This Veganuary, I am so excited about how many options there are for vegans eating out or on the go! Chain restaurants like Pizza Express, Zizi’s, Pizza Hut, Hungry Horse and Wagamama’s all have really great vegan options now and let’s not forget Greg’s vegan sausage rolls!

It makes me really happy, but it’s also great to visit independent places to eat too. Here are some local eateries that have some great vegan options.

Formidable Joy | Vegan | Best places to eat vegan in Beds, Herts & Bucks | Chia Naturally Healthy | Bond Estates Kitchen | Vutie Beets | The Juice Pharm | MK11 - Kiln Farm | The Craufurd Arms

CHIA NATURALLY HEALTHY, HITCHIN
I avoid Hitchin now like the plague but my favourite place to eat in the area was always Chia Naturally Healthy, a quant vegan cafe in the centre of Hitchin. It’s small and cosy, overlooking the church, and is perfect for brunch or a late lunch with a warm drink on a cold day. It’s really sweet, serving hot and cold food and an extensive selection of superfood smoothies, as well as books and reading material on eating healthy. The entire menu is plant based too.

THE BOND ESTATES KITCHEN, MILTON KEYNES
This may just look like a little cafeteria on an industrial estate, but don’t let this fool you. Though it started as just a pantry (across the road from where I work!), The Bond Estates Kitchen recently expanded to include a small seating area and you can order online for takeout/pick up. It’s not entirely vegan, but what is is delicious. Their vegan menu is extensive and with specials on various nights of the week, you’re spoiled for choice. Practically anything they serve can be made vegan too, and the lovely lady who runs it also specializes in food plans and high protein dishes – if that’s your kind of thing. Just note – they used to be called The Body Builder’s kitchen and from what I can see this website is still accessible – so double check you log onto the correct website here.

VUTIE BEETS, LETCHWORTH
I haven’t had a chance to visit here yet but I’ve heard so many great things about it. Often I’ll get delicious looking dishes appear on my Facebook timeline – many of them seemingly traditional meat dishes like burgers or chilli – and I’ll suddenly realize it was posted by Vutie Beets. Their menu is so varied and everything they serve is entirely vegan too, so there’s no second guessing.

THE JUICE PHARM, ST ALBANS
This gem of a cafe may be small, but it’s menu of smoothies, acai bowls and cakes is extensive. You won’t find any junk food here – it’s all beyond healthy with superfoods and super nutritious offerings. They do more filling food too, like avocado on toast and soup for brunch. The only thing is that they’re veggie too – so be sure to be clear about wanting vegan butter etc when ordering vegan.

MK11 KILN FARM & CRAUFURD ARMS, MILTON KEYNES
These may seem odd to put on the list as they are pubs but they’re worth mentioning! MK11 Kiln Farm serves delicious food anyway, with many vegan options. Throughout Veganuary, they’ll also be serving a 100% vegan menu on selected days. Though The Craufurd Arms don’t traditionally serve food, they often do Vegan Vendor days, allowing vendors to come in and serve up delicious vegan treats,

It actually makes me so happy how many vegan options there are for eating out now – and local too! I remember the first time I tried my hand at Veganuary and only knew of places in London to eat vegan! Whether you’re vegan or not, you should definitely try some of these places.

Will you be visiting any of these places in Veganuary (or after?)? Let me know!

 

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love London. I love going to quirky events and gigs. I love going to winter pop-ups and hidden bars. I love everything about the busy hustle bustle of our capital – and I especially love always finding somewhere great to grab to bite to eat when I head into the city.

Luckily, over the years, I’ve come across a good few staple favourites that I’ve visited time and time again (although I do love to try new places too of course, sometimes an old favourite is just better for convenience). Here are some of my all-time favourite restaurants – and a couple I am desperate to try (but know I’ll love).

Formidable Joy | Food | 5 awesome London restauraunts to try in 2019 | London | Dining | Quirky

BUBBLEDOGS, BLOOMSBURY
My sister took me here for my birthday once and I was fascinated by the idea; posh and glamorous champagne meets messy hotdogs in casual red food baskets. It sounds like it shouldn’t work but it really bloody does. Not only does Bubbledogs do THE best hot dogs but the sides are to die for as well – I challenge anyone to try their Tater Tots and try and tell me they’re not the best in the world. I’m not a massive champagne drinker so I can’t comment on that, but the cocktails are super tasty too. Plus, though the restaurant is small, it’s got a really welcoming vibe.
Best dish: the Sloppy Joe with Tater Tots and Sweet potato fries.

SARASTRO, COVENT GARDEN
Often dubbed as the show after the show, many theatre lovers flock to this eccentric restaurant after hours (or before!) to continue the show. The extravagantly themed Turkish restaurant boasts Arabian Nights-inspired interior and often in-house entertainment. It’s said to be an unforgettable dining experience – so definitely one for celebrations such as birthdays or anniversaries. It has been on my bucket list for years – and since I’m turning 30 next year, maybe I’ll finally get around to going.
Best dish: the mezze’s look amazing – think finger food perfect for sharing.

THE BREAKFAST CLUB,  ALL OVER
If I’m in London during the day or just need a quick lunch, The Breakfast Club is always my first choice. For those who like a bit of old school deco charm with their food, this one is for you. The Breakfast Club is the place to be for brunch or a hungover breakfast the morning after the night before, but there’s also burgers and sandwiches on the menu. I say TBC is best for lunch (or a late lunch, however), as one or two of them also double up with secret hidden bars. If you’re looking to impress, grab a delicious lunch at the Shoreditch branch then approach a member of staff and ask ‘to see the Mayor’. You’ll be led (discreetly) through a fridge door to a speakeasy basement bar. Not so secret anymore, but still super exciting: it’s always my go-to date idea when I’m trying to impress.
Best dish: simply just the pancakes, bacon and syrup. As someone who first tried this American favourite during my first visit to The Breakfast Club, the charm has yet to wear off.

THE LAST TUESDAY SOCIETY, MARE ST
Part museum part bar, this curious venue is worth visiting for many cocktails and hearty bar snacks (the nibbles are limited but given the morbid decor you probably wouldn’t want anything too heavy anything!). The dark and taxidermy decor is well worth a visit; there’s even a table that boasts a coffin with a skeleton inside in the centre. The bar only opened in 2016 and has been a hit ever since; oozing quirkiness and curious Instagram opportunities. If you’re after something light but totally different before a night on the town: this should be your first choice. Oh, and following your drinks and nibbles for dutch courage, you can then visit the museum to hear all about the curiosities on display.
Best dish: the artisanal cheese board looks lush, but those of you brave enough can try a mini platter of mixed insects…

PUREZZA, CAMDEN
It may be vegan but unless you know this beforehand, most people wouldn’t even be able to tell. This entirely vegan pizza place is not only a better choice for the environment and animals but it also satisfies any junk food cravings. Seriously. Healthy pizza and cheese dough balls? You can’t go wrong. Purezza opened in 2018 following the success of it’s Brighton branch and what better place to set up shop than Camden. Also, though it took me a while to get it, the name is kind of witty too = and Purezza is the UK’s first fully vegan pizzeria.
Best dish: it’s hard to choose – it’s all so delicious with so much choice – but make sure you get the dough balls.

I’ve definitely added The Last Tuesday Society and Sarastro to my must-visit list in 2019 – will you be adding any of these to yours? Let me know!

*Please note, this is a collaborative post but all views and opinions are entirely my own.

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Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited down to Sake no Hana‘s Maple Leaves event – something Becky and I were both looking very forward to as she was already a fan of Sake no Hana and I personally loved the sound of a Maple Leaves event!

Running until the 24th November – Sake no Hana – the Japanese restaurant from Hakkasan Group, is celebrating the change of season with an Autumn Leaf installation using Autumnal red, orange and yellow leaves that will encase the floor to ceiling glass windows at the front of the restaurant on St James Street, in partnership with Belvedere vodka and Ruinart Champagne.

Executive Head Chef Hideki Hiwatashi has created a limited-edition menu utilising seasonal ingredients and flavours for guests to enjoy whilst sipping on warming cocktails, Japanese sake, and whisky.

Formidable Joy | Lifestyle | Sake no Hana Maple Leaves Event | Food & Drink

Fiery red, warming orange, and frosty yellow leaves are used in the installation to honour the Japanese maple leaf season, as well as Kengo Kuma’s architecture, giving guests a feeling of nature as they enter the restaurant. The installation offers guests the chance to experience ‘momiji-gari’, the Japanese tradition of viewing the maple leaves whilst enjoying modern authentic Japanese cuisine in the heart of Mayfair.

The installation has been specially commissioned to respond to the unique space and the season and created by The Edit Events. Managing Director Sarah Kay commented, “We were delighted to work closely with the Sake no Hana team to develop an Autumn Leaves install. This time of year in Japan sees an incredible array of colours, shapes and textures which we have emulated within the design. Adding a modern twist is a signature of Hakkasan Group hence the inclusion of metallics and a sprayed artistic style which creates an urban Autumn install within the heart of London.”

Although we, unfortunately, did not get any decent shots of the installation, the beautiful red leaves outside the ambient restaurant were absolutely stunning, very easily standing out against the grey London skyline. However, the bar area itself was buzzing with a relaxed but friendly atmosphere – perfect for pre-drinks or bar nibbles before a night out in the capital.

Formidable Joy | Lifestyle | Sake no Hana Maple Leaves Event | Food & Drink

The limited-edition menu was created utilising warming Autumnal flavours and ingredients. Dishes included Kinoko misojitate, wild mushroom and chilli yuzu miso soup; Shitake tofu, shiitake mushrooms filled with homemade tofu and wasabi sauce; Salmon kurumi miso yaki, pan fried Loch Duart salmon with walnuts and Kyoto miso; Tori sumiyaki, chargrilled miso chicken with sesame chilli miso; Gunma wagyu beef maki, asparagus, caramelised onion and kizami wasabi. The dessert, Autumn Leaf, is a hazelnut feuilletine and hazelnut chocolate parfait with chocolate and maple syrup soup and a mascarpone mousse.

Some of these we got to try on the night, as well as cocktails and limited edition drinks such as a warming Maple toddy utilising Hennessy Fine de Cognac, Akashi-Tai Umeshu sake, ginger, maple, chocolate and edible rice paper art in addition to the Shisho 54, Belvedere vodka, Midori, lime, shiso, Fever-Tree slimline tonic and Prosecco, and Koyo nora using belvedere vodka, cardamom, mandarin, yuzu and edible rice paper art – delicious!

We only planned to pop our heads in and see what the fuss was all about before moving on to our other plans but we enjoyed our visit so much that we actually stayed for the majority of the evening!

Though the setting itself was high end, the Autumn Leaf installation and the limited-edition menu only costs £40 per person, which is so much cheaper than you’d expect! As well as a beyond beautiful installation (which you really have to pop down and see with your own eyes to believe), it’s the perfect winter evening spent with friends or a date.

The special installation and seasonal menu can be found at Sake no Hana until the 24th November.

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London is fast becoming a capital for vegan food and I am constantly surprised at all the amazing vegan restauraunts popping up around the city. Purezza is one I’d wanted to visit for a while now because I adored my visit to their Brighton branch, but unfortunately couldn’t justify going back to Brighton all the time just for their pizza (which I wish I could but it’s rather expensive!). So when the opportunity came up to visit and review their (still slightly new) Camden branch in London (on behalf of Love Pop Ups – London), I jumped at the chance.

I never grow bored of creative vegan food and I definitely never grow bored of vegan pizza so it was really a win-win situation for me. I headed down with my friend Ali recently and found the restauraunt was only a short walk away from Camden Town station – perhaps five minutes at most.

We ducked inside to the slightly small but ever so cosy premsis and were taken upstairs to a smaller more intimate room with only three or four tables. It was so cute and really cosy, although downstairs had been really busy too! The whole restauraunt – downstairs and up – had a nice ambient buzz to it.

With such a vast menu – all pizzas could be made on three different basis and there is non pizza choices too, such as lasagne or a ‘pure bowl’ – we found it hard to pick. I was tempted to go for the delicios Portobello Road again – I do love my mushrooms – but decided to go for something new and settled on the Season.4.Pizza.1 which boasted artichokes, olives, mushrooms, smoked beet and salad cress.

Ali went for the Marinara and between us we chose doughballs and garlic bread as sides. I have to say, despite going in too early and burning my mouth, the doughballs are to die for. I still don’t know how they get the delicious vegan cheese to melt and ooze like real cheese (whenever I try to re-create anything similar, it just ends up rubbery) but somehow they do and it just hit the spot.

Formidable Joy | Food | Purezza Camden | Purezza | Vegan | Italian | Pizza | Food Review

I couldn’t fault my choice. Two slices in and I’d already forgotten we were at a vegan restauraunt – the smoked beet, although it didn’t taste of meat, provided the look and texture you’d expect from meat on a pizza and I’ve said this many times before – if it looks like meat but isn’t, you can very easily forget that you’re eating a vegetable. I’m not even a massive fan of beet but it was delicious and my pizza was filled with so much flavour that even if I had a giant pepperoni pizza in front of me too, I’d still choose the vegan one.

I took only a bite of the Marinara (at this point, I was struggling to finish my own) but it was delicious also.

Cocktails were also on the menu for us that night (well, it was for everyone, but you get my point) and whilst Ali chose a glass of prosecco, I went for something that I can’t quite remember the name of but was a take on a cheese cake and was beyond delicious. Normally I find fancy looking cocktails aren’t actually all that nice, but this one really hit the spot.

By dessert we were struggling. My friend went for the very wise choice of a Brownie which was so cute and small (in a good way!) it looked too good to eat. I was drawn in with the choice of Oreos and chose the Oreo Pizza – basically a chocolate pizza – and only managed one small slice before giving up and asking to take the rest home.

Formidable Joy | Food | Purezza Camden | Purezza | Vegan | Italian | Pizza | Food Review

Formidable Joy | Food | Purezza Camden | Purezza | Vegan | Italian | Pizza | Food Review

I did have some more when I got in but I had mixed feelings about this. It was really tasty, but I couldn’t really get past the fact that it was on a pizza base. I know that’s the point but this really threw me and I struggled to enjoy it as a dessert – that’s not to say I didn’t like it, but perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t also had a pizza for my main.

Overall, however, the entire meal was mouth watering and so tasty and full of flavour. The food at Purezza is a prime example of a selection of healthy plant based foods that you don’t even realize you’re not having any meat. You either don’t crave any anyway because the options just sound too tasty, or the food is so good it makes you forget you’re eating entirely vegan.

Nestled away in the heart of Camden, Purezza is the perfect treat for next time you’re in London and craving some healthy Italian food.

Have you ever been to Purezza? Let me know your thoughts!

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One thing I always struggle with when eating vegan is lunch ideas. In the past, I’ll always have such simple lunches – a cheese and onion or ham and tomato sandwich with a packet of crisps and that was it really.

When eating vegan, I have to really get creative with my lunch ideas. I can still have a cheese and onion sandwich for example but vegan cheese isn’t that great for flavour when just in a sandwich, so this is usually a last resort for me.

Therefore I thought it would be nice to share some of my favourite vegan lunch ideas.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Food | Vegan | 6 easy go-to vegan lunch ideas

VEGAN BURRITO BOWL
I’m not a lover of burritos/burrito bowls or even black beans but I loved this burrito bowl (taken from one of Pound Fit’s meal plans). It’s another one that looks super impressive with minimal prep. All you need to do the night before is cook and drain the black beans, then pack an avocado, chopped tomatoes, rice and a slice of lime. You can cook the rice the night before and have it cold with your burrito bowl, or grab a microwavable pack to scoff it warm. It’s another idea great for summer.

TOMATO MEZZE
This is a massive favourite of mine taken from The Debrief back when it was still a thing (oh how I miss it!). It’s great because it’s cheap to make (all leftover ingredients are totally versatile to use in other dishes), it’s easy and it looks a lot more impressive than it actually is. All you need is hummus, rocket salad, a bread roll, tomatoes and smoked paprika – probably everything you already have anyway. Basically you make a smokey tomatoey sauce using the smoked paprika and tomatoes and a little water in the microwave, sprinkle some smoked paprika over the hummus and divide it onto your plate to pile onto your bread. It’s lightweight too but a great alternative for a warm-but-not-heavy meal in summer.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
This one needs some prep the night before (or the day before – I tend to cook it in the slow cooker throughout the day) but my god its tasty. Ingredients and recipes vary – I tend to just blend some butternut squash and an onion before seasoning it – but you can pile in as many vegetables as you like. Pick up some delicious bread rolls or sourdough bread with lashings of vegan butter, microwave the soup and you’ve got a stocky lunch to keep you full throughout the day.

AVOCADO ON TOAST
Super simple, super easy. Definitely a Friday lunch when you can’t be bothered. Still feeling hungry? Grab some plain Doritos (or nacho crisps) and use any remaining avo as an easy alternative to guac.

ITALIAN RED PEPPER HUMMUS SANDWICH
This sandwich is a firm favourite from Euphoric Vegan. It’s asbsolutely delicious as it is, but to save time and money, I usually swap the red pepper hummus for normal hummus (also used in the tomatoe mezze recipe)!

ON THE HIGH STREET
Can’t be bothered to prep or really running late and forget? There’s actually tons of vegan choices on the high street if you know where to look/what to look for. My favourites are the falafel and hummus wrap or the falafel red pepper and tabbouleh salad (which isn’t marked as vegan but is vegan as long as you remove the spiced yogurt dressing provided with it) as part of the Tesco meal deal (both Walkers ready salted crisps and squares are vegan). Tesco also stocks the WICKED range, most of which is microwaveable. Pret’s has tons of vegan options too – though a little pricey. You can see a full guide of vegan goodies to buy along the high street here, for those days when you’re caught out.

If you’re vegan, what do you normally eat at lunchtime? Let me know!

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