One of the big changes I noticed when I developed veganism was losing the spontaneity of going into any restaurant or cafe and finding something to eat. My wife and I ate out two or three times a week so it was tough.
In the two short years since, there’s been an explosion of new vegan places washing over London like a giant wave of hummus and while I haven’t been to every one of the now over 100 fully vegan places in the city, here are my favourite places for quick, tasty food. I’ve saved you the hassle and given the closest train station so you can get there quick too. First up, it’s the Eastenders…
Biff’s Jack Shack, Walthamstow, Victoria Line / Overground
Biff is getting a big reputation for his amazing ‘Wingz’ which are hand-shaped from jackfruit around an edible sugar cane ‘bone’, deep-fried, then smothered with a variety of insanely good sauces and toppings. I’m a big fan of puns (for they are the highest form of comedy) and have to give the Shack top marks for their burger names too – if you want the spicy version you’ll be ordering a ‘Sam Hell Jackson’.
They only moved into their first full-time spot at the end of 2018 but 2019 has already got off to a flier with their Spar Eat 17 partnership up and running. An unassuming space at the back of this East London convenience store has been transformed into a pink and blue neon den of vegan food.
Get there first on the Victoria Line to Walthamstow Central (20 mins from Kings Cross St. Pancras), then a short walk to the picturesque Walthamstow Village, a place that feels like it’s been teleported to London from the sleepy hills of Derbyshire.
CookDaily, London Fields, Overground
CookDaily is arguably the most well-known casual vegan food place in London. Founder, King, and his team have been serving up innovative vegan food drawing influence from Asia, the Caribbean, and elsewhere since 2015.
Having started selling their wares from the place where England football fans struggled to hold onto their beers last summer (Boxpark, for the uninitiated), CookDaily now have their own super cool place under the railway arches near London Fields.
Expect hip hop music, celebrity diners, and food that you’ll keep coming back for. My go to is the House Pad Thai or anything with their soy-based ‘chickn’ in it, combine that with a few of their spring rolls and some High Grade sauce and you’ve got a trio almost as good as the Bee Gees.
Temple of Hackney, Hackney Central, Overground
In what’s a perfect example of London’s melting pot of culture, you’ll find the 100% vegan Temple of Seitan sitting right next door to a butcher shop. Irony at it’s finest. As the name suggests, their patties are made from seitan, a lightly spiced and very tasty meat substitute made from wheat.
Controversially though, I don’t go to Temple for their burgers. Sue me. Yes, it’s their creamy, facon (fake bacon) topped mac and cheese that you’ll find me wrist-deep in. If you don’t fancy a trip on the Overground, there’s also the newer Temple of Camden that’s worth checking out; it’s right by the canal so lends itself well to lazy Sunday walks along the towpath, burger and chips in hand.
Genesis, Shoreditch High Street, Overground
With a menu longer than a Drake album, Genesis in Spitalfields is the place to go if you want great food and something different every day of the year (only exaggerating slightly). Their store is also very Instagrammable, if you’re into that kind of thing. The only downside is having to avoid being pistol-whipped by selfie sticks as you’re finding a place to sit.
The Smoked Chorizo Tacos are always spot on and it’s well worth getting the Yuca Fries with Garlic Mayo too – if there’s a tastier chip & dip in London, I haven’t found it yet.
SpiceBox, Walthamstow, Victoria Line / Overground
The UK’s first vegan curry house has recently opened its doors in The ‘Stow and it’s been fully booked since. And with good reason. Founder Grace had been tweaking her recipes for three years by selling food from her front door, street food stalls, and an evening pop-up at the Hornbeam Café (great place for a vegan fry-up) and the result is a menu of unbelievably good Indian food.
I tend to go for the Jackfruit Jalfrezi but the less spicy Chick’n Korma is sublime and well worth heading to the end of the Victoria Line for. If you can’t get a table, fear not, there are lunchtime walk-ins available on the weekend and if that fails, you can always collect your food and eat it from the comfort of a Tube carriage on your way home.
Regardless of whether you’re vegan or not, these places all serve up amazing food; I’ve taken non-vegan friends and family to each of the above and had nothing but thumbs up, high fives, and promises of bringing elasticated trousers next time. There are so many great places in London now I’m going to do another post for each area but in the meantime, what’s your favourite place for casual vegan food in East London?
Images by @kimburrowsvegography, CookDaily, healthista.com, SpiceBox, & Genesis