Vegan, Abroad: London + Manchester + Edinburgh


*I will be adding to this post as I create the reviews for the restaurants I’ve visited in the UK & Edinburgh!*

Traveling as a vegan can be a stress-inducing prospect for many. For me, I think of it as a culinary challenge that informs me about how little/far a country other than the USA has come in providing options for vegans.

England, however, is completely not in my realm of vegan worry. Especially because it’s where veganism was first coined as an official term (in 1949, to be exact), by a fella named Donald Watson. And so, it is the de facto birthplace of veganism.

Quite contrary, I was super excited to see what England had to offer me in vegan cuisine. I was even more excited that I didn’t need to tip the waiters or check my phone for emails/texts, because I WAS ON VACATION MOTHAFUCKA!

vegan chao in england
When in England, do like the English and pose next to a phone booth 😂

Besides checking out the vegan scene, I also enjoyed exploring and experiencing another culture, or perhaps more aptly, the original culture, considering the “USA” was started by the UK way back when they slaughtered all those poor Indians/Native Americans.

All things considered, we cool, right? #not
All things considered, we cool, right? #not

Yeah, English people suck sometimes.

Since Brexit had happened nary a few months prior, I was surprised to see there wasn’t too much mention of it in the news media. The major scandal I saw was that the great British Bakeoff show was leaving the BBC, so I suppose everyone had more or less gotten on with their English lives.

Thinking about how nobody cares about Brexit, apparently… and what to eat next!

Of course, the changes wouldn’t be felt till later, when the policies regulating citizenship and immigrant status/rights kick in. We stayed with Juan’s friends Noelia + Adrian in Manchester, who are from another province in the EU (Spain) and weren’t too happy that their rights were to be limited later on.

vegan chao in england
Cutie patootie pups don’t need to worry about immigration issues, lucky bastards!

On a less serious note, England itself was a joy to experience. People seem much less concerned about the rat race to success (or at least from what I gleaned during my two weeks there) like they are here in NYC.

Enjoying a cappuccino along the outskirts of Borough Market!

In terms of employment out of college, Noelia had absolutely no trouble getting a job out of uni and the economy seemed to be in a very healthy place (even if the British pound had weakened because of Brexit). Even the hobos were nice — they said “thank you” even if you didn’t give them any money!

In general, most everyone knew what a vegan diet was. I didn’t get any confused looks or puzzled “WTF is vegan” faces, which was refreshing.

Ahh, the zesty taste of acceptance!

Also, people seem to have more of a connection with animals + nature here: the parks were filled with birds (crows especially for some reason), the animals coexisted peacefully with humans, and farmland was only a few stops away on the train.

vegan chao in england
The sheep all ran away from me… I guess they don’t like vegans or New Yorkers?!

In total, England is a vegan paradise; not because there’s tons of vegan joints or anything, but because of how accommodating and familiar the general population is with it. They even have their own term for vegan here: “free from,” meaning free from animal ingredients, gluten, etc.

vegan chao in england
One example of the term “free from” being used in Borough Market.

If Trump wins, I might consider moving there — though maybe not anymore because of Brexit!

Photos by Juan Del Río.

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