Given that the Vegan Society was founded in England, I'm always surprised there are aren't more vegan restaurants.
After some old favourites closed - Saf, I still miss you - recently, I'm happy to report that there a couple of very good newbies have sprung up.
In the north London corner, it's CookDaily. a relatively new addition to the Boxpark mall in Shoreditch.
It's a fast food type place on the upper floor of Boxpark which does a selection of vegan bowls for £8, or for £10 they'll throw in a drink as well.
There's about eight different choice and I'd have been happy shoving any of them down my neck. I spent more time than a grown woman really should debating between the Full English bowl - scrambled tofu, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes and brown sauce served over rice - and the Hard Bowl - veggies, dumplings, plantain, yam and ackee, also served over rice.
I went for the Hard Bowl and a banana chocolate smoothie, and this is what they look like:
It was unfeasibly good. The veggies and rice were perfectly good, the tomato and thyme sauce was beautiful, and I got to try ackee for the first time. I can't believe I've gone all these years and not tried ackee - it's so soft and silky, almost custard like, and a fabulous complement to the chewy, wholemeal boiled dumplings.
Here's a close up:
The portion was also on the generous size, which I'm not complaining about. I could have eaten the whole thing again, and probably would have done were it not for the fact some terrible City Boys sat down next to me and started shouting about prostitutes, so I made my excuses and left.
Luckily for south London, there's a new (well, new to me at least) vegan place on the right side of the river too.
When we stepped into LoveGift Vegan Cafe one Sunday for a late lunch, there was a small hot buffet of vegan dishes and a friendly just-help-yourself-to-whatever-you-like attitude.
It was less like a restaurant, more like having dinner in your mate's front room, and said mate is an excellent cook.
I grabbed some salad and rice, a seaweed fritter, cheesy bake, chickpea curry, and seitan. That seitan was stupendous - perfectly crisp, perfectly chewy five-spice wheat meat. The same excellent hand with spice had worked its magic on the chick pea curry. And that same smooth creaminess that was in the curry was in the cheesy bake. When I finished, I kind of wished I'd helped myself to a bit more of everything.
As much vegan food as you can eat for £7? You can't say fairer that that. Nice one, South London.
2-10 Bethnal Green Road
London E1 6GY
LoveGift Vegan Cafe
108 Brockley Rise
London SE23 1NH