A few short years ago had someone asked you to recommend a good vegan restaurant in London you would have been hard-pressed to answer. The plant-based movement was viewed as niche and difficult to maintain with most restaurateurs concluding there simply wasn’t a market for it.
Well, how times have changed. Since World Vegan Month was founded in 1994, with Veganuary following a decade later, millions have signed up to take part and 2022 is expected to be the movement's biggest year yet – and restaurants and retailers have been quick to offer menus and products to meet the growing trend. Suffice to say, if you’re looking to try out the plant-based lifestyle this year, it should be a breeze. Here's our guide to the best vegan restaurants in London.
Pied à Terre
The Michelin-starred Pied à Terre in Fitzrovia has long been applauded for the care it takes in catering to vegetarian and vegan diets. Founded in 1991 it currently holds the title of longest-standing Michelin-starred restaurant in the UK, with current executive chef Asimakis Chaniotis bringing his Greek influence to the restaurant's classic French cooking. While the menu isn't purely plant-based, its vegan tasting menu is regularly voted one of the best in the business, with highlights including green apple ravioli, Scialatielli cashio e pepe and barbeque 'ribs'.
Don't feel like going out? When lockdown closed its doors in 2020, Pied à Terre quickly adapted its award-winning plant-based menu into an at-home feast. Available for takeaway or delivery, the offering changes weekly and comes pre-prepared and portioned for two with simple instructions for creating a restaurant-worthy experience in your own kitchen. So what’s on the menu? Recent dishes have included moussaka with lentil bolognese, Mediterannean cous cous salad and chocolate rice pudding with banana.
One of the newest additions to the capital's vegan restaurant scene, Holy Carrot opened within the chic Urban Retreat wellness space in Knightsbridge in 2021 to offer the neighbourhood's well-heeled inhabitants upscale plant-based fare in a relaxed all-day dining environment. Ingredients are seasonal and ethically-sourced while all dishes are gluten, sugar, preservative and additive-free. If all that sounds a little holier than thou, don't worry - nothing has been sacrificed in terms of flavour. There's a decadent afternoon tea on offer, featuring treats such as miso caramel trifle, lemon tart and crostini with 'crab' salad, while the main menu offers a satisfying mix of salads, Asian-inspired small plates and sliders. For Veganuary 2022, Holy Carrot has also teamed up with Seaspiracy to create a lavish 'seafood' platter featuring meat- and dairy-free calamari, scallop maki and crab croquettes, among other delicacies. 20 per cent from each platter sold will be donated to support Seaspiracy's mission to protect the world's aquatic life.
Going vegan doesn’t have to mean your diet is all green juices and chickpea crisps – at least that’s what Dirty Vegan, sister brand to the highly indulgent burger chain Dirty Bones, believes. Its home at Westfield White City makes it the perfect alternative mid-spree pitstop and the menu, which features a range of classic burgers, hot dogs, 'chicken' and fries, alongside vegan ice creams and milkshakes, is every bit as tempting as your usual fast food guilty pleasure.
A cook-at-home meal kit for two is also available, containing two Beyond Meat cheeseburgers (complete with vegan American cheese, brioche buns, relish, pickled jalapeños, jalapeño dressing, red onions and gherkins) and skinny fries with onion and garlic salt, along with an Old Skool Fashioned cocktail (Baked apple Bulleit bourbon, Rosso vermouth, vanilla and cinnamon) each. Sounds like a great night in to us.
Gaucho may be best known for its spectacular way with Argentinian steak but even it isn't immune to the call of the plant-based lifestyle. This Veganuary its locations in Kensington, Richmond and Hampstead will play host the group's brand new vegan menu devised by executive chef Steve Allen. Drawing on the restaurant's Latin American heritage, dishes will include radish ceviche with avocado, corn, shallots and tortilla, corn empanada with humita basil and tomato and a series of plant-based desserts including chocolate brownie with white chocolate ice cream.
Helmed by eponymous chef Alexis Gauthier, who has been vegan since 2016, Michelin-starred Soho restaurant Gauthier is another London fine dining favourite offering something a little more special for those choosing to go plant-based. As of 23 June 2021, the restaurant became 100 per cent plant-based, marking quite the departure from the usually meat-and-dairy heavy dishes found in the French gastronomy stable. Choose between a six- or ten-course tasting menu filled with intriguing dishes such as red wine and juniper glazed mushroom loin, red carrot tartar and rice dough berlingot with truffle and dashi.
Gauthier offers an at-home vegan box that is cooked, prepared and packed at the Romilly Street restaurant and serves up to four people with a new menu devised by Alexis each week. With eight dishes in each box, this truly is a feast. Choose from classic Gauthier dishes or opt for boxes inspired by foodie locales including Japan, San Diego, Liguria and Marrakesh. Each box is also available with a duo of red and white wines from Gauthier’s in-house wine list paired by the restaurant’s sommelier.
With outposts in Soho and Covent Garden, Club Mexicana has filled the taco-shaped hole in London’s vegan scene with its commitment to big flavours, quality ingredients and absolutely no chickpeas. Ever. Having started life as a street food operation, Club Mexicana bravely opened its first permanent restaurant in August 2020, and now offers a more extensive menu of nachos, tacos, burritos and cocktails – all of which are completely vegan. Started with the fully loaded nachos (topped with, queso, ground ‘beef’, guacamole, salsa, pink onions, pickled jalapeños, chipotle oil and chilli-lime salt) before moving on to the classic Al Pastor taco or 'chorizo' and sweet potato burrito. A frozen margarita is also a must.
Vegan pizza: not the oxymoron you might think thanks to the culinary wizardry happening over at Camden’s Purezza. The UK’s first fully vegan pizzeria now also has locations in Bristol, Manchester and Brighton and Hove thanks to the simple reason that its pizza is great. And we don’t mean great for vegan pizza. We mean great for any pizza. It helps that Purezza’s chefs develop all their ingredients, including a signature brown rice mozzarella, cashew cheese, coconut cheese and sourdough base, in-house giving them the freedom to curate a menu that spans everything from a simple margherita to a lavish black truffle and pulled porketta pizza. There’s also a range of vegan dough balls, dips and desserts available, including a salted caramel brownie you won’t believe is dairy-free.
While not technically a purely vegan restaurant, another of London’s fast-casual comfort food favourites turning its hand to plant-based fare is the ever-popular Patty&Bun. Its core line-up of vegan burgers and sides have been created in collaboration with This and include This Isn't Chicken Nuggets, chipotle coleslaw, milkshakes and plant-based versions of the chain's best-selling Smokey Robinson, Hot Chic, Jamaican and Ari Gold burgers. 'Guest' vegan burgers also often make an appearance on the menu (for Veganuary 2022 you'll find the Plantony Worral Thompson: plant-based patty, American cheese, fried rosti, confit tomatoes, aioli and pickled red onion) while many of the vegan burgers can also be purchased as finish-at-home kits.
Fitzrovia-based Sicilian restaurant Norma will be going the whole, ahem, hog this Vegnuary with a new vegan menu available throughout the month and a special one-off vegan supper club on 11 January. Taking its cues from the restaurant's classic Italian fare, the vegan set menu will boast dishes including roasted whole broccolo Romanesco, pumpkin tortellini and poached quince while the small plates supper club will feature chickpea panelle with salsa verde, pasta e fagioli and caponata, pine and mint among other enticing treats. There will also be a range of limited edition mocktails on offer for this combining Veganuary with Dry January.