The city of Canterbury is found in the so-called garden of England, in Kent, and has stolen the crown as one of the most vibrant cities in the UK many times. Famed for its rich literary history, medieval architecture, and cathedral, it’s also home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the oldest church in the English-speaking world.
Aside from this, being home to four universities means that the city also has a very youthful vibe, and there are a plethora of fantastic eateries, bars and pubs to choose from. When it comes to sustainability and veganism, the city also has some great projects and initiatives that spread the message of plant power, climate action and kindness to the planet. This includes the Abbot’s Mill Project, a vegan project which is developing a center for sustainability and social justice and the Animal Aid-run vegan fair that runs on the third of every Sunday at St. Peter’s Anglican Church on the High Street.
With such a bustling, green-focused community, it’s no wonder that Canterbury offers some absolute knock-out vegan options. And, while there are few exclusively vegan eateries, you certainly won’t be hard-pressed to find something you love, whatever you’re in the mood for.
Here’s our take on the best vegan eats in Canterbury!
Canterbury has a rich, diverse food scene, and despite being a rather small city, it’s brimming with plant-based options for you to enjoy.
Veg Box Café
Cuisine: Healthy, Organic, Western
Veg Box Café is one of the only exclusively vegan eateries in Canterbury – is it so good that it’s cornered the market? Quite possibly! Using only seasonal and local organic vegetables to create its fabulous array of offerings, it has everything from Buddha bowls and cakes to curries and stews.
This little gem has something for every flight of fancy and serves up simple, wholesome food seven days a week at affordable prices. With a relaxed, laid-back vibe, you’ll feel welcome as soon as you enter the cafe.
The Lady Luck
Cuisine: Western, Casual
The Lady Luck, found on the cobbled streets of Canterbury, is not just a restaurant but a bar, and music venue, too. The greats from rock ‘n roll, punk and rock line the walls, and a retro-style jukebox plays your favorite bands. Often hosting local bands and DJ sets, once you’ve finished your grub, be sure to check out the live music.
When it comes to vegan food options, The Lady Luck really delivers, too, with dishes such as its nice and spicy vegan jambalaya, smokey chilli, and vegan pollo pesto. It also has a rather superb selection of vegan burgers. One of our favorites includes the Captain; a vegan chicken burger with roasted red peppers and homemade onion rings slathered in house rum BBQ sauce.
Likewise, although many restaurants that don’t exclusively cater to vegans often fall off when it comes to the dessert menu, The Lady Luck pulls out all the stops. Its entirely vegan dessert menu features a divine zesty lemon tart, its honeycomb sundae (winner of the PETA vegan ‘Sweet Treats’ 2017 Award), and many more.
The Refectory Kitchen
Cuisine: British, Cafe
The Refectory Kitchen is a down-to-earth community hub that’s been a staple on the Canterbury scene for years. Much beloved, this cafe offers up much more than just your bog-standard beyond burgers and scrambled tofu (although they do feature and are delicious).
All about delivering locally sourced and homemade food, The Refectory Kitchen, run by brothers Dan and Graham Grimwood, offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere with a fun vibe and some seriously kick a** coffees.
Some highlights include the luxurious cherry, pistachio, and chocolate sauce pancakes, its homemade beans and its fantastic selection of vegan cakes.
The Cook’s Tale Restaurant (formerly the Ambrette Canterbury)
Cuisine: Indian, Contemporary
The Cook’s Tale Restaurant was, until recently, known as the Ambrette, and while the name may have changed, its commitment to innovation and quality has not. A little off the beaten track, you’ll find this fine dining eatery a short walk from the center of town on Beer Cart Lane.
Its new name takes inspiration from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and has a renewed focus on local roots, pursuing what it calls a “hyper local culinary journey,” meaning that all its ingredients are sourced within 30 minutes of the restaurant. With a wide variety of vegan menu options, you’ll be transported to “modern Mumbai,” with dishes that have an inventive twist on classics. The vegan thali, for example, is perfectly spiced and features a delicious selection of aubergine mash, south Indian roast potatoes, lentils, spinach, seasonal vegetables, biryani rice, and more!
Cuisine: Burgers, American
Notorious BRG is the perfect place if you’re in the mood for a big, tasty burger you can sink your teeth into. 95% of the menu can be made vegan, and this even includes its milkshakes, which are available in: chocolate, vanilla, and Oreo cookies.
The burgers, however, are the main attraction, and there’s certainly no need to worry about just being faced with a measly vegan patty with some limp lettuce thrown in for greenery. When a menu features combos like the Vegan MacDaddy, a burger spilling out with vegan homemade mac ‘n cheeze, vegan mature cheddar, smokey BBQ sauce, lettuce & tomato on a vegan Beyond patty, you know that you’re in for a treat.
Mr Falafel, Canterbury
Cuisine: Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Takeaway
If you’re looking for some satisfying lunchtime scran, Mr Falafel is the place for you. Classed as one of the best vegan-friendly offerings in the city, you’ll find this Middle Eastern spot on George’s Street, in its bright-red hut. As a little street food van, it doesn’t have an extensive offering, but what it has, it’s perfected. Rivaling Cambridge’s equally outstanding King of Wraps (see our top Cambridge vegan picks here), you can enjoy Mr Falafel’s expertly prepared falafel in either a toasted wrap, or with salad.
Digging into this establishment’s falafel, you’ll find a satisfyingly crunchy exterior, leading to a fluffy, well-spiced and flavorful interior. Drizzled with the house tahini sauce and accompanied by your choice of salad, this vegan-friendly offering is a no-fuss delight.
While not exclusively vegan, Happy Samurai on Butchery Lane is wonderfully accommodating, and almost all its mains can be veganized upon request. And, don’t worry, you won’t hear any agitated sighs or resentful muttering from the staff; they’re on hand to help, and more than happy to create plant-based ramen you can slurp away at. Speaking of the ramen, it’s heavenly, so be sure to order up a bowl, whether the Shio, or Tantan. Similarly, the sushi is one not to be missed.
Using family recipes from five generations, the restaurant has a strictly authentic approach to Japanese cooking, creating bold flavors with fresh ingredients.
If you’ve got a hankering for pizza, be sure to check out Chapter. With great views, tasty pizzas, gorgeous cocktails and friendly staff, this little pizzeria, complete with a wood-fired oven, is the one. Plus, it has some of the best vegan cheese in the city, meaning you don’t have to compromise when it comes to choosing pizza toppings.
Some notable mentions include the Giardiniera that comes with mushrooms, artichoke, wild broccoli, mouthwatering vegan mozzarella, olives, and basil and the veganized Zucca.
If you’re feeling a little cheeky, why not go for a bottomless brunch, and treat yourself to some unlimited bellinis or a little bit of bubbly?
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.