by Ali Gunning – yogi & vegan
‘Ahimsa on a plate”What NO meat, eggs, dairy or fish!’….people are forever saying: ‘but it must be a nightmare going out for dinner…?’ For me being vegan is to largely do with ethics and my commitment to yoga – the first principle of which is not whether you can touch your toes, but a commitment to ‘ahimsa’ – non violence in action, thought or speech. In the modern world, i think there are many more challenges to living by the principal of non-harming than food. Let’s face it, living in london we are spoilt for choice whatever dietary restrictions or preferences we have… So this is a list (but not in particular order, as they are all amazing) of my favourite vegan-friendly places to eat and drink.
Saf http://www.safrestaurant.com/Simple. Authentic. Raw. Says it all but not nearly enough…with a shoreditch branch, whole foods concession and a harvey nicks pop up juice bar, saf is perfect if you want something a bit more plush and sit-down. Try sharing the cheese plate and herb crackers to start, while the juice menu is extensive with loads of ‘in’ ingredients like coconut water and himalayan salt.
inSpiral Lounge http://www.inspiralled.net/
Right on the bridge over the regents canal this camden favourite has everything from organic vegan cocktails to burgers and mini macaroons. It’s not cheap but a really friendly place to eat alone and people/ boat watch.
POGO Cafe http://www.pogocafe.co.uk/
Super-affordable meals (daily squatters special main meal for 3 quid), snacks, cakes and milkshakes near hackney central. You can judge a lot by a cafes hot chocolate made with rice milk (here – amazing), the volunteers who run the place are lovely and there is a mini library with vegan cookery and health books.
Indian Veg Buffet – Chapel Market http://www.veganlondon.co.uk/eat/
The words ‘eat all you want’ and ‘buffet’ generally make my stomach churn, and not in a good way, but this is more like waiting in line at the ashram dining room. Indian food cooked without ghee is hard to find and despite barely having time to wipe the tables between diners (which they do, even though it costs £4.50 each and is BYO) they dish up homecooked style curries, fragrant rice, dahl, salads and accompaniments. Plus ace vegan lassis – try mango and coconut. The walls are covered with vegetarian health propaganda (see below!) so you can just point when your companion asks that other meat-eater staple: ‘but where do you get your protein from?’
Gossip – Broadway Market http://www.allinlondon.co.uk/directory/1150/51087.php
The best place to stop for tea in east london; literally hundreds of blends to choose from, lining the shelves like the jars in a sweetie shop. Nearly all cakes are vegan although the place is listed as veggie and it’s a brilliant place for wifi working during the week (lamb to slaughter’s london hq).
The Gallery Cafe, Bethnal Green http://thegallerycafe.wordpress.com/
And if its not ‘gossip & tea’, the gallery is just down the road – as well as specialist brews, it has a much wider, hearty-vegan food menu. And the little chapel at the back does free screenings of independent films.