November is universally celebrated as World Vegan Month; a time where meat-free and plant-based meals are not just cooked, but celebrated.
According to the BBC, the number of people in the UK following a plant-based diet has risen 340% in the last decade, meaning demand for good vegan options is quickly rising.
Luckily for us, Manchester is a haven for vegan food, with vegan restaurants scattered around the city and many non-veggie restaurants offering their own ideas of what meat-free food should taste like.
It’s not always easy to find out where we can get good quality plant-based food from, that isn’t just a boring old garden salad. So, we’ve saved you a job, and compiled a list of the best foodie hotspots in Manchester for vegan food. You’re welcome.
Brunch and lunch
Wholesome Food Junkies
A humble little stall in the Arndale Food Market, Wholesome Food Junkies serve 100% vegan junk food so you can get your fast-food fix without the compromise (or the animal cruelty). Tuck into plant-based mac n cheese, KFC(auliflower) wings or their take on the much-loved ‘donner’ kebab, and get creative in your journey to sustainable living.
Indian street food is a big hit with most vegans, and no-one does it like Mowgli. who dedicate a whole section of their menu to plant-based meals. We’ve got our eyes on the spiced treacle taramind fries – something you will find nowhere else on the planet.
Alongside scrumptious plant-based cakes and freshly baked dairy-free pastries, Vertigo has some of the most colourful sandwiches and rice bowls in Manchester. What’s more, following their success on Cross Street, they’ve opened a second site on First Street, with a much bigger dining space, which now serves brunch. As the winter chill sets in, we’d recommend their famous hot chocolate. And maybe a slice of cake, too…
Not only does Common have seriously cool interior, but it’s seriously cool in the kitchen, with a whole bunch of vegan options on the menu. From a hefty vegan fry-up to their famous ‘No Clucks Given’ seitan burger, you can get meat-free meals at an affordable price – and get a great pic for the ‘gram too.
Crazy Pedro’s has been serving giant slices of goodness for years. Last year, they trialled a small collection of vegan pizzas, which were so in demand they became permanent. Now you can get ‘Holy Cluck!’ (BBQ ‘chckn’, mango salsa, red onions, vegan cheese, BBQ sauce) and ‘Giuseppe’s Not Sloppy, He’s Vegan’ (spicy ‘beef’, peppers, jalapeños and vegan cheese) by the slice or whole pizza.
Earth Cafe has an ever-changing menu of vegan dishes, from tofu curries and pot pies to fresh fruit juices and plant-based sweet treats. And how do we know it’s all fresh? Well, their menu depends solely on the ingredients they buy in the morning and, of course, the weather. Pop down to Turner Street for a meal better than your mama could make.
Cafe-slash-grocery store Eighth Day offers an extensive menu through the day, including brunch. It’s not just suitable for vegans – they cater for all dietary requirements, however complicated. Gluten-free brunches and vegan custards are just the icing on the (dairy-free) cake. What’s more, at the shop upstairs, you can stock up on all the ingredients to make your own vegan treats too.
GRUB was already the biggest street food event in Manchester, but now it’s earned itself a new title: their ‘Plant Powered Sundays’ festival is the first ever weekly vegan street food event in Europe. It takes place every single Sunday, with some of the best vegan food vendors in the country. The festival will return this month at Redbank.
Whats better than a menu that is already a quarter vegan? Green Wednesdays! Every Wednesday at YO! Sushi, you can grab any one of 20 vegan dishes for just £2.50 including mushroom teriyaki burgers, curiously-coloured vegetable gyozas, Yasai sushi rolls, or pumpkin katsu curries.
Subway have really stepped up their game this year, offering veggie and vegan patties, two types of vegan cheese and vegan dressings including garlic aioli. The sandwich artists will even offer to change gloves while making your sarnie. How thoughtful. Most recently, Subway’s trialled a new ‘meatless Meatball Marinara’ sub, which can be found at several stores in the city.
Coffee and cakes
Nestled deep in the NQ, Sugar Junction is a great spot for vegans. Generous-sized mugs of tea and coffee go hand-in hand with their vegan cake specials, including a chocolate orange cake which may just be the best plant-based cake we’ve ever sunk our teeth into.
Taking over the ‘FIZZ!’ Prosecco bar in the Arndale’s Halle Place, Kiosk is a sweet little coffee shop. The chic marble tables are the perfect setting for a nice hot cup of plant-based cappuccino. With a range of vegan milks substitutes and dairy-free sweets, treats and cakes, Kiosk is ideal for a quick caffeine fix while you’re shopping.
Where better to celebrate a animal-free diet than surround by feline friends? The Cat Cafe has one of the best vegan coffees in Manchester, decorated with a fabulous cat-inspired chocolate sprinkle. And, even better: drinks are bottomless. Come for the cat-petting, and get as may free drinks as you want while you’re there.
V Rev Diner
This list wouldn’t be complete without V Rev, the restaurant that paved the way for the vegan revolution in Manchester. Whether you’re returning for your favourite ‘Cheez n Baecon’ sandwich, or are eager to try their latest brunch additions, you’ll never be disappointed. You’ll also never leave the place hungry with the size of those portions!
Known for delicious homemade pasta, The Pasta Factory has something for everyone. There’s a variety of vegan options, including fresh bucatini pasta dressed in creamy pumpkin sauce and tossed with roasted rosemary porcini and oyster mushrooms). They have their own dairy-free Parmesan, too. Just ask your server for it to be swapped.
Rudy’s is another great pit stop for vegans, with their specials board often providing a different dairy-free option every week. Rudy’s Neapolitan pizza dough is 100% vegan, and alongside their stunning marinara, any pizza on the menu can be asked for without cheese. No wonder they’re labelled the best pizzas in town.
It can be hard to find a restaurant for a sophisticated meal that has more than just salad as a vegan option, but Don Giovanni have changed the game. Releasing a dedicated vegan menu earlier this year, the chefs are no strangers to plant-based meals. Tuck into a roasted aubergine lasagne or pizza vegano, complete with vegan mozzarella.
Allotment Vegan Eatery
At the more sophisticated end of the plant-based spectrum, The Allotment Vegan Eatery is where cruelty-free meets fine dining. Tuck into beer-battered banana, or spicy jackfruit Kofta. Whatever you choose, we bet you’ve never tasted anything like it before.
For those fed up of falafel and sick of seitan, why not try Vietnamese food? Over in the Corn Exchange, Pho has a menu that’s over a quarter vegan thanks to their namesake noodle soups. Our recommendation: spicy green pho with tofu, green beans and pak choi in a hot and spicy veggie broth, seasoned with Thai basil. *drools*
Vegans needn’t feel left out at Dishoom, which pays loving homage to the old Irani cafés of Bombay. They have an extra-special selection of vegan dishes, all based on traditional Indian recipes. Try chole-chawal chickpea curry from Punjab, with smoky-grilled gunpowder potatoes on the side. They do brunch, too. Top tip: the jackfruit biryani is to die for.
Fancy some Pan-Asian goodies but sick of plain noodles or boring boiled rice? Tampopo is the answer, offering south-east Asian comfort food full of flavour from sweet and sour Pad Thai to spicy jackfruit Rendang curry. Tampopo even have vegan desserts, including creamy cinnamon and caramel banana fritters.
It’s not just independent restaurants jumping on the vegan bandwagon. For World Vegan Day, Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay have released a new meat-free burger: the ‘Mother Clucker’. A 100% vegan chicken-style patty sits on a bed of rocket, smashed avo and pickled onions, dressed with jerk BBQ sauce.
The Cosy Club
Alongside their Beyond Meat burger, an aromatic Thai green curry and a 100% plant-based BLT, The Cosy Club have an extra-special vegan fish and chips option. Made from a battered fillet of seaweed-wrapped tofu, the dish was awarded with ‘best vegan fish’ at the 2019 PETA awards.
Just in time for the festive season, 20 Stories is reimagining Christmas dinner with a 5-course set menu which is 100% vegan. Following cocktails and canapés, there’s spicy butternut squash soup, balsamic beetroot wellington, and a tart lemon sorbet, finished off with vegan macarons. Branch out and spoil yourself this Christmas, you’ve earned it!