Words by Sareta Puri
Vegan food lists for London sometimes lack options south of the river, but while there may be less fully plant-based eateries, there are still plenty of brilliant options around to tickle your green taste buds, you just need to look! It's our job to give these fantastic food businesses the profile they deserve. Check out these must-visit vegan eateries lurking south of the river if you haven't already, they're not worth missing out on!
Fairly new Café Van Gogh in Oval is already winning snaps for their delicious vegan breakfast options – huevos rancheros as well as a traditional full English with scrambled tofu and sausage. The former comes with homemade smoky beans, moreish crispy potatoes and expertly flavoured scrambled tofu, with optional additions of avocado and other sides. Breakfasts are complemented by a range of herbal teas, coffees and fresh juices and the café also does lunch and dinner sittings if breakfast is too early a concept for you.
Other favourites include The Greenhouse in Deptford - featured previously in our top 6 brunch spots in Lewisham and where you can get 10% off with your South London Club Card – which serves up an innovative breakfast of hummus, roasted veg, sourdough and Middle Eastern potatoes. Or check out Bhuti in Richmond if it’s yoga crowd vibes, healthy bowls and chia porridge you’re after.
Best for… Sunday Roasts
The Bird’s Nest in Deptford is loved by Sunday roast fans across South London. Not only can you get a totally banging vegan roast for under a tenner but there are two – yup, two – vegan options available. Your choices are a more traditional seitan roast stuffed with mushroom and leek or you can have a ‘chickn’ pie in cashew cream, both served with all the trimmings. Wash it down with a pint (or three) and get even more satisfaction with 10% off if you’re a South London Club card holder. Sundays won’t ever feel the same again.
Elsewhere, Brockley’s Jam Circus offers up one of the Antic pub chain’s best vegan nut roasts in the city. Or head to The Ship in Kennington where you can gobble up their vegan nut cutlet every second Sunday with all the trimmings (bar the Yorkshire) and maybe even a witty story – or three – from the vegetarian bar manager.
There are no shortages of pizza options in south London but one that is a stretch(y base) above the rest is Mamma Dough in Honor Oak Park. Their ‘off-menu’ Vegan Beatrice – just ask and you’ll get it – of butternut squash, pine nuts, onions, olives, chilli and rosemary is mouth-wateringly good. Sure there’s no Gary (that’s vegan cheese for the uninitiatied) but with those toppings and lashings of chilli oil you will be more than satisfied.
Or head to Brixton to get 10% off the vegan marinara (plus optional veg toppings) at The Agile Rabbit with the South London Club card. BOnA in Forest Hill has a fairly simple and adaptable menu so you can enjoy their fluffy sourdough base with tomato and available veggie toppings.
Best for…Conscious Eating
Despite popular belief not all vegans spend their days cleansing their chakras and chanting shanti shanti. But if you are of a purist persuasion – or you just like good, healthy, colourful food - The Calabash of Culture in Sydenham should be on your map. The standard menu consists of several raw dishes all created to cleanse and energise including cauliflower rice salad, raw stir fry and green power salad. Non-raw options include dal, bean stew and sweet potato bake. With 10% off for cardholders you’re in for an even happier treat.
LoveGift Vegan in Honor Oak Park offers up more Caribbean-influenced grains, salads, wraps, stews and burgers plus raw vegan desserts. Or seek out the one oasis of calm within Elephant & Castle – the Café at Jamyang Buddhist Centre in Elephant & Castle and enjoy soups, salads and mains including dahl and risotto.
Best for…Exotic flavours
Bringing authentic Pakistanti home cooking to Brockley are mother and daughter team, Nabeela and Saima, who run Masala Wala Cafe. Two of the four regularly changing curries are usually vegan and the simple menu means that you are guaranteed that every dish is made with love and care. Favourites include the aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower curry) and the absolutely dreamy chana baigan (chickpeas and aubergine) mopped up with rice, chapatis and pickle. To top it all all its bring your own booze meaning more money to spend on tasty grub!
Peckham institution Persepolis is a mecca for vegans after Middle Eastern delights. The ludicriously cheap café and the Aladdin’s cave of a shop could keep you captive for hours. South London Club cardholders can get 10% off at Saigon Streat who host some of south London’s best Vietnamese nights – popping up in Hither Green and Forest Hill regularly.
Best for…Cheap eats
Bonnington Café is a hidden gem in the residential backstreets of Vauxhall. This atmospheric, cosy, community-run venue is only bookable by texting the chef on duty that night. Every night is 100% vegetarian with several being exclusively vegan - depending on the chef. With mains at £8, starters and desserts at £3 and no corkage on BYOB it’s undoubtedly one of London’s best value places for vegan food. With the menu changing every night it’s hard to recommend any specific dishes which also means return visits are compulsory!
Best for…Vegan junk food
The Full Nelson in Deptford is the latest kitsch venture by the guys behind The Waiting Room just down the road which now focuses on sandwiches, falafel and ‘fishless’ rolls. The Full Nelson has taken the junk food reigns with specials including the ‘Fonz’ oozing with smoky vegan cheese and BBQ sauce, the ‘Reuben Stacker’ seitan burger with cheese, sauerkraut, coleslaw and mustard on sourdough rye plus seitan wings and and oh-so-indulgent vegan poutine - a take on the Canadian side of rosemary fries covered in gravy and cheese chunks. Ok, you can stop drooling now.
Wunderlust in Deptford offers up a vegan smoked bochwurst for only £5 plus 10% off with a South London Club card. VegBar in Herne Hill is practically the home of vegan junk food in London offering up several “junk” options including “nugz”, seitan wings, mac and cheese and a burger.
Best for…Super foods
Lu-Ma Cafe in Wimbledon oozes the healthy eating vibes with a selection of superfood-packed meals. The protein bowl of cannellini & runner bean salad, quinoa, edamame beans, goji berries, cashews, curried carrot and cabbage, pickle and a beetroot tofu dip is an absolute dream. The warming bowl is a super combo of ginger brown rice, sweet and sour adzuki beans, ginger roasted vegetables, crunchy broccoli and tahini lemon dressing. Food that makes you feel good!
Nutkin in Peckham Rye offers up four Buddha bowls at a bargainous £6 including Thai rainbow salad with cashews and a Greekish salad including their homemade nut-based cheese and cucumber noodles. Love and Scandal in Waterloo is a 95% plant-based cafe that offers dishes such as winter salad of broccoli, sweet potato and grains plus a hearty chickpea salad.
Best for…Street food
South London vegans rejoiced when Pomodoro e Basilico owner Sara Mittersteiner announced her legendary vegan Italian stall would be at the weekly Camberwell Market. Get down mosts Sunday to check out their unmissable vegan burgers of seitan ‘beef’ with beetroot ketchup, cashew cheddar and garlic mayo; seitan schnitzel with apple mustard and mushroom sauce; or pulled jackfruit on a gluten-free bun with peanut butter and strawberry BBQ sauces. You can also grab a delicious pizza slices or an indulgent twix bar or donut. Everything is 100% homemade including all breads and sauces making this an even more worthy place for a pitstop.
You can use your South London Club card for 10% off at Vegan Garden in Greenwich Market on their selection of sweet and savoury treats. Big V in Borough Market offers up three burgers including bean or sweet potato and chickpea options with various toppings including vegan cheese.
Best for…Sweet treats
It’s not uncommon to see queues outside London’s first 100% vegan bakery Ms Cupcake in Brixton – home to some of the finest vegan cakes not only in south London, but the whole city. In fact, scrap that – the country. A bold statement, but nowhere near as bold as a menu that cites Oreo and cherry cola cupcakes amongst its most popular choices. If it’s your big day then she can even create a bespoke too-good-to-eat cake.
Catford’s Cat Food Cakes is renowned for her unbelievable vegan cakes available direct from Cat Food HQ, at various markets or at venues including The Fat Walrus in New Cross. Cupcakes & Shht’s small Elephant & Castle cafe is the perfect retreat to enjoy their vegan cakes or indulgent freakshakes...