I’ve mentioned a few times the challenges of dining out as a vegan, especially if you’re eating a vegan diet for health reasons ( rather than just to avoid animal products). For example, it may be healthier to order grilled fish rather than eat vegetables, grains, etc, that are either not fresh, or not prepared in a healthy way. Of course, given a choice, I would select restaurants where I can enjoy a meal that is both meatless and healthy.
However, London must be one of the best cities in the world for vegans to eat out, given all the restaurant alternatives available. Indian food is generally tasty and healthy, and there are Indian restaurants everywhere (one I would recommend is Punjab in Covent Garden). Although many popular Indian dishes, such as saag panir are made with cheese (Panir means “cheese” in Hindi), and Indian food and sauces often contain yogurt, there are usually many vegan-friendly dishes, as well. Regardless if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you want to be careful to order foods that contain minimal amounts of oil, and ask the waiter to reduce oil, wherever possible.
Last year, when I visited London on a business trip, as soon as I settled in to my hotel, I Googled for vegetarian restaurants and started making plans to try as many as possible. The name “Eat and Two Veg” caught my attention, and once I tried the restaurant on Marylebone High Street, I was determined to return every chance I could during my 1-week visit. I ate there twice for dinner (once by myself, and once with a colleague), and stopped there for lunch on the way back to the airport, bringing my oversized suitcase with me, in the middle of pouring rain.
Returning to the train station, I remember enthusiastically telling the taxi driver that I so enjoyed Eat and Two Veg’s version of Peking Duck, aka “Crispy Aromatic Luck” (complete with pancakes, green onions, and plumsauce), that I could hardly tell the difference from the real thing. The taxi driver commented “if you can’t tell the difference, why not go for the real duck instead”? That seems to be a common reaction from most meat eaters, and in all fairness, I suppose I used to think the same way. But now I wonder, if vegetable dishes taste as good, are better for health, save animals and the planet, why would anyone choose to eat meat?
If you can’t get to Eat and Two Veg (or have been and want to relive your meal), you can check out their actual menu online. While all items on the menu are vegetarian, they have symbols to indicate dishes that are vegan, vegan optional, or contain soya protein. If only all restaurants could be this way!