London is one of the most varied and interesting cities in the world and it is packed full of iconic cultural heritage, museums and galleries, nightlife options of every imaginable kind and, of course, cuisine to titillate the tastebuds of even the most particular palates. While we’ll give a brief overview of what London has to offer visitors in general terms later in the article, the bulk of this feature will be dedicated to the best vegan restaurants available in London.
There are clearly too many vegan-friendly eateries to feature in detail so we have chosen our pick of the top vegan restaurants and cafes in the UK’s eclectic capital city. We won’t split them into categories (such as vegan fast food) but we’ll give an indication of the style of food offered and the average costs.
Well-established and much-loved plant-based restaurant mini-chain with outlets dotted around the capital offering varied and imaginative vegan cuisine.
- Typical Cost – Small dishes/starters are priced around £5 to £7.50, with mains around the £14 mark and desserts around £7
- Example Dishes – Mercimek Kofte (carrot, lentil and quinoa kofte, grape herb freekeh, tahini cream); Kiri Hodi (Sri Lankan coconut curry leaf sauce, kadhai masala sweet potato green bean sabzi, carrot achar, cashew coconut sev, pea basmati, mint chutney); White Chocolate Tiramisu (coffee syrup, almond sponge)
Many vegan and plant-based food outlets around these days have gone down the “dirty vegan” route (i.e. vegan-friendly versions of fast-food classics like burgers and fried chicken). But Mildreds offer well-constructed and nutritious dishes that include a wide variety of fresh ingredients and which look and taste amazing. Similar in style to the Stem & Glory vegan restaurant in Cambridge, Mildreds’ menu is influenced by dishes from various cuisine types including Sri Lankan, Japanese, Middle Eastern and Korean and the results are impressive.
Mildreds started out as a vegetarian restaurant in Soho in 1988 and has now expanded to various other locations including Dalston, Covent Garden, King’s Cross and Borough Market. 100% plant-based and with the aim to minimise waste, they even sell meal kits for fans to try making some of their favourite dishes at home. But nothing quite beats a visit to one of their restaurants, something we would heartily recommend (and it saves you doing the washing up!).
Satisfyingly tasty vegan food
- Typical Cost – Starters: £4.50 to £6.50; Mains: £11 to £15; Cocktails: £10
- Example Dishes – Tofish & Chips (signature beer-battered tofish cod & chunky chips, served with mushy peas, vegan tartar sauce and a lemon wedge); Omni Pork Steak (Seared Omni pork steaks, sautéed garlic tenderstem, sautéed kale, cherry tomatoes, toasted sunflower seeds drizzled in garlic aioli and dusted with pumpkin seed Parmesan); Dirty Loaded Fries (Chunky fries loaded with 3 cheezes, döner kebab, smothered in BBQ sauce, aioli, jalapeño sauce & topped with fresh herbs & crispy onions)
Set up in 2018 by a group of friends that included vegan activiist and educator, Earthling Ed, Unity Diner is as much a mission as a restaurant. Aside from producing great food without using any animal products and ensuring they are as sustainable as possible, Unity Diner also donate their profits to animal rights work with the aim of creating an animal sanctuary. So in essence you’ll be earning karma points with your Tofish Bites!
There are plenty of excellent vegan alternatives to fast food classics such as fish and chips, burgers and loaded fries. But the vegan versions of prawns and calamari at Unity Diner are particularly worth checking out. As are the (100% vegan) cocktails, which have some interesting names including “Pier Morgan’s Tears” (as Piers Morgan is quite a critic of veganism in general), “When Pigs Escape” and “Vegan Propaganda”.
Nutritious and tasty vegan food that is raw, fermented or steamed, Vantra provides plant-based goodness that is sure to enliven the tastebuds and the soul
- Typical Costs – Buffet: £25 to £30
- Example Dishes – Buffet that varies regularly but may include Chickpea Curry; Vegan Stroganoff with Shiitake Mushrooms; Spicy Kimchi Stew with Korean-style Peppers
Regularly voted the best vegan restaurant in London, Vantra has been around since the 1990s and has become something of an institution. Unlike many vegan restaurants, Vantra aren’t aiming to compete with non-vegan fast food joints. Instead, they take their time to produce nutritious and delicious vegan food that is raw, fermented or steamed. And, the results are fantastic.
Those who’ve been drawn towards veganism for health reasons and/or indeed those who are interested in raw veganism will certainly be attracted to Vantra’s mix of fresh and uncooked (or lightly steamed) dishes. Because the various dishes tend to be prepared based on the available fresh ingredients at the time, there is no set menu and instead you will tend to discover what’s available only when you arrive (or if you check in advance of your visit).
As well as the amazing food, Vantra hosts various events in their performance space, with occasional stand-up comedy events to light up your evening. Who says vegans don’t have a sense of humour?!
Some of the best vegan pizzas you will ever taste from a welcoming and forward-thinking mini-chain of plant-based pizza makers
- Typical Costs – Sides: £3.50 to £6.50; Pizzas: £12.95 to £14.95; Desserts: £3.50 to £8
- Example Dishes – The One With All The Seasons (Red tomato base with melty mozz, grilled stemmed artichokes, kalamata olives, wild forest mushrooms and smoked beetroot carpaccio); The One That’s Telling Porkies (White base with molten cheese, wild forest mushrooms, semi-dried tomatoes, BBQ pulled porketta, and balsamic glaze)
Also featured in our vegan restaurant guides to Brighton and Manchester, Purezza has a few outlets dotted around the country, including this one in Camden. They have a great range of pizzas most of which feature their own plant-based mozzarella cheese alternative (which is much tastier than most vegan cheese you are likely to encounter). They have also developed their own gluten free dough to ensure that those with gluten allergies don’t have to miss out.
Aside from the main attraction of the vegan pizzas, Purezza also makes sourdough loaves that form part of their new Vegan Brunch menu. Reading the menu, you’d be forgiven for assuming it’s not vegan at all; for example, the Sausage and Egg Sourdough Sarnie suggests it includes “melted cheddar” and “scrambled eggs”, but these are vegan-friendly versions of these things rather than the non-vegan originals (which might be a tad confusing on first glance to some).
With a strong commitment to sustainability and inclusivity, Purezza are certainly pulling out all the stops to keep their customers and the planet happy. They have a children’s menu too and even a special menu for dogs (which is brilliant if you have a vegan companion dog)!
A burger joint from the future that brings plant-based goodness to customers of today!
- Typical Costs – Toasties from £3.50; Burritos & Super Bowls £6.50; Burgers from £10 to £11
- Example Dishes – Midwest Double Melt (Beyond Burger or Flipside Quarter Pounder patty with melted double gouda, grilled onions, sticky & crispy rashers, Baconnaise, soft glazed bun); Red & Greens Super Bowl (chargrilled broccoli, red slaw, red radish, skillet brussels & quinoa, spring onions fried onion, pumpkin seeds, peanut chilli lime dressing); Cali ‘Rito Burrito (spicy Mexican mince, five grain mix, pinto beans, black beans, pico de gallo, pepper salsa, avocado, lime crema)
Flipside was (will be?) apparently established in 2083… and they’ve come back to our time to provide the best plant-based burgers, burritos, sandwiches and other vegan treats to help nourish us. With two wide-ranging plant-based menus, one for in the week, the other for weekends, Flipside offers such a range of options that you’re sure to find something to satisfy your appetite, whether you are a vegan or not.
As well as the aforementioned options, there are super bowls and brunch bowls, various options from the Mac Bar, toasties, and a wide range of drinks and sides, with a few desserts thrown in for good measure. Obviously the type of food offered here would not be classified as haute cuisine. But compared to your average fast food joint (especially those using animal products) it is very healthy given the propensity towards fresh, plant-based ingredients. And – crucially – it has had rave reviews from those who’ve sampled the various dishes. Whether they really are from the future, we can’t say for sure… but either way, check them out and see what you think.
Exquisite (mostly) vegan food produced by a top-class chef – this is plant-based food that possesses the wow factor!
- Typical Costs – Small Pplates: £6.50 to £8; Large Plates: £14 to £16; Discovery Menu: £36
- Example Dishes – Chipotle mushroom, BBQ kale, walnut, crispy potato, gremolata; Blue corn tostada, muhamarra, squash, kimchi; Massaman curry, pak choy salad, coconut rice, crispy shallots
While the abovementioned Flipside is all about simple comfort food, Tendril instead focuses on the culinary possibilities of what can be achieved using (mainly) plant-based ingredients. We say mainly because there are a couple of non-vegan dishes that pop up at the restaurant that include honey or even cheese. But there are always sufficient vegan options to satisfy, including the Discovery Menu which offers a great value snapshot of what’s on offer.
Chef Rishim Sachdeva previously worked at Heston Blumenthal’s influential and lauded restaurant, The Fat Duck, and he clearly knows what he’s doing judging by the fantastic reviews the restaurant has received. So if you are seeking a vegan meal that is a cut above most other options in London, or indeed anywhre, get over to Tendril (but be sure to avoid the honey).
Café Van Gogh
A tasty vegan café with a social conscience that aims to help society while providing great plant-based food
- Typical Costs – Small Plates: £5 to £8; Mains: £13.50 to £15; Desserts: £3.50 to £7
- Example Dishes – Vegan Cheeseboard (Shamembert, Cheddah, Veganzola, Herbivorsin, Crackers and Chutney); Half a Roast Cauliflower with Za’atar Butter, Turkish Beans and Herb Tahini; Beetroot Borani, Yoghurt, Pumpkin Seeds and Dill with Flatbread
Located north of Brixton not far from Oval station, Café Van Gogh is a social enterprise that makes decisions to benefit the local community, the environment and their staff and customers. They also offer employment and training opportunities to people with additional challenges such as learning disabilities or mental health problems. Oh, and the food they create has attracted plenty of plaudits too.
With an emphasis on fresh and wholesome ingredients, the simple but effective flavour combinations strike a chord with the customers judging by the reviews they’ve received. We like the look of the Vegan Cheeseboard, while the “Little Shoes” dish (that includes mince-stuffed aubergine with cashew béchamel and burst tomatoes) definitely appeals.
Selected Other Vegan Food Options In London
There are numerous opportunities to sample vegan food at chain restaurants across the capital if that’s what floats your boat. But we would urge you to instead opt for those establishments that have either gone fully vegan or are close to being so. Here is a selection of the best of the rest when it comes to vegan-friendly restaurants in London.
Fans of Vietnamese cuisine will love this mainly vegan restaurant that includes everything from steam rice rolls to Hue spicy noodle soup and tofu coconut curry. Located in Haggerston, there are a few non-vegan dishes on the menu (but all are at least vegetarian) but many of those have vegan options. The slow-cooked dishes in clay pots are particularly worth checking out.
Situated north of Oxford Street, KIN is a welcoming almost-vegan café that offers relatively simple but nourishing vegan and vegetarian food in a laid-back atmosphere. Their Chickpea Curry, and Buckwheat Noodles (with tofu and loads of veg) are well worth sampling, as is the KIN plant-based cheesecake.
Temple of Seitan
A vegan alternative to fast food fried chicken shops, Temple of Seitan is a London institution and began at festivals and street food markets in 2016 before opening their first store in 2017 in Hackney. They’ve since expanded to other locations including Camden and Kings Cross and they are proving very popular with people who like the flavours of fried chicken but would rather opt for a plant-based version.
The Guava Kitchen
If you fancy your vegan food with a tropical twist, this south-east London eaterie could be just the ticket. With Caribbean-inspired breakfasts, lunches, dinners and drinks, there is so much on the menu that appeals. From the fluffy banana pancakes to the Guava plantain balls, to the highly-rated Coconut Rundown Curry, the Guava Kitchen’s dishes are sure to titillate the taste buds.
This Notting Hill-based plant-based restaurant has an excellent range of vegan dishes that are a little more adventurous than many vegan food establishments around. They are 100% organic and plant-based and though some of the dishes will be familiar (such as the Quinoa Protein Bowl and Pad Thai), they are prepared with care and skill from fresh and wholesome ingredients. With soups, salads, “Earth Bowls” and a very good selection of desserts, coffees and speciality “Farmaceutical Teas”, this could be a great spot to visit and get your vegan kicks if you’re in that neck of the woods.
WAVE (which stands for “We Are Vegan Everything”) certainly nails its colours to the mast of veganism. Based in the middle of Hackney, their café offers various cakes, toasties, bagels and pastries, as well as an array of coffees and other drinks. But they also have a minimalist (vegan-friendly) homeware store selling posh vegan candles, vegan makeup, bowls, bags and more.
This vegan Palestinian and Lebanese food outlet on Goodge Street offers falafels, wraps and “mezze delights”, as well as salads, juices and smoothies. Relatively new compared to some featured here, it has been getting excellent reviews for its fresh and great-value vegan wraps and salad boxes.
Things to Do in London
Over its long and illustrious history, London has grown from a small Bronze Age settlement through the Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman periods, and has flourished into a bustling and culturally iconic city. If you are seeking to visit the capital of the United Kingdom, you really are spoiled for choice when it comes to deciding how to spend your time (between sampling the above-mentioned vegan dishes of course).
Whether you want to visit some of the world’s best galleries and museums, you want to hit the West End for a musical or a gig, or you fancy strolling along the bank of the River Thames or in one of the many beautiful parks, you will find something that floats your boat. Indeed, there are various boat rides available on the Thames too!
Best Museums & Galleries in London
Here’s a quick snapshot of the top museums and galleries to be found in London. Bear in mind that some of them (such as the British Museum) are vast and you could easily spend a whole day or more wandering through the various halls and exhibitions. As such it’s perhaps best not to attempt to pack in too many if your time in London is limited.
Note that many of the museums and galleries in London are free to enter, though they will tend to charge fees for special exhibitions (and they will often encourage patrons to make a donation in the various collections boxes). Also note that if you want to attend a special exhibition, it’s advisable to book ahead as they can get booked up early.
- Natural History Musuem – Arguably the best museum in London for families… especially those who enjoyed the Jurassic Park films! Vegans might not be too keen on the collections of stuffed birds (including a dodo) and other animals, but there’s no denying the brilliance of the dinosaur exhibitions. It is a lot more interactive than it used to be and many of the exhibitions have worksheets for the kids to work through.
- British Museum – As mentioned, it’s vast, and it covers all kinds of relics and artefacts (some that have been plundered through the ages!) from all over the world including a collections of Egyptian mummies and various collections from Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.
- Science Museum – Another real crowd-pleaser of a museum for everyone from toddlers to the elderly, there are so many science-related exhibits here and many of them are interactive. Your mind will be truly boggled by the wide variety of subjects covered, from genetics to space travel to the history of human flight to the science of our planet. It’s impossible not to be wowed by the science on offer at the Science Museum.
- Tate Modern – Fans of modern art will find it hard to resist a trip to the iconic Tate Modern gallery on the South Bank. As well as some fantastic works by modern art geniuses like Picasso and Dali, there is always a big exhibition on display in the gigantic and imposing Turbine Hall, which is almost certain to impress and mesmerise in equal measure.
- National Gallery – If you are more attracted to more classical works of art, the National Gallery could be the place to visit. Covering fine art from the Middle Ages onwards, you will find works from some of the most highly-regarded artists of all time including Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Raphael.
- Royal Observatory Greenwich – For anyone with an interest in time and space, the Royal Observatory is worth a visit. The famous planetarium is always enthralling while standing on the Prime Meridian can instil a real sense of temporal greatness… and it makes for a nice photo!
There is a plethora of options for those seeking evening entertainment in London, whatever your tastes.
- Musicals – The West End is where it’s at if you’re seeking a modern or classic musical, from Hamilton to Lion King or Mamma Mia! Or you might prefer one of the old favourites, such as The Phantom of the Opera.
- Plays – If you want something with fewer singalongs, London is second-to-none when it comes to the range and quality of plays it hosts. There’s nothing quite like watching a Shakespeare play at the Globe. Okay, it might be a reconstruction of the original (which was demolished in 1644-45) but it is still an interesting experience. There are all kinds of other plays covering every possible genre, including various interactive theatre productions (such as those created by the lauded Punchdrunk theatre company).
- Pubs, Bars and Clubs – With more than 3,500 pubs in London, there’s almost enough for 10 a day for a whole year of boozing (though we wouldn’t advise that of course!). From historic inns that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries, to modern chic wine and cocktail bars, London predictably has every option well covered. That’s also the case when it comes to nightclubs – if you can think of a type of music, there’ll be somewhere in London playing it into the wee small hours.
- Gigs – There are loads of brilliant gig venues in London covering all sizes and styles of bands and musicians. The likes of the Brixton Academy, KOKO, the Roundhouse and the Union Chapel feature all kinds of contemporary acts, while the 100 Club is the best-known jazz venue (though it features music of various genres). You’ve also got the O2 for the biggest arena gigs and the Royal Albert Hall hosts all kinds of classical (and sometimes other) concerts. As with most things in London, you really are spoiled for choice.
Other Notable Attractions/Things to Do
Here are some of the other potential highlights of a trip to London.
- Literature – Fans of literature have all kinds of gems to explore in London, from the locations of various great works or indeed there is the opportunity to visit John Keats’ house, the Charles Dickens Museum or the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker Street. There are also various literary walking tours available in the capital focusing on different authors or eras of literature.
- Sport – London is home to some of the best football clubs in the land, with Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Brentford and West Ham all playing in the Premier League at the time of writing. There are also top-quality venues that feature regular big events from athletics, cycling, boxing and many other sports, including Lord’s, the home of cricket. Getting tickets is not always easy for the biggest events, but if you plan ahead, you could be in luck, for instance, if you want to watch a Grand Prix athletics event at the London Stadium.
- Buckingham Palace – Not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are going to visit the Palace, you might as well do it while the Queen is still around to greet you (though the chances of actually seeing her in the flesh are of course very small).
- London Eye – If you like big wheels and you like views, this could be right up your street. It’s a bit overpriced and is not exactly a white-knuckle ride, but on a clear day the views over the city are amazing.
- Tower of London – There’s a lot of history in London and the Tower of London has been around for much of it. If you fancy ogling the Crown Jewels and dodging raven poop, take a jaunt to the Tower (but just don’t get yourself locked up there!).
- Parklife – For such a congested urban centre, London has a surprising number of parks and green spaces. Hyde Park is tough to beat (when it’s not playing host to ageing rockers or some other event that takes up half its area). In addition, the likes of St James’s Park, Regents Park and Kensington Gardens are all well worth wandering through.
- Statues & Monuments – From the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace to Nelson’s Column and the iconic lion statues in Trafalgar Square, London is dotted with various interesting and historical monuments and statues that are worth seeking out, with various tours available if you don’t fancy doing it yourself.
Obviously there are a million and one other things that might be of interest in London, but we’d recommend you get yourself a good guidebook and have a read whilst tucking into your favourite vegan cuisine.
Vegan Restaurants in London: Conclusions
We could easily have made this article twice as long and featured lots more of the many great vegan restaurants in London. But instead we’ve tried to be selective and feature those that are a little different or which have garnered the best reviews from customers. Of course, each person’s tastes will differ somewhat, but we’re confident that there’ll be something to tempt you from the vegan restaurants we’ve looked at above.
Of course, in a city as vibrant as London, there will always be new and exciting plant-based food outlets popping up. What’s more, we predict that as the quality and quantity of vegan restaurants increases, more and more non-vegans will be attracted to them and perhaps take their first steps towards veganism.