The past few years have seen the vegan bandwagon blossom from a niche corner of the marketplace to a full-blown global phenomenon. Of course, with its throngs of overseas adopters it can be easy to forget that the movement actually had its beginnings right here in the UK.
British animal rights advocate Donald Watson founded the Vegan Society in Birmingham during November of 1944, coining the word vegan from the first three and last two letters of vegetarian, a move that he said marked ‘the beginning and end of vegetarian’. It should come as little surprise then, that the British capital has established itself as a nexus of plant-based living and activism.
And gone are the days of us looking at veganism as some kind of ominous fringe movement. Today, it receives glowing recommendations from healthcare professionals and celebrity environmentalists, including JME, Ellen DeGeneres, Steve-O and Ariana Grande.
London is a haven for socially conscious cuisine, with an offering that could tempt even the staunchest of carnivores. However, with a 61 strong ensemble of cafés, restaurants and street-food stalls, finding just where to start can present a challenge for the uninitiated.
Wulf & Lamb, Pavilion Road
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Sloane Square restaurant Wulf & Lamb pride themselves on a style of cooking that they affectionately dub ‘fiercely kind food’. Derived exclusively from plants, their menu uses exciting and often surprising combinations of flavours and ingredients to put a new twist on familiar comfort food.
Kalifornia Kitchen, Fulham Market Hall
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Kalifornia Kitchen’s sophomore effort sits in a dainty corner of Fulham’s Market Hall. Built on the same ‘healthy is sexy’ mantra as its sister restaurant in Fitzrovia, this sustainable vegan eatery forgoes animal products and harmful plastics in favour of plant-based brunches, lunches and dinners. Each meal shares the common goal of making guests look and feel beautiful whilst helping the planet. Paired with Instagrammable hot-pink décor, it makes for a guilt-free dining experience not quite like anything else in the area.
Nearby properties: Chelsea Waterfront and Tower West
A collection of luxurious apartments and penthouses overlooking the north bank of the River Thames, complete with landscaped river gardens and a 24-hour concierge.
Stem + Glory, Bartholomew Close
This Holborn eatery comes with a vote of confidence from Design my Night, who recently awarded Stem + Glory the 2018/19 award for Best Vegan Restaurant in London. As you’ve likely already come to expect, everything here is prepared fresh by a team of talented chefs. However, what may come as more of a surprise are the special tasting menu events held for more adventurous pallets, and the in-house vegan bar serving cocktails, mocktails, craft beer and vegan wine.
Vanilla Black, Took’s Court
Ever since it was first established in 2004, gourmet vegetarian restaurant Vanilla Black has sought to break away from the homogeny that can often be seen in meat-free menus. To that end, their team of vegetarian friends and chefs adhere to three simple rules: no reliance on pasta, no meat substitutes and no heavy spicing. Guests are forewarned that pasta bakes and vegetable curries are nowhere to be found in their art deco dining room. Instead, the dishes challenge preconceived ideas of vegetarian food.
Nearby properties: Pinks Mews
Located on the site of London’s 16th century Dyers Buildings, Pinks Mews is a boutique scheme comprising 35 luxury apartments, penthouses and loft-style properties within a gated development next to Chancery Lane in Holborn.
This easy-going vegetarian buffet is tucked away just behind the Tate Modern. By taking the convenience of your average fast food chain and pairing it with the cosiness of a corner café, Tibits has created a locale that’s ideal for a leisurely midweek meal. Guests pay by weight, so you’re free to indulge in their over 40 varieties of homemade salads, soups, deserts and freshly pressed juices as much or as little as you choose.
Nearby properties: Triptych Bankside
Triptych Bankside will present an all new mixed-use development, neighboured by the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Millennium Bridge. The development will comprise 169 open-plan apartments spread across two residential towers, with each home enjoying its very own private terrace.
Dates for the calendar
October 26th – 27th
The UK’s biggest vegan festival will be returning to Olympia London for its seventh year, with a weekend of talks, cookery demos, exhibitions and around 320 different stalls.
Portobello Vegan Night Market
West London’s only vegan night market will be bringing together a selection of more than 20 different traders to showcase some of the city’s finest vegan street food.
October 12th and October 19th
Last October marked the launch of the UK’s first ever vegan Oktoberfest celebration, with the inaugural show quickly selling out its FEST Camden venue. This year it will be returning to FEST with two festivals, featuring vegan beers, bratwurst and street food, along with live music courtesy of Old Dirty Brasstards and Brasstermind.
Vegan Patisserie Masterclass with Clarisse Flon
Saturday 24th August
This professional-level one day course in animal-free sweet treats is helmed by French vegan chef Clarisse Flon. If that name sounds familiar, it is because Chef Flon is also behind London’s first and only plant-based hotel restaurant, the critically acclaimed Café Forty One.
Digital editor, Boutique London