Think vegan, think hemp? Think ripe smells, white dreads, dingy cafés and more lentils than a body can stomach? Nah. In London in 2017, vegan is the new punk. A new wave of hip vegan restaurants is attracting those who want to take control of what they consume, and the most famous vegan in town isn’t Morrissey but Jme: Tottenham MC, brother of Skepta and writer of the unimprovable lyric: ‘If you don’t like G-R-I-M-E/Then you’ve got no taste, like vegan cheese’.
It’s not just our trend-friendly city: by some measures, veganism is the UK’s fastest-growing lifestyle choice. Veganuary is a charity and annual campaign aimed at getting non-vegans to give up animal products for a month. Just over 3,000 people took part in the first Veganuary in 2014. By last year that number had grown to 23,000 – and that’s only the official sign-ups. The ‘How Many Vegans?’ survey conducted last May by the Vegan Society found that there are about 542,000 dietary vegans in the UK, of which around 120,000 – a disproportionately high 22 percent – live in the capital.
‘London is becoming a leading European city for veganism,’ says Damien Clarkson, half of the couple behind the Vevolution vegan lifestyle festival, which started in Bethnal Green last autumn.
‘It is a very exciting time to be vegan and living in London,’ agrees co-founder Judy Nadel. ‘There are so many amazing vegan restaurants, groups, and events that people can get involved in.’