Most Vegetarian-Friendly City: London
Merely the mention of London conjures up images of black cabs, Buckingham Palace, The Thames and double-decker buses whizzing past you on an overcast day. It's the capital of both England and the United Kingdom, and when it comes to being vegetarian-friendly, we think that London is the world's capital. Congratulations, London. You have been named the World's Most Vegetarian-Friendly City!
After UN figures suggested that meat production is responsible for about 18 per cent of global carbon emissions, including the destruction of forest land for cattle ranching and the production of animal feeds such as soya, Lord Stern of Brentford commented in an interview with The Times, "Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world's resources. A vegetarian diet is better".
It's evident that a lot of Londoners share this belief. Simply take a trip to the grocery store and you will find plenty of items marked with the Vegan Society Logo or the statement "Suitable for Vegans". Some supermarkets even have their own style of labelling indicating that a product is vegan.
In addition to the readily available cheap vegetarian eats like jam on toast and jacket potatoes with beans, (which likely have kept many starving students alive), the vegetarian dining choices in London offer everything from meatless variations of British favourites such as sausage and mash and shepherd's pie to masala dosa and chickpea tagine.
When dining out, a great place to start out on any vegetarian-eating tour of London is the world famous Saf on Curtain Road. Saf offers exclusively vegan fine cuisine, including atypical raw dishes such as lasagne, and serves up one of the most delicious apple cheesecakes we have ever encountered. The Gate in Hammersmith is a friendly, well-lit old building with signature cocktails and a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan food with signature dishes such as carciofi (a deep-fried artichoke dish bursting with flavour).
Looking for a full English breakfast, vegetarian-style? Look no further than The Gallery in East London, perfect for those tender mornings after a long night out! Fresh and Wild in Soho offers delicious luxury vegan food, snacks and smoothies, and they also have a catering service if you happen to be throwing a party. Camden's inSpiral Lounge – voted one of the top 10 vegetarian restaurants in the UK – offers a great atmosphere and gorgeous food. If you're lucky enough to be there when they're serving tofu satay skewers, you're in for a real treat!
And considering that we're talking about London, what could be more iconic than an old Routemaster double-decker bus that has been converted into an all-vegan restaurant? At Rootmaster, which is situated in a thriving area just off Brick Lane, you can sit on the top deck while the kitchen below prepares dreamy signature dishes such as the Rootmaster Curry and the delectable gazpacho soup.
If it's ethnic food you crave, try some of the South Indian restaurants in Tooting, South West London, where you can find a host of vegetarian dishes full of rich spices and mouth-watering tastes. For Thai food, you can do no better than to take a trip down Greek Street and find Patara, where you can be served steamed plump tofu in a lime and chilli broth – an absolute treat for your taste buds – while taking in the authentic surroundings. And don't forget the staple food of most travelling vegetarians: Turkish restaurants are all over London, made mainstream by the Tas restaurant chain along the South Bank and in the London Bridge area. Try the baklali enginar (fresh artichoke casserole with broad beans, fresh tomatoes and garlic).
Extremely simple but surprisingly successful is Hummus Bros, a self-serve palace where you can top your hummus with vegetarian food aplenty, and if it's Malaysian and Indonesian food you're after, you can do no better than Melati, which has more great dishes than we can list on a page – you just have to check them out.
Of course, if you're simply looking for a quick snack, you're never more than 100 feet away from a newsagent, so you can grab yourself a vegetarian samosa, some crisps, apples, pears and our office favourite, Starburst, to stave off hunger until your next restaurant visit!
This is just a sampling of some of our favourite vegetarian spots in London. If you're still looking for more, be sure to check out London Eating for more information. If you are not fortunate enough to live in London, pack your suitcase, order a copy of our free "Vegetarian Starter Kit" to read on the plane, grab your passport and get travelling!