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World Vegan Month: The best vegan-friendly restaurants

November is World Vegan Month, and with the uptake of veganism showing no signs of slowing, we pick a few of the best places for a tasty plant-based meal.

Not long ago, a vegan diet was considered pretty out there. How – onlookers would ask –  could living on nothing but fruit, veg, grains, nuts and pulses – with no butter, cheese or eggs, let alone meat and fish – be anything but dry and boring? 

A perfect storm of factors has catapulted veganism into the mainstream, however. Increased awareness of the plight of the planet (thank you, Sir David) and worry for the welfare of the animals that live on it is part of the argument; ditto the seemingly unstoppable rise of health and wellbeing concerns. Veganuary has been a colossal success with some 250,000 people committing to at least a month of veganism in January 2019 (3,300 signed up in its launch year, 2014).

Whether you choose it or not, there is no doubt that veganism is no passing fad. It is firmly part of the national conversation. So it’s not surprising that chefs and restaurateurs across the UK are listening closely. The best are getting innovative and lavishing as much care and creativity onto their vegan dishes as on their meat and fish ones – often with delicious results. Here are just six that have teased the taste-buds of Guide inspectors recently. 

Gauthier, Soho
Vegan chef Alex Gauthier may cook non-vegan dishes too in his stylish Soho restaurant, but his Les Plantes tasting menu is, inspectors said, ‘resplendent with technical panache and culinary imagination.’ Truffle tortellini with enoki mushrooms and truffle ‘cream’ tempts this season.

Acorn, Bath
Richard Buckley has shifted Acorn from being ‘just’ a vegetarian restaurant to fully embracing veganism. Deep care and an understanding of flavour are evident throughout the menu: try cauliflower ‘many ways’ with fenugreek croquetas, and end a meal with burnt apple sorbet, rye crumb and caraway.

The Allotment, Manchester
New to the 2020 Guide, the ambition of this all-vegan restaurant is evident in its 10-course tasting menu. Celebrate the flavour of plants in a meal that might start with king oyster ceviche, beetroot and quinoa, and end with matcha and cardamom cheesecake with chai latte ice cream. 

The Art School, Liverpool
Chef patron Paul Askew caters for all tastes in his spacious, light-filled restaurant, but vegans have got it particularly good: an impressive meal might include a warm salad of roasted figs with bitter leaves, red onion and toasted walnuts, or turtle beans with wild mushrooms and charred leeks. Flavours of dark chocolate, praline, raspberry and caramelised hazelnut round things off – really, what’s not to like?

Terre à Terre, Brighton
‘Free-spirited’ is how the Guide describes this hugely popular vegetarian restaurant in the boho heart of Brighton. Vegans will dive hungrily into slow-baked aubergine with tahini and miso, or steamed rice buns stuffed with Szechuan-marinated mapo tofu and ginger pak choi… and will finish just as happily with cinnamon-flecked doughnut straws to dunk in warm salted caramel.

Simpsons, Birmingham
Proof, if it were needed, that vegan food sits comfortably in even the finest of fine dining restaurants, is delivered by Luke Tipping at this elegant, established restaurant in Edgbaston. Choose Tipping’s magnificent, beautifully presented vegan tasting menu for its umami-laden onion broth with black garlic, hen of the woods and chickweed, its salt-baked celeriac with wilted kales, and its charcoal-cooked leeks with truffle, caramelised yeast and watercress. 

Not going out? Waitrose & Partners has recently launched some great new vegan products. We love the vegan streaky slices and streaky pieces as tasty 'facon' options, or vegan spinach ravioli for a quick and easy dinner.

 

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Published November 2019