Yes you veCANuary - it's never been easier being green
This year's Veganuary looks set to have the biggest take-up in its history as more and more people turn over a new leaf and go plant-based in 2021.
Whether you’re trying on a vegan jacket for January, hoping to make the transition full time, or just looking for something different for your meat-free Mondays, it really has never been an easier or more exciting time to lose the meat and dairy. Manchester has an enviable garden of veggie and vegan options and it just keeps getting better.
We’ve come up with fifteen of the best vegan menus available for home delivery in the region.
We were totally chapati about Bhaji Pala when we popped over to Cheadle to review it when it first opened. This entirely vegan Indian restaurant is sure to please everyone, plant-based or not. There are classics here, of course, like chana masala and tadka dal but less familiar dishes from the subcontinent’s culinary treasure chest abound as well as creative adaptations like tandoori broccoli, gram flour ‘omelettes’ and pinwheel spinach samosas. Delivery via Just Eat will keep us going until we can return in real life.
Who doesn’t love Bundobust? In February 2020 BC (before Covid) we got all excited with a visit to their about-to-open second Manchester branch on Oxford Road but it remains closed as we pine for a cold beer and a hot bhaji on a long table more than ever. We’ll have to make do with Deliveroo for now. It’s all veggie, as existing fans will know, but vegans have plenty to love from the iconic vada pav to the famous broccoli, kale and onion bhajis. Pop to Patel’s for home-delivered booze.
Reformed chicken flattener, Dan Hope’s vegan food empire is expanding as rapidly as our lockdown waistlines. His Detroit-inspired vegan pizza gaff opens today, fittingly in the space vacated by Manchester’s long-standing Earth Cafe. Hopefully it will be able to open for eat-in customers soon. In the meantime, Four Side is exclusively available on Deliveroo. Expect sharp-edged, deep-pan pizzas with inventive plant-based toppings like vegan burrata, chorizo and n’duja and a real passion for winning over the naysayers.
If you’re not really into junk food or want a bit more of a special occasion spread for two, head to HOME-X, the new, improved meal box service from Six By Nico. Green Haus is the latest incarnation of HOME-X’s vegan cook-at-home kit. It’s crammed with no less than eight veg-centric vegan dishes from Korean gochujang carrots with edamame bean and hot & sour kimchi to Goan xacuti masala with smoked potato, spinach and snow peas, as well as a pumpkin cake dessert and a bottle of vegan wine.
Lily’s is old-school, their family has been quietly knocking out incredible vegan and veggie food for years. You won’t find them on Deliveroo but if you’re not lucky enough to live nearby, you can give them a bell or download their new app and either order for collection or see if you’re within their delivery radius. This is some of the best Indian food in Manchester and the vegan options are extensive, from a tomato-based vegan paneer curry to Indo-Chinese dishes like Gobi Manchurian (the stickiest, crispy deep-fried cauliflower) and oodles of noodles.
Common’s social media humour has kept us all going through those ‘if we don’t laugh, we’ll cry’ moments of the pandemic and selling Nell’s pizzas has probably kept them going too. Now also available from The Beagle in Chorlton, these massive 22” pizzas (also available by the slice) come in non-vegan flavours too but even if you’re not doing veganuary their vegan slices are well worth your time. The Veganic features mushrooms, roast garlic cashew cream, chilli, ‘forza win sauce’ and thyme - who needs a load of PVA-glue-esque vegan cheese with all that going on? Their vegan garlic bread is a big hit too.
If you want to fill your fridge with a few days’ worth of nourishing, vegan food with a Middle Eastern influence, get a delivery from The Ottömen. Stockport’s own veggie lockdown food saviours are more used to dishing up at sociable food markets like Grub but their transition online has worked really well as we found when we reviewed one of their veggie mezze bundles. The vegan options are plentiful.
This Didsbury pizza place had already proove-d itself on the classic pizza front but has recently really stepped up its vegan game too. Not content with a token ‘vegan cheese optional’ footnote, instead a whole menu of vegan pizzas ‘designed by vegans for vegans’ has joined the party. Choose from nine pizzas from the basic Margherita to wildcards like the Art-Beet with basil, beetroot and artichokes or La Contadina with green pea base, sauteed cabbage, capers, vegan Mozzarella and pistachios. There’s even a vegan aubergine parmigiana.
Another hit when we were able to do restaurant reviews, Ruyi has everything you’d expect from a Chinese restaurant but reincarnated in vegetarian or vegan form. Yes, that includes ribs, wings, prawn crackers, crispy beef, and crispy duck. The menu is overwhelmingly vast with a dim sum selection that could be taken as a challenge. Another one for winning over the carnivores.
A relative newcomer, Vegan shack opened in the latter half of 2019 and has quickly amassed a cult following via Instagram. There are no pretensions to health food here, this is the kind of gratifying fried food that goes down so well on a boozy night out - remember those? Most notably, the kebab featuring a house-made seitan ‘doner meat’ wrapped in fresh khobez bread with salad, chilli sauce and mayo. There are burgers, ‘chicken’ dippers and fries too.
If breakfast is the issue that troubles you most about going plant-based, let Vertigo take care of you. This ‘plant-based eatery’ opened its cafe and deli on Cross Street in early 2019 and happily rode the (frothy oat milk) wave of vegan fanaticism, opening a second venue on First Street just six months later and a base at MediaCityUK last year. Breakfast dishes span everything from the ubiquitous avocado toast to a Vertigo ‘Benedict’ with vegan black pudding, confit tomato, hash brown and hollandaise. Other dishes include a green mac 'n' cheese, a Reuben bagel with peppered tempeh, and enough hummus to feed five thousand angry lorry drivers.
It started as a very niche Oldham St record shop with a vegan cafe on the b-side. Now four years since a move to Edge Street, V Rev has fully established itself as the go-to for your day-glo, towering vegan junk food fix. Think Almost Famous without the cows, or the bacon, or the cheese… Fun burger names like ‘Whopper Way To Make A Living’ and ‘Donut Have A Cow, Man’ give you an inkling of what’s involved, but they also do burritos, brunch and seitan chicken wings. V Rev’s latest creation is an homage (or should that be huldigung?) to last year’s absent Xmas markets: The Wurst Of Times features a jumbo plant-based hotdog, garlic buttered roast potatoes, grilled sauerkraut, curry ketchup and spring onions in a steamed pretzel bun. Use the code TAKEOUT for 20% off click & collect via their website.
Migrating North for the first time, cult London vegan kebab outlet What The Pitta finally opens here on 7 January for delivery and takeaway with eat-in available when restrictions are lifted. We wrote about What The Pitta last year but in a nutshell, it’s one of those gaffs that focuses on doing one thing and doing it well. In this case, that’s pitta stuffed with a family recipe for vegan kebab 'meat'.
An Arndale market favourite, now available at General Store in Ancoats as well as a few other locations - see their socials for full deets as the rules are ever-changing. Wholesome Junkies do indecent things with oyster mushrooms. Those mushrooms happen to be local Lancashire lads and are a welcome change from seitan or soya in a deep-fried ‘chickn’ burger smothered in Buffalo sauce (no buffaloes were harmed etc.). There are fries and sides too - special mention must go to their loaded tater tots that would certainly get Napoleon Dynamite’s groove on.
Altrincham’s Wow Yau Chow was set to expand its empire in 2020 but while new locations are temporarily on hold, Henry Yau’s enterprising spirit is not. Fast to adapt with an in-house delivery service (along with takeaway and click and collect), a new-ish vegan section on the menu has also proved popular. If you’re a fan of tofu, you’ll be in your element with crispy panko tofu stuffed into bao with vegan sriracha mayo, snuggled up with shiitake mushrooms in dumplings and smothered in salt 'n' pepper seasoning for that classic Anglo-Chinese flavour thwack. No-fu? No worries, there’s golden cauliflower curry, salt n pepper fries and Szechuan ‘not chicken’ amongst other menu highlights.