A contribution post by Helen Long –
I’ve been vegan since around 2005. Since then I’ve eaten out many times, and it has become easier and easier. In London, you can now get a vegan version of almost anything. Here are a few take- home tips for uninitiated:
Vegan meal delivery services and ready meals
When our Baby was first born, we became experts in opening organic tins to eat. It’s surprisingly tasty when you’re hungry, and we’ve carried on buying them. (It’s best to avoid sugar and salt, but, well, sometimes we can’t be bothered). You can find some such items on offer at: Ethical Superstore, TheVeganKind or Greenbay. You can also order a bundle of easy vegan meals to freeze from allplantsor The Book Plant Based Kitchen.
How to tell a takeaway you are vegan
There is no need to feel embarrassed about expressing your preferences, so long as you are polite about it, the staff will generally be happy to help. If not, then there are plenty of other choices to try out there! Some places also let you filter their menu by allergens, which makes life much easier. Even if they do, write a note in the comment box at the end of the order form and add your own number. Or better still, phone. Either check the website for the number. On ‘Just Eat’ you can find the phone number of the place by clicking the bit of the page which says ‘click if you have an allergy’.
Non-vegan ingredients to check for on menus
Ask if meals are cooked in butter or ghee, contain yoghurt, cream, cheese or paneer. Eggs don’t usually show up unexpectedly, but check to be sure. Where dishes include oyster sauce, you can just ask for this to be removed. Obviously, also avoid meat and fish.
How vegan dishes are labelled on menus
Generally speaking, ‘V’ on a menu means vegetarian (no meat or fish). ‘V+’ or ‘VE’ tends to mean vegan (no dairy, eggs or honey), and ‘GF’ means gluten free. Not everyone is clear that gluten free and vegan are different concepts. The menu might only label things as vegetarian, in which case ask for clarification.
Easy types of takeaways for vegans
If you place an order directly from a vegan cafe, this will make it easier! Find vegan, vegetarian, and vegan friendly cafes with the Happy Cow website and app. There is also a new website, GetVeganGrub for ordering vegan deliveries. My website has maps of child friendly vegan and vegetarian places around the country, and child friendly places in London.
South Indian restaurants are great for vegans. We found one in Plumstead a while ago. Other Indian, Nepalese, Carribean and Ethiopiean places often have vegan options, just avoid cream and butter (such as in tikka masala, korma, or often with spinach). We once went to an Indian restaurant which said they cooked everything in butter, but this is rare. Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai places tend to be fine if you order tofu and avoid oyster sauce. Nowadays, many pizzerias offer a vegan cheese option if you ask.
Remember the sprinkles!
Us vegans often sprinkle extra nutrients on our meals, such as: nutritional yeast, ground flax and sauerkraut.
Vegan home deliveries near Greenwich:
Hullabaloo – vegetarian, with branches in Greenwich and Deptford
Vegan masala or korma made with coconut and cashew milk is lovely and mild for little ones. These are not usually vegan! You can also try black bean lentil dal, soya chunks with aachari, or vegan ‘butter’ naan bread, as well as the usual Indian takeaway favourites.
This was the last cafe we visited before I became pregnant. I later returned with Baby when they were about one year old. We finished off a chai tea and a meal while waiting for my friend, so ordered another when she arrived. Baby was very enthusiastic. I remember the staff as friendly, there was nice music, and you could watch passers by through the window. You can find them on Uber Eats or Just Eat.
Ayurveda Pura – vegetarian, near Blackwell Tunnel
We’ve stopped off here a couple of times for a healthy curry, salad (with fruit) and turmeric latte. The cafe is part of a day spa, with a philosophy based in ancient Indian medicine. It has high chairs and baby changing facilities. Staff kindly ignored me when I borrowed a shower in the toilet to wash baby sick out of my hair… You can find them on Deliveroo.
Eat of Eden – vegan, branches in Lewisham, Brixton, Clapham and Shepherds Bush
Organic Carribean mixed platters with plenty of vegetables, proteins and also finger foods. The Brixton branch of which has nappy changing facilities and step- free access for buggies. Find Eat of Eden on Just Eat
The Full Nelson – vegan, in Deptford
Burgers, chips and other pub grub to try if you are missing meaty junk. Find them on Deliveroo
Vegan sauces and cheeses
Persepolis – vegetarian, in Peckham but delivers to Deptford
Middle Eastern gooey things to dip chips into. Select the ‘make vegan’ tick box option. We went to Persepolis for my 30th birthday. There were highchairs, a children’s menu, and little meze meals to order and share. Many meals were decorated with a vertical cheesy wotsit. Daddy decided not to propose that day because I had a cold.
This contribution post was written by guest writer, Helen Long from Vegan Family Guide – your partner in compassionate, plant powered parenting.