Here at Leeds Living, our ‘vegetarian and vegan Leeds’ series started in August, to review the growing meat-free and plant-based eating scene in Leeds.
After a couple of entries, I was sidetracked by a vegan food festival, a vegan beer tasting night, and meeting Ben Walker, founder of vegan eateries El Marchador and Wanderer (plus a vegetarian supper club and a brief foray into the world of comics, but those are different stories.
It’s testament to the strength of Leeds’ vegetarian and vegan food offering that there are so many interesting one-offs and occasional events. My to-do list of places to review is growing rather than shrinking (which is fine by me as I am looking forward to them all!)
I should acknowledge here that I am not vegan – I’ve been vegetarian for three decades (with a brief and half-hearted stint as a vegan twenty years ago). But this does not detract from my love of the vegan food on offer here in Leeds. The first two reviews in the series were for places that are not exclusively vegan – relative newcomer Eat Your Greens, much of whose plant-centric food is vegan, and Harehills stalwart Anand Sweets – and it’s perhaps this reflection of the growing presence of vegan options that’s most notable: veganism is much more to the fore these days, far less ‘niche’ than it once was. Indeed, some links in this article are to reviews that reference meat but where the featured eatery also does good vegan food.
Some cuisines lend themselves well to veganism: think Middle Eastern classics hummus and falafels (minus the ubiquitous yoghurt sauce), sometimes sold alongside North African food; or the vegetarian options of Japanese food (such as that of Little Tokyo). But equally, vegan versions of traditionally non-vegan dishes are available. As examples, there’s the aforementioned El Marchador and Wanderer; Knaves Kitchen’s upcoming vegan Christmas menu; and vegan bakery That Old Chestnut are cropping up more and more as cake suppliers to non-vegan establishments.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, vegetarian restaurants can be relied upon to offer vegan options, and it would be remiss not to acknowledge Leeds’ vegetarian trailblazers such as Hansa’s, Roots and Fruits, and (slightly further afield) Prashad’s.
Feature image from Knaves Kitchen. Photograph by Georgina Harrison