The Best UK Holiday Cities for Vegetarians and Vegans

Richard Mckenna
16th August 2022

Hard as it might be to believe in these times of meat-free mincemeat in the supermarket and plant-based burgers in the local garage, not too long ago being a vegetarian - or even more inconceivably, a vegan - could severely cramp your style if you were planning on eating out. Restaurants in the UK were a bit more of a rarity back then, and outside of options like Indian and Chinese food, affordable vegetarian eating places tended to be thin on the ground and fairly uninspiring. As it was widely presumed that anyone declaring themselves a vegetarian would automatically be a bit of a hippy, flavour sometimes lost out to health, ecological or spiritual concerns: if you weren’t given the default option - a vegan-unfriendly cheese omelette - you were likely to be offered some combination of veg soup, nut roast or veggie burgers, often served up with the kind of wholemeal bread that required powerful jaw muscles and a very resilient set of teeth.

The old days of terrible veggie food options are thankfully gone!

Times have changed, though, and over the past 30 years vegetarian and vegan cuisine has made immense strides, spurring growing numbers of people to try what many have taken to calling a ‘plant-based’ diet (possibly because ‘vegetarian’ still evokes memories of those grim lentil bakes of yore). And in turn, that’s encouraged more people to seriously consider turning to a meat-free diet. In fact, we’ve moved so far on from the days of the lonely, unappealing ‘vegetarian option’ on the menu that it’s now possible to actually plan a holiday around the vegetarian dining on offer, so let’s take a quick tour of a few of the places around the UK that hungry vegetarians might want check out.

Brighton for vegans & veggies

Nestled on the south coast between Eastbourne and Worthing, Brighton is almost certainly the most vegetarian- and vegan-friendly city in the UK, with a bohemian reputation that goes all the way back to when the then-Prince Regent moved there and kick-started a transformation from fishing village into fashionable ‘London on the Sea’. The place is a bit of a foodie paradise, and especially so for vegans and veggies. It’s home to vegan sushi bar Happy Maki, which offers a menu of healthy vegan sushi burritos and sushi bowls with gluten free options, and there’s also a branch of Purezza, the UK’s first fully vegan Italian restaurant chain whose menu offers pizza toppings including plant-based seitan salami, N’duja and pulled pork.

Brighton for vegans and vegetarians

Ethical vegan “fish” and chip shop The No Catch Co. offers delights including vegan cod & chips, while independent vegan cafe Green Kitchen‘s menu includes vegan takes on classic cafe fare. There’s also vegan burger and fast food restaurant The Vurger Co. serving burgers, mac 'n cheese and fries all cooked to order, along with milkshakes, and brownies. And now in its 29th year, award-winning restaurant Terre a Terre offers contemporary vegetarian and vegan cuisine that brings together multi-ethnic flavours and cooking techniques. There's something for everyone, and there’s also accommodation for every budget, from the Churchill Brighton guest house overlooking Russell Square gardens and the Britannia Study Hotel, both within easy reach of the beach and local shopping streets, to The Old Ship Hotel and the Brighton Harbour Hotel & Spa, a boutique Regency period hotel with quirky interiors and a luxury spa located right on Brighton's lively seafront.

Bristol for vegans & veggies

A bit further to the west we find ourselves in Bristol, another city with a strong bohemian identity and a consolidated alternative tradition. All of which means that it’s no surprise the place has a longstanding and thriving vegetarian scene. Local favourites include contemporary, plant-focused restaurant Flow, who use local ingredients in dishes like their smoked paprika humus served with pickles, urfa oil and khorasan crackers, and Bristol legend Eat A Pitta in St Nicholas Market which offers pittas stuffed with falafel and humus, vegan doner kebabs, harissa or falafel burgers and a delicious selection of mezze.

Bristol for vegans and vegetarians

Serving delights like crispy tofu marinated in authentic Jamaican jerk sauce served with spicy kale, rice and peas, Fi Real provides a taste of the Caribbean without a trace of meat or dairy, while if it’s vegan junk food you’re after, VX Bristol, Sneaky Clucker and Oowee Vegan all serve up vegan versions of your filthy favourites. Meanwhile, not-for-profit vegan cafe and community space Cafe Kino offers a wide range of tasty, homemade food as well as a vegan deli, and also functions as a community resource hub. There’s plenty of accommodation to be found around Bristol, from affordable options like The Crafty Cow pub, handy for Bristol's Memorial Stadium and County Ground and offering good old west country hospitality, to more upmarket places like Old Church Farm guest house, a luxurious 11th Century manor house a short drive from both Bristol and nearby Bath.

Norwich for vegans & veggies

We’re going further north for our next destination, which is a bit of an underrated gem: Norwich, one of Britain’s best-preserved medieval cities. This lovely town has everything from a cathedral and castle to an aviation museum, and is within easy reach of the beautiful Broads national park, and on top of that offers plenty of dining options for hungry vegetarians and vegans. ‘Zero-waste' café Re.Source offers a fully vegan menu with everything, including milks and breads, made on-site or locally and using local produce, while family-run restaurant Namaste Village serves a range of vegan and vegetarian foods from various regions of India.

Norwich for vegans and vegetarians

Moorish Falafel Bar is a vegan takeaway serving freshly prepared plant-dishes, while The Tipsy Vegan offers a menu inspired by world cuisines and focusing on small plates and sharing boards. Meanwhile, Erpingham House, housed inside a Grade II listed building in the heart of Norwich, is a fully plant-based and plastic free restaurant with an ethos built around health-promoting, sustainable foods and a menu offering everything from a Korean taco with crispy tofu and kimchi to a vegan take on lamb and harissa. Then there’s Tofurei, whose team of 'soya alchemists' transform dull old tofu into delicious vegan foods like cheesecake, 'soysage' rolls, soya ‘tuna’ sandwiches and even ice cream. Places to stay locally include The William IV, a historic inn at least 150 years old with comfortably appointed guest rooms and the Church Farm guest house, ideally located for exploring Norwich and the beautiful Norfolk countryside.

Manchester for vegans & veggies

Let’s keep heading north: though it’s more famous for its music, its football and its curries, Manchester also has a huge range of vegetarian and vegan dining to offer. There’s everything from Wholesome Junkies, serving completely plant-based versions of all your favourite comfort foods, like burgers, tater tots, hot dogs and buffalo hot wings, to the exclusive The Walled Gardens, an ‘underground’ restaurant with room for only eight people serving a 12-course plant-based tasting menu using produce grown in the chef’s back garden, which was voted one of Observer Food Monthly’s best 20 restaurants in the country. Indian street food and craft beer bar Bundobust serves small south Indian-style dishes which are mainly vegan and all vegetarian, while Vertigo’s menu covers breakfast and lunch as well as offering stews, curries, smoothie bowls and salads. Ruyi Vegetarian House’s menu is packed with veggie and vegan delights like veggie Peking ribs and spicy Ma Po tofu, while the V Rev diner has a fully vegan range of diner foods like buttermilk chicken, bacon-topped burgers, macaroni cheese, hot dogs and mozzarella sticks.

Manchester for vegans and vegetarians

Making generous use of jackfruit, Biff's specialises in vegan junk food, offering bulging burgers and even jackfruit 'wingz', with bone (actually a piece of sugar cane). There’s another branch of Purezza if you’re after something Italian, and Black Leaf offers creative vegan tapas - things like Jerusalem artichokes with tahini and almond. The Allotment was named number one vegetarian restaurant in the UK by The Times while Greens is one of the city’s most established vegetarian dining locations. And last but definitely not least, Manchester institution The Eighth Day, a vegetarian cafe which originally opened as a co-op in 1970. To finish off, why not pick up something from Ice Shack, the north's first fully vegan dessert parlour where you'll find plant-based ice cream in flavours like chocolate peanut butter, apple pie and mint choc chip? Manchester's certainly not lacking accommodation, from New York-themed Hotel Brooklyn on Portland Street and apartment hotel Roomzzz Manchester City Corn Exchange to The Edwardian in Manchester's beautiful Grade II listed Free Trade Hall, whose spa features a swimming pool, sauna, steam room and gym, and the luxurious Edwardian Stock Exchange Hotel located in the former home of the Manchester Stock Exchange.

Glasgow for vegans & veggies

Even further north is Glasgow, packed full of culture, history and, yes, lip-smacking vegan and vegetarian food. Mono and Stereo are live entertainment venues that specialise in meat-free food, offering everything from a vegan Philly cheese steak sandwich to banana blossom tacos. Meanwhile the menu at vegan bar, restaurant and music venue The Hug and Pint takes inspiration from Asian cuisines, cosy bar and restaurant, The 78 offers delicious vegan food like jackfruit shawarma and grilled artichoke hearts and local gem Suissi Vegan Asian Kitchen offers Pan-Asian food totally free of animal products with a menu featuring vegan spring rolls, gyozas, noodle soups, pad thai and salt and chilli tofu.

Glasgow for vegans and vegetarians

Veganizza offer a range of sourdough meat-free pizzas, and how could you not want to visit somewhere with a name as on-point as The Glasvegan, a meat-free fast food deli-style eatery serving not-dogs with toppings like sweet fried onions, roast peppers, avocado and coriander and more, as well as savoury crêpes, nachos, burgers, wraps and even a 'doner vebab'. There’s a Biff’s in Glasgow too, for the vegan junk-food addicts, while Vivi’s Deli is a 100% vegan venue offering plant-based comfort foods like Buffalo ‘chicken’ mac and cheese. And finally, check out not-for-profit arts hub The Glad Cafe which offers a delicious and fully plant-based menu. Glasgow’s packed with interesting places to stay, like the Georgian apartments of 52 Charlotte Street, which offer a touch of 18th Century elegance and charm in the centre of old Glasgow, and Rab Ha's, a hotel, pub and restaurant that offers welcoming accommodation in the heart of the city's merchant district.

And that’s without even mentioning other cities with growing reputations for delicious plant-based food, like Cardiff, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Birmingham, Leicester… Too many to mention, to be honest. Let’s just say that nowadays, no veggie or vegan going on holiday in the UK need not worry about going hungry - or about being forced to face down a nut roast. Take a trip to the capital instead with our pick of the best London vegan hotels, and wherever you go (and whatever you eat) remember... just hoo it!

Share this article

26th January 2021

Taking A Vegan-Friendly Break In Greece

With the year we’ve all had, it’s hard to stop ourselves from dreaming of the perfect vacation away. But when you’re vegan, and animal-consc...Read more
14th January 2021

Taking A Vegan Break In Turkey

Other than the delicious cuisine and the idea of soaking up the culture, taking a European break sounds like the dream. Especially after all...Read more
12th July 2022

Where To Have A Pre Theatre Dinner in Covent Garden

Covent Garden has been a centuries-long haven for culture and arts lovers. As well as being home to the prestigious Royal Opera and the Roya...Read more