Eating out the Vegan Way in Brixton

Photo by Sonny Abesamis

By Stef Oakley

After watching the harrowing documentary ‘Get Vegucated’ (not the comedy we thought it would be), my boyfriend and I both decided to do a month’s vegan challenge.  During my first week as a vegan I felt a real sense of suffering at the loss of daily dairy comfort.  “Where is the cheeeeeeeese?!”, I cried in my sleep; my body contained camembert-shaped holes.  I watched resentfully at a birthday party while everyone tucked into a towering water-slide shaped sponge cake. Worst of all were the impromptu visits to cafes and pubs around Brixton, where I feasted on… errr… hummous and pitta, or chips, or even chips and beans. Or best of all, green salad (with no mayonnaise, thanks).

Cooking vegan food at home seemed the only way to get a decent meal.  We made vegan quiche, pizza, pasta bakes, chocolate cakes, curries, stir-fries, Sunday roasts, burritos, soups, fruit crumbles, and risottos. It was suddenly a healthy, feel-good eating adventure!  The same could not be said of eating out. I continued to find that a frustrating and rather boring experience, so here I am now, having sifted through some of the blank, confused or dismissive faces of Brixton restaurant staff, to tell you where to find a vegan culinary gems.

In Brixton Village, try the buckwheat gallettes at Senzala; they actually have a proper vegan section to their menu. I had my wonderfully crispy gallette stuffed with courgette, butternut squash, tomato chutney, red pepper confit, almonds and parsley. It had a good range of textures, and a nice flavour contrast between the tangy, sharp tomato and pepper and the buttery squash and almonds. Or ask the warm, helpful staff at Elephant for one of their vegan naan breads – they’ll make one especially for you to scoop up the spicy cauliflower or chickpeas from your vegetable thali.  A word of warning: you may need to be quite emphatic about your diet to ensure they understand.

It’s easy at Mama Lan, all the dishes marked ‘vegetarian’ are actually vegan. This is a really popular place with quirky, deep flavours. I especially love the smoky and earthy wood ear mushroom dumplings.  If you fancy Mexican and don’t mind explaining veganism to whoever serves you, Jalisco staff were more than happy to talk me through every ingredient of every dish. Make sure you ask them to leave out cheese and sour cream and you too could enjoy a perfect burrito with mushrooms or black beans, guacamole, rice and salad. There are several other options but again, you need to make it clear you don’t eat eggs or dairy.

For something sweet (other than the divine Ms Cupcake), try Lab-G for homemade, fabulous dairy-free ice creams. They currently have two vegan options: chocolate orange, and Sicilian lemon sorbet.  The chocolate orange is rich and chocolatey and orangey!  And the sorbet is smooth and sherbety. They’re missing a trick by not labelling these flavours as vegan; I had to have quite a conversation with the ice-cream maker before I found out.

Up the hill and away from the trendiest place on earth, the colourful Caribbean restaurant Negril is only slightly less fashionable than the Village, and has plenty of vegan food to choose from thanks to their catering to Rastafarian diets with ital food. There’s a lot to choose from but the pumpkin curry and homemade bean burgers are my favourites. Check with staff which sides you can order – I love the plantain wedges and rice and peas.  This place is rather pricey, but the food is reliably great.

At Pullens (opposite Herne Hill rail station), the affable chef helped me to choose a breakfast of marmite toast with sweet and spicy tomatoes, coriander and chillies, and another toast piled up with creamy avocado, black pepper and lemon.  On another lunchtime visit I had the Poor boy lentil burger with fries and salad, which lacked kick but was comforting and filling. Soya milk was available for my coffee, and they also had a vegan smoothie.

I have learned that even apparently vegan-clueless places can serve you up a vegan feast, as long as you can do a little prodding  – a useful skill for any vegan diner. I think I’m starting to get quite a kick out of all these conversations about food, a perk of dining out the vegan way.

Editor’s note: We love hearing about new places or recommendations for vegan dining in Brixton, so if you have any tips, let us know! We’d love to hear from you.


  1. Thank you for this article. After watching the same documentary my husband and I went vegan. It’s proving OK (unless I pass my favourite Caribbean joints which serve goat curry, then my mouth waters) but after cooking at home (I recommend Deliciously Ella cookbook),we want to start going out again! Hence the hunt for vegan places.We’ll be trying one of them out tonight.

  2. Hi Stef. Love the article! I would have thought more places would cater to non dairy in meals as 15% of the UK are lactose intolerant. But that’s not the main issue I know. I have had the Vegan option at Lab G several times and it’s amazing! You could never tell the difference.

  3. Glorious. You been busy eating my girl. What a dark vegan horse you are. I am salivating. Take me to The Village some day and be my vegan tour guide.

  4. P.S. The Brixton Vegan Walkabout is every 1st Saturday of the month; we meet outside Brixton Tube Station from 12.30 till 12.45, then head into Brixton Station Road for Sabas Ethiopian, Trina’s Delicacies & other options, including Oracle Organic Juice Bar in Brixton Village, etc; & this week, you’ll find Vegan Pop up Asparagasm at Vozars until 13th July.

    From 2pm, we head to Ms Cupcake, via Brixton Village, & at 3ish, we decide on Pub or Park; weather permitting, it’s off to Brockwell park for some of us, or directly to The Dog Star for others! Then we hang out in Brixton till late, either relaxing on the hill in Brockwell Park or in Dog Star, occasionally the Prince Albert & such like! 🙂

    I’m very happy to say the Dog Star now have Vegan Options as standard for their Pizzas, since I arranged it with them for my 1 year of the Walkabout Party in November last year–many people have enjoyed their pizza which features V Bites Mozzarella style & sometimes Deli Toppings, e.g. Vegan Chorizo!

    All the best,
    Jess 🙂

  5. Hi Stef,
    My name’s Jess from London Vegan Meet Up; my friend just shared a link to your article! Great to read!
    Have you heard of The Brixton Vegan Walkabout?? I started it in November 2012 & just hosted the 22nd Walkabout on 5th July!

    Do join us for a future Walkabout; more details, photos & discussions here >> 🙂

    All the best,
    Event Organizer, LVM 🙂

  6. Hi Stef, I too have struggled to find vegan options (I’m not vegan but aspiring to eat as few animal products as my willpower will allow!) so really appreciate you sharing your explorations 🙂 Bon appetit!


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