10 local places to eat vegetarian
It's National Vegetarian Week (16-22 May) so we've rounded up the local restaurants and cafés that really deliver on colourful and flavour-packed veggie food that could convert even the most devoted meat eater.
Whether you’re a committed veggie or just keen to cut down your meat intake there are plenty of plant-based restaurants and cafés across Herts & Beds to try it. More and more foodie establishments are putting animal welfare and the environment at the top of the agenda, but that doesn’t mean eating rabbit food – these days there are some really creative and delicious options around. But don’t take our word for it. Try these brilliant local finds.
Veggie Crush, Bedford
Newly opened this year, this takeaway and catering co is run by a bona fide veggie and vegan nutritionist, so you can be sure that everything you order is packed with good stuff. It goes big on salads, smoothies and soups and specialises in health boosting juices.
Lussmanns, Hertford, St Albans, Harpenden, Hitchin and Berkhamsted
While it’s known for its fish dishes (pescies, this one’s for you!), this local restaurant group’s calling card is sustainability. In fact, founder, Andrei Lussmann is a pioneer of sustainable dining, championing local, organic produce and high-welfare farming as well as running his restaurants on green energy and recycling 100% of their waste. It’s no surprise that they have won awards for it. So if you do opt for the Pescetarian option you can do so safe in the knowledge that you’ll be eating only MSC-certified fish. Oh and there’s at least one veggie option on every menu, like cauliflower fritters, Melanzane Parmigiana and tasty salads.
Thompson, St Albans
There’s no need for veggies to miss out on the fine dining experience at this 3 AA Rosette restaurant, where Head Chef Phil Thompson has created both veggie and a completely plant-based tasting menu (for vegans), alongside his regular menu. All dishes are created with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients from Phil’s black book of trusted suppliers. There are five and a seven course options (starting at £59 per head) with paired wines available, and intriguing dishes like salt-baked Tokyo turnip with lovage emulsion, and a savoury walnut panna cotta.
Vutie Beets, Letchworth Garden City
Founders of Vutie Beets, Paul and Harry, are dedicated to showcasing plant-based food and creating a more sustainable community. The fully vegan menu is small but perfectly formed. Pop in for breakfast or brunch and try the Spanish Scramble with crispy tempeh ‘chorizo’ on toasted sourdough or, for lunch, plump for the Black Bean Frijoles Nachos with coconut yogurt and cashew cheeze sauce.
Based at the Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living, this wholefood café is all about fresh, nutritionally balanced fare. Everything on the menu is veggie with a wide range of vegan options too (many being free-from things like gluten, refined sugars and dairy). Plus it works with the horticultural therapy charity, Growing People, which provides crops of herbs and vegetables to the café, with a ‘plot to plate’ ethos – certainly saves on the air miles! You’ll find breakfast, brunch and lunch options with dishes like Spinach Pancakes with Lime and Chilli Butter, and Nut and Hempseed Burger with Homemade Guac and Caramelised Onions in a vegan brioche bun.
Albero Lounge, Bedford, Cassio Lounge, Watford, Cultivo Lounge, Letchworth, Rosso Lounge, Biggleswade
This group of ‘lounges’ makes a real point of catering for all dietary requirements, with a particularly impressive vegetarian menu. Albero Lounge is housed in an old school building on the banks of the river Great Ouse, while the red-tiled Rosso Lounge is just off Biggleswade’s Market Square. These quirky and laid-back café bars have not a measly one or two, but myriad plant-based options to take you through the whole day, from ‘bacon’ butties to burgers and hearty salad bowls.
Veg Heads, Hertford and Bishop’s Stortford
The veritable antithesis of rabbit food, this place claims to offer the best plant-based junk food in the hood! Did you know there was such a thing?! They’re a pop-up and takeaway joint based at the Saracen’s Head pub in Hertford. Burgers are, erm… colourful (there’s an electric blue one!) and playfully named – fancy a ‘No Harm in a Chikk’n Parm’, a ‘Big Fat American Brunchin’ or how about a ‘V-bab’ (geddit?)? Plus kiddos are catered for too. Naughty but nutritious!
Chia Naturally Healthy, Hitchin
Describing itself as a ‘café with a conscience’, Chia Naturally Healthy advocates the benefits of a plant-based way of life on both your own health and the environement. Using natural, seasonal and organic ingredients, dishes are free from many allergens but full of flavour. The nourishing bowls and wholesome brunch options can be washed down with a superfood smoothie, ‘mylkshake’, or immune-boosting shot – just what we all need right now!
The Vardo, Bedford
This plant-based café specialises in cakes and vegan cheese – proof that eating healthily and environmentally consciously can be indulgent! In face they host popular cheese and wine nights, with delicious platters on offer, plus you’ll also find veg versions of brunch favourites, a salad bar and colourful bowl food.
The Greengage Tree, Luton
Pro chefs Frederick and Sarah set up this Luton outpost to combat their frustrations with waste in the food industry. Going meat-free was the obvious choice for them so they went about creating an affordable meat-like plant-based burger… now they’ve gained a rep for serving the best vegan cheesburgers around – go check ’em out and let us know what you think! They’re also available for takeaway delivery or collection. While burgers are clearly their thing, you’ll also find a decent brunch offering from ‘chicken’ waffles to scrambled tofu baps. Oh and all their packaging is biodegradble too – naturally!
Have we missed any? Let us know in the comments below.