, ,

Literary London for vegans

When someone's tired of London, they're tired of life (well, that's what Samuel Johnson reckoned anyway, and he was a guy that knew a thing or two). One rainy day a few weeks ago, I thought I had finally become tired of London.

While it poured down outside, I set about looking for something - ideally something indoors - that could while a way few hours. I checked out the usual listings for an event or exhibition, but nope, nothing was calling my name. 

The best I could find was a small exhibition of Canadian photography at the British Library. After having the pleasure of meeting Canada for the first time earlier this year, I thought we should get better acquainted. 

I realised when I stepped through the door of the British Library that this was my first visit. Nearly 15 years in the capital, and I'd never found my way here before. It took me about five minutes to realise this was a bit of a dim move on my behalf - it's amazing.

I mean, check out the view for a start - look at all those books!

It's a huge building set up for people to read and work, and there's no shortage of exhibitions (both free and paid) to spend time on. I came in looking to view a few photos, and left having seen three exhibitions: Canada Through the LensGay UK: Love, Law and Liberty, and Treasures of the British Library (everything from Angela Carter to the Magna Carta is in there - how cool is that?).

I had a quick nosy around the cafes, but couldn't find much in the way of vegan fodder except Ten Acre and Eat Real crisps. Luckily, having read The Vegan Word, I knew there was a cheese shop selling vegan cheese spitting distance from the library.

Having picked up a couple of Cheezelo's vegan cheeses - one with dill and one with peppercorns, both delicious - I needed to find myself some lunch.

Keeping with the literary theme, I headed down to the London Review Bookshop's Cake Shop. I love the London Review of Books but I'd never been to its physical book store, despite rumours that the attached cafe has vegan cake.

After browsing around the shelves and acquiring a book on neuroscience and one on a legendary talking mongoose, I sat down to feed and read.

There, I found this little beauty of a vegan dish on the menu:

It's rye bread with tempeh, herby celeriac remoulade, and sweetcorn, with a rice, aduki bean, and apricot salad on the side, and a tarragon puree. It was a creative meal, full of flavours I don't get to eat often enough (tarragon! tempeh! apricots!) It made a fine accompaniment to my reading, especially by a big mug of lapsang souchong tea. The soy milk came on the side and there was extra hot water to refresh the leaves - now that's a cafe that treats its tea right.

I wouldn't have said no to a vegan cake to keep that tea company, but alas it was not to be. While the LRB Cake Shop Twitter feed shows there's vegan cake with regularity, there was no sweet treats to be had when I stopped by. I guess that's another place I'll have to return to then.

That's London for you - just when you think you're tired of it, there's always more to see -- and there's always more to eat.

You Might Also Like


  1. I love the British Library, and the moving bookcases are amaaaazing.

  2. Well this sounds like a truly fantastic day, books and food are two of my very favourite things!

  3. I LOVE this post. You are so adept at seeking out enlightening experiences and soul-nourishing food. I don't imagine any place you live will ever be boring with such an adventurous spirit leading you on.

  4. I love the library, as much if not a tiny bit more than the museum. What a treat to have vegan food so close by and so creative to boot. :-)

  5. Totally agree with Samuel Johnson.
    I loooove London. It's the place where eating vegan is the most easy (though it's getting ok here in Québec).

  6. I love literary london - despite once being told on a bloomsbury tour that the bloomsbury group had duped me or something quite rude like that! I only got to the British Library once on a flying visit to London and was amazed at what they had done - I wish I had been able to have that lovely meal afterwards. The trouble with living outside london is that if and when I get back there I will feel I need 6 months to see all the places I love and the places I never got to see (unfortunately I don't have a life time for it)

  7. I love the British Library! Fingers crossed they get vegan options soon. If they're half as good as that plate from the bookshop, I'd be very happy indeed!


Popular Posts

Blog Archive