I’ll admit it, I’m not a vegan food expert! Many years ago I dated a girl for over a year who was vegan, long before it was ‘cool’, we made hummus and almond milk (not recommended), when you could only get soya milk. It was ok, but the choice of options was pretty poor.
Things have moved on a lot since then and you can get a multitude of different milk alternatives, even Costa has started serving coconut milk. So while I’m personally not planning to become vegan anytime soon, eating less meat and dairy is something I’m not only doing, but enjoying because of the wealth of choice out there.
Plus there’s a lot of great books out there for cooking at home, we picked up this one over Christmas and already cooked some of the recipes.
So knowing my limitations and to support Veganuary, LDN Life has teamed up with Veganuary and London food blogger Nicole Whittle of Vegan by Nicole
But if you are one of the few who don’t know what Veganuary is or how it started, the campaign to encourage people to try vegan in January and is now in its fifth year. This year set to be bigger than ever with Veganuary predicting more than 150,000 people will go vegan for the month. Last year, there were 60,000 registered participants from 172 countries.
So this is where the expertise of local vegan and Veganuary supporter Nicole Whittle comes in.
Hi Nicole, everyone chooses different reasons to become vegan, why did you decide to make the switch?
‘I had been vegetarian a year when I came across information about the milk and egg industries. I was stunned. I had no idea that there was so much suffering and death and I started considering a vegan diet.
Was it difficult to drop dairy from your diet and how long have you been vegan?
I thought it would be difficult but it really wasn’t. I just didn’t want to eat those foods anymore and I haven’t. That was just over ten years ago.’
Wow ten years. Have you noticed any of the claimed health benefits?
Ditching dairy and eggs, and eating a lot of homemade vegetable dishes helped improve my skin and my fitness. I was still at school then, and even my PE teacher noticed a difference!’
So as a food blogger, naturally you’ve got some favourite places to eat in London. Which places would you recommend to LDN Life readers?
- Restaurant: Pho – Order: Chả giò(starter)
‘This dish is made of crispy spring rolls served with lettuce and herbs to wrap and dip into the most incredible peanut sauce. This Vietnamese dish is incredible, especially for peanut butter lovers like myself. This starter is also a perfect sharer dish regardless of who you’re dining with. Pho is very vegan-friendly, with quite a few dishes across the menu being vegan or adaptable for vegans.’
- Restaurant: Temple of Seitan – Order: Anything!
‘The hype is big for Temple of Seitan and for good reason too. It’s the perfect junk-food heaven for a vegan seeking out a replacement to fast-food outlets. Menu items include: hot wings, temple burger (crispy fillet, bacon, cheese, pickles, lettuce), popcorn bites and mac ‘n’ cheese. Perfect for when you’re sick of eating so much salad and veg and are looking for something a bit naughty. I love to take my non-vegan friends here, the last one raved ‘Oh my god, this is better than KFC’.’
- Restaurant: Ethos – Order: Afternoon Tea
‘Ethos is located just off of Oxford Circus, making it the perfect place to pop into for afternoon tea after a spot of shopping. At £20 per person, you’d struggle to find better value elsewhere. You’ll be served a selection of sandwiches, cakes, scones and, of course, tea. The best part of the experience would easily be the freshly made jam and cashew cream – my sister and I were scraping the pots clean long after the scones were eaten. The restaurant is beautifully decorated with a forest theme, making it insta-perfect.’
- Restaurant: Crosstown Doughnuts – Order: Vegan Chocolate Truffle Doughnut
‘Crosstown have locations in Victoria, Soho, Shoreditch, Camden and pop up in markets across the city, so you’re bound to come across them. This premium chocolate truffle doughnut is incredible. There’s a decadent chocolate truffle throughout and topped with the perfect amount of chocolate ganache. It’s deliciously dark and surprisingly not too sweet. If you’re missing doughnuts, this is the place to go. They also sell vegan vanilla and vegan cinnamon doughnuts.’
Thanks, Nicole! We’ll definitely be checking these out.
Naturally, It is free to take part in Veganuary, in fact, you could actually save money. If you sign up via the Veganuary website, you’ll also receive daily support emails that offer shopping lists, an eating out guide, nutrition advice, recipes, meal plans, and answers to common questions. You can also receive social media support in a closed Facebook group where they can connect with other participants, and a free celebrity e-cookbook. There are competitions with great prizes and special offers throughout the month to help keep you motivated.
So there’s only one thing left to do. Ask Nicole for advice on how to make a success of Veganuary
‘Just give it a go! A lot of us were once meat eaters and thought that going vegan would be too difficult. But I, like many others, have given it a go and are not going back, so there must be something beneficial about a vegan diet. Just keep in mind why you’re going vegan – be it health, animal rights, the environment or whatever. Anytime you feel like giving in, remember what you’re doing it for.’
You can read much more on Nicole’s blog ‘Vegan by Nicole’
If you have any tips on other places to eat vegan food during Veganuary and beyond. Let us know in the comments below.