One noticeable trend this year has been the move towards veganism with #veganuary being the resolution to go vegan for the month of January. Plant-based diets have been around as long as the winds of time. In some cultures, notably Indian and Asian countries, vegan and vegetarian food are a mainstay of the diet offering a wide variety of food options, and slowly the number of non-meat dishes is on the increase in our restaurants over here. Last year, the Vegan Society noted that 542,000 people in the UK were vegan with an estimated 50,000 people doing Veganuary this month. So what does it actually entail and is a plant-based diet all it’s cracked up to be?
According to the Vegan Society, the definition of veganism is “A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”
Veganuary focuses solely on the dietary aspects but even so, going vegan for the first time will still need thorough research and preparation to ensure that you maintain a healthy diet. Many people subscribe to a plant-based diet due to animal treatment issues or as a way to consume a perceived better diet. According to Jenny Tscheische, the founder of lunchboxdoctor.com and the consultant nutritionist for Indigo Herbs, there are many benefits as well as a few potential pitfalls to be aware of when following a vegan diet. Additional micro-nutrient intake and a potential increase in beneficial gut bacteria is great although a potential lack of vitamin B12 needs to be avoided. Jenny goes into more details here in this article written for Indigo Herbs on veganism and gives us ideas to avoid any potential health risks.
So you want to give veganism a go but where do you start and what do you buy? There is a wide range of resources online to help you create nutritious meals with a number of sites dedicated to vegan recipes. The Vegan Society has some fantastic recipes as does Indigo Herbs. Alternatively, the supermarkets are taking note of this trend and are starting to supply plant-based meals with Tesco launching a new vegan range in 600 stores this week. Other chains such as Starbucks and Pret-a-manger are also following this trend with Starbucks adding oat milk to their menu. Likewise, the Co-Op, has announced plans to improve its range of vegan wines with The Guardian reporting that it is aiming to stock 100 vegan wine products by the end of the year.
If this is all too much at first and you would rather leave the cooking to someone else then there are a number of restaurants that cater for vegans. A list from the Vegan Society is here plus below are a few ideas on where to eat if you live in or near London.
Pollen Street Social
Jason Atherton’s original Michelin-starred restaurant, Pollen Street Social, doesn’t shy away from vegan food, and its vegan tasting menu was the first Michelin-starred vegan menu ever to be launched in London. Using British grown, seasonal produce, the vegan tasting menu comes in at £75 for 8 courses, and includes the likes of Salted baked beetroot tartare, apple, sourdough croutons and herb salad and Braised broccoli stem, lemon purée, toasted almonds & seaweed (subject to change and seasonality)
The Redemption Bar
Based in Shoreditch and in Notting Hill, Redemption Bar serves up all vegan, sugar-free and wheat-free food in a gorgeous setting. Voted one of the best vegan restaurants in London, the ethos of the Redemption Bar is firmly rooted in caring for the planet.
Redemption’s wonderful vegan desserts include Lime Cheesecake (pictured here) & Banoffee Pie – a chewy nutty chocolate base with sticky medjool date salted caramel, bananas and coconut cream.
The Vurger Co
The Vurger Co offers a mouth-watering 100% plant-based menu packed full of vegetable goodness without cutting out any of the indulgence. Serving up delights such as vurgers, chips and shakes including The Vurger Co’s Auburger, made from aubergines, chickpeas, red onion and vegan cheese, The Vurger Co is definitely a must visit for those wanting to get on the veganuary wagon without cutting out any of the hearty classic burger fulfilment.
Theo Randall at the InterContinental
Award-winning Italian restaurant Theo Randall at the InterContinental is now offering a flavourful and varied vegan brunch for guests following a plant-based diet. A la carte and set menus of two or three courses celebrate the simple yet robust flavours of Italian cooking, with seasonality at heart. Each course offerings include one or more gluten-free options, often a rare find for vegans and vegetarians. Though situated at one of the capital’s most prestigious addresses, the menu is made up of the same simple rustic dishes Chef Theo Randall enjoys when he goes to Italy – unfussy yet utterly delicious, a million miles away from the complicated fancy fare you would normally expect to eat on Park Lane.
For more information, please visit: TheoRandall.com
Darcie & May Green from the Daisy Green Collection
Darcie & May Green, the two eye popping canal boats have recently barged into Paddington Central. Designed by legendary British pop artist Sir Peter Blake in collaboration with Prue Freeman, the fabulous founder of the Daisy Green collection, Darcie & May serve everything from scrumptious brunches through to innovative cocktails. They offer a generous menu with plenty of options for their vegan customers including the jackfruit curry with turmeric rice, coconut sambal, house pickles and flatbread.