East London has gained a strong reputation as one of the capital’s leading food and drink destinations in recent years, ahead of the curve when it comes to coffee culture, night markets and cocktail bars to name just a few. It’s also home to an increasing number of excellent vegetarian and vegan eateries, several of them just a few minutes’ walk from The East London Hotel in Bethnal Green. So whether you’re a lifelong veggie or an omnivore looking to experience this exciting food scene for the first time, we’ve got you covered.
The Hive Wellbeing specialises in vegetarian and vegan food with international influences at its light and airy premises on Vyner Street, one of Bethnal Green’s hippest art hubs. The toasted tempeh sandwich packs a punch, pairing the Indonesian soy delicacy with flavoursome sauerkraut, mushrooms and sundried tomato pesto. For afters, the lemon and coconut cheesecake is so creamy that you’d never guess it’s dairy free.
St. Margaret’s House is something of a Bethnal Green institution – cultural centre, yoga studio, workspace, gallery and more – and The Gallery Café has been flying the flag for nutritious, reasonably priced vegan food for well over a decade now. The breakfasts are legendary, with all your favourites on offer, from a full English to American-style pancakes. The café closes at 7pm most nights but serves late during the fun film and music events, plus the monthly art exhibition opening (first Thursdays).
For something a little rougher round the edges, head to Just Fab, a converted double decker bus on Hackney Road where Sicilian mother/son team Myra and Fabio offer a vegan twist on typical Sicilian street food. We love the raw ‘spaghetti’ – made from vegetables and served with your choice of condiments – or for something a little less saintly, the panelle (fritters) are an irresistible fast food treat, especially good with a dash of rosemary. There’s a party atmosphere in the yard where the bus is parked, particularly late in the evening – food is served until 10pm and there are occasional film screenings.