Veg Dining in London

London Notting Hill

Who knew that London was so vegan/vegetarian friendly? Well, I’m sure Londoners have long known, but this Louisvillian certainly did not. Having never been there I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

Now, I’m going to make a little confession: While we go vegan whenever possible while traveling, we tend to relax a bit and go vegetarian when that is not an option. I realize that this doesn’t adhere to the strict vegan code of conduct, but that’s what works best for us.

But, moving on, our veg food journey actually started with our flight. When booking our tickets with Delta, we requested the vegan/vegetarian option in the check box. However, we weren’t expecting to actually get a special, full-on vegan meal. But to our surprise, that’s actually what we got. And not only that, it was really good (for airplane food, that is).

While in London, we made an effort to hit a number of pubs. All of the pubs we visited or checked the menu had a vegetarian option (including a vegetarian English breakfast, which I’m going to recreate in vegan form this weekend), and we’re not talking a sad veggie burger. And restaurants make sure to advertise that they offer vegan/vegetarian options, too. We stopped at the Duke of Wellington pub in Notting Hill (the picture above was taken on a stroll through Notting Hill) on two separate occasions. The first time was for dinner, which was a dish of grilled vegetables with goat cheese served over warm polenta and topped with almonds and a spring mix salad on the side. The second time was for a delicious vegetarian breakfast, probably the best we had.

In the neighborhood we stayed, Kensington, we dined at a wonderful Lebanese restaurant, Orjowan. The hummus was outstanding, and I had a delicious okra dish that I’m hoping to recreate as well.

London has several huge markets that go on every day. We stopped at the Borough Market in Southwark, which is more food-focused than the other markets. The smells from all of the food vendors was amazing and we had the best falafel ever at this little, nondescript stand.

The best meal of our trip was on our last night there. Our travel book recommended Diwana Bhel Poori House (can’t find a website) on Drummond Street in Bloomsbury. The place is small and very simple, and the booths aren’t the most comfortable and the service not the most friendly. But the food makes up for it. We split a huge dosa, and a poori dish that came with all of these enticing sauces and small pakoras. Apparently, their lunch buffet is outstanding and cheap.

We actually rented an apartment instead of a hotel, which I highly recommend. This allowed us to make breakfast there and bring home leftovers so we could save money. London certainly does not have a shortage of small groceries, which we made use of, and we even stopped in the Whole Foods. While similar to the Whole Foods here in the states, there were still a lot of products I had never seen before. We were able to pick up some wonderful vegan banana muffins for breakfast, and stock up on lunch items for a couple of days.

London is truly an amazing city for so many reasons, and we feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to go. As a vegan or vegetarian, you certainly won’t go hungry, that’s for sure.

I hope you all are well!

New Year’s Resolutions, Vegan-Style

New Year's Resolutions

I can’t believe 2012 is almost over. Time truly does go by so quickly. I always look to the New Year with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. I realize that January 1st is just another day on a calendar, but I like the feeling of starting fresh with a new focus. The worrier in me, however, is nervous of what the new year might bring — a mindset that I’m hoping to channel into something positive next year.

I know a lot of people scoff at the idea of making New Year’s resolutions, but I actually enjoy making them. I like reflecting on the past year and what I would like to see happen in the next. And as a compulsive list maker, jotting down my goals helps me focus on the things I find important; otherwise, the thoughts just swim around in my head and never come to fruition.

2013 is going to be a big year for us. We’re taking a dream trip to London in February (!), I’m hoping to become a certified yoga instructor, and all the while saving up to buy a house by the end of summer/early fall. It’s all very good things, but it’s going to require a lot of discipline, especially with our budget.

This being a food blog, I thought I’d share my food-related goals for 2013. I may not fulfill all of them, but that’s ok. Sharing them with the public is certainly motivation for following through with each one.

So, in no particular order, below are my 2013 food-related goals:

Eat less refined foods, such as white flour, white rice and pasta. I want to switch out white flour in our baked goods with more wholesome replacements.

Keep fake meat products to a minimum. I look at fake or faux meat products as junk food. We are pretty good about not eating them on a regular basis, but I’d still like to lessen our intake even more and truly focus on 100-percent, plant-based meals.

Stick to a food budget. As I mentioned above, the coming year is going to be an expensive one, which means we have to be stricter with our food budget. While we’re really good about always going to the grocery with a list, we’re not very good about establishing a set amount before we make the list. We can’t be at the mercy of our grocery list. So, expect a lot of food-budget-related posts next year.

Blog more. I know. I say this all the time, but while I have my good moments, I’m bad about staying regular with my posts.

Take better food pictures. My little 10-year-old point-and-shoot camera isn’t cutting it anymore. I’d like to upgrade to an SLR camera, but it may have to wait until we find room in the budget.

I hope that 2012 was a good one for you and that 2013 is even better!