Around this time last year, I took a trip to London. I spent time with a friend who moved across the pond the year prior, and mostly just went for long runs, visited tons of museums, and ate great vegan food. I only scratched the surface of the vegan food scene, and hope to return again soon. Until then, I will just think fondly of my favorite places. At the time, this blog wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye, but luckily, I took copious notes for some unknown (yet, convenient) reason. If only last-year-me thought to take more food pictures. Enjoy my 72 hours in London!
Day 1: Arrive in London
Before this trip, I’d done some research, and found a Buzzfeed article called 21 Unmissable Vegan Places in London. There are other lists, but this served as a pretty good starting point for my trip. Upon arrival, I headed straight to Leicester Square/SOHO area for some vegan fish and chips! Norman’s Coach and Horses is a small watering hole that prides themselves on being London’s first vegan and vegetarian pub. The menu was a simple piece of paper with lots of great veggie options.
I love menus with allergen/dietary preference info in parentheses. Thanks Normans Coach and Horses!
I ordered Tofush and Chips! Their signature dish – it was tofu wrapped in seaweed for a good umami taste, then battered and fried. The “tofush” was served with vegan tartar sauce, and sides of fries and mint peas.
Full transparency, I don’t think I ever had fish ‘n’ chips, and if I did, it was over 20 years ago and didn’t make a lasting impression. Because of this, I won’t pretend to offer inciteful comparisons to actual fish or other vegan alternatives. All I can say is I am so glad to have started off my trip with this meal! It was heavy and greasy, so it’s really a once-per-trip type of thing – but YUM!
This restaurant is in the theatre district, and I really liked the area. I wish I had come back for a show during my trip. There is always next time. While I was in the area, I briefly checked out The National Portrait Gallery and The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. I went straight for the Impressionism and Post-Impressionism area and spent time admiring some of my favorite artists’ works. The Gallery is stunning. The building itself is a work of art with vaulted and gilded ceilings…and then there is beautiful art hanging everywhere!
After my visit, it was late enough in the day that I could check into my accommodations. After a quick nap, I went for dinner at another restaurant on the Buzzfeed list. 222 Veggie Vegan had a great menu! I was meeting a friend afterwards, and I didn’t want to fill up too much in case she had dinner in mind. I decided to only order an appetizer of marinated and grilled artichoke hearts with a roasted red pepper paste. It was so flavorful!
Who says London is always foggy? We had some beautiful weather in March.
I headed to Earl’s Court to meet my friend who had something fun planned. We walked a few blocks to Evans & Peel Detective Agency and rang the bell. We were escorted in to the detective agency, with antique furniture, bookshelves filed with old books, and a genuine old timey detective vibe. We had to tell the detective why we were seeking help from a detective. He asked a series of follow-up questions, and once we sufficiently proved our case he pulled a book, and the bookcase moved to reveal a door to a speakeasy. This place isn’t exclusively vegan, and they really don’t even have a lot of veg-friendly items, but the concept was fun!
It seems counterintuitive to publicly share info for a speakeasy, but if they have a website, it’s probably okay…I hope.
Day 2: Greenwich
You may be thinking, “Only 3 days in London and you spent one of them going out to Greenwich?” It’s a bit of a haul, but I like boats so I started the day with the National Maritime Museum.
Okay, the sun isn’t always shining, but still a great day for the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich!
There were a few interesting exhibits, and I was impressed with a full boat they had inside – a 21 man rowing shell with a cab for royalty – basically a water limousine for the Thames.
Old Timey Thames Water Taxi…sort of.
I was disappointed with one exhibit that was supposed to be about how slavery was intertwined with maritime history. Either they have some poor story tellers, and just didn’t frame anything correctly, or they are in extreme denial of who powered their boats and did much of the labor. I guess that’s like meat eaters that consider themselves to be animal lovers or environmentalists, or people that are so concerned with living a life free of animal cruelty, they don’t consider the downstream impact (human cruelty) of their cheap food or clothing made by people making less than a living wage. Whether intentionally, or unintentionally, people throughout the generations have had blinders on to some larger issues that have been right in front of them.
After that philosophical rabbit hole, I went to the nearby Royal Observatory at the top of a very steep hill, then I walked down toward the Thames River and found the Cutty Sark – an incredible wooden ship that has been dry docked and turned into a museum.
The Cutty Sark is dry-docked near the Thames, with a huge museum exhibit beneath it.
By this point in the day I’d only had two bananas, a handful of clementines, and some coconut water from my backpack. I needed a real meal! I tracked down a third restaurant from the Vegan Buzzfeed list, just a short bus ride away in Deptford. The Waiting Room is a small coffee shop with a decent sized menu of all vegetarian and vegan options. I got “The Luchadore” veggie burger with guacamole, jalapeños, and pico de gallo. It was great!
After the burger, I figured I could squeeze in one more museum today! I headed back towards London Bridge for a visit to Tate Modern. My favorite exhibit was possibly more of a science experiment than just art. The artist built triangular beds, and they were staged in a huge warehouse setting in tiers. The premise was that each box was filled with dirt (from various places) and given ample light and water. No seeds were planted by the artist – they just wanted to see what would grow.
An overhead shot of half the planting boxes. Everything got water, and light. Some grew more than others.
I’ve learned not to use the derogatory term of “weeds” when referring to plants I didn’t choose for a particular location. They are “native plants.” This exhibit was all about native plants, and whatever was already in the dirt could grow, but nothing was planted. Mushrooms or flowers may pop up, and I saw lots of boxes with various greenery. The plain dirt boxes reminded me of any garden I’ve ever touched. Not every vegan has a green thumb! Thank goodness for farmer’s markets.
Another shot of these native plants.
After leaving the museum, I stopped over at Shakespeare’s Globe for a quick look, then headed back in the direction I came. I noticed, not for the first time, that tons of people run in London, and it seems like they may commute to work this way. So many had packs on their back. I confirmed later with my friend living there, that the government offered incentives for running to work and making time for fitness. I was in running gear, and despite the bag of coconut water and fruit weighing me down a bit, I figured it was no different than the locals and their laptops. I could run home! A few miles later, I made it to Battersea, and stumbled upon Bangkok Bay Thai restaurant 2 blocks before I got to my B&B! I tried spicy sweet corn cakes, and had trusty vegetable Pad Thai after a long day.
These sweet and spicy corn fritters at Bangkok Bay were greasy but good!
Day 3: More Museums!
I started the day with a 4-mile river loop ran around Battersea Park, and two close bridges. After a shower, I packed my bag with some snacks and such, and headed out for the museums. The Natural History Museum had a line around the block so I quickly changed plans and went to the Science Museum. It’s clearly geared toward a younger crowd but there was still a lot that grabbed my attention. My favorite was an exhibit about innovation. I learned about robo-bees for pollination (and surveillance), and a book of paper that had silver (a natural anti-bacterial) to filter water in developing areas.
Tear-out sheets of paper with silver make for easy water filtration.
They also had an exhibit on cravings, and I learned that the color of your spoon can impact your taste experience. Grab a white spoon for your next bowl of soy- or coconut-based ice cream!
The color of spoons influences the culinary experience. Who knew?
When it came time for lunch, I considered another Buzzfeed list restaurant, and out of convenience, I just stopped at the restaurant inside the Natural History Museum. I can’t remember which of the multiple food venues I ended up in, but I got a veggie wrap with sweet potatoes and tabouli on the side. Not bad! It was basic, but it did the trick. When it was time to check out the museum, the consultant in me got frustrated and I found myself thinking “that’s not how I would have done it” while looking at an exhibit. There was a picture of a goose, with some text about their unique feet thanks to evolution, but we couldn’t see, because the museum posted the text directly over the feet!
Here’s some info about Nene geese feet…but we won’t show you the feet.
Okay, I digress. After this museum, I went to the Victoria & Albert Museum and then went searching for food again. I had late dinner reservations with a friend, so I went back to 222 Veggie Vegan for an earlier dinner (or second lunch?) to hold me over. They offered a spinach lasagna special so I ordered that! It was saucy and rich – perfect comfort food for a cold, rainy day, but probably a bit much for a pre-dinner. Afterwards I headed over to Earl’s Court and eventually met up with my friend for our late reservations at a tapas place. The bus wasn’t coming, and waiting in the cold rain wasn’t fun, so we made a game time decision to go to her favorite Lebanese place, Orjowan, instead. Had I known, I wouldn’t have had pre-dinner! I was still full from the lasagna, but I had a delicious fattoush salad.
Hindsight 20/20, I’m not sure why I repeated a restaurant when there were so many more to try, but sometime convenience weighs out novelty. I guess I just have to go back again and continue eating my way through the city’s best vegan joints.
Planning a trip? I made a map to summarize the food and places I went!