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Why There’s Never Been A Better Time To Be Vegan

1 week agoWords by Ms Heather Taylor

Vegan fish burger from Club Mexicana at The Spread Eagle, London. Photograph courtesy of Club Mexicana

Veganism has shaken off its stereotypes. Where once the diet was characterised by lentil-loving health-food fans living on soup, salad and vitamin B12 supplements, an explosion in vegan fast-food restaurants in recent years has changed the face of plant-based eating. Opening in Shoreditch this month following a successful crowdfunding campaign, The Vurger Co is the latest addition, and cements east London’s status as a destination for vegans in search of a Friday night takeaway fix. Hearty patties, made from spiced pulses and topped with pickles and punchy sauces, will be served alongside oozy truffle mac‘n’cheese, fries and shakes. It’s a world away from hemp seeds and spirulina smoothies.

Hackney’s Temple Of Seitan was one of the first to tap into London’s appetite for plant-based junk food, and since it opened in 2015, the queue at London’s first vegan fried chicken shop has hardly subsided. The crisp-skinned chicken burgers and hot-sauce smothered wings are made with seitan, a protein-rich gluten flour with a meaty, elastic texture. “We don’t have a typical customer,” says co-founder Mr Pat O’Shea, who, alongside his partner Ms Rebecca McGuinness, started the business after moving to London from Melbourne, in a bid to recreate the vegan fast food they missed from back home. “We get everyone, from families to older people; meat-eaters and vegans.” The restaurant is proving hugely popular, with a second site now open in Camden, and further plans to expand this year. “It’s a myth that vegans are only into healthy eating,” says Mr O’Shea. “Vegans have always enjoyed junk food. It just wasn’t as visible before.”

Vegan döner kebab at What The Pitta! Photograph courtesy of What The Pitta!