I just returned home from an amazing trip to London, and I’m thrilled to report that London is an extremely vegan-friendly city. Please don’t shy away from plant-based eating because of anticipated difficulties while traveling. I’ve been vegan for 5 years, and I’ve never had any trouble finding delicious vegan food while away from home. My trip to London proved to me that veganism, thankfully, is going mainstream all over the world!
Since it was my first time in London (but definitely not my last!), I wanted to see all of the major sights. I only had 5 days to do so, so it wasn’t possible for me to hit all of the vegan spots I would have liked to. Nevertheless, I did eat some delicious vegan food and I do feel that I have a lot to talk about as far as “vegan stuff” goes in the wonderful city of London!
MANNA RESTAURANT (PRIMROSE HILL):
On the day I visited the Camden Lock Market and Camden Town, I ate dinner at Manna located at 4 Erskine Road in the extremely charming Primrose Hill section of London. The Chalk Farm Tube, Northern Line would take you to both Camden Town and Primrose Hill.
While dining in Manna, one of Europe’s finest and oldest vegetarian restaurants (it’s now 100% vegan), I sat 2 tables away from Russell Brand. He’s very cute in person too! Anyway, Manna’s atmosphere is chic, friendly and relaxing. My fine dining experience at this lovely restaurant made it clear to me that healthy eating can be done lavishly and with a gourmet presentation. While there, I learned that Manna also has a location in Los Angeles.
As you can see, the food at Manna was simply divine! Also note that all of the wines and beers served at Manna are organic and vegan.
Due to traditional methods of brewing and Belgian purity laws forbidding the use of ingredients in beer other than water, grain (barley or wheat), hops, and yeast, it’s a general rule of thumb that Belgian beers are vegan. So how lucky is it that the amazing Belgo Bar is located in the Chalk Farm section of Camden Town? I say that it’s very lucky! If you find yourself in Camden Town, it’s essential that you stop into Belgo Bar to try at least one of their amazing Belgian beers on tap. I had a peach-flavored beer, and it was indescribably delicious.
I also spotted the Inspiral Lounge “Eco-Vegan” Cafe in Camden Town, although I didn’t go in. However, it’s always great to randomly spot vegan cafes.
MILDRED’S RESTAURANT (SOHO):
Mildred’s Vegetarian Restaurant located at 45 Lexington Street in the Soho section of London is one of the city’s most established and well-known vegetarian restaurants. Although the food is not 100% vegan, the vegan dishes are clearly marked with a “v.” There are also many dishes on the menu marked with a “vo” or “vegan option” indicating that they could be made vegan.
You may want to visit Mildred’s if you are seeing a show on the West End, purchasing show tickets at Leicester Square, or shopping near Oxford and Regent Streets. That is precisely what I did. After purchasing theatre tickets at Leicester Square, I took a lovely stroll through the very hip section of Soho, and had lunch at Mildred’s. The casual dining room was hopping, and the waitstaff was superb!
I highly recommend dining at Mildred’s if you are strolling through or in the vicinity of London’s very cool Soho section.
PIMM’S CUP COCKTAIL (“Pimm’s Cup”):
While in London, I discovered the “must-try” Pimm’s Cup Cocktail or “Pimm’s Cup” as it’s commonly referred to in London. Pimm’s No. 1 is a gin-based beverage made in England from dry gin, liqueur, fruit juices, and spices. When it’s served with lemon soda or ginger ale it becomes a Pimm’s Cup Cocktail. I like mine with fresh fruit in it too! I’m lucky because it’s commonly made with sliced fruit and cucumber.
My standard Barnivore search revealed that all of Pimm’s products are suitable for vegans. Thank goodness!
If you find yourself strolling through the Covent Garden section of London, I highly suggest a visit to the The White Lion pub located at 24 James Street for a superb Pimm’s Cup Cocktail.
PIMM’S CUP COCKTAIL
-1/2 a small cucumber, sliced thin
-8 strawberries, sliced thin
-1/2 an orange, sliced thin
- 1/2 a lemon, sliced thin
-1/2 a green apple, sliced thin
-1 quart ice
-1 cup (8 ounces) Pimm’s No. 1
-3 cups (24 ounces) Sprite, 7-Up, or other clear citrus soda
-Mint sprigs, to garnish
Layer fruit slices and ice in a pitcher. Add Pimm’s and soda. Stir gently with a wooden spoon to combine. Pour into glasses making sure to get fruit and ice in each glass.
Garnish with mint, and serve!
VEGAN AFTERNOON TEA: FORTNUM & MASON’S DIAMOND JUBILEE TEA SALON:
Truth be told, I really wanted to experience my first vegan afternoon tea at either Claridge’s or The Savoy Hotel which both offer vegan afternoon tea menus, but I couldn’t get reservations at either one despite my attempts to do so two months in advance. After a bit of research, I learned that Fortnum & Mason offers a lovely vegan afternoon tea in their Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, and I was able to get a reservation there.
Fortnum & Mason located at 181 Piccadilly in London is probably one of the most exquisite stores (if not THE most exquisite store) I have ever been in. The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon is elegant, my afternoon tea there was divine, and the service was nothing short of perfect. I do think that the vegan menu could have been a bit more elaborate (maybe a few more luscious pastries), but I was truly thrilled to have the option of a vegan menu at an afternoon tea.
While shopping in the store after my afternoon tea, I did notice that Fortnum & Mason sold foie gras. The process of fattening the duck or goose liver to make foie gras is as cruel as “cruel” can get, and I felt badly that this product was sold as a gourmet gift item in such a beautiful store.
I plan to further elaborate on the horrors of foie gras in a separate post. I also plan on writing a letter to Fortnum & Mason to tell them that although I was grateful to have the option of a vegan menu at their afternoon tea, I would be more grateful if they stopped selling foie gras.
PUB CRAWLING AND VEGAN BEER:
The majority of my pub crawling in London took place in Wapping and Limehouse in the Docklands section. It was at Captain Kidd located at 108 Wapping High Street where I learned that Samuel Smith was the first brewery to register with the Vegan Society.
All Samuel Smith beer, with the exception of the Old Brewery Bitter and Yorkshire Stingo, are vegan. The Samuel Smith brewery operates over 300 pubs, including Captain Kidd, and I believe that there are about 30 in Central London. FYI, Captain Kidd is a very cool converted warehouse pub, situated very close to the site of the execution dock where Kidd was hung for piracy and murder. Therefore, it might be a fun place to visit if you have the time.
The Grapes in Limehouse is one of the oldest pubs in London. In fact, Charles Dickens was a patron there. Sir Ian McKellen is also a part owner of The Grapes, and his staff from The Hobbit is on display behind the bar.
The Prospect of Whitby is a gorgeous landmark pub also located in the Docklands, about halfway between The Grapes and Captain Kidd. The Prospect of Whitby is 200 years older than The Grapes, and it’s claimed to be the oldest waterfront pub in London. Definitely stop in on your pub crawl!
Pizza Express is an extremely popular chain restaurant in London. So if you’re taking in the sights of the city and you don’t have time for an elaborate meal, be on the lookout for a Pizza Express which just added the brand “new” vegan pizza called the “Pianta” to its menu…
Leon seems to be a growing fast food chain with vegan options and I noticed several locations throughout London. Although I didn’t try any of their food, I did notice this sign on all of their windows. Good to know!
Brick Lane is known for its wonderful Indian food, and you could usually find many vegan options in Indian restaurants. I didn’t have time on my trip to squeeze in Brick Lane, although I did have some wonderful Indian food in the Docklands section of London (sorry, I can’t remember the name of the restaurant!). However, if I were to go back to London, I would really want to try Woodlands for vegan Indian food which has 3 locations: Marylebone, Piccadilly and Hampstead.
Two other vegan places I really wanted to try was 222 Veggie Vegan located on 222 North End Road in West Kensington, and Ms. Cupcake located 408 Coldharbour Lane in Brixton, South West London. I don’t think that 222 Veggie Vegan is too far from Harrods, so you might consider visiting them on the same day.
WAGAMAMA (HEATHROW AIRPORT):
I had this delicious vegan dish from Wagamama in Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport. It’s called Yasai Itame, and it contains vegetables and noodles in coconut soup…
MY FAVORITE VEGAN TRAVEL ACCESSORIES:
And this Le Sportsac Signature Kate Crossbody Bag…
Harrods is an incredible store, and the food court is like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. However, I didn’t spot any vegan food options, although I did see some huge goose livers (foie gras) on their shelves for sale as a specialty item. Another letter to be written!
There you have it! A little recap of my recent trip to the charming vegan-friendly city of London. Hope you enjoyed it. Let me leave you with this John Lennon lyric which was scribbled on a wall post outside of Abbey Road Studios…