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London's best vegan junk food

From meatless burgers to dairy-free freakshakes, these are London's best vegan junk food dishes

By Emma Hughes
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Forget bland mung beans and dry mushroom burgers, we've searched the city to find London's most decadent vegan junk food. Here's our pick of the city's most indulgent burgers, kebabs, pies and ribs that are even better than their meaty sisters.

RECOMMENDED: The best vegan restaurants in London

London's best vegan junk food

Vegan Junk Food feature photographed for Time Out. Ribs photographed at VX, 73 Caledonian Rd, Kings Cross, London N1 9BT
Vegan Junk Food feature photographed for Time Out. Ribs photographed at VX, 73 Caledonian Rd, Kings Cross, London N1 9BT
Jamie Lau

The freakshake

Restaurants Cafés Spitalfields

£8

A freakshake is not for drinking. A freakshake is for photographing, then taking three sips before getting sprinkles all over your nose and giving up. But why should non-vegans have all the stunt-food fun? At The Canvas, just off Brick Lane, they don’t. The café’s most Insta-famous creation (simply called the Vegan Freakshake) is a towering edifice of homemade vegan ice cream whizzed up with almond milk, then topped with whipped soy cream, chunks of egg- and dairy-free cake and vegan Nutella. Blimey.

Marco R Casadei

The pie

Restaurants Vegan Camden Market

£8, £5 pie only

For the meat-averse, pies are a minefield. Even if you do manage to find one with some kind of butternut filling, there might be stealth suet in the crust – and underpowered gravy is a real risk. Salvation comes in the form of Young Vegans, who’ve just opened a bricks-and-mortar shop in Camden Market after two years on Hackney Downs and Tottenham Green markets. Their steak and ale number is rammed with marinated seitan pieces in a rich, glossy sauce, and sits atop super-smooth mash and minty peas. What are you waiting for? The pie’s (not) the limit.

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The banh mi

£7

If you’re after the full meaty Vietnamese baguette experience, but without the actual meat, there’s only one place to go. Eat Chay’s internet-breaking Korean barbecue banh mi is generously filled with marinated seitan pieces, mushroom and walnut pâté, sriracha mayo, pickled carrots, most of a bunch of coriander, cucumber and crispy onions. Get your mitts on one at Kerb King’s Cross and Paddington on Wednesdays, Kerb West India Quay on Thursdays and Broadway Vegan Market on Saturdays.

The burger

Restaurants Global Stoke Newington

£8.50

What better way to help vegan food throw off its worthy reputation than invent a burger named after a violent, foul-tempered, perennially inebriated, sweary priest? The Father Jack is the brainchild of Biff Burrows, whose winning ways with jackfruit made him a hit at Kerb before he set up shop at

Boxpark Shoreditch. As well as a crispy, fried patty, you get lashings of ‘bacun’ jam, bourbon barbecue sauce, smoked cheese, iceberg lettuce and onion rings. Feck!

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The mac ’n’ cheese

Restaurants Vegan Belgravia

£5.95

For most vegans, cheese is the absolutely final frontier – especially the melted, bubbling kind. Even the poshest dairy-free alternatives can turn out a bit grouty. Give thanks, then, for fancy veggie and vegan joint Wulf & Lamb, which is serving the capital’s first crispy-topped, piping hot, fully vegan mac ’n’ cheese, featuring egg-free pasta, cashew cream and vegan cheese. Could vegan fondue be on the horizon? Here’s hoping…

Lee Pyefinch

The ‘chicken’ burger

Restaurants Vegan Deptford

£6

A Whopper, obviously, isn’t vegan. But the OG is. Well, this taste-a-like from Deptford bar The Full Nelson can be, anyway, as everything on the all-vegetarian menu can be fully veganised on request. There’s no faffery here: just ludicrously tasty patties smothered in pickles, lettuce and condiments, then slapped between brioche bun halves. Got a KFC itch that needs scratching? They do a chicken-style fillet burger – just ask for a visit from The ‘Colonel’.

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The kebab

Restaurants Vegan Camden Town

£7.95

Ah, Camden – the spiritual home of the 2am shop-doorway kebab. Thanks to What the Pitta!, meat-avoiders can fully enter into the spirit of things: after taking Boxpark by storm, the vegan doner pioneers have landed in NW1. Their doner and chips box, an homage to the classic assemblage, arrives loaded with spiced soya chunks that have been sizzled on the hotplate, plus salad, soy-yoghurt tzatziki, hummus and chillies. Close your eyes – which is usually the best way to approach a kebab, whether it’s vegan or not – you could be eating the real thing.

The pizza

Restaurants Pizza Peckham

£4 per slice

Love pizza? Dodging dairy? Iffy about vegan cheese? Voodoo Ray’s has just the thing for you. Untouched by mozzarella or its claggy impersonators, the 22-inch, tomato-sauced base of the Queen Vegan is bedizened with artichoke, green olives, red onion, sun-blush tomatoes and punchy green sauce. The new Peckham parlour is especially vegan-friendly – they do an absolutely cracking vegan brunch at the weekend – but this one’s also available in Dalston (where you can eat it til midnight), Shoreditch and Camden.

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Jamie Lau

The ribs

Restaurants Vegan Caledonian Road

£3.50

Vegan ribs (not to be confused with the ribs of a vegan, which we don’t recommend you eat) are just one of the mind-melting dishes on offer at VX, the capital’s first 100 percent vegan superstore. It looks like a skate shop – founder Rudy Penando came of age on the Belgian punk scene – but inside it’s a deli/kitchen dishing up premium cruelty-free junk food, including barbecue ribz (fashioned from soya pieces in a lick-your-chops sauce), ‘fish finger’ wraps and eclairs that hold their own against their cream-filled counterparts.

The tacos

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Homerton

Two for £7

London’s first fully vegan pub, The Spread Eagle – cruelty-free cask ales, leatherless bar stools, the lot – has a menu designed by Club Mexicana, of Pamela fame. To create the mighty Bajan ‘to-fish’ tacos, chefs beer-batter tofu, then add zip with pickled cabbage, salsa verde, non-dairy sour cream and pickled chillies. This is vegan food with attitude: the only chickpeas you’ll find are in the tequila sours, where the water they’re cooked in takes the place of egg white (trust us, it works).

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The wings

Restaurants Vegan Hackney

£5

The devil, as the old saying (sort of) goes, has all the best chews – and there’s no denying the seitanic majesty of  Temple of Hackney’s offerings. Rather than the usual
fowl play, this vegan ‘chicken’ shop deep-fries wheat gluten to make its hot wings: they’re smothered in zingy buffalo sauce and come with ranch mayo (which is egg- and dairy-free, of course) for dunking. The queues, once scary even by London standards, have gone down since the Camden outpost opened. Hail seitan!

The doughnuts

£3.80

From Friday to Sunday, every branch of Crosstown Doughnuts stocks two vegan flavours. Good, eh? But wait! There’s more! Last month they opened their first vegan café, subbing in chia seeds, coconut butter and oat milk for dairy. All the flavours are fab, but the coconut and lime one’s combo of vanilla crumble, coconut custard and lime glaze nudges it ahead (there’s even some spirulina in the dough too, for a bit of #balance). 

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