DEVOTED vegans have long sang the merits of their meat-free, dairy-less lifestyle, and it has left them sterotyped as preachy, self-reverential hemp-lovers. But now it seems the largely carnivorous world is finally listening. Britain boasts more vegans than ever before, with research suggesting a '360% increase' in veganism during 2016. It’s hard to say what prompted the change, but whatever has spurred the nationwide conversion, it's meant the food and drink industry has finally had to take note.
And Manchester, home to both the first Vegetarian Society in 1847 and the Manchester Wheel (complete with a 1kg beef pattie and eight rashers of bacon) is no different, with a fresh crop of vegan restaurants, festivals, events and dishes sprouting up across the city like organic portobello mushrooms.
So here's a list to help you stay/turn vegan through Veganuary’ and beyond.
Upcoming vegan events:
GRUB ExtraVEGANza FESTIVAL
GRUB Food Fair is to throw a food party – an extraVEGANza - on 28 January. While street food festivals are best known for having a surplus of meat, this one-off fair will be strict on carnivorous activity while free-flowing with vegan fast-food, be it Mexican or Punjabi. Hosted at Alphabet Brewery, a selection of traders have put together special vegan menus, including panzerotti from Fritto, xian bing (wheat cakes) from Oh Mei Dumpling, tacos from Yakumama, mezze from The Ottomen and a range of Punjabi treats from Leeds trader Manjit’s Kitchen. While the event is meat and dairy free, it certainly won’t be sober, as Alphabet will be providing ten lines of vegan beers, as well as wine and cocktails.
Grub MCR; Alphabet Brewing Company, 99 New Western Street, Manchester, M12
GRUB street food
CENTRAL MANCHESTER & NORTHERN VEGAN FESTIVAL
The Central Manchester and Northern Vegan festivals (otherwise known as the artichoke assemblies) are back this year. Starting on the 21 January, the Central Manchester gathering will bring 30 stalls to Cross Street, while reaffirming films such as Truth or Dairy and Hillside Animal will also be shown.
Next up, vegan wine, beer and cider will be aplenty as well as vegan grub at this year’s Northern Vegan Festival on 1 April 2017. On a bigger scale than previous years, the festival will occupy four venues in Manchester in 2017: Manchester Central, The Friends Meeting House, Cross Chapel Street and the Thirsty Scholar. 200 stalls have been confirmed for the festival, as well as talks, cookery demos and a café area.
Northern Vegan Festival; Various locations
Northern Vegan Festival
For vegan junk-fooders:
Remember dirty food? Ah, not quite a distant memory but diners and burger joints have been cleaning up their act in recent years. Vegan dirty food is a whole other ball game. 100% plant-based hotdogs, burgers, fake fried chicken and even ‘lobsta’ salad is on the meat-free plate at Northern Quarter’s V-REV bar and diner... deceptively dirty. Formerly V-Revolution café on Oldham Street, V-REV has bolstered its offering with a bigger, snazzier bean-burger joint on Edge Street. It’s been mostly packed since it opened, further pointing to a vegan revolution in the city as a whole.
V-REV; 20-26 Edge Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 1HN
V-Rev on Edge Street
Vegan desserts have come a long way. The lack of egg and dairy has not stop talented bakers whipping up Bake Off-worthy treats to satisfy vegan sweet tooths. Ice cream is no different. Ice Shack in Withington (to return 17 January), have mastered the vegan ice cream recipe and have a number of flavours to try by the scoop. Vegan truffles, pastries and cakes also make the menu.
Ice Shack; 160-164 Wellington Road, Manchester, M20 3FU
For vegan fine-diners:
Chef Matthew Nutter is leading the vegan charge in Greater Manchester with the launch of his vegan and gluten-free Stockport restaurant, Allotment. Its reception has been impressive - read our review here. This Veganuary, dine on the £18 Autumn Grill: ‘sleek, unctuous aubergine served, confit, alongside Boulangère potatoes, rosemary buckwheat ‘sausage’ and dark vegetable gravy’. For long-time vegans, it’s also an opportunity to enjoy fine-dining without feeling like an afterthought (or a belligerent chef’s worst nightmare).
Allotment; 6 Vernon Street, Stockport, SK1
Mosley Street's long-standing vegetarian restaurant, 1847, has been in better company of late, with many more like-minded venues opening up across Greater Manchester. Though 1847 still remains a firm favourite with city-dwellers for its fine-dining atmosphere and appealing menu (it even impressed our devoted-carnivore reviewer, Lucy Tomlinson, who admits she once 'saw Lady Gaga’s meat dress and wondered if she could be persuaded to step under a hot light in order to crisp up a bit' - review here). While not 100% vegan, 1847's vegan offering is ample. Mains include a pressed potato, red pepper mousse, Quince, charred broccoli, salsa verde (£13.50).
1847; 58 Mosley Street, Manchester, M2 3LQ
TV Chef Simon Rimmer's Greens has been welcoming the conscious eaters of West Didsbury since 1990, and has long satisfied a mixed-diet crowd. It prides itself on providing ‘inventive vegetarian food’ in a warm environment. Vegans are well-catered for with spice-rich dishes such as an aloo gobi salad and a tofu katsu curry. They’ve also recently introduced a Vegan Sunday lunch at £15.
Greens; 41-43 Lapwing Lane, Manchester M20 2NT
For a casual vegan hit:
Cowherds is a hit with the health conscious and die-hard vegans here in Manchester. Working from a 'lunch wagon' next to the original Grindsmith Coffee shed in Greengate Square, Cowherds are a dab hand at creating flavourful meat-free and extremely Instagrammable dishes from their modest van. Vegan food is rarely considered fast-food, but here you can find chickpea, sweet potato and spinach curries, mushroom stroganoff, raw taco salads and much more on the go. For all the avid juicers, Cowherds also offer juice cleanse programmes to help with detoxing.
Cowherds, Greengate Square, Victoria Bridge Street, Manchester M3 5AS
SANSKRUTI & INDIAN TIFFIN ROOM
Indian vegan cooking is arguably the most flavourful. Fallowfield’s Sanskruti has a diverse and dedicated vegan and vegetarian menu, spanning Punjabi, South Indian and Gujarati traditional cooking. Elsewhere, on Manchester's new First Street development, Indian Tiffin Room have been collecting rave reviews for their almost entirely veg menu, including plenty of cracking vegan options.
Sanskruti; 95 Mauldeth Road, Manchester, M14 6SR. Indian Tiffin Room, First Street, 4RL, 1 First St, Manchester M15.
CORN EXCHANGE GOES VEGAN
The Corn Exchange and its thirteen restaurants are helping those hopping on the Veganuary wagon this month by pushing its vegan dishes throughout the month. We’re not sure how they got it past Gino D’Acampo but his eponymous restaurant is offering a green bean, spinach and artichoke salad with saffron dressing, whilst neighbouring Indian restaurant, Mowgli, have no less than fourteen vegan Indian dishes on offer, including Treacle Tamarind slick fries. Vapiano is another good bet for Veganuary, with its range of vegan-friendly specials, from Funghi Bolognese to a Zuaa Caramellata, featuring creamy risotto rice with a homemade sauce of Hokkaido pumpkin, orange juice and coconut milk, with a hint of vegan white wine, ginger, sesame and lime.
Corn Exchange; Various
MANCHESTER VEGAN AND WELLBEING CENTRE
In a building which boasts a condom emporium, a cereal café and bondage masks, a vegan café is one of the more normal additions to Afflecks Palace, and chances are the new vegan café and wellness centre will be hungrily received. It’s to serve 'cruelty-free' and affordable food from 1 February, which we hear includes pizza made from quinoa – that's a new one to us. Based in the Three Minute Theatre on the ground floor, there will also be a focus on health and wellbeing in the new space.
Manchester Vegan and Wellbeing Centre; 3MT Theatre, Afflecks Palace, 35-39 Oldham Street, M1 1JG
Afflecks Palace Cafe
New vegans this 'Veganuary' would do well to remember most cakes and ice creams are not vegan (all those darn eggs and milk). No sweat, though, Hulme’s Teatime Collective has long provided respite for sweet-toothed vegans in the neighbourhood. Started by friends with a love for home-cooked vegan food and good company, Teatime Collective is a charming café serving great vegan grub from breakfast to teatime.
Teatime Collective; St. Wilfrids Enterprise Centre, Royce Road, Hulme M15 5BJ
MOD'S VEGAN CAFE AT THIRSTY SCHOLAR
'Not just a load of old lentils!', promise the mods of Thirsty Scholar's Mod's Vegan Cafe. A vinyl-spinning Head Chef/DJ serves up vegan pub grub at the Oxford Road boozer, including a famed 'massive' vegan breakfast.
Thirsty Scholar; 50 New Wakefield Street, M1 5NP
Where to shop vegan:
Remember to add cruelty-free cosmetics and eco-friendly cleaning products to your vegan shopping list. For some, shopping vegan can seem like a minefield, but Eighth Day co-operative make it easy, helpfully sourcing the largest selection of vegan, veggie, organic and fairtrade food in the North West. With an extensive buying policy and devoted ethical conduct, you'll be in good hands here.
Eighth Day; 111 Oxford Road, Manchester M1 7DU
Along with all the usual hippie stereotypes, Chorlton has long been considered a vegan mecca. Unicorn grocery only trades in foodstuff of ethical and non-animal origin and also supports a fair and sustainable trade. Skip down the aisles of what is probably one of the largest choices of organic fruit and veg in the city. Bread and pastry lovers will be lured in by the on-site deli, which also has a number of curries and chillies to indulge in.
Unicorn; 89 Albany Road, Manchester, M21 0BN