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Borough Market for vegans

London's Borough Market is where those locals and tourists overly interested in their stomachs and overly careless about the fullness of their wallets go to stock up on foodie goodies.

It's not a million miles away from where I work, so I thought I'd put on my best vegan explorer hat and check out the animal free options.

First up and worth a mention is Turnips. It's a a huge - and I mean huge paint-an-H-there-and-you-could-land-a-helicopter huge - greengrocers, rammed to the gunnels with fruit and veg you'll be familiar with, and some you might not be. Galangal? Bull's heart tomatoes? Salisfy? Check. Feeling flush? Go the mushroom section and try not to wince when you see how much a handful or two will set you back.

Another honorable mention goes to The Turkish Deli, for their Turkish delight and - yes, you've guessed it - Turkish coffee. They make no bones about the vegan-ness of most of their Turkish delight (a couple of flavours have honey in, but most don't), and proudly announce it's gelatine-free. What's more, it's got the perfect level of squidge, comes in all manner of quirky flavours including the far-tastier-than-it-sounds pine sap. You can get a cube of Turkish delight with a cup of the rocket fuelled coffee, and still only need a couple of coins for the privilege. Bargain.

(For the sweet of tooth, there's also chocolate shop The Rabot Estate, which does some top-end dark chocolate that also happens to be animal-free. They do their own stuff and also stock Hotel Chocolat lines too.)

A tentative mention for the Arabica Food & Spice Company - on a cursory run-past, it looked like they stocked quite a few vegan-friendly bits and bats (think mezze staples like falafel and hummus) in amongst their omnivorous offerings, but I didn't have time to quiz them on the ingredients to confirm if that's the case. If anyone knows, pass on the details and I'll update this post.

Borough Market does have its own veggie stall in the shape of The Veggie Table. You've got two basic choices here - the non-vegan Heavenly Haloumi burger or the very vegan Organic Superveg burger. Either can be had in a box with a choice of salads or in a bun, with a choice of sauces (salsa, red onion, or hummus).

If you couldn't guess which one I went for, you're reading the wrong blog.

The burger itself is made from organic vegetables, quinoa, nuts, sultanas and cumin and, along with the sauce of your choice, comes with that sort of spiky coleslaw annoyance that serves more to perforate you repeatedly in the side of your cheek than add anything meaningful in the way of flavour.

As you might spot already, I didn't love the burger. I wanted to - dammit, it was the only thing parading its veganness in the whole bloody market. But I couldn't. Why? The wetness.

The burger was just too soggy. It tasted of not much bar the overliberal application of cumin and the underliberal application of anything that could offer a meaningful foil to the cumin, and it was sodden in a way anything not first dropped in a puddle shouldn't be. 

I opted for salsa as my sauce of choice, which probably didn't help at all, given it was fairly wet to start with. Wet burger + wet sauce = lunch wetter than an otter's pocket. 

The bun was nice though and the salads on offer - one potato, one beetroot and grain - looked more promising. Alas, I couldn't tell you if they lived up to that promise - a burger and some salad would have set me back £7 and I didn't have enough cash in my pocket to enable the investment. 

Had I have had £7 in my back burner, I could have bought a metric truckload of Turkish delight with it. And that, dear friends, would have been a far sounder use of my seven nuggets.

Borough Market 
8 Southwark Street
0207 407 1002

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  1. My boyfriend used to live right near Borough and he is always going on about it. He is a turkish delight hater so he has never mentioned that stall. I, on the other hand like you love the stuff. Will definitely have to check out some of that pine sap flavour!

    1. I think I tried all the flavours that sounded the strangest (I think carrot and something was in there too) and they turned out to be the absolute best!

  2. I was at Borough Market a couple of weeks ago with some friends and was disappointed by the lack of vegan stalls/vegan options at stalls (compared to other markets like Spitalfields, Sunday Upmarket at Brick Lane or Camden). I looked and looked for The Veggie Table but couldn't find it... Doesn't seem like I missed out on much though from the sounds of your burger experience!

    1. Maybe they were just having an off day - I'm tempted to go back another time to see if I just had a bad experience.

      I was also surprised there aren't more veg*n stalls - I heard Whitecross market is fairly vegan friendly, but I've not been there myself yet. Have you?

  3. Oh god, I would spend way too much money at Turnips. I have this compulsion to buy weird veggies when I see them around. I'd be all, "wtf is a bull's eye tomato? Who knows, better buy it to find out!" Too bad about the veggie burger, it always pains my heart to eat sub-par veggie burgers. I mean, they're representing vegans everywhere! I don't want people going around thinking that I eat shitty food!

    1. That's it in a nutshell - I fear that people will try the superveg burgers and go "what? If that's what those animal-dodgers eat, no way am I signing up!" Next time I'll just send them to Turnips and say "that's what we eat - nothing but bull's heart tomatoes and salsify!"


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