Let’s get one thing straight from the get go: it’s absolutely no secret that I have a deep love affair with burgers and bacon. Meat is something I would not forgo indefinitely without a fight, but sometimes it’s good to park up the protein for a few days and up your veggie intake. Apparently they’re good for you or something..
I’m not adverse to vegetarian (or even vegan) food providing it’s flavoursome and interesting, and I often choose meat-free options when eating certain cuisines, such as Indian or Italian. Living in the city centre we have access to some pretty mega veggie food, especially since a plethora of eateries have massively upped their animal-friendly offerings.
With various friends now following plant-based and vegetarian diets, I decided to do a little research. So whether you’re living a hardcore kale life or you just like the idea of taking up ‘meat free Mondays’ I’ve got 5 great options for you across the city centre.
Urban Cafe – Church Street (Breakfast/Brunch)
As someone who works from home, I often drag myself out of the house to work and interact with other humans for a few hours; Urban Cafe is one of my favourites. Recently I visited and, reminded of the meat free Monday post I’d seen on a friend’s Twitter that morning, I ditched the bacon bun for an Urban Veggie Brekkie (£7.95). This is a feast of a breakfast or brunch, including vegan sausages, eggs made your way, a pot of beans, mushrooms, halloumi, beef tomato and sourdough toast. It’s all grilled rather than fried so you can feel virtous for even longer. A vegan option is available too, and Urban offers plant-based milk options for their coffee; I like their Coconut Milk Cappuccino (£3.10).
Mowgli Street Food – Grand Central (Indian)
New kid on the block, Mowgli Street Food opened in Grand Central in November. Offering comforting and flavoursome Indian food for all tastes, there’s a great selection for vegetarians and vegans. In fact, each time I’ve visited 2 out of the 3 dishes I’ve ordered have always been at the very least veggie. The Temple Dahl (£3.95) is a thick stew of red lentils simmered with spices and lemon. It’s flavoured with toasted cumin and coriander and packs warm but gentle spice. The Bhel Puri(£4.50) is also the stuff of street food dreams. Puffed rice is tossed with crisp gram threads, peanuts and a spiced sweet and sour dressing to form a weird but wonderful vegan concoction that feels both slightly wrong and very right. It’s open for lunch and dinner and the venue is absolutely gorgeous; you’ll forget your sat in a train station.
Kanteen – The Custard Factory (Healthy)
If you’re in Digbeth and are looking for a meat free Monday brunch or lunch that’s both tasty and beautiful, my choice would be Kanteen. Nestled in the corner of the courtyard, this new spot is one of my favourite places to get some writing done and eat healthily but happily. As well as a brunch menu that runs until 2pm every day, Kanteen has a vegan-friendly lunch menu that changes daily. Meals tend to be less than £6 and you can eat in or takeaway. Personally, I can’t get enough of the Poached Eggs with Middle Eastern Beets, a veggie option that comes served with halloumi and a delicious spiced yoghurt sauce. Kanteen also offers some fantastic vegan-friendly sweet treats if an afternoon tea and cake vibe is more your scene.
Damascena – Temple Row (Lebanese, Turkish, Middle Eastern)
Now Birmingham’s worst kept secret, Damascena offers some of the most delicious and well-priced middle eastern food you’ll find in the city. I don’t honestly know one person I’ve taken there that hasn’t come away both stuffed and delighted. A favourite of my mum – and that woman knowns her hummus – there’s TONS of veggie friendly options and plenty of choice. Try the Mixed Mezze (£7.95) which includes falafel, various dips and flatbreads to dunk in them; the Stuffed Vine Leaves (£3.20) and Spinach and Feta Fatayer (£1.95) are worth a try too. There’s another cafe of the same name in Moseley if you’re better suited to that area of the city, and a third one is due to open in Harborne soon.
Pho – Grand Central (Vietnamese)
Looking for healthy and vegan-friendly? Pho is an excellent shout. I love the Vietnamese Salad (£6.95) packed with crunchy vegetable and a zingy dressing (which comes on the side allowing you to decide how much you use) as it’s fresh and fragrant. I often gravitate to this place if I’m poorly or hungover as it feels like it’s feeding your body with veggie goodness. Sides worthy of note include the Veggie Gỏi Cuốn (£4.50) with peanut sauce (rice paper summer rolls stuffed with herbs including mint, vermicelli and veg) and the Rau muống xào (£5.95) side dish; stir fried morning glory in garlic and soy sauce. Pho also does soups, ideal for the winter months.
And that’s your lot for now. Five fab spots for you to try out if meat free Mondays are something you’d like to try. Have you been to any of these places? Do you have any recommendations for me to add to my ever growing list? Give me shout on Twitter or drop me a comment.
*Disclosure: I paid in full for the above. All images, words and temporary bacon abandonment are my own*