Run as a not-for-profit workers’ co-operative, this ethical vegan-only café and bookshop in Hackney is a top spot for budget plant-based food. There’s an ever-changing line-up of hip salad plates, but also check out the fake meat offerings – mostly derived from seitan. Burgers and steaks are the big hitters, but also get stuck into BC’s deli sandwich made with ‘turkey’ seitan and their take on chicken caesar featuring homemade ‘chicken-style’ pieces.
May 2019: This is a totally new feature, so everything counts as a highlight – although several venues deserve an extra-special mention. Temple of Hackney’s vegan ‘chicken shop’ was among the first to worship seitan, while Fitzrovia’s Kalifornia Kitchen is a newbie with a good line in ‘bleeding’ burgers. In between, check out Chik’n (a casual offshoot of Chick ‘n’ Sours), Rudy’s Dirty Vegan Diner (fast vegan junk food and fake meat in Camden), What the Pitta (soy-based doners), Young Vegans (a twisted pie and mash shop) and Cookdaily – serving Asian comfort bowls in its new Hackney home.
Okay, you’ve committed to plant-based food but still hanker after the look, texture and taste of real meat. What to do? Luckily, there are plenty of ‘fake’ or ‘mock’ alternatives around these days, and we’ve put together a hit list of the best vegan-friendly places where you can get your chops round some deliciously guilt-free ‘meaty’ treats – not just burgers, but Asian stir-fries, curries, doners, pies, deli sandwiches and even fish and chips. Most genuine ‘fakes’ are based on plant proteins, especially the all-conquering seitan (wheat gluten) – although lots of clever new ideas are starting to arrive. The future’s bright if you’re a convert.