National Vegetarian Week falls on the 14th-21st May. Where better to celebrate it than in and around the area where the modern vegetarian movement marked some its first milestones? That’s Manchester and Salford, of course.
Back in 1808 the (perhaps ironically named) Reverend Cowherd formed The Bible Christian Church in Salford, an organisation which contributed significantly to vegetarianism since one of their beliefs was a meat-free diet. They met in the (also ironically named) Beefsteak Chapel, and would be one of founding groups involved in the formation of The Vegetarian Society in 1847. There is a vegetarian restaurant in Manchester named after the date, marking the city’s vegetarian links.
Although the Vegetarian Society was actually formed near Richmond in Surrey, it had its first annual meeting in Manchester by 1848 and from 1849 onwards it continued prominently here.
Though the Vegetarian Society moved out to Altrincham, vegetarian provisions in Salford and Manchester continued to grow. Today, the offerings are better than ever.
To prove it, we’ve put together a guide of not just where to eat but also where to shop for animal-free groceries, cosmetics and accessories. Many places are all-vegan, meaning that even more people can enjoy the food and products on offer.
All veggie/vegan eateries
The place to go if you want a hearty hot meal made from scratch – and it’s not just veggie, it’s all vegan. Delicious dishes include the likes of chilli served with black rice, vegetarian wellington and the legendary Earth Burger. Find this tranquil underground café, complete with a cute water feature and relaxed vibe, beneath The Manchester Buddhist Centre in the Northern Quarter. Food is served canteen-style so you can be sure of a quick meal, making it an ideal lunch option – and healthy, too. The ever-changing menu depends on what is good on market day and follows healthy-eating guidelines, always from fresh, never frozen. This is animal-friendly food that doesn’t just do you good, it does the planet good too. All dishes are created with an effort to minimise carbon footprint and sourced as locally as possible.
The home of animal-free fast food: think big burgers, butties and even vegan fried chicken. This place claims to be the city centre’s first and only 100% vegan eatery, first established in 2001 as a record-shop combined with a café. It has had a few premises changes over the years, now currently based on Edge Street. Open 11am to 11pm seven days a week (the kitchen closing at 9pm), V Rev is very popular and definitely one to try if you want a unique junk food fix free from all animal products. Loaded fries and poutine go down a treat. Their ‘donut have a cow, man’ burger is certainly one to contend with; seitan patties, vegan bacon and vegan cheese all loaded between two doughnut buns.
A critically-acclaimed restaurant on Piccadilly serving up a winning combination of Indian street food and craft beer – and it’s all vegetarian. This is casual dining at its best, with an array of affordable dishes you are encouraged to pick and choose from, all packed with flavour. From the inventive Ragha Pethis – India meets the North of England in a spicy mushy pea and potato cake – to their classic tarka dhal and the addictive okra fries, you are in for a treat.
Named after the year the Vegetarian Society was founded, where better to celebrate National Vegetarian Week? Based on Chapel Walks, this is an elegant all-vegetarian restaurant serving quality food fine-dining style. Ideal for a special treat or date night dinner, dishes on the spring menu include the likes of confit parsley root and sundried tomato polenta cake. They even do a posh vegetarian version of fish and chips: be sure to try their malt battered halloumi, pea hummus and tartare mousse. Their signature Scandi-styled interiors combined with chilled Ibiza tunes lend a relaxed atmosphere.
Manchester Vegan Café & Wellbeing Centre
Based on the Ground Floor of Afflecks close to the Oldham Street entrance, this is a characterful café and communal space serving up great-value all-vegan food and drinks. It’s healthy too – even the vegan BLT, which needs to be tried to be believed. You can begin with breakfast (a particularly good all-day breakfast can be found here) and it’s an ideal meeting spot for lunch, with dishes typically between the £2 to £4 mark including Buddha bowls, burritos, soup and jacket potatoes. Take-out options are also available and you can pop in to find information and resources on veganism, wellbeing and upcoming events.
Further down Oxford Road in Withington, this cute little café is worth the journey. Serving up an array of vegan ice cream and desserts, it’s the North’s first all-vegan desserts parlour – not just veggie-friendly, but completely animal-product free. Ices are their speciality, and up to 22 different flavours include a combination of soya-based ice creams and artisan sorbets. Popular choices include chocolate peanut butter cookie and apple pie. They also stock vegan pet food, and the shop hosts various communal events you can get involved with including board game nights, litter picks and even circuit training with free ice cream. You can also enjoy Ice Shack ice cream at venues across Manchester including on the menu at Greens in Didsbury, Deaf institute, Boho Utopia and Croma in Didsbury.
Also in Withington, right on the main road and Magic Bus route, Fuel is a café bar serving a great value all-vegetarian menu, and there’s often a gig going on upstairs too. Enjoy the arty comfy vibe and tasty food which starts with breakfast, as well as main meal options served up until 9pm. Popular choices include the falafel burger, halloumi fish and chips, chili burrito and a selection of salads. The meze selections are ideal for big appetites and there’s usually a cake (or amazingly massive muffins) on the bar. Veggie comfort food done well.
Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen
Vegetarian Chinese cuisine served in comfy surroundings at this Wilmslow Road restaurant. Here you can enjoy Chinese favourites vegetarian-style (a bit of a rarity in Manchester) including veggie ‘lemon chicken’ and even ‘veggie ribs’. From sizzling plates to ‘Lotus Special’ dishes, you are sure to be impressed.
Named after what is thought to be one of the world’s oldest languages, Sanskrit, Sanskruti is an all-vegetarian Indian restaurant that places tradition and authenticity at the heart of cooking. Based on Mauldeth Road close to Withington, you can expect one of the biggest and most varied vegetarian menus in Manchester with dishes like uttapam (a rice and lentil pizza-like pancake) and tofu makhani, as well as street food options. One to try if you are looking for something new. Take-out is also available.
Founded in 1990 and located on the stylish Lapwing Lane in Didsbury, Greens serves internationally-inspired, inventive food to a high restaurant standard. It’s the base of TV chef Simon Rimmer, who started the restaurant from scratch along with business partner Simon Connolly. The place is a proud celebration of ‘magpie cuisine’ – no, not eating birds, but cooking inspiration taken from all over the world. Their tasters of veggie black pudding and mustard mayo go down very well indeed and there is a selection of satisfying mains, as well as one of the best vegetarian Sunday roasts (pecan, cashew and almond) in the area.
Places with surprisingly big veggie choices
Just check out the enormous vegan pizza! (The one with the tomato base here is vegan) No one needs to ply you to come to this Northern Quarter bar and kitchen… as we’re pretty sure you’ll be running there thanks to their new vegan and veggie menu. You can feast on their huge handcrafted pizzas, salads and even desserts which are available in veggie and vegan varieties. Why not start off with their tasty tomato salad which is completely free from animal products and contains the finest heirloom tomatoes. Follow it with the likes of a vegan version of a classic Margherita which uses ‘mozzarisella’ rather than dairy cheese, plus their Pear & Blue Cheese combo actually uses vegan blue cheese for an alternate taste sensation. Veggie options still use dairy cheese and include the likes of the very special Asparagus as well as Capra too. Magnifico.
You may associate Japanese cuisine with sushi, but Shoryu Ramen – a popular restaurant in Piccadilly Gardens – has put together a special set menu vegetarians can enjoy, with many vegan options too. Start off with a delicious drink such as the Zen detox mock tai: mint, lime, ginger syrup and pineapple juice finished with premium matcha green tea powder. Sides include the intriguing goma kyuri cucumber, whilst for main course you can pick from a choice of veggie-friendly bun noodles as well as classic ramen noodle broth. Both ramen options are also vegan friendly. The £21 veggie set menu is the ideal opportunity to try authentic, animal-free Japanese food.
This elegant Spanish and Catalan restaurant on Deansgate is celebrating National Vegetarian Week with over 40 veggie-friendly options and free beer for vegetarians. That’s right, if you dine at Lunya between the 14th-20th May and choose to dine veggie, then you will be treated to a free caña (draught beer). Diners willbe tempted by their extensive vegetarian options, many served tapas style, with classic dishes such as patatas bravas and Spanish tortilla. There are also more adventurous dishes such as a brilliant squash stew, cauliflower ‘steak’ topped with tahini yoghurt, as well as pan-fried woodland mushrooms with asparagus. Be sure to book; this is an offer not to be missed.
A sweet Welsh doughnut shop buried deep in the Northern Quarter – sounds surreal, right? It’s certainly a treat, with melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts made on-site by Blawd bakery including inventive flavours such as apple crumble, vegan maple pecan glaze and even a mango lassi edition. Welcome to SiOP Shop. They also serve a range of animal-free brunch and lunch dishes including awesome vegan pancakes (the batter is always vegan – still a rarity in Manchester, so make the most of them here), fresh salads and soup. This place is also a great place to work, with cute tables surrounded by contemporary artwork. The shop doubles up as a gallery-space, with many pieces available to buy.
A good pasta dish often means handfuls of Parmesan cheese – which is fine, but it’s not typically vegetarian. Parmesan usually contains rennet, which is a direct animal product. Pasta Factory, Manchester’s very own ‘pastifico’ (pasta café) where they make everything from scratch, has managed to get around that problem by creating their own Parmesan which is not just vegetarian, it’s vegan. And it’s even better served on top of one of their pasta dishes, with a number of vegetarian options (typically vegan) always available on their regularly changing menu. Dishes may include the likes of spaghetti verdi con pesto di zucchine, which is green spaghetti tossed in a creamy courgette, cashew and basil sauce. Not a boring tomato sauce in sight. They also have an impressive animal-free antipasti board and even vegan chocolate ravioli for dessert.
The Deaf Institute
A beautiful bar, kitchen and gig venue set in a building dating from 1878 across three floors with a menu that is nearly all vegan. You can feast on the likes of loaded nachos, the holy seitan burger (which includes sweet potato cheese and aubergine bacon) plus delicious desserts and ice-cream which are all vegan. There are also veggie options which make the most of halloumi cheese – be sure to check out the small plate selection. The Deaf Institute is open for food from 4pm every day (12pm onwards on Wednesdays), and every Sunday they celebrate with a ‘vegan hangover’ from 3pm: a fully vegan menu with a number of specials. If you can get it, the vegan fish and chips are top notch.
Real Junk Food Manchester
Junk food and vegetarian eating don’t often seem to be two phrases that go together, but Real Junk Food Manchester has a few tricks up its sleeve. It doesn’t serve junk food in the commonly-used sense. Rather, it refers to using food that would otherwise go to waste, making it sustainable and ethically-minded. The menu changes every day depending on what ingredients they intercept. Open for breakfast and lunch during the week as well as dinner (the latter on Thursday – Saturday evenings, bookable online), you can enjoy a sit-down meal in their quaint underfloor restaurant or take-out from upstairs with at least one vegetarian and one vegan option on every menu.
Both the Edge Street and MediaCity branches of this pay-per-minute communal comfy space always offer an array of vegetarian delights you can help yourself to. Whether you want cereal, toast or just lots of biscuits to snack on as you enjoy the time here, so much is veggie-friendly – and exciting, too. There’s something satisfying about helping yourself to cereal in the middle of the day, plus there are a number of non-dairy alternatives available. When it comes to savouries Ziferblat doesn’t disappoint either, as at least one soup option every day is suitable for vegetarians and many of the snacks are too.
The Pen and Pencil
This marvellous Manhattan-style bar and kitchen in the Northern Quarter recently launched a brand new menu, celebrating fresh flavours and stylish summer eating with a number of exciting vegetarian options. Not a bland risotto or a boring quiche in sight. Instead, why not sample a veggie-friendly brunch dish such as ‘The Breakfast Hash’. In fact, many of their vegetarian options are also vegan suitable, and that applies to three strong main dishes – beetroot falafels, Moroccan lentil stew and chickpea curry. Add a smoothie for an added feel-good punch and with sides that are so much more than same-old veg – instead Cajun baked okra and even lovely lotus root – you are in for a treat.
This popular chain has bars on Oxford Street and in the Northern Quarter, and as well as being inspired by the fruity flavours of the Caribbean it also boasts a surprisingly massive vegetarian menu. Turtle Bay’s first ever vegan and vegetarian menu was first launched in January, and when better to make the most of it than National Vegetarian Week? Caribbean cooking is all about laid back ‘liming’ – sharing food and drink with friends over conversation – and their veggie-friendly options are ideal for that. From deep-fried okra to the jerk halloumi mushroom burger, there are 32 vegetarian options in total.
This Oxford Road workers co-operative of wonders offers one of the biggest selections of veggie, vegan and ethically-sourced stock in the North West including health, homeware and cleaning products alongside a large range of organic food. Lots of fresh fruit and veg too. The venue has operated since the 1970s and is often described as a one-stop shop for all things vegetarian. There’s a corner crammed with health supplements, with staff available to advise. There’s also an award-winning vegetarian café, and vegan alcohol for something a little less virtuous. Plus you probably won’t be able to resist the take-out counter of home baked all-veggie goods as you go out. The brownies are particularly moreish.
Just like its name, this wholefood co-operative grocery in Chorlton feels a bit magical. This place is all-vegan and has a selection of fresh produce as well as daily-baked bread and a deli counter. Much is locally-sourced, and ethics are at the heart of eating here. Their fresh fruit and vegetables are nearly all organic, and at Unicorn you can stock up on animal-friendly essentials too: they have everything from vegan toiletries to household goods. Operating since 1995 and currently based on Albany Road, this tried-and-tested supermarket is popular not just with vegetarians and vegans but people from far and wide.
Silver Sage Health & Nutrition
Located on Hulme High Street, this is a health food store with a number of vegetarian options and supplements. A brilliant place to discover a diverse range of natural products and wholefoods as well as products for skin and body. Also a shop to keep in mind when you want to pick up some interesting herbs and spices.
An all-vegan cosmetics and soap shop in Afflecks, under the care of Andrew Jackson. It’s a tremendous Tiki-hut in the stairwell, packed with a variety of animal-friendly products including bath bombs, soaps, shampoos and candles. It’s plenty of fun, too – especially the bath bombs, many of which are stuffed with little characters and include designs such as a Harry Potter influenced Golden Snitch. There’s also a make-your-own vegan shampoo station. Not only good news for animals, Soapy J is good for the planet – all packaging used is 100% biodegradable, with no plastic bottles in sight.
Did someone say cake?
Black Cat Cakery
A small local business that prides itself on making delicious, largely vegan cakes. Delicious ingredients, no frills and plenty of love seems to be a winning combination, with bakes from the Black Cat Cakery stocked in the likes of Ezra & Gil, Molly House and Sand Bar. Mouth-watering options include vanilla chai cake with orange cinnamon icing and chocolate Oreo cake. Some people believe that black cats are good luck, and this bakery certainly is. They regularly adjust recipes to suit a range of dietary requirements.
Lily and Dilly
Available to order online, Lily and Dilly is a Manchester-based cake company creating beautiful vegan bakes. The designs and flavour combinations are so delightful, and are regularly stocked in Eighth Day. Varieties include lemon and pistachio cake and an intriguing non-red-velvet cake. Celebration cakes are available too, all free from animal products.
Teatime Collective @Rockers
Teatime Collective is an all-vegan bakery in the surprising location of Rockers, the Oldham Street store known for its rock’n’roll inspired fashions. Although Teatime Collective’s Hulme-based café was forced to close in December 2017, their connection with Rockers means you can still pick up their beautiful vegan cakes and bake in the heart of The Northern Quarter.
Open Tuesday toSunday from 4pm-11pm, Zad’s is an all-vegan takeaway in Chorlton specialising in vegan pizza. This is classic take-away pizza, topped with vegan-friendly cheese. Options include the likes of ‘hench herbivore’ and ‘vegan gains’, a protein-packed pizza. You can also order all your classic junk food favourites – all vegan – including hotdogs, burgers and nuggets.
Garden of Vegan
Another all-vegan takeaway serving up pizzas, burgers and sides – with their carrot fries seriously worth a try. Based on Wilmslow Road in Fallowfield, this place satisfies those post-drink or post-party fast food cravings, and it’s all animal-free.
A fully vegan takeaway specialising in Punjabi and Indian food on High Street in the Northern Quarter. You can enjoy a proper takeout curry with all the sides, completely animal-free. This place also does brilliant biryani dishes, falafel and a number of specials.
The go-to place for Falafel wraps and Lebanese style salad boxes, as well as fresh hummus to die for. No meat in sight, just lots and lots of falafel. With locations on Deansgate, Piccadilly and Oxford Road, it’s an ideal place to pick up a delicious hot takeaway to tuck into.
A vegetarian Indian takeaway on Wilmslow Road, renowned for the quality of its curries and inventive flavours. With dishes like ‘rigna no oro’ (aubergine mashed with spices and tomatoes) and the delicious golden pancake that is masala dosa, this is the place to order from when you want to show how exciting vegetarian food can be. As it’s vegetarian rather than vegan, you can give paneer a try – a type of Indian cheese which makes a surprisingly good substitute for chicken.