A Conscious Guide to London
London is home to some of the most recognizable landmarks in the world: Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London, just to name a few. It’s also a place where old meets new — where else can you admire the most stunning Victorian architecture, whilst chowing down on a sustainably made beet burger in a café just across the street? “The Big Smoke” is growing more eco-conscious each and every day — someday it might just lose that nickname for good!
The Spread Eagle @ 224 Homerton High Street
London, E9 6AS
Club Mexicana offers vegan, Mexican-inspired street food, and boy, do they do it well. The dishes are such good quality, and packed full of flavorful toppings, from sour cream to pickled chilies. The Baja fish tacos are a must-try, and of course, you couldn’t leave without sampling their pan seared “scallops.” They have a stall in Camden KERB market, but you can also enjoy their food at London’s first 100% vegan pub — the Spread Eagle. Nobody in London does deep-fried vegan cheese like Club Mexicana!
You’ll find a coffee shop on almost every corner of this city. It seems like lately, the London coffee scene has transformed from icky mugs of sadness to a selection of blends from all around the world. You can expect some of the best-tasting and most sustainably-made coffee at Caravan Coffee; they have locations in multiple places all around London, from City to King’s Cross. A lot of time is invested in sourcing their coffee; they ensure that they are being sustainable by visiting the importers and establishing a relationship with them. It is wonderful how this business goes the extra mile to find, and work with, people who share their values regarding environmentally conscious living. Their sustainable coffees are sourced from places as far as Ecuador and Ethiopia.
69b Broadway Market
London E8 4PH
Located in the heart of trendy Broadway Market, 69b is a boutique with a conscience. It’s a little further out from the center than others on this list, but it’s so worth the journey. Ex-stylist Merryn Leslie is the proud owner of this boutique, and she strictly works with brands that believe in sustainability only. All clothes sold are made in a socially and environmentally responsible way. Ingenious garments from Kings of Indigo, Black Velvet Circus, and People Tree light up this little boutique and create a statement that sustainability can be fashionable, too.
London isn’t gifted with the amount of stylish vintage/thrift shops that the USA has, however, we do have this little gem. Rokit is the UK’s number one vintage retailer, and it’s not hard to see why! They have locations in Covent Garden, Camden, and Brick Lane. Covent Garden is the largest, boasting the most variety of clothes; there are bundles of wacky t-shirts, a never-ending selection of denim, army prints, and more. You’ll find pieces ranging from the 1930s up until the 1990s — there’s something for just about anyone.
Known as “the roaming pop-up that gives back,” the Nomad Cinema is unlike any other cinema in London. It pops up in a variety of beautiful and unique venues, ranging from Brompton Cemetery to Leadenhall Market, and shows classic movies, as well as more contemporary ones. The best part? 100% of distributable profits go to The Sustainability Institute — a pioneering sustainable living and learning center in South Africa.
228 North End Road
London W14 9NU
This 100% vegan supermarket not only sells a wide range of vegan food and drinks, but they also have household items, health, and beauty products, too! You’ll find classic vegan champions like Follow Your Heart and Tofurkey, but there’s also room to discover plenty of new, unique, and artisanal products, too. The size of the shop may be small, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in contents; the aisles are packed with so much vegan goodness that you’ll be simply spoiled with choices!
74 Westbourne Grove
London, W2 5SH
Situated in the beautiful (and Instagram-worthy) area of Notting Hill, Farmacy offers an array of vegetarian and vegan dishes inspired from all over the world. All of the food is free from dairy, refined sugars, additives, and chemicals, yet it’s still so delicious. It’s a little pricy, but you’ll be sold on it once you feast your eyes on their beautifully curated “Earth Bowls.” Once you’ve finished nourishing your body with tasty “medicine food,” you can take a stroll down Portobello Road Market and get some snapshots of the iconic Notting Hill homes.
One of the first vegan “chicken” shops in London, and a place that will have you wanting to stay in the city forever: Temple of Seitan serves up some of the most moreish, deep-fried mock meats you’ll ever have. They have locations in Camden and Hackney, and both shops are always bustling with people from all walks of life, from vegans to self-confessed “carnivores.” It’s undeniably one of the best vegan junk food options that London has to offer; their mouth-watering menu includes burgers, popcorn bites, mac ‘n’ cheese and more. They’ll have you worshipping seitan before you can even finish your hot wings!
Arguably the best vegan kebab in London, What The Pitta serves up non-GMO soya chunks marinated in a blend of Middle-Eastern spices. With locations in Croydon, Shoreditch, and Camden, you shouldn’t ever be too far from this delicious fast food eatery no matter where you are in the city. It’s a meal that feels so indulgent, yet is so guilt-free — and, compared to non-vegan kebab, leaves you feeling a lot less greasy and heavy afterward.
130 Wardour Street
London W1F 8ZN
If you want a wildly Instagrammable dessert, then you should head to Yorica. Here you’ll find the best “free-from” froyo in London. The selection of cute toppings, like cookies, gummy bears and sprinkles will have you feeling like a kid again, the psychedelic décor is to die for, and the thick, creamy yogurt is even better. Everything is free from wheat, gluten, dairy, lactose, eggs, nuts, GMO, and artificial sweeteners. The owners are also pretty serious about sustainability; their cutlery is compostable, straws are biodegradable, and their recycling game is strong!
201 St. Johns Hill
London SW11 1TH
Zero waste shopping and veganism is the future, and Hetu combines both. The shop owners are on a mission to change the world with one of the most powerful tools at our disposal: buying power. They offer a variety of organic food, reusable products, and household products. As you can imagine, it’s pretty stylish and minimal inside, too. Zero waste shopping embraces minimalism, and promotes being environmentally conscious; we need to create as little waste as possible, and that’s what these stores are aiming for. Food packaging is responsible for an overwhelming amount of litter found in the ocean, and on the streets — what’s worse is that so much of it is so unnecessary. Skip the corporate supermarkets when you’re visiting London and head to a friendly, independent, zero waste shop!
* = Over 30 mins away from Charing Cross Station by public transport