Being vegan isn't just the cool choice -- duh -- it's the smart choice that more and more people are turning to for a whole host of reasons. Whether you're getting healthy or worrying about the planet or hoping to stop cruelty to animals (or all three) eating vegan is the most ethical choice, and guess what? It can be delicious, too. Long gone are the days when eating vegan meant chowing down on bean sprouts and rice and nothing else... it a hugely varied cuisine now, and restaurants -- thank heavens -- have seized the trend and are offering a multitude of choices to their discerning vegan patrons.
Who ever thought vegan would be on menus right across London? But we're pleased to report that vegan restaurants aren't just popular these days -- they're fantastic. Some are cheap and cheerful casual dining spots, while others are perfect for dressing in your Sunday best for a special occasion. Here are 10 of London's top vegan restaurants you should try; they aren't the only ones -- far from it -- but they are some of the best.
1) All Nations Vegan House: This fabulous Caribbean food emporium is now being run by the family's third generation, which speaks to the fabulousness and consistent quality of the dishes. Located in Stoke Newington, try one of the many vegan meals but be sure to order a smoothie to accompany it -- they are to die for.
2) Itadaki Zen: Does sushi and vegan sound like a contradiction in terms? No, not at this King's Cross establishment. The crispy tempura is delicious, and when you pair it with a glass of sake, you'll never want "real" sushi again -- trust us.
3) 222 Vegan: This outlet was one of London's very first vegan restaurants, so it deserves props for convincing a then-suspicious public that vegan dining could be fantastic. Try the pumpkin salad jazzed up with ginger -- you'll remember all over again why you went vegan to begin with.
4) Amrutha Lounge: This spot in Wandsworth is a perennial favourite with diners, who rave online about its cool vibe and great food. And get this -- if you don't agree that each dish is worth its 10 quid (or less) you can pay what you want. Who ever heard of a restaurant with that policy? It works because the staff knows the food is always fabulous.
5) Lele's: This Clapton cafe does a mean summer fruit compote with coconut cream. Dazzling! And once a month staff puts on a vegan patisserie tea, but be warned: you can't get near the place without a reservation.
6) Cook Daily: Missing your once-weekly chow down on Thai food? This spot in London Fields has got you covered -- one dish looks like fried chicken but tastes like vegan heaven.
7) Cafe Van Gogh: You don't just get good vegan food here, you're giving back, because the Van Gogh in Brixton is a non-profit that puts money back into the community. Still, the food has got to be great, right? Well, try the vegan sticky toffee pudding or the chocolate cake -- the kinds of sweets we Brits love. Then lace up your sneakers and go for a long walk to shake off the calories!
8) Gauthier: This is one of the finest establishments in London, vegan or not. It is a Michelin starred restaurant that first starting offering vegan in 2015, and its seasonal plates are worth every pound. Save it for a special occasion, if you must, but try it soon.
9) Chloe: This is actually an American operation that has dazzled Brits at its locations in Soho, Covent Garden, Greenwich and Marylebone. Perfect for a casual outing when you're craving a burger and fries -- a plant-based burger, natch. Or for some comfort food, give the mac n' cheese a go... it rivals mum's best efforts.
10) Club Mexicana: This spot is great for a late night binge after partying hard. Its permanent diner is in Shoreditch, though it occasionally does pop ups elsewhere. Try a corn tortilla with all the fixings, and you'll get to bed satisfied and snoozy.
All these places deserve your attention, and not just because they're vegan. They have a huge variety of menus, each one offering fantastic fare, whether you just need a quick bite or you're celebrating passing finals or landing a new job. Dress up or dress down, pull on your boots or sneakers, and head out for a satisfying, hearty meal. And in the process you're kind to animals and go easy on the planet -- could dining out possibly get better than that?