I Can’t Believe It’s Vegan!
This page was updated in April 2014. Being vegan when you’re eating out is easy. Take a quick stroll down almost any high street in the UK, and you will find a plethora of bars, restaurant chains and fast-food joints that already have vegan options on their menu or items that can be quickly adapted by asking the server to hold the mayo or cheese.
Whenever we buy food, we’re casting a powerful vote with our money. There’s even an argument for vegans to eat out at places that have predominantly been hangouts for meat eaters – such as Burger King or Nando’s – because by buying the vegan options in these restaurants, we are able to send a strong message to companies that there is a market for vegan food. It’s supply and demand – they will supply it if we demand it. And if there is more vegan food around, then more and more people will try it and start to buy it – and that means fewer and fewer animals will be killed and ground up into burgers and nuggets.
Here are our top meals for a tenner in places that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to cater to vegans:
12. Latin-themed restaurant Las Iguanas has a dedicated vegetarian menu, with vegan options clearly marked. Highlights include patatas bravas, mushroom fajitas and exotic Bahia Moqueca curry.
11. Wetherspoon is an affordable and “found everywhere” place to eat vegan. The sweet-potato, chickpea and spinach curry is vegan if you order it with poppadoms instead of naan bread – complement it with vegetable samosas, onion bhajis or a healthy green salad.
“Goldengrove” by Ewan Munro / CC BY-SA 2.0
10. You don’t have to put your neck out to find a Giraffe restaurant. Choose from olives, tapenade and a spread of other meze if you’re in the mood for snacking, or go for the aromatic spicy Phod Malay Noodles as a main course. The restaurant even offers a vegan breakfast.
“Giraffe, Trinity Leeds” by EG Focus / CC BY 2.0
9. Starbucks offers not only tasty drinks (my favourite is the Grande Classic Caramel Soya Hot Chocolate with vanilla) but also a vegan falafel panini. Other great coffee chains that offer vegan options include Caffè Nero and Costa Coffee. The last two won’t even charge you for having soya milk.
8. Even Burger King offers a vegan bean burger (the bun is free from animal products, too). It’s another hold-the-cheese-and-mayonnaise situation. Team it with fries or even a fresh garden salad.
“Burger King in London” by Billy Hicks / CC BY-SA 3.0
7. ShakeAway has been popping up all over the country. It has a whole menu of shakes that can be made vegan. Being unadventurous, I love the strawberry, but I’ve been known to mix it up with Bourbons, coconut and Jelly Tots.
6. PizzaExpress still offers excellent options for vegans and has recently added a vegan pizza to its main menu, the veggie-filled Pianta. All its bases are dairy-free as well, so you can also not have cheese on any other pizza you fancy – the same goes for several other pizza companies, including Pizza Hut and ASK as well.
5. Sushi is so much more than raw fish. YO! Sushi has a variety of bits and pieces floating around on its conveyor belts to tempt any vegan. Favourites include miso soup, Vegetable Firecracker Rice and vegetable gyoza. It’s also a great place to try tofu katsu curry.
4. Le Pain Quotidien, which has more than 20 UK branches, makes a great spot for grabbing a healthy and slightly fancy vegan breakfast. Vegan items are clearly marked on the menu and include organic muffins, berry oatmeal, fruit salad and Avocado Tartine.
3. The West Cornwall Pasty Company is an on-the-go grab for all commuting “veg heads”. It offers two pasties, a veggie and a wholemeal, and all the pasties are glazed with a recipe suitable for vegans – so it’s no surprise that it walked away with a PETA Vegan Food Award in 2013.
2. Wagamama makes vegan really easy. Its website has a list of foods you can adapt to be vegan, but some of the options (like the noodles and Gyoza) already are.
1. Pret A Manger is a lifesaver when it comes to eating vegan on the move. The independently owned chain offers two regular vegan sandwiches, the Naked Avocado Bloomer and Super Greens; a zingy Superfood Salad; and tempting snacks such as popcorn, kale chips and salty chocolate (tastier than you might expect!) – and it almost always has a delicious vegan soup as well.
Veganism is easy everywhere, so if you haven’t taken that step yet and ditched meat and dairy products from your diet, there is no better time to do so than right now.