Eating Vegan on a Budget | Guest Post from Prickly Pineapples

February 8, 2020

London is vegan heaven

Most of the time when there’s a new exciting vegan release, it’s in the UK. Take the KFC and Subway options that only came out this January, or rather, this Veganuary. The thing I was most excited for in London was good.

We had breakfast included in our hotel, but our hotel was tiny (and a bit strange) so they didn’t even have soya milk. I had to buy my own to have cereal in the morning. However, the overwhelming majority of hotels in London have vegan options. There’s even a vegan suite in the Hilton!

As we were on a budget, eating out for breakfast wasn’t an option, but there’s nothing wrong with toast, cereal, and coffee anyway.

If eating out for breakfast was an option, I’d have loved to go to the Cereal Killer cafe. 

Nothing on this menu cost more than £25 per serving, in fact, most places managed to stay within the £15 pound range. However, London restaurants add on a service charge, so you’ll be charged a little more than what the item is listed on the menu as. 

Snacks:

The Greggs vegan sausage roll tasted scarily like a real one. I was very impressed with the texture. I normally find Quorn products taste close to meat but the texture is almost always a little off. They really upped their game with this collaboration. I was afraid we accidentally ate meat when my travel buddy told me she couldn’t remember if she specifically asked for a vegan one (she did). The vegan sausage rolls are lighter in colour to the regular ones. 

greggs vegan sausage roll

At only £1.20 per sausage roll and a fairly big serving, these were a lifesaver. We’d pop to Gregg’s in Victoria Station every morning and pick up two each for the road.

Since my trip to London (in August) a ton more vegan snacks have come onto the market. Greggs now have a vegan steak bake and a glazed donut. 

London is as populated with Pret a Manger’s as New York is with Starbucks, so you’ll find one wherever you are. They now have Curried Chickpeas & Mango Chutney sandwiches, croissants, and more on their massive vegan-friendly menu. 

A light bite

The Rainforest Cafe was a must for us. The themed cafe on Shaftesbury Ave is hardly minutes away from Leicester Square and the Chinatown Gate. 

 

We went more for the experience than the food as we were meeting someone for dinner that evening so we only stopped by for lunch. Although they did have vegan options on the menu, and a lovely sounding veggie burger we just ordered some sides of corn on the cob, chips, and onion rings.

Next time I’m in London I’d love to have a proper meal there. The restaurant is completely immersed in the rainforest decor from the ambient sound effects, the lighting, and the decor. If you have kids, they’ll love it, but even if you’re a kid at heart, you’ll have a good time. 

Non-stop burgers and Pizza for Junk Food Vegans

Vegan options are quite often veggie burgers, make vegan by asking for no cheese, so of course, what I ended up eating the most was burgers.

The Hard Rock Cafe:

There’s two Hard Rock’s in London, one in Picadilly Circus, and another by Hyde Park. The Hyde Park location is actually the world’s first-ever Hard Rock cafe! 

hard rock vegan burger

US Hard Rock locations serve the Impossible Burger, but UK and European restaurants have the Moving Mountains burger, which is almost the same thing. T

This was quite literally the best burger I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. It tasted a lot like beef but the texture was only slightly not-beefy so I didn’t have to worry that they actually gave me meat. It comes topped with an onion ring and lettuce, I don’t even like onion rings and loved this one. 

The cheese that comes with this is not dairy-free so make sure to ask for no cheese if you’re vegan.

The Green Room:

The Green Room in Southbank has unfortunately since closed down. Which is a pity, but it was also my least favourite thing I ate. I ordered their tempeh teriyaki burger which was a combination of conflicting flavours. The cabbage and dressing tasted like cloves which didn’t compliment the teriyaki very well. It felt like I was eating Christmas if that makes sense. 

green room vegan teryaki burger

It wasn’t a bad burger, I think it was for people who have a more refined palate than me. 

Even though this establishment is closed down, Southbank is easily one of the most beautiful fun spots in London and I recommend checking it out anyway.

Pizza Hut 

Eating in a Pizza Hut isn’t all that exciting. There’s a pizza hut less than 5-minutes from my house at home, however, only the UK locations have the vegan pizzas. Which is silly because it’s literally just a regular pizza with Violife on it. They’ve since upped their game and got some vegan pepperoni.

vegan pizza hut

I always find vegan pizzas are thin crusts, and I’m more of a thick crust person. I miss the big greasy pizza that aren’t good for my health, but good for my soul. I was so happy to finally eat a fast-food thick pizza again. 

As far as cheese alternatives go, I don’t love violife. It doesn’t melt very well and tastes a little plastic-y which is why I didn’t love pizza hut. They also skimped out on the tomato sauce so it felt a little dry.

If you want something cheap and filling, by all means, go to Pizza Hut but I think vegan pizza still has a long way to go. 

Pizza Express

Pizza Express is actually Milano’s in Ireland so I knew exactly what I was in for. Pizza Express only have thin crust pizzas, and their “thick crust” pizza is still a thin crust, its just a little thicker than the other one. Somehow they know how to get the vegan cheese to melt well which is why they win out over Pizza Hut. There’s a lot of these in London, but we ate in the Baker Street Location. 

If you love oriental food 

We accidentally stumbled upon Banana Tree when we were in Soho and thought it looked nice. They have an extensive vegan and vegetarian menu, with thai classics like green curry and pad thai, but also other dishes like gyoza and Singapore Lanska soup. I got the Malaysian Kajang Satay which was hands down the best thing I ate on the trip. 

banana tree vegan satay

Whatever chicken alternative they used was very convincing, and delicious. The satay sauce was surprisingly spicy, so if you can’t handle hot food, order something else. I used to love chicken satay from the Chinese, and they nailed the chicken half, but the sauce wasn’t as greasy or sweet as Chinese take-away sauce. I really liked that about this meal, but it might not be for everyone. 

There’s five Banana Tree’s in London, but we ate in the one in Soho.

Desert:

Ben & Jerrys

Although there’s a lot of Banana Tree’s in London, only the Soho one is right across from a Ben & Jerry’s! 

vegan ben & gerrys

Ben and Jerry’s was a perfect dessert to cool down with. They have three vegan flavours; chunky monkey, chocolate brownie, and peanut butter & cookies. My favourite Ben & Jerry’s flavour before veganism was chocolate brownie so I was ecstatic when they launched a vegan version. The staff weren’t too sure if the cone was vegan-friendly so I took mine in a cup to be on the safe side. 

Gelupo

Gelupo specialises in gelato and sorbet. We popped in to cool down and got some raspberry sorbet but they also have other vegan-friendly options such as coconut, roasted red plum, and blood orange. I was more in the mood for ice-cream but sorbet is good enough. 

Prickly Pineapples is a site dedicated to veganism, wellness, and calling out diet culture BS. It’s run by Aisling who’s a 23-year old writer from Ireland who loves bucket lists, coffee, and books, her personal blog is thisdreamsalive.com.
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Twitter: @ppineapplesie
  • Reply
    Zoey @ Anthropological Artistry
    February 9, 2020 at 1:19 am

    This food all looks delicious! I wish there were more vegan options where I lived. Awesome post!

  • Reply
    Lydia
    March 1, 2020 at 3:28 pm

    I haven’t been to London and I will one day. It’s great to know there are so many vegan options. I can’t wait to go.

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