It’s been a year since my vegan week which I posted about here all the way back at the start of December last year. I posted on my one month anniversary, and again at the six month mark, and here I am marking one year since starting this adventure. I’m not going to say it’s been one year of ‘being a vegan’ because that would be a lie, I am by no means 100% plant based in everything I do. I would say in food and drink probably 95%, as I’m yet to commit E numbers or the lists of which alcoholic drinks are vegan friendly to memory. Also, post week one I did return to some vegetarian foods and didn’t feel bad for having done so.
The one week experiment was always intended to be just that, an experiment, but with the more I’ve learnt about the meat and dairy industries, and the more I’ve learnt about cooking and eating out with a plant-based diet, the easier it’s become. Eating a plant-based diet is natural to me now one year on, I can whip up a five-minute meal just as easily as I used to be able to when I had a wider range of ingredients at my disposal, I also enjoy creating a flavourful showstopping meal just as easily. I find myself reading recipes or watching food videos online and automatically making substitutions, ‘veganising’ the meal, which keeps me inspired to experiment. Food is one of my greatest passions in life so I love discovering new places and finding inspiration I can take back into my own kitchen. I never feel like I’m missing out eating a plant-based diet, I simply eat differently to the majority of people. I’m past the point of being sensitive about it, I’ll answer any questions with kindness because I remember a time when I didn’t understand how I could possibly life without cheese (expect the old ‘if you were stranded on a desert island would you eat meat?’, I don’t get out enough to ever get close to a desert island so…). I don’t get offended if someone does offer me non-vegan foods because offering someone food is an act of love; I would get a little offended if someone declined to try food I’d made for them simple because of it’s vegan status for the same reason.
I started my vegan adventure while living in Lancaster, for a small town it does have a handful of great vegan spaces, but since then I’ve moved to Manchester which is a city with an abundance of vegan friendly place which I thought I’d discuss in this post. All the Instagrams of the venues will be listed below so please check them out and support the vegan revolution in Manchester.
I’m going to split my list into places that provide exclusively vegan options (which will be titled in green), vegan/veggie food (purple), and omni food with amazing vegan options (blue). I personally feel likes it’s important to integrate vegan food into omni menus which is why I’ve included those places on my list, and one day I hope seeing the vegan symbol is as commonplace as seeing a vegetarian option everywhere you go.
‘Firebird Hope’ and ‘Pepperoni Playboy’ at ‘YES’
Instagrams: @_firebirdhope_ @pepperoniplayboypizza @yes_mcr
Address: 38 Charles Street, Manchester, M1 7DB
Maybe I’m biased because this is actually where I work, but the reason I applied for the job in the first place was to get my hands on the secret recipe for my favourite vegan burger. Turns out only Dan Hope, the founder of ‘Firebird Hope’, knows the secret spice blend and I’m going to have to plan an elaborate heist to get my hands on it; how good the vegan seitan burger is though is Manchester worst kept secret. ‘YES’ is a brand new four floor music venue in Manchester and I’m lucky enough to help provide the food there. We have handmade seitan burgers which come with slaw, pickles, and amazing vegan mayo, (and free-range chicken burgers if you have any non-vegan friends). If you’re looking for something a little lighter we always have at least two delicious vegan pizza options which are always half price between noon and 7pm everyday.
We also recently got certified by the Living Wage Association which is really fantastic. I personally think it’s important to incorporate supporting ethical businesses into your veganism where ever possible as kindness, and supporting kindness is a big foundation block of my veganism. So maybe I am biased when it comes to this reccomendation, but I really do think I have good reason to be.
Address: 61 Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 2AG
‘Bundobust’ looks unassuming from street level but once you enter into the underground space you are greeted by colourful Indian inspired decor, friendly staff, communal seating, and a bar serving a fantastic range of craft beers and in-house cocktails. The menu is 100% vegetarian, with approximately 2/3 being vegan friendly. I find it really refreshing to find a fully vegetarian restaurant that doesn’t make a big deal out of that fact, there’d be no difficulty convincing a stubborn omni friend to check it out.
The food at ‘Bundobust’ blends traditional Indian flavours with innovative Manchester flair; it is all served fast, in recyclable disposable containers so I recommend ordering a bit more than you want so you have yummy leftover to tuck into once you get home. Go with a few friends and order a bit of everything to share because I honestly couldn’t tell you which dish on the menu is my favourite. Be sure to book in advance because the whole of Manchester seems to know about this perfect combination of Indian street food and craft beer so it’s difficult to get a table at peak times, but then again you can always enjoy some bar snacks and beers while you wait.
The 8th Day
Address: 111 Oxford Road, Manchester, M1 7DU
Since moving away from Lancaster I found myself really missing the traditional vegan breakfast that I could get at ‘The Whaletail Cafe’ so it was really exciting to find ‘The 8th Day’ where the vegan full English rivals those that I loved in Lancaster (the crispy tofu at ‘The 8th Day’ might even edge it into the lead). Aside from their breakfast, they provide hearty and soulful vegan and vegetarian meals that change on a constant basis, reflecting the seasonality of the ingredients, along with freshly made juices and smoothies. The cafe is in the basement of an abundant health foods store where you can get everything you could desire to cook amazing vegan food, I recommend checking out the deli counter if you’re in need of a quick lunch, their pastries are fantastic and the majority are vegan-friendly. Just like ‘Firebird Hope’/’Pepperoni Playboy’ at ‘YES’ ‘The 8th Day’ is also accredited by the Living Wage Foundation and pride themselves on their ethical, environmentally friendly, and sustainable business practices.
V Rev Vegan Diner
Address: 20-26 Edge Street, Manchester, M4 1HN
‘V Rev Vegan Diner’ is a titan of the Manchester vegan food scene so if you’ve done any searching for a vegan spot in Manchester before you’ll definitely have already heard of it. In their colourful and modern space they serve 100% vegan junk food including burgers, fried chicken, loaded fries, hotdogs, milkshakes, mac & cheese, and ice cream sundaes. It’s amazing to go here to look at the menu and feel absolutely spoiled for choice, a pretty unfamiliar feeling since starting my plant based journey. This spot is incredibly popular with vegans and non-vegans alike in Manchester so be sure to book in advance. Also be sure to go light on any other meals that day if you’re planning a trip to ‘V Rev’ as you’ll definitely want loaded fries with everything and you need to leave room for their amazing desserts. Luckily, if you’re anything like me, the servers are very happy to provide you with takeaway containers for the inevitable leftovers when you get too excited and want to order everything on the menu.
This & That
(Instagram photo above is by my good friend and food blogger who you can find at munch-food-journal.co.uk)
Address: 3 Soap Street, Manchester, M4 1EW
Situated in a very unassuming alley, ‘This & That’ is a Manchester institution which has been in the city since 1984, they even recently had a mini-documentary made about them commissioned by the Manchester Museum. They have an incredibly simple premise: rice and three. Essentially you can order rice (or chapati) and any combination from their daily curry selection. Rice and three vegetable curries are available for £4.50, the curries are delicious and will keep you full for ages so it’s ideal if, like me, you work into the evening and want a big lunch to stop grumbly tummies for the rest of the day. If you have the ability to do so try to avoid going between the peak times of 12 and 1pm where the queue of people on their lunch breaks reaches out of the door and you may even struggle to find a seat – this is testament to the popularity of this Manchester icon.
Address: 35 Dale Street, Manchester, M1 2HF
Beatnikz Republic is sort of a bonus entry on this list as they don’t actually serve food, aside from a few snacks, they actually serve craft beer all hand-brewed in Manchester and all 100% vegan. I must confess that beer is probably where I slip up the most when it comes to being plant based, so if you are a stricter vegan than me, or dairy free not by personal choice but due to health reasons, Beatnikz is a great place to go and enjoy a drink. They have knowledgeable staff and a great range of beers, including every style you could desire, the atmosphere is relaxed and it would be an equally enjoyable place to hang out with friends or for a few hours while doing some work.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my vegan journey so far and adventure in my new city. This list was by no means conclusive, there are many other vegan spots in Manchester that I’m yet to check out. Manchester has a vibrant and ever-evolving food scene with new places opening all the time and existing establishments adapting to the vegan revolution. Maybe in just a few months I’ll be back here writing up a list of brand new vegan suggestions in the city.
If you have any favourite vegan spots in Manchester please let me know, equally if you check out any of these spots on my reccomendation that’d would be amazing so let me know!