With the increasing amount of positive media coverage, the vegan lifestyle has undergone the most radical change in its history. Veganism is no longer an extreme choice; it’s easy and accessible. Attitudes are also changing, with more than half of UK adults now adopting vegan-buying behaviours.
This growing popularity of veganism is a good thing for everyone. The businesses providing vegan food benefit from the extra cash; vegans can find more options on a day out; and, most importantly, the decreasing demand for animal products means that more animals are spared their lives.
But many people wonder, where can you eat as a vegan? The truth is, pretty much anywhere. Chain and independent stores alike are embracing this surge and providing great vegan options - yes, we’re talking about more than chips here!
Do some quick research
There’s a good chance these days that the place you’re visiting already has vegan options but do double check online. If they don’t have anything exciting, most chefs will be happy to prepare something special for you. Make sure to call in advance and request this to make things easier.
Travelling or new to the city? Just download the app HappyCow or check their website. It’s an online directory of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants, cafés, shops and more.
Indian and oriental cuisines are most likely to have a lot of vegan options. Being nice to the waiter and explaining what you’re expecting from them can go a long way. Can you spot a menu item that’d be it vegan if it wasn’t for one or two ingredients? Ask them to swap or eliminate it for you and voila, you’ve created yourself a vegan meal. Don’t forget to check all the side dishes too – some may be real gems.
UK’s Italian restaurants are leading the way for vegan options. Zizzi and Pizza Express serve pizzas topped with vegan cheese, while Carluccio’s, Bella Italia, Prezzo and ASK Italian all provide great options for vegans. Wagamama has recently launched an exciting new vegan menu.
Las Iguanas, Handmade Burger Co, and The Real Greek are also notable for their vegan food. Even McDonald’s has a vegan burger in case you’re stuck in the middle of the night with nothing to eat – just remember to ask for no mayo.
Pubs and fast food restaurants
Okay, independent pubs are an area for improvement but there are a few that offer amazing vegan options. In terms of chains, Wetherspoons paves the way with its dedicated vegan menu, followed by Loungers, Harvester, Cosy Club, Sizzling Pubs, and even the meat-heavy places like Toby Carvery and Beefeater.
Not all vegans actually eat salads – I, for one, can’t stand them. Subway is a safe bet but avoid the flatbread or the honey oat sub. YO Sushi, Wasabi, LEON and Bagel Nash are great for lunch.
If you’re looking for something more standard, head to Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, The Co-op, WH Smith or Boots as they all offer vegan wraps and sandwiches. If you’re craving a milkshake, go to Shakeaway for a whole lot of vegan options.
All major coffee shops and the majority of the independent ones provide plant milk. In addition, you can find vegan snacks at Pret a Manger, Caffe Nero, Starbucks and Costa. The former is particularly amazing for vegans, with three Veggie Pret recently opening in London.
Things are not quite where they should be yet, with some vegans struggling to find options when eating out – The Vegan Society’s survey published earlier this month showed that 91% of vegans said they sometimes have this issue.
There are lots of really helpful vegan forums and Facebook groups to join. It’s a good idea to search Facebook for a local group in your area, e.g. ‘vegan London’. The community is very welcoming and helpful so ask away if you have any questions.
Eating out as a vegan or with a vegan won’t make a fuss if you keep a few key tips in mind. Choosing vegan options shows demand for plant-based products as well as benefiting the animals, the planet, and your own health. Most of all, have fun exploring all the delicious, exciting and cruelty-free vegan dishes!
World Vegan Month was started by The Vegan Society in 1994 to celebrate its 50th anniversary and the growth of veganism. If you’re not yet vegan, you can sign up for the 30 Day Vegan Pledge at vegansociety.com/pledge and challenge your friends.
Image: The Vegan Society