It’s a little-known fact that the vegetarian movement has its roots in Greater Manchester.

That’s right; in the early 19th Century a Salfordian minister called Rev William Cowherd – surely a sweet irony – encouraged members of his small group of followers, the Cowherdites, to abstain from eating meat as a means towards better health and self-improvement. In doing so The Reverent unknowingly laid the philosophical foundations for what was to become Vegetarian Society, formed in 1847.

It’s a lovely titbit from history, and just one of the great claims that give this region its radical status. The well-heeled and oft quoted phrase ‘Manchester does thing differently’ comes to mind; a group of people actively opting for a meat-free diet at the start of the Industrial Revolution and during an age of great social reform is surely a perfect example of challenging the status quo.

Fast-forward 200 years and the concept of taking the extra step towards veganism has truly gathered pace. And it’s no surprise that Greater Manchester is well ahead of the curve in many respects. The choice of vegan options across the region has been growing rapidly in recent years and vegan city-breakers are increasingly choosing Manchester safe in the knowledge that they will be able to eat very well indeed.

So here is our ultimate guide for where to eat if you’re a vegan visitor to Greater Manchester. We’ve included places that are exclusively vegan, places with lots of great vegan options and even a few places where there may only be a couple of suitable dishes on the menu, but they are worth considering in case you’re planning to visit in a mixed group with non-vegans and want keep everyone happy.

1847, Manchester city centre

A fitting start to the list - named after the year that the Vegetarian Society formed - 1847 is a small chain of vegetarian and vegan restaurants with outposts also in Birmingham and Bristol. A recent move to a spot on Chapel Walks means the incorporation of a new botanical bar called Dandelion alongside an upmarket menu featuring dishes such as tofu and barley crunch, cauliflower trio and cardamom crème anglaise.

The Allotment Vegan Restaurant, Stockport

A must-visit for anyone who enjoys exceptionally thoughtful cooking; The Allotment offers seven and ten course vegan taster menus with courses such as smoked roots, fennel, pear and avocado tartare, Irish cream cannelloni and fermented nut cheeseboards. Vegan wine-pairing is also available. Booking at least a couple of weeks in advance is recommended!

Amma’s Canteen, Chorlton

It may not be a headline grabber like some of the other Indian restaurants in Manchester that are commonly listed as vegan-friendly but Amma’s Cateen is a wonderful little gem, offering traditional Keralan street food. A good number of dishes on the menu are suitable for vegans including the lentil donuts (Sambar Vadai), Masala Dosa and poached plantain.

Bundobust, Manchester city centre

Firmly established as one of the city centre’s best new Indian restaurants, Bundobust is entirely vegetarian with around half of menu options suitable for vegans or able to be made vegan. It’s also a beer lover’s paradise with great ales, largely from across the north of England. If you’re planning a visit with vegetarian friends we recommend the combo for six which includes every dish on the menu!

Brewdog, Manchester city centre

It’s pretty common knowledge that Brewdog beers are Vegan Society approved but they also have some pretty solid vegan options on the menu making it a great place to go with a mixed group of vegan and non-vegan diners. The vegan burger (Hail Seitan) and vegan hotdog (Soy Division) are the main drawer and there are also a couple of good sides available, but you’re probably more interested in the beer anyway…

Café Oooh La La at Hulme Community Garden Centre, Hulme

One of Manchester’s most interesting spaces and project; a garden centre full of everything that you might need for personal projects, it’s also home to Café Oooh La La which serves a lovely range of hot and cold meals including many vegan options. The homemade brownies are legendary.

Chapter One Books, Manchester city centre

This funky little café-cum-book shop doesn’t have a lot of vegan options, but it does have a very lovely selection of vegan cakes and bakes supplied by Offbeat Cakes. Grab a book and kick back with a coffee and cake whilst admiring the unusual indoor water feature.

Deaf Institute, Manchester city centre

This one surprises a lot of non-vegans who assume it’s a standard burger and hot dog affair; however, the initiated know... The team at Deaf Institute run a vegan kitchen offering plant-based versions of favourites like loaded nachos and mac and cheese as well as a Holy Seitan Burger, various bowls of goodness, flatbreads and delicious vegan ice cream from Ice Shack (see below). The weekly Vegan Hangover, held on Sunday afternoon, is legendary.

Earth Cafe, Manchester city centre

With a menu that changes daily, vegans flock to Earth Café – slightly hidden down a back street in the Northern Quarter – for a guaranteed flavour hit. There are a lot of vegetable-packed curries, chillies and stews, an excellent juice bar and a great selection of dairy-free cakes. As Lonely Planet puts it: ‘Here you’ll eat well in the knowledge that you’re eating right’.

Earthlings, Bolton

Earthlings is a family-run organic juice bar and health food cafe specialising in plant based cuisine. Based in Bromley Cross village, just north of Bolton the food is 100% plant based with no refined sugars and includes an amazing selection of breakfast bowls, superfood salad bowls as well as lots of healthy desserts.

Eighth Day Cafe, Manchester city centre

A local institution that has been running as a co-operative health-food shop since the 1970’s, the Café downstairs is worth a look for a quick stop after stocking up on vegan staples. Meals are hearty and colourful, and we’re particularly fond of the Full House Vegan Breakfast - or anything vegan on the menu that features sourdough toast from Trove bakery. 

Electrik, Chorlton

We’ve always had a soft spot for Electrik and the move to make their pop-up kebab menu Yadda Yadda a permanent fixture after a debut over summer is just another reason to visit. Okay, the menu features mostly non-vegan dishes but the star of the show - and the main reason to include Electrik in this list - is the incredible Beetroot Bhaji kebab.

El Marchador Tacos, Manchester city centre

A brand new addition for 2018, El Marchador Tacos have been kicking about at food festivals and events in recent months but now have a semi-permanent home at Hatch, a collective of shops, cafes and restaurants squirreled away in shipping containers under the Mancunian Way on Oxford Road. Expect vegan takes on the classic Mexican staple, loaded with pulled jackfruit, all manner of pulses, pickles, salsas and condiments.

Fuel Café, Withington

Fuel is a bit of an oddity; a bit weird, a bit wonderful, a bit of everything. It’s got a very strong community feel, has great veggie and vegan food (the jerk burger and burrito are both highly recommended) and also offers an intimate space for music, comedy, poetry and quiz nights. The perfect spot for whiling away an evening or afternoon.

Güd, Altrincham

A humble stall located at New Market Square at Altrincham Market; Güd deserves a great deal of fanfare and the word is spreading fast about their amazing Korean BBQ tofu, polenta chip with beetroot ketchup and an array of other specials and goodies. 100% plant-powered, you won’t regret making the journey to Altrincham to check it out.

Greens, West Didsbury

It may have been around since 1990 and it may not be exclusively vegan, but there is something quite lovely about Greens. Famously set up by TV chef Simon Rimmer and his friends Simon Connolly, many vegans will have fond memories of visiting during earlier days as a vegetarian, and it’s for that reason it deserves a place on this list. Of course, much of the menu is now also suitable for vegans and it’s a great choice for meals out with a confused, non-vegan family member.

Ice Shack, Withington

This lovely family-run business is the North’s first all-vegan desserts parlour. Vegans flock to it from all over the region for the huge range of ice cream flavours: caramel cookie, lemon and ginger, rainbow sugar rush, salted caramel; the list goes on, although a word of warning to get there early in the day if you want to bag a popular favour as everything is made on the day. Also on offer is a range of sorbets, truffles, cakes, pastries and milk shakes – all customisable with toppings!

Lily’s Vegetarian Indian Cuisine, Ashton

The does-what-it-says-on-the-tin of restaurants, Lily’s is a bit of a hidden gem but definitely has some die-hard fans. The name suggests this is a vegetarian affair but the majority of dishes are actually vegan and they also do some wonderful and unusual vegan sweet treats that you won’t find anywhere else.

Little Aladdin, Manchester city centre

Vegan takeaway fans rejoice, for in 2017 Little Aladdin made the jump to a fully vegan menu, meaning that there’s absolutely no reason to go hungry after a night out in the Northern Quarter. Those looking to fill their boots with an infamous Northern Quarter ‘rice and three’ are well catered for whilst the constant stock of brownies is another reason to stop in.

Lolo’s, Ramsbottom

A 1920’s retro-styled vegan restaurant, Lolo’s sits at the heart of the beautiful village of Ramsbottom. The menu is sprawling: think black pudding towers or root latkes to start; butternut squash lasagne or winter hash for mains; and Bakewell tart or New York lemon cheesecake for dessert. Resident baker Bernice can also make bespoke vegan cakes for special occasions.

Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen, Withington

“Remember the time when you opened the menu in a restaurant, eyes headed directly towards the vegetarian/vegan options and had to make the hard decision of which dish to pick out of the two available. Well that time is over!” Lotus is another great spot in Withington and the vegan go-to for a Chinese food fix. Well over half of the dishes on the menu suitable for vegans and includes many exotic mock-meats that you may not have tried before.

Manchester Vegan and Wellbeing Centre, Manchester city centre

A new-ish addition to the vegan offering in the Northern Quarter, Manchester Vegan and Wellbeing Centre is located on the ground floor of Affleck’s within the space used by Three Minute Theatre. As a social enterprise, most meals are under a fiver with profits going back into the Square circle Theatre project which aims to provide skills and celebrate hidden talent among people with hidden disabilities.

Mod’s Vegan Café at The Thirsty Scholar, Manchester city centre

A vegan outpost within The Thirsty Scholar pub run by Martin The Mod, here you get a big helping of comfort pub along with a traditional, relaxed pub vibe and usually a bit of live music. It’s the usual favourites on the menu - breakfasts, toasties, burgers and a bit of Tex-Mex, but they’re called favourites for very good reason. Look out for the vegan cupcakes too!

Nibble NQ, Manchester city centre

The all-girl gang at Nibble in the Northern Quarter are a lovely bunch and are super passionate about baking, eating and drinking. The menu isn’t exclusively vegan but has lots of dairy free options, some lovely breakfast choices, sandwiches and soups – and nothing is too much hassle, so if you’d like a dish to be adapted they will always be accommodating.

Pasta Factory, Manchester city centre

Keeping it in the family, like any good Italian restaurant, Pasta Factory is wonderfully friendly and homely restaurant with a surprisingly high concentration of vegan options on the menu. Fresh pasta dishes doused in cashew or tomato based sauces garnished with nuts, truffle or even homemade vegan parmesan; there’s also the rich vegan chocolate ravioli or homemade vegan nut cheese board to finish. A pizzeria called Noi Quattro is due to open soon and is hoped that it will adopt a similar approach to vegan ingredients and dishes.

Plant Powered Sundays at GRUB, Manchester city centre

A ground-breaking event, Plant Powered Sundays was the first UK’s first weekly, all-vegan street food festival when it started from humble beginnings last year. After a few changes to the venue the event now takes place at Fairfield Social Club (near Mayfield Depot) and offers a rotation of different vegan street food traders every Sunday. The event is currently on a winter break until February 2018, although a three day all-vegan #GRUBExtraVEGANza at the end of January has been announced which will be a must-visit for a fix of vegan street food.

Pollen Bakery, Manchester city centre

Making and baking in a former railway arch, Pollen is far and away the best bakery in the city centre. It’s not a vegan set up by any stretch of the imagination; however, the team always tend to have a couple of must-try vegan products on the counter. We’ve spotted vegan gingerbread and chocolate tarts, vegan pear and pecan caramel tarts and as well as various assorted cakes. The team also do some amazing collaborations, most recently with the wonderful all-vegan Rosie & Organic, so keep an eye on their Instagram page for details.

Real Junk Food, Manchester city centre

With a unique concept offering pay-as-you-feel meals using quality-assured food that would otherwise be thrown out, Real Junk Food Project aims to tackle the issue of waste food and is currently offering tasty dishes aimed at the working lunch crowd at a pop-up unit on Oxford Street. The menu changes daily depending on what’s available but we’re told that there is always a vegan option on offer.

Sanskruti, Withington

A hugely extensive menu packed with mostly vegan options and wonderful flavours from right across India: from the ‘Thalis’ of Gujarat to the ‘Dosas’ of South India and from the ‘Chaats’ of Mumbai to the rich, unforgettable taste of North Indian curries. We’re a big fan of the more unusual appetite dishes such as Dhokla, Patra and Uttapam.

Tea Hive, Chorton

There are lots of good vegan options on offer at this quaint tea and coffee shop in central Chorton. Vegan full English breakfasts, tofu scrambles and vegan banana bread for breakfast; various sandwiches, soups and salads for lunch; plus a vast array of sweet treats and a vegan afternoon tea that can be ordered with a bit of notice. Extra points awarded for having some of the best crockery in town.

The Beagle, Chorlton

Like its neighbour Electrik, The Beagle definitely isn’t vegan but it does have some vegan options on the menu worth seeking out. The kimchi fries are what led us there originally, but we’ve since been back to try the sweet potato, black bean and cashew burger which we can confirm is as delicious as it sounds. Weggie Vednesday’s are also a thing at The Beagle, with lots of great specials including some vegan options.

The Coven Café and Bistro, Wigan

A proper hidden gem in the heart of Wigan, The Coven Café and Bistro has a largely vegan menu including interesting mains such as Spanish potatoes, Chinese fritters and satay noodles alongside soups, breakfasts and assorted Things on Toast. When the weather is good, make a beeline for the lovely secret garden.

The Garden, Hale

A place for beautiful Instagram pics as well as great food, this health food eatery serves up wholesome, nutritious, home cooked food and cold pressed juices and it also functions as a holistic wellbeing hub. The menu is largely vegan with multiple options across breakfast (see: Plant Power Breakfast), brunch (see: Pitaya Pancake) and lunch (see: Immunity Bowl), with a great selection of gluten free and vegan desserts too.

The Kitchen, Bolton

A café project by Lakamka Workers Co-Operative, it serves up simple and wholesome food at affordable prices in Bolton town centre. Vegetarian staples abound, but the menu also includes lots of vegan sandwich, wrap, soup, burger and cake options. We recommend the gözleme – a traditional Turkish flatbred and pastry dish stuffed with spinach, mushroom, potato or Cheezly and parsley. The café also offers a veg exchange as a commitment to support local food growing communities if you have excels or spare produce from your garden.

The Molly House, Manchester city centre

Hidden away on the back streets of Manchester’s Gay Village, The Molly House offers a Spanish tapas style menu with a separate vegan menu which includes a delightful vegan sharing board as well as vegan breakfasts and specials such as vegan chilli. There are almost always two vegan cakes on the main counter to choose from too.

The Tea Room at The Midland Hotel, Manchester city centre

A very good hidden secret… Manchester’s oldest afternoon tea room had a huge facelift in 2017 which also included the introduction of an exclusive vegan Afternoon Tea. Sandwich flavours include mushroom duxelle with walnut, fried aubergine caviar with roasted red peppers and jerk spices chickpea hummus with olive oil and grilled courgette. Scones come plain or with sultanas and are sweetened with soy milk whilst home-baked vegan cakes include cinnamon and orange polenta cake, dark chocolate and cheery delice and pistachio and raspberry meringue.

V-Rev Vegan Diner, Manchester city centre

Hardly needing an introduction, most vegans – local and visitors alike – have heard of or seen photographs from V-Rev which has been around since 2011. This is ‘dirty food’ made 100% from plants: beefy or chkn burgers stacked high and covered in vegan sauces, mac and cheez bites, frickles, loaded fries; the menu features everything that vegans are often denied. We highly recommend making a reservation in advance if possible.

Wagamama, various locations

It’s well known that Wagamama has recently introduced an excellent vegan menu at all of its branches, featuring plant powered versions of some of its most loved dishes such as pad-thai, yaki soba and gyoza as well as new dishes such as the delicious kare burosu and yasai itame noodle bowls, warm tofu chilli salads and samala curry. What’s more, with three branches in Manchester city centre, plus branches at MediaCityUK and Intu Trafford Centre respectively it’s easy to get a fresh food fix wherever you happen to wander.

Zad’s, Chorton

Like Little Aladdin, Zad’s is making big waves in terms of vegan fast food and takeaway. Specialising in all manner of pizza and cheesy garlic bread, there’s a side line in vegan burgers and hotdogs to take away with loaded fires and range of donuts, cakes and ice creams. Super-friendly staff and a small seating area make it a good stop off point at the end of a pub and grub tour of vegan hot-spot, Chorton.

Think we’ve missed somewhere? Email us with your top vegan tips and recommendations.

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