Are you thinking about a trip to London and concerned about vegan options? Our adventure was full of plant-powered choices and so will yours!
Here are some ideas and specific locations that will help ease your worries about being vegan on your European vacation:
- Designate your vegan meal for the airplane when booking your flight. If it says that is not an option, call the airlines right away and let them know what you will need. Next, call the airline 24 hours before your flight and remind them that you will need a vegan meal and snack. As a back up, bring snacks from home just in case their are no options. We did not realize that we needed to call ahead of time, so we did not receive a meal on the way home but they did scrounge up some fruit, nuts, and chips. On the way to England, I purchased a delicious Nutty Monkey (gluten free oats, almond milk, maple syrup, lemon juice, almond butter, banana, coconut, cacao nibs) at the airport from a vending machine company called the Farmers Fridge. It isn’t a vegan company, but they have options. You could recycle the container right there in the machine, and it was mostly organic, local food. There are also lots of vegan options at the airport restaurants (we were leaving from Chicago O’Hare) yet it is very expensive. Pack your own!
2. We flew into Dublin, Ireland and stayed for two days in an apartment in the center of town called The key Collection Temple Bar Apartments, which was perfect for walking to everything including restaurants and grocery stores.
I loved having a kitchen that we could eat our breakfast and dinner in. We would stock up on all of our favorite items, and eat before and after our exploring.
We found a wonderful grocery store within walking distance of our apartment. Check out the Organic Supermarket, or The Good Food Store. There is also a vegan butcher in Dublin that we did’t get a chance to check-out called Sova Vegan Butcher.
3. When we arrived in London, we stayed at the Park Plaza County Hall London, which is situated within easy walking distance to the London Eye and the Waterloo Tube station. We began our quest for vegan groceries and dinner immediately upon arrival to London. It was a slow start, only finding a few mediocre vegan items until stumbling upon a couple gems in the quaint Lower Marsh neighborhood. My husband and I found a restaurant called Sino Thai that was amazing. My husband ordered the Tofu Pad Thai and I ordered a very simple white rice and steamed vegetables. Yum!
The second gem was a grocery store called the Greensmiths.
Just shut your eyes as you first pass their mini-butcher shop, and head down to the beautiful produce on the first floor, and the basement full of interesting vegan surprises. We found faux burgers and sausages, bread, yogurt, cookies, fruit, veg, crackers, salads, cheese, specialty drinks, and much more. The corner store grocery experience and neighborhood walk down Lower Marsh had us loading up a cart every evening after our day of exploring. Check out the Lower Marsh Market on Facebook to learn more about the area. Let me know if you find the illusive bakery lady that sells amazing vegan cupcakes. She needs a shout out too!
4. On our 10 mile walk to the Tower of London, we found our favorite vegan friendly Vietnamese restaurant called Banh Mi Bay near St. Paul’s Cathedral. Great food, clearly marked vegan items on the menu, charming restaurant, and great service. We were all filled up on the Tofu Vegetable Pho.
Don’t make the same mistake we did and head back there on the weekend because they iz clozed!! That was utterly disappointing.
5. After learning how to navigate the Tube (and more importantly utilizing Apple Pay to access the Tube, receiving Oyster Card prices) we found all sorts of wonderful spots in London. One of our favorite spots is Soho where we found more delicious pho at Pho and an all vegan ice cream shop called Yorica.
All I need to say is Free Sprinkles! This place is so much fun with its wonderful topping options (including a Jammy Dodger and whip cream), cute shop, sweet staff, and excellent selection of frozen yogurt and ice cream flavors. We took a second trip to Soho just to get another scoop.
6. I should have openly admitted at the beginning of this post that we are not only vegan, but we are also Dr. Who and Torchwood nerds, so one of our final destinations in England had to be Cardiff. We hopped on the tube at Waterloo and headed to the Paddington station, where we connected with Rail Europe for our 2 hour trip to Cardiff. On our way from the train station to Cardiff Bay, we found a new restaurant that had some vegan options that hit the spot called Octavo’s Book Cafe and Wine Bar. It’s called a hidden gem, because it is! Only vegans or folks with food allergies will understand how magical it is to stumble upon a sign that says vegan options this way. Octavo’s came through with the yummiest seitan hot dog that was topped with pickles, mustard, caramelized onions and a side of coleslaw.
As we were on our way back to the train station, we wandered through the alleyway called Castle Arcade and found Simply V, Cardiff’s vegan shop! I couldn’t believe we had stumbled upon another amazing spot. We bought most of Cardiff’s best vegan junk and 4 faux cheesy sausage pies for the train ride home. My daughter and I had just been talking about how we were tired of all of the signs for shepherds pies that were certainly not vegan, so I won’t ever forget the look on my daughter’s face as we both took our first bite, and the flaky crust nearly melted in our mouths. Amazing! Thank you for the good work you are doing at Simply V!
Happy Vegan traveling!