan, ROVI, the newest addition to his stable of restaurants and delis, won’t disappoint. The menu changes regularly, but there’s always plenty of choice, with dishes like purple sprouting broccoli with furikake and peanut sauce, and celeriac shawarma with bkeila and fermented tomato.
59 Wells Street, London W1A 3AE, ottolenghi.co.uk/rovi
For flavourful and not too expensive vegan eats, you can’t go far wrong at Dishoom. They’ve got a dedicated vegan menu for spice lovers who like their meals of the plant variety. For breakfast they can sort you out with a The Vegan Bombay, for lunch check out the bhel – puffed rice, Bombay mix and Nylon Sev tossed with fresh pomegranate, tomato, onion, lime, tamarind and mint – and for dinner fill up on bedmi puri – fried puris puffed with spiced lentils served with potato and chickpea curry, and their signature gunpowder potatoes. You won’t feel like you’re missing out.
22 Kingly St, Soho, London W1B 5QB, dishoom.com
Let’s face it – in January we need our comfort food. And it doesn’t get better than tucking into hearty dishes courtesy of France. Balthazar, the French-by-way-of-New York bistro in Covent Garden, has upped the ante with its vegan menu this January, meaning delicious, calorie-ridden dishes can be had by all. Added to the likes of braised artichoke with wild mushrooms and chickpeas, and the rhubarb coconut crumble, is their all-new grilled vegetable sandwich with mushroom and smoked aubergine ‘caviar’, on potato and onion bread. Also available are vegan chocolate Bounty bars, which go some way to make up for veganuary’s lack of steak. Oh, and if all else fails Balthazar also do a mean Manhattan. Definitely no meat or dairy in that.
4-6 Russell St, London WC2B 5HZ, balthazarlondon.com