Vegan Travel: London Edition

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Hello loves, it’s been awhile. College and work has slowly, but surely been taking over my life recently. As much as I love blogging for you, and sharing my passion over this platform – I only have one year of college left! So, I’m really trying to focus on that end goal to ensure a good 1:1 or 2:1 average to round out my degree. I can have this website forever, but college years go by so fast! On top of that I have been working almost 30 hours a week, which is tiring – but obviously incredibly rewarding. Working through college has enabled me to travel a lot as a student, so I definitely don’t take it for granted.

One place I have always loved visiting is London. As a child, the theatre school I attended brought us to London for a dance exhibition. I think that the creativity and talent of the dancers at this event has always lingered over my view of London. I see the city as an arena of exploration of one’s self. It is such a culturally diverse city with so much to offer to us (food wise, and non-food wise). Walking through the streets of Shoreditch is like walking through rooms of an art gallery. Everyone is different, and everyone embraces their differences. As someone who hates the confines of human expectations, and predictability – this escape can be so refreshing.

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My best friend; Molly, lives in London – so I decided to pay her a much needed visit. I Flew on the early morning flight from Cork to London Heathrow on a Friday morning and got the tube to her flat from there, which was only a couple of stops away. She lives in the Hammersmith area which is just SO central and it really seemed like the perfect location to live. She is such a sweetheart, she made out a little itinerary for our trip to ensure that we made the absolute most out of the time we had together! I’m going to give you a run-down of all that we got up to in such a short space of time.

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When I landed, we had some porridge in Molls before heading to the Old Spitalfields Market, which is basically like the new version of Camden Markets (as Molly described it!). The stalls are indoors and it’s basically the equivalent of an all-day, year-round farmers market type of set up! There are food vendors and some funky clothes stalls too. Within the market there is also some high fashion brands such as lululemon and JoMalone (to mention but a few), some sit-down dining option such as Wagamama and Leon, and within a minute or so of walking, there are plenty of coffee shops, clothing stores and even more eateries – so there really is options for everyone here. Spitalfields markets are honestly vegan heaven! Almost every single food stand had vegan options, and not just beans and rice type of options.

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There was so much variety. We had just eaten our breakfast not long before our adventure to the markets, so we decided on something small to tie us over until later. We opted for the Vegan Dumplings in a soy/garlic dressing from ‘The Dumpling Shack’. These were the first proper dumplings I have ever had, and they were absolutely perfect. They were so full of flavour. We even ate them with chopsticks to experience them in all their asian glory. There are some super cute stores and stalls riddled throughout the market, so definitely account for some time to go exploring all that it has to offer! We managed to find one store that had the most beautifully coloured, reusable copper straws (which we obviously bought). I absolutely loved the market space.

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Next stop: Box Park in Shoreditch. Box Park is basically the world’s first pop up mall. It is the perfect fusion of street food and modernity. Nestled among busy Shoreditch, the shipping container based structure is home to fashion, food, art and alcohol! This is the coolest space, and it basically encapsulates the new age of ‘fast-food’. Yes – we want fast-food, but as society begins to realise the repercussions of unhealthy eating, there is an ever-growing demand for healthy ‘fast-food’. Box Park hangs in a harmonious balance. It is home to salad, pasta and gyro stands as well as a fully functioning bar, not to mention the storefronts such as Daniel Wellington and BedHead. We had a drink here and chilled out after walking around Shoreditch. Shoreditch is the creative capital of London, and you can easily tell that by walking through its graffiti’d streets. The sheer volume of art is magnificent and makes the area so eye-catching and unique in comparison to other slightly more uniform areas of the city. The vegan food options at Box Park were incredible too – definitely get there on an empty stomach!

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Next up: Dinner! By now, we had worked up a pretty solid appetite, and I had the perfect restaurant in mind. ‘Redemption’ in Shoreditch is a completely plant-based, alcohol-free and super healthy restaurant. They also have a second location in Notting Hill. The décor was super cute and elegant (It felt like we were fine dining!), and the staff were very helpful also. I ordered the Bolognese with brown rice penne pasta. This shiitake mushroom Bolognese with roasted pecan ‘parmesan’ was other level. Honestly, the flavours were exquisite and I am so happy with the portion size (you can never have too much pasta!). Molly got the burger which was tasty too. Dessert was my ultimate favourite; banoffee pie. This date caramel-based dessert appealed to every single one of my senses. It was presented beautifully and the crunchy base with the stiff date caramel was perfectly accompanied by the coconut cream on top. This was one of the best restaurants I have eaten in – and truly is a must visit if you are in London!

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Next stop: Bounce (Old Street). Bar, meets restaurant, meets ping pong. This venue maintains the perfect balance between entertainment and socialising. The bar-like atmosphere makes the ping-pong focus really fun and it has truly changed the entertainment game in London! It was absolutely tearing busy when we were there at 9pm on a Friday, and I can only imagine that it gets busier and busier as you get deeper into the weekend. I advise booking a ping-pong table slot ahead of time. Do so on their website to guarantee your gaming fun. They also have a great food menu with a vegan pizza option too. This is such a different way to spend your evening, and the perfect place to go if you’re sick of the same old thing. Change it up, have fun!

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The next morning we decided to go to  Westfields (Shepard’s Bush) to do a spot of shopping as it was absolutely pouring out! We tried some vegan cookie dough from ‘Naked Dough’ – The biscoff flavour was my favourite but they were super sugary. Too much of it would definitely make you sick, but you have got to try it – it’s definitely a treat to be shared. We ate at ‘Pho’ where I got a tofu noodle dish. This was tasty, but nothing special. It was nice to see plenty of vegan options available though.

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I went to see a show with my mom, aunty, cousin and her friend that evening (Saturday), as they had arrived that morning to spend the weekend in London too! We went to see 42nd Street, which is a primarily tap based show. The dancing skills of the performers is amazing, and we left on such a high note. On the way back to their apartment I had to stop at ‘Doughnut Time’. They had so many vegan options, and my mom and I just couldn’t resist. We queued for about 10 minutes but they were worth it! We got the biscoff, jam, and (Pip & Nut) Peanut butter and jelly options because one just wouldn’t have been enough. They were such a nice treat – I would definitely recommend them if you’re in and around London.

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That evening; Molly, India (Mollys flatmate) and I went to a viewing of the McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov fight in Clapham. We were all absolutely wrecked from staying up so late, but it was such a fun night too. I needed the night out, it had been ages since I had gone dancing and let my hair down. Of course, McGregors loss had us gutted – but it was still fun to experience it.

We stayed in bed pretty late the next day because we didn’t sleep until about 8am. We decided to head towards Chelsea to eat at ‘Wulf & Lamb’ which is an entirely vegan restaurant. I ordered a ginger kombucha and pulled jackfruit and lentil pie which was OUT of this WORLD amazing. This was comfort/hangover/Sunday dinner food at its finest. It was honestly just what I needed! Molly got the Vegetables and tahini with a side of the creamiest mac & cheese. For dessert we shared the red velvet cake which is a must if you visit this restaurant. The setting was very ‘posh’ feeling. ‘Wulf & Lamb’ is nestled among the brick-laid streets of the Chelsea borough, but the staff are very welcoming and helpful. The vegan options are endless, and I was honestly in heaven here.

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London, it is always a pleasure. Molly and I had such a fun weekend full of laughter, screams, tears and food! I already can’t wait to get back there to explore even more of what the city has to offer. Thank you to Molly for putting me up and being the best tour guide for the weekend. Loads of love.

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