Eating out is often seen as a perilous thing to do as a vegan. It was one of my own concerns, especially as a food blogger. When my partner became vegan back in October 2015 I felt resistant to change too much about my own diet, worried that removing animal products would somehow make food less joyous for me. As time wore on I realised how exciting cooking vegan food at home was, experimenting with different substitute products and discovering a whole new world of recipes and replacements. I often found I had more problems in restaurants as a vegetarian than my partner; asking if the cheese used was suitable being a perfect example. The more I read and watched about animal agriculture and the environment, the more I became certain veganism was the way to go for me.
While not everywhere we’ve dined at during this time has accommodated our dietary choices fantastically well, we’ve become huge fans of those who did. Many high street chains are great at providing allergen menus, but sometimes it is the independents who are rising to the challenge of creating innovative plant-based menus. Figures released by The Vegan Society show there are now half a million vegans in the UK – a 360% increased from 2006 to 2016. The consumer demand is definitely growing, and I’ve certainly witnessed this first hand. You may now have a local cafe serving vegan sausages instead of vegetarian, or somewhere that sells a dairy and egg-free cake because they were aware many children have allergies. I wanted to do something to support these businesses in the North East during January, typically a difficult month with reduced footfall after the holidays.
The concept of the UK’s first Vegan Restaurant Week came while looking for restaurant offers. Special menus seemed geared towards those who ate meat, with the odd vegetarian dish thrown in for good measure. Those shouting about what they had for vegans were few and far between. Knowing there was a growing demand for the ‘alternative’, I talked through the idea of launching some sort of event with my partner. After months of deliberation I threw caution to the wind, bought the domain, and started to canvass interest from local vegetarian and vegan restaurants and cafes in the area. Thus, the UK’s first Vegan Restaurant Week was born, and is taking place between the 23rd and the 29th of January in the North East of England.
Initially invites went out to those catering specifically for vegans and vegetarians, but as the idea evolved I used the event to promote establishments many may not have considered visiting historically. We had two stipulations: to participate there was always a vegan option available, regardless of the week, and that something unique should be offered to celebrate Vegan Restaurant Week. This didn’t automatically mean a reduction in price, with many devising special menus for the event. The response was huge, and we now have over 40 traders involved.
I am hoping this week will be a success, and also hoping it will tempt those outside the vegan and vegetarian community to try something different when dining out. You can read about why I feel the event is not just aimed at vegans here. Many have said they may expand their standard offering if they experience a high demand. Some of the special events arranged are close to being fully booked already. The future of dining out as a vegan in the North East is certainly looking more promising! More information can be found here.
Below is a list of participants, many of which you will find reviews of on this very blog!
Roots Cafe, 71 Westoe Road, South Shields – Two Courses for £8.00
Redragon, 4 Burrow Street, South Shields – Special menu for £9.95 per person
No. 2 Church Lane, Sunderland - Any Vegan Burger and a Beer for £10.00
Bojangles Cafe, 7 Sea Rd, Sunderland – Special Vegan Restaurant Week Offers
The Good Apple Cafe 18 Derwent St, Sunderland - One of Good Apple’s Daily Specials with any drink for £8
Tia’s Mexican 84 Claypath, Durham – 2 Courses for £10.00. Available all week any time (excluding after 7pm Saturday). Booking recommended.
Ury, 27 Queen St, Newcastle – Special three-course menu for for £14.00 per person. Lunch vegan platter for £4.00 per person.
Sky Apple Cafe Address,182 Heaton Rd, Newcastle - A Vegan Restaurant Week special dish for £11.
The Journey, Higham House, New Bridge St W, Newcastle - Lemony Red Lentil Soup with Spelt Toast £3.95. Super Food Chilli with Sourdough Toast £4.45. Either vegan dish & any hot drink for just £5.
Head of Steam – Quayside Address: 11 – 17 Broad Chare, Newcastle – Two Courses for £10 or 3 for £15 from a specially devised menu.
Super Natural Cafe, 27 Grainger St, Newcastle – Two courses for £10.00 from a specially devised menu.
Farplace Animal Rescue Vegan Store & Cafe, 71 Clayton St, Newcastle – Free standard hot drink (tea or coffee) with any food purchase from the menu in-store.
Zapatista Burrito Bar, 9 Grainger St, Newcastle – Four Vegan Restaurant Week fillings to chose from, with a free regular soft drink or bottle of water.
Harissa Kitchen, 31-35 Starbeck Ave, Newcastle – Two Courses for £12 or 3 for £15 from a specially crafted menu for Vegan Restaurant Week.
Mama Zen @ Kommunity: The Hungry Rainbow, Kommunity, Market St, Newcastle – A special evening celebrating vegan food for £20.00 pp. Booking essential.
La Petite Crêperie, Unit 166, Grainger Market, Newcastle - A range of sweet and savoury specials created just for Vegan Restaurant Week, served on a vegan-friendly galette.
The Factory Kitchen, The Biscuit Factory, 16 Stoddart Street, Newcastle – Special vegan options available all week.
The Bohemian, 37 Pink Ln, Newcastle – Any Starter and Vegan Pizza from special menu for £10. Booking required.
Wildflower, 283a Westgate Road, Newcastle – Two main courses, two sweet treats and a pot of tea for £10 when quoting ‘Vegan Restaurant Week’.
Al Volo Italian Street Food, 20 – 22 Gallowgate, Newcastle – Any base (Piada, Miassa, Farinata, Bruschetta) with two vegan fillings and a hot drink for £5.50 or two for £10 (of which at least one must be vegan).
Ernest, 1 Boyd Street, Newcastle – Two courses for £10 or three for £15 from a specially devised VRW menu. This offer will run in conjunction with Ernest’s regular vegan dishes and specials.
Sale Pepe, 115 St George’s Terrace, Jesmond - Three Courses for £15.
Tea Sutra Teahouse 1st Floor, 2 Leazes Park Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4PF - Afternoon Tea for two for £20. Availability is limited.
Northern Juice 24 High Bridge Street Newcastle upon Tyne - Smoothie & a Slice of Cake for £5 (regular price £7)
The Grainger Market – Selected traders providing special menus and offers during the week.
Pulp Fiction Future Food, 193 Park View, Whitley Bay – Any juice, main course and ‘sweet treat’ for just £10.00. Special menu on January 28th from 7pm – five Courses for £30.00 per person. Booking essential.
The Roxburgh, 48 Park Ave, Whitley Bay – A seven course Vegan Taster Menu for £35 pp . £5 from every booking will be donated to the Newcastle Dog & Cat Shelter;
Cornerstone Cafe, 96 Oxford St, Whitley Bay Tuesday to Saturday – Two courses for £10.95. Vegan Sunday Lunch – £8.50
The Central Bar Half Moon Lane, Gateshead - A special menu devised for Vegan Restaurant Week, including Vegan Haggis for Burns Night.
Urban Bakery Address: 10B Beaconsfield Rd, Gateshead – A selection of vegan daily specials, as well as a vegan-friendly savoury and cake option.
The Staiths Cafe, 1 Autumn Drive, Gateshead – Special vegan dishes available for sit-in or takeaway between 5pm and 9pm.
MOD Pizza UK, Metro Centre, The Qube, Intu Metrocentre - 20% off on purchases when quoting ‘Vegan Restaurant Week’. Must include vegan pizza option to qualify. MOD will top pizzas with vegan cheese on request.
The Green Room, 114 Borough Road, Middlesbrough – During the week 11:30 to 18:30: Two courses £7.50. Thursday evening: Three courses £15.00.
Shanti Bistro Earthbeat Centre, Saltburn, Marske Rd, Saltburn-by-the-Sea – Buddha Bowl & Burger Week.
The Duck House, Town Hall Buildings, 2-3, Princes St, Corbridge NE45 5AD - Two courses for £15.00 from a specially devised menu. Booking required in advance.
Peppermint Cafe, 37 Newgate St, Morpeth - A free drink with every vegan main meal purchased. Tea/coffee and a vegan cake £3.
The Feathers Inn High View, Hedley on the Hill, Stocksfield - The award-winning gastropub will be replacing their vegetarian specials with vegan options throughout the week.
Thanks for reading,