Vegan in the United Kingdom- your Travel Guide!

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Thinking about traveling to the UK and wondering how vegan-friendly the country is? At Vegan Unlocked, we’ve got the answers for you. The United Kingdom is a vegan haven for plant-based food, but the cuisine is just part of the attraction.

The United Kingdom is a country of contrast and a patchwork of cultures, with a rich history, famous for its heritage sites, historical landmarks, literature, and rain – lots of it. Including England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, the UK offers gorgeous landscapes, breathtaking mountain ranges, quaint seaside towns, and large metropolitan cities. It is a place that really has a little bit of everything, despite its small size. 

Outside of the UK, it is well known for its love of tea, manners, wry humor, and pub-going. Some of these stereotypes are truer than others, and it sure is a country that loves tea, with 84% of the population drinking at least a mug of the stuff every day – often accompanied by a biccy (a biscuit). Likewise, it’s important to note that while the UK is undoubtedly very London-centric, there is so much more to the UK than just the capital to enjoy.

So, what is the UK like for vegan visitors?

In 2022, the United Kingdom was highlighted as being one of the most popular countries in the world to be vegan, with Brighton taking the top spot as ‘Vegan Capital of the World.’ Following not far behind on the list is London (naturally), Glasgow, and Bristol. It’s really no surprise that the UK is becoming a vegan hub, either, considering that a third of those in the UK are now reportedly interested in going vegan. So in short, being vegan in the United Kingdom is a whole lot easier than you might have thought!

The UK also recently achieved a huge (yet somewhat underreported) milestone in animal welfare with the passing of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act. This piece of legislation recognized animals as sentient beings for the first time; crucially, this also includes vertebrates, decapod crustaceans, and cephalopod mollusks.

There is no doubt that the country is increasingly more open to the vegan way of life, and having grown up and lived in the UK for the entire duration of my life, I have witnessed this evolution. Things have especially ramped up in the last few years, too. When it comes to dining out, a multitude of independent cafes and restaurants across the country offer a stunning selection of vegan options across all different cuisines. Likewise, when cooking at home, UK supermarkets are improving each year with the options they offer; Aldi, in particular, has been repeatedly highlighted for its vegan selection. A personal favorite of mine on Aldi’s shelves are the Plant Menu Ultimate No Beef Burgers, which, I would argue, are the most affordable and delicious plant-based patties on the market right now. 

That said, it’s also true that the Vegan Society recently highlighted that vegans are increasingly being faced with a “vegan premium,” when buying alternatives. Likewise, not everywhere in the UK is particularly receptive to vegan living. Bradford, for example, located in West Yorkshire, was found to be the least vegan-friendly place to live in the UK. However, change could be on the horizon there, too, with the city targeted with ‘go vegan’ ads by animal welfare charity, Peta, encouraging more mindful, plant-based living. Additionally, if you’re traveling to a remote countryside village, it’ll be best to pack some vegan snacks, just in case the local grub is not vegan-friendly!

Interestingly, UK chains are also taking the lead with vegan offerings, too. Unlike in the US, for example, where vegan fast food options are still quite limited, the likes of Mcdonald’s, KFC, and Burger King all offer a delicious and impressive array of vegan treats. Let’s not forget the infamous Greggs vegan sausage roll, either. That said, there are also a wide array of independent vegan fast food restaurants to choose from and it’s always better to support smaller businesses, for example: 

Known for seaside fish and chips, Scottish haggis, fry-ups and the UK’s national dish, chicken tikka masala, you may think that plant-based options might only be found off the beaten track. But you’d be wrong! There’s so much exciting plant-based food innovation happening across the country. 

Vegan Food in the UK

The UK is home to a diverse range of cuisines, reflective of its wonderfully diverse and multicultural society. Below, we’ve walked through some of the top dishes commonly associated with the UK and their veganized versions. 

Vegan fry up

The fry-up, otherwise known as a full English, is pretty ancient, dating back all the way to the 13th century. While back in the day it was served up to the landed gentry, these days, you’ll find it in every greasy spoon. In its traditional form, it often consists of bacon, fried egg, sausage, mushrooms, baked beans, toast, and grilled tomatoes, but the vegan fry-up is undoubtedly on the rise, too. Often it includes scrambled tofu, tempeh bacon, seitan sausages, beans, fried potatoes, and roast tomatoes. It’ll sort you out after a heavy night, or get you ready for a big day.

F*sh and chips

Fish and chips aren’t just reserved for the seaside. With 11,000 fish and chip shops across the UK, you’re never far from a local chippy. Luckily, being vegan no longer means you can’t enjoy this English favorite. Wagamama recently launched the first high street fish and chips, while vegan Activist Earthling Ed opened a vegan fish and chip shop in the UK. It’s also a staple in many vegan cafes across the UK. Most recently, I enjoyed vegan f*sh and chips at Thrive Cambridge. 

Pie and mash

The traditional East End dish of pie, mash, and liquor can be traced back over 150 years. Way back when the pies in question were filled with eels from the Thames river. It’s gone through many iterations since then, but mostly features mash, beef-filled pie, and a parsley green sauce. Thankfully, vegan pie and mash is not in short supply across the UK, and can be enjoyed at a number of venues, including at London’s first vegan pub, The Spread Eagle, in Homerton; also try The Young Vegans at Camden Market, who sell traditional pies and also some rather marvelous concoctions, including mac & cheeze filled-pies, cheezeburger pies, and the ‘Sloppy Joe Vegan Pie.’ 

Traditional roast

The traditional roast is synonymous with the UK; a staple across many a dining table on a Sunday, and found in every carvery UK-wide. The roast came to prominence during the reign of King Henry VII in 1485 and typically includes a joint of meat (often roast beef) served with crispy roast potatoes (also known as roasties), carrots, peas, parsnips and Yorkshire pudding, and doused in gravy. Vegan roasts are a thing of beauty, too, and as of late, they’ve been cropping up everywhere. The Barn, a pub in the village of Willey, Warwickshire, even recently became the first vegan carvery in the UK. Vegan roasts typically feature either a seitan joint, nut roast, or mushroom wellington with all the trimmings. 

Cream tea

This famous English offering has its roots in the South West, and typically features tea taken with scones, clotted cream and jam, although there are infinite variations depending on where you take your tea. You’ll also often find finger sandwiches, a Victoria sponge cake, and other sweet treats. Luckily, increasingly, there is a multitude of vegan ‘creem’ teas out there, so can even get involved in the infamous Devonian/Cornish debate: does the cream or jam go first on a scone?

Unpacking UK food names, common phrases, and customs

The UK is full of idiosyncrasies and unusual customs that might come as a little bit of a culture shock when you arrive. Below, we unpack some of them.

Food names 

There are lots of food names across the UK that are a bit of a head-scratcher and often have very little to do with the ingredients you find on your plate. Below we’ve unpacked some of the most commonly confused dishes.

Welsh Rarebit – At first glance, you may think that this dish contains rabbit. Well, rest assured, there’s no trace of it here. Order up a plate of Welsh Rarebit, and you’ll get slices of toast covered in a grilled cheese-based sauce, typically made from cheese, flour, beer and, often, egg. However, Welsh Rarebit can be easily veganized, and I’ve tried various plant-based versions over the years that are to die for.

Yorkshire Pudding – Hailing from Yorkshire, this ‘pudding’ is not sweet but savory and commonly accompanies a roast. To make this baked pudding, you traditionally make a batter of eggs, flour, and milk, or water. Yorkshire puds also often contain drippings from beef or pork fat – we know, not very vegan. However, Yorkshire puddings can be made vegan by subbing out the eggs, milk and dripping for plant-based milk and vegetable oil – and they’re delicious!

Black pudding – This English delicacy is, again, not a pudding but a sausage – a blood sausage, flavored with onions, herbs and spices and bound with oatmeal or barley. White pudding is similar and made up of oatmeal, onion and beef suet. Again, this is a bit of a vegan nightmare. Yet, in keeping with the innovation the UK food scene is known for, there’s even a vegan-friendly black pudding on the market, a creation of the Bury Black Pudding Company.

Regional dialects 

While the UK is incredibly multicultural and diverse, you’ll also find different accents and dialects depending on the region you’re visiting. In fact, in total, there are almost 40 different dialects. This includes: 

  • Scouse in Liverpool,
  • Geordie in Newcastle,
  • Brummie in Birmingham,
  • Broad Yorkshire or Tyke in Yorkshire (if you hear ‘ey up duck’, you’re being greeted and ‘duck’ is a term of endearment).

Customs and etiquette 

When it comes to customs and etiquette in the UK, there are quite a few unspoken rules that most people follow:

  • Watch your Ps and Qs: The UK loves good manners, with an emphasis on ‘please’ and ‘thank yous.’ The UK is also renowned for having a culture where people apologize – a lot, so be prepared to hear lots of ‘Sorries!” Those in the UK also love a bit of small talk, so get ready to whip out your weather facts. 
  • Sarcasm reigns supreme: British humor is endlessly self-deprecating, banter-based, and heavy on the deadpan. It’ll take a little while to get used to, but you’ll soon be in the swing of things. 
  • Respect the queue: It may be a stereotype but it’s true, people in the UK love a queue, to the extent that if you jump the queue, you’re going to see a lot of head shaking and hear a lot of tutting. That said, that’ll probably be the worst of it, because we’re also famous for avoiding confrontation – domestically, at least. 

Annual events to keep an eye out for

Across the UK, there are tons of weird and wonderful annual events for you to take part in, depending on the time of year you visit. Some you’ll have heard of, while others may not make a whole lot of sense unless you’ve grown up in the country.

Burns night in Scotland

Across Scotland and beyond, on January 25, Burns night is celebrated. The day marks the birth of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, and communities gather to recite poems and songs and make tributes to the great bard. You might hear a bagpipe session and get into the groove with a ceilidh dance. The traditional meal to eat on Burns night is haggis with neeps and tatties, finished off with lots of whisky. However, these can be enjoyed plant-based too; Macsween, in particular, offers an award-winning haggis, and nearly all whiskeys are vegan. Discretionary note: Be sure to check if yours includes honey. 

‘Remember, remember’: Guy Fawkes Night 

“Remember, remember, the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot! I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.” November 5 is Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night. This celebration, of sorts, is a bit like July 4 in the US, but it commemorates the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Up and down the country, you’ll hear fireworks and see blazing bonfires, and, rather bizarrely, homemade effigies of Guy Fawkes burnt on bonfires. 

Notting Hill Carnival

If you’re in London (or even nearby) toward the end of August, you simply have to go to Notting Hill Carnival. The iconic annual Caribbean festival is London’s biggest street party, and often sees up to two million people attend. Full of Caribbean colors, music and flavors, it’s a celebration of cultural diversity and shows the strength and power of community. Likewise, with hundreds of food stalls to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to plant-based goodies. 

Brighton Pride

Brighton Pride is another iconic event, and the most popular pride celebration in the UK. Brighton itself is known for being incredibly diverse, inclusive, and vibrant, with a large LGBTQIA+ population, dubbed the ‘unofficial gay capital of Britain.’ The city’s pride event, also held in August, is art-and-culture-packed and has seen performances from some of the biggest acts in the world, including Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue, Christina Aguilera, Dua Lipa, Grace Jones and many, many more. Likewise, be sure to check out the cabaret shows, drag events, and dance parties. 

Edinburgh Fringe 

The Edinburgh Fringe is the largest arts and media festival in the world, with over two million flocking to Scotland each year across three weeks. It features an explosion of creative energy, performances, music and food from around the globe. While some of the events require tickets, there are hundreds of free shows, too, meaning you’re bound to catch something brilliant on your visit to Edinburgh. 

St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

There’s no better place to be for St. Patrick’s day than in Ireland. Marking the day of the Irish patron saint’s death, traditionally, Irish families would get together to dance, drink, and feast during the holiday. The modern iteration of the holiday that we know today, actually derives from Irish-born settlers in the United States. However, gradually over the years, the American and Irish celebrations have merged, and a five-day festival is held in Dublin each year. So, don a shamrock and get yourself a pint of Guinness. 

The UK’s Best Destinations

There are so many wonderful places to visit in the UK, that it’s hard to narrow down the best. However, below, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite destinations that you should check out if you get the chance. 


The capital city of Wales, Cardiff, is a cultural hub and is considered one of the best foodie cities in the UK. Absolutely chock-full of historical landmarks, castles, galleries, restaurants, sporting events and music venues, Cardiff has a bit of everything. National Museum Cardiff is a must, known for its world-class art and natural history, with one of the finest art collections in Europe, and the largest collection of Impressionist paintings outside of Paris. When it comes to plant-based eats, there is so much to enjoy, but make sure to visit the Vegetarian Food Studio, and Luna’s Vegan Corner. 


Cromer is a little seaside town located in East Anglia and dubbed the Gem of the Norfolk Coast, and it truly is. Famous for its pier, stunning views, quaint cafes, and sandy beaches, whether you’re in the mood for some surfing, or fancy hitting the arcades, Cromer is the perfect place for a traditional seaside getaway. Cromer also has a wonderful array of beach-view holiday lets and a great selection of cliff-side caravans, depending on what you fancy. You won’t be hard-pressed to find vegan eats, either; Huckleberries offers some wonderful vegan cakes, milkshakes and sundaes, while at Bann Thai Restaurant, you can enjoy gorgeous, flavorful curries. Make sure to check out Harbords Artisan Vintage Emporium while in Cromer too. Located in the Old Town Hall, it’s an absolute treasure trove of vintage clothes, weird and wonderful trinkets and art.

Brecon Beacons

Brecon Beacons is one of Wales’ three national parks and truly a national treasure, perfect for anyone with a love for the great outdoors. Explore the trails around the Black Mountains, and take in the breathtaking views, or transport yourself through time at Llanthony Priory in the Vale of Ewyas. Likewise, Llangors Lake is perfect and picturesque in the summer months. You can enjoy the taste of Thai at Chang Thai, or grab a Vegan BLT at Cat Soup Kitchen, and it’s always a wise idea to pack some sandwiches and snacks for your hike.


Southwold is another quintessential English resort town, with a sandy coastline, gorgeous architecture, and an award-winning pier; it’s a charming little town, with so much to offer. It’s also home to the annual Southwold Sausage Dog Walk, which raises money for charity Dedicated to Dachshunds! Before you go, be sure to check out the Under the Pier Show, the most eclectic, bizarre arcade you’ll probably ever visit. 

Traveling ethically, responsibly and sustainably

When traveling in the UK, there are a few tips to bear in mind to ensure that you’re traveling in a responsible manner. 

Leave a light footprint

When traveling, while this typically goes without saying, make sure to respect your surroundings and leave no trace behind. Stay on designated trails, so you don’t contribute to erosion, don’t pick flowers, plants, or collect pebbles and seashells, and skip the tourist traps.

Be mindful of your transport choices

When it comes to travel, planning ahead will be your friend. Look into the feasibility of bike rental, and check out local transport links, for trains, buses and trams. 

Buy local, wherever possible

The UK is a hub for independent businesses, and since Covid hit, many have felt the financial strain, so it’s never been more important to support local businesses, whether you’re buying souvenirs, produce, or lunch. 

Be fire conscious when camping

While camping, you may not think twice about lighting a fire, or putting it out, but this can be damaging to the local environment and wildlife. Make sure that it’s never unattended and fully extinguish the flames when you’re done. 

The UK truly is a wonderful and diverse place to visit, whether you’re there for a short stay or taking on a UK-wide tour. Remember to have fun, try new things, chat with locals, and be respectful.

Madaline Dunn

Madaline is a vegan journalist, writer, and editor specializing in sustainability, current affairs, and social justice and the ways in which they intersect. Her work focuses on innovation and progress, prioritizing rigorous investigation. When she’s not writing, she’s in the kitchen experimenting with new plant-based recipes, reading a good book, or thinking about her next cup of coffee.

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