Thursday, 4 October 2012

Mofo Post #4 Vegan On The High Street

It's hard being the only veggie at the table!

Today I am planning for my birthday celebrations in York for this weekend.

So far I have called the hotel, made sure I can bring my own soy milk, Vitalite and vegan sausages. I've booked a restaurant for my family to have dinner at (El Piano) and I've found a couple of other lunch places. Only problem is I'm staying two nights and need to find somewhere for dinner on Friday night. So far I haven't found anything.

When I'm in another city in the UK outside of London I do struggle to find places to eat. Another problem I have is that all my friends and family don't necessarily want to eat in a vegan restaurant. It's not always about me and my diet so I try to suggest places where there is meat, dairy and a vegan option for me.

To make things easier on myself I've decided to make a list of all the popular chain places in the UK and whether there is something I can eat there. That way if I don't find a nice looking restaurant with vegan options I have a last resort. There's nothing worse than wandering around in the rain looking for somewhere on an empty stomach arguing with your other half about the fact that if you had joined the 2 hour queue in Wahacca  you'd be eating right now, or in my case if I hadn't stormed out of an Indian restaurant because they wouldn't give me tap water and wanted to charge me £5 for a 2L bottle of Evian water to swallow a pill then we would have finished eating already! (I think I was justified please comment below to tell Paul I was right).

ANYWAY....I'll update this as I go and if anyone finds anything useful please comment and I'll add it to my list.

Pizza Express - Lots of starters on their menu, dough balls can be ordered with oil instead of butter and there is a vegan raspberry sorbet. You can download the allergen list off their website. The pizza base is vegan so you can order pizza without cheese. I've heard the Dulwich Vegan Society are campaigning for them to advertise it as vegan.

Giraffe - They tend to be quite good, a few mains and sides and a sorbet sundae! You can download all their allergen info as well.

Wagamamas - They have a great feature on their website where they filter the menu by dietary restrictions. They have lots of veggie sushi and a raw salad but only one hot main course.

Maoz Falafel - There are two in Soho and also some in Europe and the USA they are exclusively vegetarian and mostly vegan apart from some condiments like tzatiki and mayonnaise.

Hare and Tortoise - Now I love this place but the menu is far from comprehensive. There are good vegan options but the spring greens with OYSTER sauce are marked veggie so I need to research this place better.

Nandos - Yep a chicken joint. I'll earn brownie points with a few mates if I go with them and the veggie burger and bean burger is vegan (ask for no mayo), they also have a few sides. I actually buy their sauces from the supermarket so they are all good too.

West Cornwall Pasty - They do a vegetable pasty that's vegan. I'm a former cheese and onion or mushroom and cheese pasty lover and I ate the vegan one about a week after becoming vegan, I wasn't over the moon about it but I massively appreciated their effort and it was good to get something hot and filling in a train station on my way back to London from York. I can feel some vegan pasty experiments coming on soon...

Pret A Manger - I'm so sick of their hummus salad and tortilla thing. Get something else please!

Eat - Not good at pointing out what's vegan on their website, if anything. I always get their Gyoza Dumpling Soup though, it's lush.

Prezzo - Bruschetta, soup, and some pastas are vegan. Look at their site, they have a good list of vegan food, I think some of it you have to ask for it to be vegan like Ceaser Salad.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen - They have a falafel burger that can be vegan if you omit the raita but they chips are cooked in the same fryer as the breaded Goats Cheese. I don't think I'd be too bothered about that although once I ordered a veggie platter NOT IN GBK and one of my onion rings was calamari -vile.

Busaba Eathai - I wrote to them and they replied: "The dishes we recommend to vegans dining with us are the Grilled Aubergine and Pad Thai Jay, Chinese Broccoli and Phad Pak."

OK that's it for now but I hope that helps someone out in a bind!


  1. Hi there! If you're in York you have to check out Goji, it's a cafe in the day time and a restaurant at night that only does veggie, nearly everything can be veganised. The food there is thoughful and always makes me feel amazing. Maybe you could sneak in a lunch there if you can't convince the others to go there Friday night? -

    Also, Wagamamas do everything to order and the staff are far more flexible than their lovely-looking but inaccurate website suggests! They will omit eggs, fish sauce etc from any dish you ask them to, just make sure the noodles are vegan too. :)

    1. Thanks Alex! I found Goji online and it looked like they were just a cafe and weren't open for dinner. I'm definitely going to check them out. Thanks for the tip about Wagamamas.
      What are vegan options in Leeds like? My brother and sister live there so it'd be good to know.

    2. We went to Goji and loved it! For some silly reason I didn't think they opened in the evening, turns out I can't read.

  2. I need to try that veggie pasty from the West Cornwall Pasty place. I haven't been to Wagamama for ages, they didn't have the sushi or dumplings last time I was there. There are a couple of hot dishes from the veggie menu that can be made vegan though, the Yasai Cha Han is vegan if you remove the egg and the Saien Soba can be made vegan if you switch out the noodles for udon or rice noodles - at least that was the case last time I visited!

    I saw your question about Daiya on Twitter! It's different to UK vegan cheeses. I love Vegusto in sauces, grated on pasta or just on crackers but it doesn't melt & stretch quite like Daiya which is perfect for grilled cheeses, mac & cheese or pizza.

  3. Does it actually taste of cheese? I haven't had Vegusto either, the first few vegan cheeses I tried were just awful. I keep reading so much about Daiya and really want to get my hands on some!

  4. Thank you for this post, it's really helpful. I live in a town that is basically all chain restaurants!

    1. Thanks, glad to help! I'm not a big fan of the chain places but it's good to be able to rely on them sometimes.