The very best, greasiest, sugar and calorie-laden vegan food to be found in London.
“Dirty” isn’t usually a term most people associate with vegan food. Clean eating, whole foods – these are the things we imagine your typical vegan consumes, along with a daily dose of yoga and green smoothies.
I hate to burst your pre-conceived bubble, but vegans can eat just as dirty as anyone.
There are vegan versions of popular chocolate bars (Go Max Go foods make vegan equivalents of Snickers, Twix, Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups and more), ice cream (Booja-Booja), meats (Tofurky and Fry’s are quality brands) and cheeses (Vegusto’s No-Moo Piquant is amazing and Sainsbury’s has just expanded it’s own range of vegan cheeses). And lets not forget the booze! Baileys has recently released it’s vegan-friendly Almande and Guinness is close to making it’s famous stout completely vegan (woohoo).
So what about eating out? Luckily, there’s a heck of a lot of options for vegans in London who want to indulge in a bit of guilty pleasure food. Hello grease, goodbye waistline! Here are seven of the dirtiest:
Veg Bar, Brixton
If you’re looking for dirty, look no further than Veg Bar in Brixton. Non-traditional veggie diner offers a gamut of greasy options, including a Big Mac-style burger called The VegFather, Nugz Wings, Chilli Cheese Dog and the ultimate favourite – a pulled pork-esque wrap.
The wrap is made with jackfruit, which simulates the texture of pulled pork, just melts in your mouth. Most meals come with fries (the Cajun ones are recommended) so you can max out the dirty on these traditional diner offers.
If you’re in the area, you can even get your vegan fast food fix delivered straight to your door with Deliveroo.
The Waiting Room, Deptford
If you didn’t know it was there, you’d likely walk right by The Waiting Room. There’s not a lot of seating and it can get pretty darn crowded at times, but if you muscle your way through the queue you’ll be rewarded with the likes of a vegan hotdogs and burgers.
Try the New Yorker dog (sauerkraut, mustard, ketchup and onion) or The Sith burger (“hotter than the hate that burns within…”)
Village Pizza, various locations
If you’re after a traditional, cheesy pizza (sans actual cheese), then look no further than Village Pizza.
They use popular vegan cheese brand Cheezly (super melty) and have seven vegan pizza options to choose from ranging from Tikka Surprise (with tikka style vegan chicken), to Spaniard (vegan-style garlic sausage) and Hickory Chicken (vegan chicken smothered in BBQ Sauce – my personal fav).
Plus they deliver if you’re near to a branch (of which there are five in the Greater London area). It’s like Domino’s, but without the cholesterol.
Ruby’s of London, Greenwich
Since it’s mostly made of sugar and fat, I count cupcakes and cakes as dirty food. And the best vegan cupcakes in town are made by Rubys of London. You can find Ruby’s stall in Greenwich market on the weekends, usually staffed by herself or a member of her family who is happy to sell you delicious, moist, sugary treats.
Ruby has totally got the cupcake equation down: a lot of rival places in London just don’t get the cake-to-frosting ratio right (so they end up being way too sweet), or the moisture level just isn’t up to scratch (so you end up with a brick).
Without a doubt, Ruby’s are the best in town. My personal favourite is the Sicilian Summer (lemon and poppyseed, with pistachios) cupcake. Divine.
Temple of Hackney, Hackney
A few steps from Hackney Central you’ll find one of London’s newest dirty vegan joints, Temple of Hackney. Here you can find a 100% vegan menu, most of it fried chicken. Say what?
They use a common wheat-derived meat substitute called seitan to replicate the chicken part (fun fact: it used to be called Temple of Seitan before some people got uppity about it. Unfortunate, because it’s pretty funny).
Deep fried delicacies include chicken strips, mac n’ cheese, hamburgers and my personal favourite – popcorn chicken. It’s finger lickin’ good.
Norman’s Coach and Horses, Soho
Norman’s Coach and Horses is unassuming. From the outside, it appears to be like any small, central London pub: a bit crowded on the weekends, jostling for elbow room at the bar and not a lot of sitting space.
What’s a bit special about Norman’s is that it claims to be London’s first vegetarian pub, and rumour has it that it’s frequented by the writers from Private Eye. Neat.
If you plan ahead and make a reservation the staff will lead you through the secret gap in the bar (it’s sort of like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia), up some narrow stairs and pop you out into a lovely little dining area on the first floor.
It a veggie/vegan pub, with items like Tofush & Chips – nori covered tofu coated in an organic ale batter. Mmm. It’s greasy, but very tasty. The seaweed give the tofu a taste of the ocean, so it’s almost like you’re eating something from the local chippy (except no fish were harmed in the making of this meal).
Cookies and Scream, Camden
This wee place in Camden market has what are probably the best ice cream sandwich cookies in existence. Anywhere.
Cookies and Scream also sell brownies, pies, donuts and shakes. There are a few stools, so if you’re lucky enough to claim one, you can enjoy your carb-loaded, sugar-laden treasure haul without burning any calories. Bonus.