“Veganuary”: Islington and Hackney become a haven for vegans
There are many ways to cleanse yourself and start the new year fresh. ‘Veganuary’, for instance, is an increasingly popular tradition. Perhaps you have already signed up to it, joining the 22 percent of the UK’s full-time vegans already residing in London. Or perhaps, you were considering it, but are finding it hard to figure it out. The good news is that having a shot at veganism has never been easier.
There are a number of reasons why we should all consider veganism, albeit only for a short while, since a vegan diet comes with a longer list of benefits to your health than risks. And many celebrities have already taken to the trend and signed up.
Whether you are fully set on going vegan, or still contemplating, it can be a struggle to come to terms with your carnivore cravings. Not to mention, what do you even eat on a vegan diet? One of the greatest misconceptions about veganism is that you’ll have to live out the rest of your life consuming nothing but vegetables. Luckily, millions of vegan pioneers before you have already “veganised” their favourite meat and dairy dishes, proving that you can have your dairy-free cheese cake and eat it too!
If you happen to live in either Hackney, Shoreditch or Islington, you’re in for a treat! Because that means some London’s most sumptuous and affordable vegan eateries are right outside your doorstep. And if you don’t believe us, just keep reading.
How about we start with the game-changer.
Ever heard of seitan? Essentially, it is a wheat-based meat substitute. But when mixed with spices, put in pies or even deep fried, it lifts itself to a whole new level. If you are craving the touch, feel and texture of meat, this is what you need. And if you’re not sure where to get it, go to the holiest of places – the Temple of Seitan.
Based in Hackney and Camden, this all-vegan fast food joint only serves up seitan based meals, including juice burgers and crispy chips. But what really gave them a place on London’s foodie map, was their seitan “chicken” wings. Crisp, juice and incredibly flavoursome, and so good it’s hard to resist seconds. Luckily, prices are reasonable, leaving you with 4 big spicy buffalo wings and ranch mayo for the sheer price of £4.
Temple of Seitan/Hackney, 10 Morning Lane, E9 6NA
Mon – Sat 12-9, Sunday 12-6
Not all vegan food has to be Indian.
Lentils, peas and beans are a stable and very common part of a vegan’s pantry. And without animal fats involved, the flavour profiles become much more varied – and heavily dominated by spices. But that doesn’t mean you’ll spend the rest of your days cooking up curry.
Antonio, the owner of Piadina Genuina, spent 6 years of his life in Romagna, Italy, living and working with an 80-year-old ‘nonna’, who taught him all she knew about making piadina, a traditional Italian flatbread. Perhaps this is why Antonio decided to not only paint his shop front in the colours of il Tricolore, but also name it Piadina Genuina – i.e. “genuine piadina”. Not only is it 100% authentic Italian – it is also 100% vegan; from kebabs and calzones, to fresh tagliatelle and cheesecake. According to one TripAdvisor review, “the bolognese is mindblowing.”
251 Wick Road, Hackney, E1 5DG, London
Open Wed – Sunday 11am-9pm
Even the take-away has been sorted.
Once again, pioneering vegans have paved the way for your meal options. Nowadays, most pizza places in London are able to adapt and accommodate to your food choices, and it is no longer uncommon to see “vegan cheese” as an add-on topping. But nothing beats a pizza place that has extensively thought about how to make the perfect vegan pizza. Some of UKs best are right here in our district – and they do take away too!
Fed By Water in Dalston, Hackney, specialises in a healthy vegetarian and vegan Mediterranean diet. Their secret lies in the water, which they filter with active charcoal to get rid of chlorine and other impurities, without losing the essential minerals. All of their pizzas are vegan, and all their cheeses are homemade – from the buffalo mozzarella to the spreadable cremino verde.
Unit 1b Dalston Cross Shopping Centre, 64 Kingsland High Street, E8 2LX
Mon – Sun 12-11pm
Closer to our home here in St John Street, on Clerkenwell Road, you will find Wedge Issue, pizza and beer. As well as a large range of veggie and vegan options, Wedge Issue offers bespoke meat and fish pizzas and freshly made pasta dishes. Meaning you won’t have to give up hanging out with your non-veggie friends until the end of January. And every Friday from 7pm, their downstairs bar space homes an open mic night, open for all who wants to join in and give the stage a go.
91-95 Clerkenwell Road, EC1R 5BX
Mon-Wed 12-10pm, Thu-Fri 12-11pm, Sat 17-10pm
You don’t have to settle for carrot sticks and hummus with your meal deal.
Between 2016 and 2017, Tesco’s vegan and vegetarian sales went up by 25%, causing the supermarket chain to hire plant-based chef Derek Sano as their new Director of Plant Based Innovation. Derek introduced a full range of ready meals, wraps and salads readily available in Tesco’s across the country. And so far, social media has been ablaze with positive responses form UKs vegans. And if their word doesn’t count, whose does!?
What do you know about vegan brownies?
According to vegan weekend pop-up I Will Kill Again, “absolutely sweet f**k all if you haven’t tried ours.” Located in the Dark Arts Coffee shop in the railway arches between Hackney Central and Homerton Overground stations, I Will Kill Again has managed to take the best of the best from breakfast and brunch and turn it into a vegan morning feast. Their vegan brunch menu includes baked beans on toast with spicy “chorizo” and guacamole or smoky seitan and potato rösti on homemade breakfast muffin. They welcome pets inside too, meaning walking the dog is a good excuse to drop them a visit. Unfortunately, as they are only open weekends, and quite popular with the London crowd, you might have to fight for a space.
Staying hot with Jaz and Jules’ hot chocolate.
In the most unlikely of places, the gentrified Chapel Market behind Angel St, you will find the most exquisite hot chocolates. Now, if veganism is about healthy living, how can hot chocolate be good for me? you might ask. “Cocoa in itself is really healthy,” says Jules, co-founder of the sister-owned Jaz & Jul’s hot cocoa café. “Any chocolate bar above 65% is good for you, but the commercial ones are mostly fats and sugar which is why they are unhealthy,” she says.
Flavours are experimental, like their Orangeytang (orange, cardamom and cloves) and the Masala Mojo nine-spice chai blend. And every weekend, you can indulge in their bottomless chocolate brunch with either a sneaky liqueur shot added to your drink, or a good ol’ glass of prosecco.
1 Chapel Market, N1 9EZ
Speaking of booze…
Not many associate booze and veganism. But, if you’re going to be really strict with your veganuary, you will have to. In fact, a majority of alcoholic beverages are produced using animal products. With both beer and wine, for example, there’s a filtering process, which traditionally includes animal products to remove protein, yeast, cloudiness, colourings and “off” flavours that may affect the final product. Nowadays, many animal friendly alternative are being used as well. One way to find out whether your pint is approved or not is to go to Barnivore.com.
If you are still struggling to come up with recipes or ideas, sign up for Veganuary online here (http://veganuary.com/register/?utm_source=wickedhealthyveganuary&utm_campaign=2018) to receive meal plans, recipes and daily tips.