If you were vegan just five years ago, you had to make a compromise and accept that because you were in the minority, you had to put up with the way things were. Vegans would resign themselves to the fact that if they wanted a burger, they had to make it themselves from beans and pulses, tea and coffee from cafes would almost always have to be ordered black and going out for dinner in a restaurant usually meant ordering a plain jacket potato or chips and a side salad without dressing.
Just a couple of years later and things have taken a drastic turn. Every major supermarket in the UK now has a section dedicated to meat-free and dairy-free food. Most restaurants provide at least one vegan meal option, and saying you’re vegan no longer comes with the stigma of being a barefoot hippy preaching about peace and love.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but veganism is fast becoming the norm. Fully vegan restaurants and street-food stalls are popping up all over the place, and events like Veganuary, World Vegan Day, and vegan food festivals are held to encourage people to incorporate more vegan food into their diet — for various reasons.
Whether you’re embracing a vegan lifestyle for the health benefits, to help save the planet or because you love animals, there’s no better time to adopt a plant-based diet. As the number of people demanding plant-based food grows, more and more dedicated vegan grocery stores and vegan-friendly restaurants are opening up in towns and cities across the UK.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the UK’s most vegan-friendly cities.
What are the most vegan-friendly cities in the UK?
Thanks to the number of vegan options on offer, the cities of Brighton, Bristol, and Cardiff are some of the best places for those on a plant-based diet.
Glasgow and Newcastle also come top for people who avoid eating or using anything that’s been derived from animals.
Continue reading to find out what makes these cities so accommodating to vegans.
Top five UK cities for vegans
Here are five of the most vegan-friendly cities in the UK, in alphabetical order:
It should come as no surprise that the progressive city of Brighton makes the list for being one of the most vegan-friendly places in the UK.
In fact, Brighton was named the vegan capital of the world earlier this year, thanks to its abundance of vegan-friendly shops, grocery stores, markets and restaurants.
Some of Brighton’s most popular vegan eateries include Happy Maki, Purezza, Smorl’s Kitchen, The Roundhill, and What the Pitta:
- Happy Maki — As well as colourful sushi bowls, you can get sushi burritos and poke bowls at this Japanese restaurant.
- Purezza — Being vegan doesn’t mean having to sacrifice pizza, as demonstrated by this pizzeria. It has no less than 12 completely plant-based pizza options on its menu, as well as pasta dishes, “meatballs” and a selection of desserts.
- Smorl’s Kitchen — Chances are if you’re vegan, you like hummus, and with four different flavours of the chickpea-based dip used in a multitude of dishes, from falafel pittas to mezze cakes, you’ll be in your element in this fully vegan cafe.
- The Roundhill — The Roundhill on Ditching Road offers traditional pub grub like burgers, salads, and pasta, all with a meat and dairy-free twist.
- What the Pitta — This fast food restaurant has won awards like Best Vegan Caterer at the Vegfest Awards 2018 and Best London Takeaway at the Kebab Awards 2020 for its wide variety of meat alternative dishes, including the Vegan Döner Kebab, Chick’n Gyros and Döner Chipbox.
With more than 300 vegan restaurants in Bristol, this city also makes the list as one of the most vegan-friendly places in the UK.
Whether you’re in the mood for Asian cuisine, you’re looking to impress a date by taking them to a fancy restaurant or you’re after some much-needed fast food to cure a hangover, it’s more than likely you’ll find something plant-based to sate your appetite in this student city.
- Asian cuisine — Masterchef finalist Larkin Cen owns a chain of four Asian diners in Bristol, serving a variety of vegan dishes, including Korean fried cauliflower, tofu ramen, and aubergine bao buns. Woky Ko: Cargo can be found on Wapping Wharf, with Woky Ko: Rooftop a few doors down. Woky Ko Lunch Bar is located on Queens Road and there’s another Woky Ko in St Nicholas Market.
- Fast food — The Burger Joint, Oowee Vegan, and Quay Street Diner all serve their own variations of vegan burgers, fries and other delicious vegan junk food dishes.
- Pub meals — For a hearty vegan meal while you watch the sports, head to Racks Bar & Kitchen, where you can chow down on dishes like vegan fish and chips, a vegan pizza, the Not Dog or a Moving Mountains burger.
- Street food — If you fancy a lunchtime snack while you’re on the move, Eat a Pitta at Broadmead, Gloucester Road, Queens Road and St Nicholas Market offers a mostly vegan menu, which includes a rainbow-coloured falafel salad box.
- Sunday lunch — If it’s a traditional Sunday lunch you’re craving, head to the Eat Your Greens fully vegan cafe. As well as serving roast dinners on Sundays, they’re open for brunch on Fridays and Saturdays and you can book in for the Supper Club set tasting menu on Friday evenings too.
Despite Wales’ reputation for lamb and cheese on toast (known as Welsh Rarebit), the country’s capital has recently put a great deal of effort into catering to the dairy and meat-free diet too.
However, people who like to eat meat are sure to enjoy the vegan options just as much. Many establishments serve replicas of Wales’ traditional dishes by substituting meat and dairy ingredients for plant-based alternatives.
Many of Cardiff’s vegan eateries are located in the city centre, so if you really want to treat yourself, you can easily eat at a different place for breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one day.
- Breakfast — While Burgers at Anna Loka serves lunch and dinner too, its breakfast wraps of vegan sausages and bacon, scrambled tofu and cauliflower hash browns are the perfect way to start your day. If you want more choice, try not-for-profit coffee shop Wild Thing, where you can decide between pancakes, granola, welsh bread and butter and yoghurt with flatbreads.
- Lunch — Situated next to a Buddhist mindfulness and wellbeing centre, Mugs and Momos offers vegan Tibetan and Mediterranean dishes, such as dumplings, curries, stuffed pittas, kebabs and paninis, as well as burgers and sandwiches.
- Dinner — Serving vegan burgers, hot dogs and wings, as well as dairy-free cakes and sundaes, Got No Beef is a great place for dinner if you’re seeking comfort food. The Cosy Club, meanwhile, has healthier options in the form of a vegan spring risotto and an avocado and white bean hummus bowl.
- Snacks — For a sweet treat, head to Blanche Bakery, where you can enjoy doughnuts, brownies and beautiful cupcakes. If you want something more savoury, you could head down to the food stalls on Cardiff Market and try a Clancy’s Scotch Eggless.
According to a report conducted earlier in the year, one in 10 people under the age of 25 are now vegan. Glasgow’s move towards veganism may well be attributed to its three universities, meaning it’s home to more than 50,000 students.
Scotland’s largest city has a vast array of vegan-friendly eateries, grocery stores and markets, so whether you have a sweet or savoury tooth, chances are you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for in Glasgow.
- Sweet treats — Dessert parlour Shake ‘N’ Scoops has dairy-free gelato and sorbet options, meaning vegans can enjoy ice-cream cones and tubs, as well as milkshakes, while Mayze is a fully vegan bakery, offering occasion cakes, cupcakes and sweet breakfast dishes. Similarly, Rawnchy is a cafe that boasts a completely vegan menu. It also makes cakes to order, as well as serving pancakes, porridge, French toast and a selection of other baked treats.
- Savoury eats — If you don’t have a sweet tooth but you still believe you deserve a treat, Dirty Vegan Burger Club could be the answer. Catering for the not-so-health-conscious vegan, some of the naughty junk food it dishes up includes loaded burgers, Macaroni Cheeze and barbecue jackfruit. Alternatively, Suissi Vegan Asian Kitchen serves up a sharing-style menu, giving you the freedom to indulge in as many plates of wontons, gyozas and noodles as you like.
Newcastle is another of the best places in the UK for vegans. The Northern English city is home to countless vegan groups and societies, and it plays host to events like the Newcastle vegan festival all year round.
Like the other cities on this list, Newcastle has numerous eateries that are 100 per cent vegan, as well as a large number of restaurants and cafes that have an extensive vegan menu but mainly cater to non-vegans.
Some of Newcastle’s best fully vegan and vegan option eating venues include:
- Fully vegan — All-vegan Indian restaurant Karma Kitchen Cafe is the place to go for plant-based spicy curries, banana blossom “fish” masala, tofu pakora and tandoori pizzas, while Vegano Pizzas is dedicated to vegan pizzas and Little Green also offers pizzas, as well as brunch, lunch and small plates options.
- Vegan options — If you’re out with meat or dairy-lovers who just won’t budge on their dietary requirements, there’s the Tandoori Naan Hut, the Tyne Bar and Country Whey all of which cater for vegans and vegetarians, as well as meat-eaters. And some of the best vegetarian restaurants offering vegan options in Newcastle include Super Natural Cafe, which serves vegan pizzas and The Sky Apple Cafe, where you can get vegan sandwiches and cakes.