In 2017, demand for vegan food (according to JustEat) rose by a huge 987%. It is often felt, or told to us by sceptics, that going vegan won’t change anything. Those that are slightly more optimistic would say that every contribution is a drop in the ocean. Well, that is how oceans are made. Amazingly, in 2017, there were that many people willing to do their bit that us vegans flooded the market.
Unlike what many people still believe, I by no means live off raw fruit and nuts; in fact, thanks to the huge increase in demand for vegan food, I’ve made basically no sacrifices in my diet. Literally everything you love as a meat eater can be made vegan, it can be made easily and it can be made cheap. So, whether you’re a lazy vegan like me or a meat eater looking to be persuaded, here’s some tips on the best places to find quick, easy and cheap vegan eats here in Leeds!
For some reason, many eateries still think dry toast is a suitable breakfast for vegans. So, if you’re out and about in Leeds I would prepare breakfast before you go; I have found one saving grace however… Leeds Beckett’s Students’ Union.
The SU bar is open on weekdays, and serves food from 10am until 3pm, meaning when it is open, I’m there! For only £3.10 you can get a vegan breakfast (pictured above), this usually includes mushrooms but I’m a very fussy vegan so I swap them out for an extra hash brown. There are several breakfast and lunch options available for vegans from the Students’ Union for ridiculously cheap prices. Unlike Quorn sausages, which seem to be the go to option, the SU have sourced some vegan sausages that actually provide the taste and texture similar to meat. If you’re a meat eater swapping out your usual breakfast for a vegan one will contribute around 50% less to your carbon footprint and with these sausages you probably won’t even notice the difference.
Unlike breakfast, food suppliers really seem to have harnessed the vegan lunch with Tesco and Boots now providing a variety of vegan options in the meal deal. In the spirit of cutting my carbon emissions, contributing to curbing animal cruelty and keeping up my same junk food diet, one eatery in particular has found a special place in my heart... Pound Bakery.
The Pound Bakery covers all bases – it’s quick, easy and really cheap! Their vegetarian sausage rolls and vegetarian curry rolls are both suitable for vegans (it’s vegan friendly in the Leeds stores, I’d just double check with staff elsewhere in the country). The vegetarian sausage rolls are my go-to buy when I’m in the city centre, and even better, you get 2 for £1. The Pound Bakery is the only place I’ve found to actually master the sausage roll for vegans, and they have become a staple part of my diet. Thanks to the seasoning added to recreate the taste of an actual sausage roll, they’ve somehow produced a product that is tastier than the meat based version. As soon as they are taken out of the oven and put on the shelf, ravenous punters both vegan and meat eaters buy every single one - so it is rare you will find any left near the end of the day. Some stores also let you buy them frozen by the box, which means you don’t even have to go into the city centre to find them. They are (according to my taste buds) ten times nicer than the frozen Linda McCartney ones which most people go for.
The afternoon/ evening options for vegans in Leeds is quite extensive thanks to the rising demand. Some special shout-outs in Leeds City Centre go to The Old Red Bus Station’s Cantina, where everything is vegan so you really can’t go wrong. From their ‘Pulled Pork’ Jackfruit burger, to their full Sunday Lunch, the great chefs here have gone above and beyond to provide the classics for vegan eaters. Another mention also has to go out to Little Tokyo; a Vegan Society approved Japanese restaurant that excels beyond any expectations I had as a vegan. This beautifully cultural restaurant serves both vegan and non-vegan food, but if you want to secretly order for your meat eating friends they won’t even be able to tell the difference. This is the only place I have found vegan ‘duck’ and it is basically the real thing without any of the negatives of eating the real thing. Their vegan chicken and various flavoured tofu steaks also raise the standards of vegan food. The bill can get quite pricey though (an average meal is around £14) but once you taste it I can guarantee you’ll keep ordering until either you burst or your purse is empty.
These two options may be ideal for a treat or celebration meal but there are also lots of options available to satisfy your cravings if you’re looking for something cheap and cheerful.
Firstly, there's Mogador. Situated on Cardigan Road in Hyde Park, Mogador is the perfect place for a sit-down meal, a grab and go option on your way into town, or a takeaway on those lazy evenings. The restaurant offers both vegan and non-vegan Lebanese and Moroccan style food at very affordable prices. My favourite vegan options are the falafel and hummus wrap or the meat free chicken wrap. Both are available for £3.50 and come with chips and salad. Moroccan food is always a great option for vegans as the spices can make the blandest of food taste great. Mogador is my favourite choice in the area, due to their speedy service, low prices and vast selection.
Next, there's Grove Café. Grove Café is also situated on Cardigan Road, Hyde Park, and is just a short walk up the road from Mogador. It provides delivery as well as table service. Grove Café serves two meat eater favourites; cheeseburger and pizza. When I went vegan I was prepared to sacrifice these classic dishes, but now I don’t even have to. For around £4 you can get a vegan cheeseburger and chips, and for around £7 you can get a variety of vegan pizzas. The pizza is slightly more expensive than I would have paid in the past for takeaway pizza but it has the added bonus of being fresh and far less greasy than most takeaways. There are a number of other takeaways and restaurants in Leeds that serve vegan burgers and pizza, but Grove Café is my favourite. The cheese is usually the main issue when scouting out vegan pizza options, several times I’ve bitten into a slice of vegan pizza to find the cheese to be gooey, sticky, bland and just not like cheese at all. Grove Café however, I’ve no idea how, but they’ve found the perfect pizza cheese that will satisfy those cravings without gluing your gums together.
So there you have it, do you (like me) want to eat vegan whilst still enjoying all the unhealthy treats of your current lifestyle? Well thanks to the ever increasing demand, especially around the student area of Leeds, now you can!