This month, an incredible 300,000 people around the world are expected to pledge themselves to a plant-based January – making #Veganuary one of the biggest moments in the food calendar for 2019.
After all, with 12% of the UK population now vegetarian or vegan and research suggesting that avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest contribution you can make to reduce your impact on the environment, it makes senses to give it a whirl. (Plus, it'll helpfully up your fruit and veg intake.)
So, whether you’re in for the long haul, just for January, or fancy a bit of a healthy change following an indulgent festive season, here are the unmissable #Veganuary menus at Paddington Central.
Lords of Poké
Lords of Poke are starting 2019 with a fresh new creation from the kitchen, The Veganuary Bowl: delicious sumac chickpeas with cumin-roast cauliflower, sweet pickled beets, sesame carrot and lemon-shaved fennel. While you're there, grab a JARR kombucha (in original, ginger or passion fruit flavour) for half price.
Darcie & May Green
You can always be sure of some seriously innovative and tempting veggie and vegan dishes at Darcie & May Green (including ingenious breakfasts – swap out eggs for scrambled tofu) but the current lunchtime menu highlight is the fire-roasted aubergine, crispy rice, roasted root vegetables, seasonal greens, kale, miso, tahini and coconut. While you’re there, grab a slice of their vegan chocolate cake (that's kind of good for you) to take away – that'll see you through the 3pm slump.
Head to HUCKSTER to discover Wonton Willy (yes, really) and their amazing wonton soup. The vegan broth is made fresh every day and you can add vegan noodles for just 75p. For an added treat, try the delicious vegan gyoza – filled with shitake mushroom, fresh coriander, broccoli and tofu – which come served on top of a fresh salad dressed in sesame oil and soy sauce.
Zizzi don’t just have the odd token dish, they take their vegan menu seriously. The vegan Rustica Zucca pizza ticks all the right boxes and comes topped with tomato, butternut squash, caramelised onions, spinach and a dairy-free mozzarella alternative made with coconut oil. There are also plenty of vegan pasta options, salads, side dishes and a magnificent sticky dairy-free chocolate and praline torte served with coconut and chocolate ripple gelato. Yum.
An incredible 40% of Itsu's range – across sushi, salads, hot food, desserts and drinks – is now vegan. And there's more to come. From Friday 4 January, you'll find two brand new dishes: Winter Wonton & Greens soup (two steamed vegetable gyoza, fibre-rich brown rice, seasonal greens and kombu seaweed in miso soup) and the Losing Your Veganity bento box (beechwood-smoked protein-rich organic tofu steak, pickled red cabbage, red ginger, steamed broccoli, teriyaki sauce and optional sesame dressing) to add to the menu. They also have a helpful vegan filter on their website so you can plan your lunch well in advance.
Coco di Mama
Coco di Mama are embracing Veganuary with some clever vegan takes on Italian classics. Kickstart your day with some EspressOats (oats, double espresso, oat milk and coconut yoghurt topped with toasted coconut chips and pomegranate seeds); pop back at lunchtime to try the jackfruit puttanesca or vegan lentil lasagne (rich lentil ragu, vegan béchamel and vegan cheese). Or, if you’re in the mood for a something lighter, feast your eyes upon the Jack in the Box salad (jackfruit pestorissa mixed with beetroot and bean pesto, balsamic roasted cauliflower, green peas, radish and omega seeds) or classic Italian caprese and panzanella salad (with avocado for extra flavour and omega seed for added crunch). Delizioso.
Pret loves a bit of vegetarian food – to the extent that there are now four entirely veggie Prets in the UK – and you’ll find an inspired selection of vegan options too. The menu changes frequently but keep an eye out for the Chakalaka wrap (spicy chakalaka beans with red pepper, roasted butternut squash and baby leaf spinach, topped with a dollop of non-dairy coconut yoghurt alternative) at lunchtimes and the acai and almond butter bowl is a breakfast delight.