“You’re never alone,” an old cigarette ad used to say,” With a Strand.”
These days, as a vegan in London, I’d say you’re never alone with a Meetup* event, and more specifically, the London Vegan Meetup group http://www.londonveganmeetup.co.uk/
To test this theory, last week I challenged myself to see how many vegan meet-ups in London in one week I could possibly fit in. It turned out that it was five – and what a wonderful and varied week it was.
Like the 5-a-day campaign that encourages people to eat more fruit and veg, when it comes to vegan meet-ups in London, I found that 5-a-week is an optimum number and so I was delighted to take five!
Here then is my round-up of the five vegan meet-up events I enjoyed in London last week.
SATURDAY 16TH FEBRUARY 2013 – MEET-UP 1 – CAMDEN TOWN
LOVING HUT, CAMDEN
A mini-meet-up! One of our regular London Vegan meet-up attendees has reported an exciting development in the world of vegan cuisine: vegan battered sausages! We hot-foot it to the Loving Hut in Camden to investigate these rumours which, happily, prove to be true. Some of our party are soon witnessed tucking into a hearty, tasty lunch of vegan battered sausages, baked beans, chips and salad.
Those of who mutter excuses about watching our waistline opt instead to stuff ourselves at the Loving Hut’s delicious all-you-can-eat for £5.95 vegan buffet and enjoy all manner of pumpkin, curry, vegetable and noodle dishes.
Thanks, Loving Hut, we’re loving you and your battered sausages!
COOKIES AND SCREAM
Then, for those of us with a crumb of spare capacity, or a separate dessert stomach, it’s off to fabulous Camden vegan bakery, Cookies and Scream, where some of us manage to wolf down a warmed-up slice of raspberry and coconut cake or delight in a peanut butter cookie. Others of us, who lovingly over-indulged at Loving Hut, can only look on and sigh. http://cookiesandscream.com/
INSPIRAL VEGAN CAFE
Then, as early evening approaches, we set off with nearby vegan café Inspiral in our sights, where we, alas, like the victims of the recent horsemeat scandal, fall at the first hurdle. Inspiral, with their renowned selection of wonderful raw cakes and hot tasty buffet items are, like us, just a bit too full and can’t accommodate a party of eight. Next time, people!
THE BLACK HEART PUB
With pub after pub in Camden understandably full on a Saturday night, we head down a nearby side street for edgy music pub, The Black Heart.
Once settled in a corner table with a range of drinks, we peruse the menu and are delighted to see on the menu a vegan burger, made with arancini mushrooms and spicy Kimchee. Alas, still full from lunch, there is not mushroom in my stomach so with a fond farewell, I slink off into the night.
It’s been a great day out for vegans in Camden with lots of interesting topics under discussion:
1) Should a heavy week at work, always be followed by a Saturday session with a vegan battered sausage? We agree that it probably should.
2) Should we have a vegan trip to New York and meet-up with our vegan meetup counterparts across the pond? Tempting, very, very tempting, and actually, maybe even possible.
3) We exchange news and views. The coming Vegfests in Brighton (March), Bristol (May) and the brand-new one in London Olympia (October) all excite particular attention. http://www.vegfest.co.uk/
Well done, Camden. It will be hard to better a battered sausage! Let’s see what the rest of the week has to offer …..
SUNDAY 17TH FEBRUARY 2013 – MEET UP 2 – KENTISH TOWN
VEGAN HIGH TEA, THIRD ESTATE, KENTISH TOWN
These days, in London, you never know where the next pop-up vegan café or restaurant is going to pop up, so it’s a good idea to pop into the London Vegan meetup site regularly to check out what’s going on. http://www.londonveganmeetup.co.uk/
So, as soon as I received details of a very special, new, pop-up event: a Vegan High Tea, to be organised by one of our favourite vegan guys, Fat Gay Vegan http://fatgayvegan.com/ and hosted at ethical clothes and shoe store, The Third Estate in Kentish Town, I put my name down as quick as I could. Just as well as, with only 20 places available, the event sold out like hot vegan cakes.
And what a delightful afternoon it was, courtesy of a wonderful spread laid on by vegan baker Dumisani, whose Vegan Tart stall is a particular high point for those of us who enjoy a regular trip to Brixton with the London Vegan Meetup group on the first Saturday of the month.
For the Vegan High Tea, we were able to indulge in a wonderful, tasty spread. To start, we enjoyed rounds of dainty cucumber sandwiches and vegan cheese and tomato sandwiches, followed by a flavoursome broccoli tart. Afterwards, fabulous scones with vegan cream and jam magically appeared. And to round it all off, a huge thick slice of sumptuous aromatic Lavender cake, washed down with as much tea – delicious Raspberry Leaf tea, in my case – as we could drink.
It is hoped that Vegan High Tea will be a regular feature so do look out for it on the London Vegan Meetup group. As I say, The Vegan High Tea is a popular event, so if you do see it, best book up quick before it’s scone!
TUESDAY 19TH FEBRUARY 2013 – MEET UP 3 – CLAPHAM
ALKARMEL CAFÉ AND ROUTE TO HAPPINESS MUSICAL, LANDOR THEATRE, CLAPHAM
Members of the London Vegan Meetup group are a talented bunch so we were delighted to hear that one of our esteemed members, Alexander Bermange, a musical composer and songwriter, had a new show in town called The Route to Happiness.
With this in mind, we quickly booked tickets and arranged for a vegan meetup in Clapham. We began the evening delightfully with a pre-theatre supper at the nearby Alkarmel Vegetarian Café in Landor Road, Clapham. On hearing of our proposed visit, the owners immediately pulled out all the stops to include a selection of delightful home-made vegan dishes. So, it was with real relish that I sat down to a delicious plate of Lentil Shepherd’s Pie topped with Sweet Potato mash. For those of our group who were adventurous or who had big appetites, they also offer a large plate containing a huge variety of savoury and salad items. Awesome and very good value.
Afterwards, much fortified by some jolly good grub, we then went on to satisfy our appetite for musical theatre. The show, The Route to Happiness at the Landor Theatre, is a musical journey through through the lives of three characters each seeking love, money or fame.
In the musical, some of our members were particularly tickled by a reference made by one of the female characters to a date she had had with a vegan guy who only ate tofu, peas and corn. If only he’d known, he could have popped down to the Alkarmel and had a much more varied diet!
The Route to Happiness was a fantastic piece of musical theatre with brilliantly clever music and amusing and touching lyrics, with outstanding performance by three very talented performers: Cassidy Janson, Neill Sheehy and Shona White.
And in writing about this musical pursuit of love, money and fame, all we can say is that the members of the London Vegan Meetup group loved the show, thought it was well worth the money and hope that it brings Alexander Bermange lots of fame.
WEDNESDAY 20TH FEBRUARY 2013 – MEET UP 4 – QUEEN’S PARK
NAMA ARTISAN RAW RESTAURANT, QUEEN’S PARK
Well, after three meet-ups featuring hearty vegan cooked food, I was ready to eat more lightly and more healthily. So when news came in of a neighbouring meet-up group, the Raw Foods Community Meetup group, holding an event in a brand new raw restaurant Nama in Queens Park, you can bet I was there quick-celery-sticks. http://www.facebook.com/Nama.Artisan.Raw.Foods
The restaurant, which inhabits half of a cake shop called CC’s, has only been open for a month and is run by two very charming people: Rich and Irene.
It’s a tiny place where you sit at a counter and Rich and Irene actually make the food in front of you: just like being in a friend’s kitchen at home.
The food is indeed outstanding with its colourful visual presentation, exquisite taste and superb raw food nutrition. We began with some excellent samples of raw chocolate brownies and raspberry truffles, washed down with a refreshing green smoothie.
Then it was onto the real raw business of the day. We happily chomped through sensational starters: on offer were raw versions of falafel, sushi, and beetroot ravioli; followed by a choice of delightful main dishes all with a raw twist: lasagne, vegetable terrine, pizza and quiche and then to end, some truly blissful desserts – indeed some of us insisted on sampling two for quality control purposes – from a choice of raw blueberry cake, raw chocolate ganache cake and raw mocha chocolate cake.
We felt privileged to have Nama open specially for us for the evening. Normally, they are open during the day from 9 to 6 every day except Monday, but say they may look into opening on a Thursday evening once a week.
It was raw-tastic evening, if the appreciative ‘raw ‘of the crowd was anything to go by and made for a raw-some fourth meetup of the week.
THURSDAY 21ST FEBRUARY 2013 – MEET UP 5 – CENTRAL LONDON
TIBITS, HEDDON STREET, W1
Well, after a hearty week of Vegan Meetups, as always, I’ve saved the best till last. The monthly London Vegan Drinks event, organised by Fat Gay Vegan and held on the third Thursday of every month, is always the highlight of the social calendar for vegans in London.
Since it began, over a year ago, it has been held in the basement of Swiss vegetarian buffet restaurant Tibits http://www.tibits.co.uk , and now, like the monthly London Vegan Potluck held in Holborn on the first Wednesday of the month, regularly attracts up to 100 people.
There is nowhere else in London that boasts such a huge crowd of wonderful vegans and aspiring vegans and where old and new members are always so warmly and eagerly welcomed.
The Tibits buffet is always augmented with extra vegan main courses and desserts for the night of the London Vegan Drinks. I am as ever addicted to their falafel and last week’s ever changing selection of hot dishes also included a delightful Vegetable Jambalaya, a fragrant Thai curry and a filling Rosti potato dish. Vegan desserts on offer include classic favourites of Sticky Toffee Pudding and Victoria Sponge Cake.
With our ever-increasing number of members, there are rumours that the London Vegan Drinks may be moving to a new venue soon. As ever, do keep a regular check on the London Vegan Meetup website to check on the details and ensure your place at this very, very special and popular event.
And, so ended a very busy week on the vegan scene in London. It was a pleasure to spend the week sampling five diverse, but equally enjoyable, vegan meetups in seven days.
It was a great week and I’m exhausted but exhilarated! Well done to everyone involved and I can’t wait to see what next week has to offer.
So, if you’re a vegan living in and visiting London, don’t be stranded – come along and join us. Let’s meet up and eat up, vegan-style, very soon! http://www.londonveganmeetup.co.uk/
*A Meetup is an event organised through the website www.meetup.com where people in cities all around the world gather for common interests.
For details of all London Vegan Meetup events: restaurant trips, pub visits, monthly potluck and monthly drinks, visit http://www.londonveganmeetup.co.uk/
Loving Hut, Camden; vegan buffet/restaurant http://camden.lovinghut.co.uk/
Cookies and Scream, Camden: Vegan cakes and cookie stall http://cookiesandscream.com/
Inspiral vegan and raw food café http://www.inspiralled.net/
Black Heart pub – vegan burger http://www.ourblackheart.com/
Fat Gay Vegan blog http://fatgayvegan.com/
Third Estate – Ethical Clothes and Shoes http://www.facebook.com/thirdestatelondon
The Vegan Tart – vegan baker http://www.thevegantart.co.uk
Alkarmel Café, 95 Landor Road, Clapham, SW9 9PH
Landor Theatre http://www.landortheatre.co.uk/
The Route to Happiness musical http://home.btconnect.com/bermange/trth.html
Nama artisan raw restaurant https://www.facebook.com/Nama.Artisan.Raw.Foods
The Raw Foods Community meetup group http://www.meetup.com/The-Raw-Foods-Community/
Tibits vegetarian restaurant http://www.tibits.co.uk/