It has been claimed that veganism went mainstream in 2018, but for many cultures — in London and globally — it has been the dominant dietary preference for a long time. While the West has a tendency to focus on a white wellness narrative around “plant-based” eating, which erases many established food cultures and overlooks a vast array of ingredients and dishes, it’s true that vegan dishes have taken up more space on London’s restaurant menus in the past 18 months. In response to social, political, and ethical shifts, there is a growing movement, a collective consciousness, to eat less animal products to assist health, the environment, and, of course, animals. Here are some of the best places to eat vegan food in London.Read More
London’s Essential Vegan Restaurants
Including South Indian, French fine-dining, Japanese bento, cheeseburgers — and more
1. Loving Hut Archway
This international chain is one of Buddhist-spiritualist Supreme Master Ching Hai’s many efforts to change the world through her teachings of Quan Yin meditation. At the Archway branch, food is the main focus. A barely perceptible portrait of the Supreme Master watches in approval as patrons tuck into plant-based dishes ranging from hot pot and hamburgers to big slices of carrot cake. The vegan prawns are so good they’re likely to inspire a post-dinner trip to the vegan grocer across the road. Loving Hut’s wide range, fast service, and reasonable prices make it a perfect place for omnivores reluctant to go without meat.
2. Hamer Ethiopia
This is may be pushing the boundaries — as the menu’s is quite meat-based — but the restaurant has great options for the sociable vegan/vegan-adjacent, whose friends’/family’s food desires vary. The platter will satisfy two people easily. The array of dishes are served on injera, which is a sourdough flatbread made from teff — a grass that has similar properties to fine grain. It is spongy in texture and fermented, giving it a slightly sour taste, and perfect for scooping up lentil wat, and other cooked vegetables that sit on top of it. The sharing platters, best eaten with your hands, are peak sociability.
3. Rasa South Indian Vegetarian Restaurant
London N16 0AR, UK
A stalwart of Stoke Newington, this vegetarian restaurant has been there for over 20 years, and the menu is mainly based on food from Kerala, a southern state of India. Portions are generous — the bhel mix, a popular snack from Mumbai, has great texture and a balanced flavour, while the medhu vadai, which is similar to a deep-fried dumpling or a savoury doughnut, is the ultimate comfort food. The dosas are perfectly soft and crisp, and vegan. It also offers a ‘vegan feast’, which is a sharing platter to enjoy with good company.
4. Mao Chow
London E8 3RD, UK
This popular vegan pop-up restaurant, with BYOB, no reservations and card payment — has found a permanent home in a small space on Mare Street in Hackney. The menu is small, including ‘meaty veg’ and chive dumplings, gong bao broccoli with peanuts and chilli, dan dan noodles with a great spicy kick, ginger scallion lu shui confit jackfruit with rice and pickles. Go with a friend or two — and beers — order everything, and then head out for a night on the town.
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5. Itadaki Zen
A small restaurant with a concise menu, Itadaki Zen focuses on udon noodle soups, which are delicately flavoured and well portioned, topped with crispy seaweed and scallions. For a mid-week lunch, the bento box is filling and delicious, with the star being the light and crispy kakiage tempura, providing the texture difference needed against the rest of the box. If ordering the udon, it’s worth having a side of kakiage and spring rolls, if your appetite makes room for it!
6. Ravishankar Bhel Poori
London NW1 2NB, UK
Open late, it’s a perfect place to visit at night after Camden’s People Theatre for a dosa accompanied by killer sambar and fresh chutneys. Daytime visitors fresh from a stroll through the British Library or Wellcome Collection can enjoy an extensive vegetarian buffet of salads, curries, mini dosas and desserts. Be sure to sample the bhel puri — a crunchy, tamarind puffed rice snack — and other chaat. Restaurants billing themselves as ‘bhel puri’ houses like Ravishankar have been serving the dish since the 1980s making the area a true food destination. Accessible along the Euston Green Link, Drummond St is one of the first points of ‘intervention’ along the new Euston Town project which will provide a green path through local business centres to Regent’s Park.
7. Govinda's Pure Vegetarian Restaurant
Govinda’s restaurant, which is a part of the Hare Krishna movement, has been on Soho Street since 1977, after moving from Bury Place where it had been for over a decade. The restaurant is akin to a canteen and offers an affordable thali menu — mixed platter — as well as a la carte. It is a vegetarian restaurant but a lot of the dishes are vegan and the staff is helpful in directing you towards the appropriate dishes. The dishes are filling and tasty, and the curries have a great texture to them. Govinda’s is a good lunch spot or a quick dinner place as it offers fast service.
8. Gauthier Soho
Alexis Gauthier made headlines in 2018 when he proclaimed that his fine-dining French restaurant in Soho would become entirely plant-based by 2020. Offering both a la carte and tasting menus, it’s a white-tablecloth-birthday-dinner kind of restaurant, with a Michelin Star. Currently the menu is 75 percent vegan and a popular dish is a ‘jar of faux gras’ — a play on foie gras, which Gauthier used to serve until criticism from PETA — created using using lentils, walnuts, and shallots and is smeared on toast.
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9. Bonnington Cafe
London SW8 1TD, UK
In a map to demonstrate the breadth of vegan/vegetarian cooking this city has to offer, this restaurant sums up that quest. It is run by a co-operative of cooks with a global emphasis where each night offers a different style of cooking, and each course has at least two vegan options. The space, which has been running as a restaurant since the early 80s, is cash only, BYOB, corkage-free; although they do ask for a 50p donation towards getting the glasses washed. There is a list of the cooks, including a long waitlist of those who want to cook, with information about their food.
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10. The Full Nelson
London SE8 4PH, UK
The Full Nelson delivers great pub fare in what could be best described as a hallway with seating, bedecked with quirky decor — the holographic dog portraits in the toilet are truly a treat. Self-branded as veggie/vegan ‘junk food’, The Full Nelson serves up convincing wings, corn dogs, and chick’n burgers named after a certain Colonel.
11. Zionly Manna Vegan Rastarant
London SE15 5BY, UK
Peckham’s Rye Lane Market is one of London’s many market centres that serve hyphenate British communities. A one stop shop of independent vendors providing fabrics, hair-styling, and fresh produce, Zionly Manna in Unit 41 serves hearty vegan fare. Owner Jahson Peat first set up shop with Zionly Art and Books Gallery to offer a collection of art, literature, and history that reflected the community, and later opened Zionly Manna to bring Ital food to Rye Lane. The accessibly-priced selection of stews, salads and juices changes daily, keeping with the Rastafari philosophy of Ital which emphasises sustainable community-oriented living, and plant-based eating.
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