It’s estimated that over 350,000 people will participate in Veganuary this year - a worldwide challenge to give up eating animal products for the month of January.
Although it is now widely accepted that following a plant-based diet is incredibly beneficial to your health and to the health of the environment, if you’re a life-long carnivore then it can be difficult to make that lifestyle switch!
Luckily for you, Hatton Garden has a wealth of vegan options on offer every single lunchtime, making it one of the best places in town for foodies taking on the plant-based challenge.
We’ve taken on the (highly enjoyable) task of finding the best of the bunch, so get out your reusable lunchbox and read on to find out where to head for your lunch today. We promise you won’t miss the meat!
Elia Pure Greek Food
One of the jewels in Leather Lane’s crown, Elia’s is our go-to spot for fresh, healthy, reasonably-priced Meditteranean grub. Run by friends Vasilis and Dimitris, the stall is open Monday to Friday from 11am - 2pm. Their best vegan offering is the mixed veggie rice box - it’s served with traditional Greek pita bread and a salad of your choice (£5/6).
Moroccan Box is a newcomer to the Leather Lane lunchtime market, arriving in December and causing quite a buzz. In fact, they’re now so popular that they’re usually sold out towards the end of lunchtime, so we’d advise going early to avoid disappointment.
Pick the warming vegan stew which features grilled aubergines, spiced chickpeas and cauliflower cooked with North African herbs and a tomato-based sauce (£6.75).
There’s a vast gulf between a good falafel wrap and a bad falafel wrap, but when you go to Falafel Time you can be sure that you’ll be served a first-class specimen. They freshly cook up hundreds of the piping-hot chickpea bites on Leather Lane every single day, and serve them in salad boxes or pita wraps for a fiver. The best part? Everything is vegan!
Fancy something a little different for your midday meal? Explore the vegan-friendly world of Ethiopian Cuisine, another extremely popular Leather Lane stall. The menu is pared back and straightforward, with just four dishes served from giant pans to the hungry crowds. The vegan stew (£5) contains lentils, cabbage and spinach, and it’s served with rice or gluten-free Ethiopian flatbread.
We challenge you to walk past Big Bao without getting a serious craving for their light-as-air steamed bao buns and their fragrant Vietnamese rice bowls. Visitors are drawn from all corners of the city to try their famed grilled mushroom and tofu dish (£6.75) - and it certainly does not disappoint when it comes to generous portion sizes and hitting the big flavours. The kimchi slaw and yuzu mayo are both highlights.
The Salad Kitchen
Step off the street and into The Salad Kitchen cafe, located towards the north end of Leather Lane. Here you’ll find a daily-changing selection of properly fresh and filling salads, each served with crunchy seeds and sourdough croutons (£4.40/£5). You can pick up a coffee or a juice from the fridge, and remember to skip the often-long lunchtime queues by pre-ordering on their website.
This buttercut-yellow Vietnamese restaurant is a firm favourite with us, as it makes the perfect destination for a vegan- friendly sit-down lunch when you’ve got a little more time on your hands. Start your meal with summer rolls (£4.45), then order the signature spicy tofu pho (£8.50).
We’re willing to bet that you haven’t sampled food from the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar before, but there’s no need to fly to East Africa to try it. Zanzibari serves healthy lunch boxes inspired by the Forodhani Gardens markets, and the taste is worlds away from a bland supermarket offering. Vegan have to sample the marinated, grilled tofu served on a base of fluffy rice, coconut spinach, mixed salads, smoked aubergine and tahini yoghurt (£4/£6). If you’re feeling (very) brave, ask for the ‘Xtra Hot’ sauce to accompany your meal.
What’s that we here you say? Pulled pork isn’t vegan? Well yes, that’s certainly true, but at Better Pulled the vegans don’t miss out on anything. Pulled jackfruit - now a staple on the vegan food scene - is on offer for plant-based patrons, and its smoky-sweet taste and surprisingly pork-like texture works well in a wrap (£6) or on mashed potatoes for a truly comforting meal.
Pavana Thai Take Away
Operating out of an eye-catching blue and red truck since 2002, Pavana serve home-style Thai food which is guaranteed to jolt you out of the January blues. If you close your eyes, you might find yourself momentarily transported from Leather Lane to the Khao San Road. The Green Vegetable Curry (£5/£6) is both authentic and delicious.
Healthy Olive Tree
If you’re looking for a pocket-friendly feast then look no further than Healthy Olive Tree. For only £4 (medium) or £5 (large) you’ll get a box absolutely bursting with your choice of Greek salads. Each day has its own specials - get there on Wednesday for the avocado!
Quiche and Roast
On chilly days, what's better than a roast dinner? At this long-standing Leather Lane stall you will sadly not find a vegan quiche, but you will get a great baked vegan falafel curry served with soup and a generous portion of roasties, carrots, broccoli, aubergine, or whichever veg is fresh that day. Plenty of gluten free choice here too.