A plant-based diet can often get the rep of being a bit boring and bland, but the truth is with a little creativity you can still enjoy plenty of delicious meals, even a cheeky burger or pizza. Get inspired by a top vegan foodie The Little London Vegan.
Blogger, TikToker and restaurant reviewer, Clare Every, AKA The Little London Vegan, has built a whopping 134k following on Instagram documenting her ventures around London tasting the best vegan restaurants the city has to offer. She aims to encourage restaurants to add more vegan options to their menus, and show people that vegan food can be absolutely delicious and nutritious.
We chatted to Clare to learn more about her journey to becoming a vegan and get some advice of the best vegan restaurants to head to in London.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you became The Little London Vegan?
I originally set up my Instagram account eight years ago, when I was an avid meat-eater, to share my love of food and to remember recipes I’ve created and restaurants I’d enjoyed eating in. I’ve always loved food and particularly the restaurant scene in London. I feel so lucky to have turned my passion into my career and it’s really nice to be able to combine that with veganism. I love encouraging restaurants to introduce vegan menus and showing just how much demand there is for plants now!
I remember feeling a bit nervous about what I was going to cook so at the beginning, it can be useful to stick to the same recipes you already know but swap out the meat."
Since becoming a vegan, have you noticed positive changes to your mental and physical health?
People often ask me this and I think there’s a bit of a misconception that when you turn vegan, you suddenly wake up feeling like a new person. Maybe for some it’s like this but for me it wasn’t quite so dramatic. I think part of the problem was that when I first went vegan, I was relying a little too heavily on meat substitutes. Now that I have more of a balance, I’ve definitely noticed that I’ve got more energy. I feel happier mentally because I’ve aligned my beliefs with my actions and that’s important to me.
If you could give one piece of advice to those starting a vegan diet, what would it be?
Everyone is different but what worked for me personally was taking it slowly. I cut things out of my diet gradually so it wasn’t as difficult to adjust to. I remember feeling a bit nervous about what I was going to cook so at the beginning, it can be useful to stick to the same recipes you already know but swap out the meat. For example, if you know a good spaghetti bolognese recipe, cook that but use mushrooms, lentils or a meat substitute instead of minced meat.
Do you have any substitutes or hacks that are really useful to know?
Honestly, this is going to sound obvious but my best tip for substitutes is that there’s honestly a vegan sub for almost everything now. Want Greek yoghurt? Alpro has one. Need fish sauce for your recipe? Thai Taste has one. So, don’t be put off of trying new recipes which call for seemingly very un-vegan ingredients because there are so many alternatives now. Take a look at the plant-based section in your local supermarket next time, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
What are your 5 favourite vegan meat substitutes?
When it comes to meat substitutes, I’d go for Beyond Meat, “THIS”, Squeaky Bean, Moving Mountains & Richmond’s vegan sausages but for more natural options, I love oyster mushrooms, tofu, tempeh, jackfruit and chickpeas which can be used in a number of different ways to replicate meaty and fishy textures!
We are huge fans of your delicious recipes on your instagram profile. What are your 3 favourite recipes?
Oh, thank you! I’m no Gordon Ramsay but I did enjoy getting back into the kitchen over lockdown while the restaurants were sadly closed. It’s very difficult to choose three favourites but off the top of my head, over the last year I really enjoyed replicating and veganising Dishoom’s ruby murray, I made a good vegan mac and cheese (if I do say so myself) and I also made a really tasty Thai panang tofu curry which I’ve cooked a few times since.
Now that I have more of a balance, I’ve definitely noticed that I’ve got more energy. I feel happier mentally because I’ve aligned my beliefs with my actions and that’s important to me.
Are there any foods you miss or crave?
I don’t ever really miss any foods. Sometimes I might do if I’m sat opposite someone eating something which smells or looks delicious but it’s very rare. Vegan options are so good now, and so readily available in London, that I don’t often feel like I’m missing out. I suppose the one area I’m hoping we advance in next is vegan fish because I used to eat a lot of it. Having said that, I’ve had some really tasty vegan salmon from a few brands recently, including one called Odontella. There are sushi brands using vegan salmon now (which is so realistic) so it’s fair to say we’ve come a long way!
In your opinion what are the best vegan restaurants in London?
I find this question so tough because there are so many great places now, it’s so difficult to name just a few. My all time favourite restaurant was probably Cub in Hoxton but sadly it closed down over lockdown. I love the food at Club Mexicana and it’s such a good place to take people who are new to veganism. I also discovered Pockets street food in London Fields recently. They serve pitta and falafel and it’s incredible. I also like Morito and Bubala which are both small plate style venues –not fully vegan but they have strong vegan offerings (or did last time I was there!).
What are your favourite vegan fashion brands at the moment?
I don’t really know of many vegan fashion brands to be honest. I shop at regular places but obviously look out for the materials used. I also do a lot of shopping on Depop to try and reduce the amount of fast fashion I buy.
Do you think there has been a shift in peoples perception of veganism? What do you believe the future holds for veganism?
Oh, without a doubt. A couple of years ago, you couldn’t walk into a supermarket and get a vegan sandwich, now you can pop into your local Tesco and get vegan cheese, meat, milk, fish – almost anything you like really. I think this increase in options has definitely helped ‘normalise’ veganism and I don’t think there’s as much stigma around it as there was before. I think as people become more conscious of where their food comes from and we become more aware of the state our planet is in, people will continue to move more towards veganism. I’d love to see a decent vegan offering at the majority of London restaurants within the next few years – that’s my aim