I’m increasingly asked about vegan food in Birmingham, but it may have come to your attention that I, Laura McEwan, am not a vegan.
I’m pretty far from being a vegan because 75% of my diet is cheese and I keep the city’s burger joints in business. But I like veggie food and I often cook plant-based and vegetarian food at home because I prefer it. When it comes to Indian food, for example, I often make or gravitate towards non meat dishes while out and, while I do try and eat less meat than I did, I’m pretty far from plant-based day to day.
Let me tell you a quick story. Despite how it may seem from my meaty Instagram feed I really respect the vegan community, especially in Brum. I have some lovely vegan friends who have introduced me to places and plates of food I’d never have even thought about prior to starting a food blog in 2017. It’s one of my favourite things this hobby has given me, along with my ability to manage hangovers like a marine.
I’m many things, but when it comes to food I’m not against trying something new. Nor am I afraid to admit if I’m wrong. For example, I’ve been guilty of previously considering vegan food boring – a total load of garbage if you know where to go or what to cook. Of course, moral reasons aside, we should all be trying to eat less animal products to help the planet and (aside from my cheese-shaped crack addiction) I’ve become much more aware of how and what I eat now.
And I’ve eaten some bloody lovely plant-based food in the city. This is in large part to knowing some really great humans who either eat a plant-based diet entirely, or have become ‘almost’ vegans, eating no animal products 5 days a week etc. Militant vegans may say that’s not good enough but IMO it’s better than living on beef and battery hens every day, and I think having some perspective is useful.
I want to do my bit to encourage folk to try something new, and if that’s plant-based food with a slice of open mindedness I’m game. So when I was recently asked about places suitable for vegans again, I thought why not ask the people who really know the best places to eat vegan food in Birmingham instead of professing to being an expert. This blog is, after all, as much for me to broaden my horizons living in this city than anyone reading it and I genuinely want it to be a useful research tool for people.
And that waffle leads me onto the suggestions for where to eat vegan food in Birmingham – as picked by some brilliant, inspiring and helpful people who want you to love this kind of food as much as they do. The venues may not be exclusively vegan (its up to you to research before you go anywhere if this is an issue obviously) but there’s some absolute corkers here to try. Some of those suggested might also come as a surprise to you – over to the experts..
BA-HA – Mailbox
“My best all round for me is probably BA-HA in Mailbox. It offers vegan ‘junk food’ and crowd pleasers that are delicious, appetising and totally plant based. Also, there’s a vegan roast dinner that comes with double carbs (mash and roasties) which makes this place a winner for me.”
*Exclusively vegan menu
Natural Bar & Kitchen – central
“A wholesome, friendly place that’s perfect for dining anytime of day. Be it more fancy dinner or relaxed brunch: it’s perfect. My favourite dish has to be the ultimate brunch (bring your appetite for this one) or anything involving their ridiculously tasty fries. And of course throw a homemade dairy free dessert in as well. Genuinely so much whole food and plant-based goodness to handle, plus the most welcoming staff and pretty interior.”
*Exclusively vegan menu
Damascena – Jewellery Quarter/Harborne
“My vegan hotspot has to be Damascena. It doesn’t matter how many times I go, the love never leaves. They have options for most dietary requirements, that are easily labelled on their menu. I love the mezze dishes most of all, as they have all the best things on one platter. My favourite of them all is the Mixed Mezze, I always get the falafels, flatbread and fattuush with the Damascena Fuul and Baba Ghanuuj. Team this with their legendary fresh mint tea or smoothie, and you’ll be on to a winner.”
3Three’s – central
“Coffee? Check. Ice cream? Check. Hot Dogs? Check! Perfect spot for a quick lunch, coffee date or somewhere to hide away for the day on your laptop. Their cake display is always fully stocked with stunning vegan cakes and the sandwich fridge is always jam packed with freshly made vegan sandwiches.”
*Exclusively vegan menu
Cafe Soya – Arcadian
“The vegan menu has great mock meats and tofu options including crispy vegan prawns with salt and chilli. It’s one of my favourite places, even after eating here hundreds of times over the past decade. I often get lunch here when I’m in town so I can escape the Bullring crowds.”
Barsana – Handsworth
“The stuffed malanga leaves are mandatory when visiting here – out of this world. They have soy “chicken” curries too. This place is so reasonably priced and most of the menu is clearly labelled as vegan. They have an alcohol licence too.”
Tiger Bites Pig – central
“I’ve only started following a plant based diet recently and assumed it would mean ruling out so many places to eat. But I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Tiger Bites Pig has dishes suitable for us plant-based folk, so I can dine here with my meat-eating husband and friends. The salt and pepper tofu bao is my go to, and there’s also a vegan rice bowl, plus some vegan-friendly sides. It’s a lovely independent place with friendly staff and some nice beers too.”
Pho – Grand Central
“I love the hot and spicy 3 mushroom soup (pho noodles and enoki, shiitake and button mushrooms in a veggie broth) with a side of vegan prawn-less crackers. The pho is just so delicious, with lots of coriander and herbs to add. Healthy too.”
Purnima – Bearwood
“One of the nicest curries in Birmingham and the best vegetable dhansak I’ve ever had. The team are all great and the customer service is impeccable. Loads of great vegan options – if you like it hot, go for the veggie madras.”
Laura Ashley Tearooms – Solihull
“The place to book a vegan afternoon tea. Lovely sandwiches, fresh warm scones with whipped coconut cream and jams, plus a divine sweet tier. Everyone deserves good cake. Everything is pretty and served on Laura Ashley china making it feel like a great treat.”
Honourable extra mentions from the guys above went to Warehouse Cafe for burgers, Wayland’s Yard for breakfast, Hookways for takeaway lunches and Rudy’s for pizza. My pick for a healthy lunch is Plant and Pulse – a bit of a hidden gem, it offers various healthier plant-based options available with a focus on seasonal produce.
Disclosure: Words mainly belong to the bloggers mentioned in this post – you can find any of them via the links I’ve included. Come follow Bite Your Brum on Instagram for daily posts.