I’ve found in these long, lockdown days I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about food. It’s not just me. When I chat to friends on Zoom, conversations about what everyone’s eating have surpassed relentless COVID updates or the rolling political drama called The USA. Waistlines expanded rapidly last year as anxiety-eating collided with the reality that many of us work in fatal proximity to our refrigerators. Then there was the festive season where eating became a competitive sport. But time has marched us into 2021 and we’ve tried to take a collective hold of ourselves. A New Year means health and wellbeing are top of our priorities list, our diets are being swiftly realigned and we now talk about who’s cleverly incorporated a vegan dish into their weekly meal plan without their husband/wife/kids noticing.
As we currently live under a form of house arrest in the UK and are unable to dine out, I have been keeping close note of my favourite vegan eating establishments in London that are delivering. If you want a restaurant-quality meal straight to your doorstep, look no further than Farmacy. These guys top my list of green greatness because they have a farm out in Kent, which delivers biodynamic produce to their restaurant in Notting Hill weekly by electric van. If you could give them a hug you would, wouldn’t you?
The menu is entirely plant-based and free from all dairy, refined sugars, additives and chemicals. They are passionate about promoting eating that is healthy for us and for the earth. Any menu listing a Mac ‘n ‘Cheese’, Cauliflower Popcorn, Loaded Nachos and Artichoke Pizzetta that is actually good for you, will be pinned to my refrigerator door till doomsday. Their warm, comforting ‘Earth Bowls’ come as Mexican, Italian and Breakfast varieties… filled with delicious-sounding things like creamy sweetcorn sauce, roasted wild mushrooms and aubergine caponata (*clicks ORDER).
Speak of Dishoom to any Londoner and their faces will flush with fond memories and food lust. Everyone loves Dishoom. They’re a modern take on the old Irani cafés that have populated Mumbai since the early 1900s. While we wait longingly for them to reopen, they have put together a vegan ‘sausage sarnie’ breakfast box, which can be sent anywhere in mainland UK. Open the simple, sustainable packaging to reveal their famous naan rolls (with extra dough for you to distract the children!), spicy herby vegan sausages and all the trimmings… tomato-chilli jam, fresh coriander, cream ‘cheese’, loose-leaf Darjeeling tea, chai spices and fresh ginger slices to make heady masala chai. What makes your breakfast delivery all the more special is that for every kit ordered, they donate to Magic Breakfast, which feeds breakfast to over 31,000 hungry children across the UK through school collections or home deliveries.
I can’t walk into my apartment complex without tripping over a branded food box. Everyone’s a chef! These became popular a few years ago in the UK for time-poor people who wanted to cook a meal at home without the hassle of having to plan a weekly menu or shop for any of it in a supermarket. I hopped on the trailer after I found one which offered a wide vegan meal selection. It’s as easy as picking the recipes online. They then send you the exact ingredients and how to cook them.
To this day Mindful Chef is still my favourite, and I’d like to point out I was ordering from them way before Andy Murray began backing them and Pixie Lott made them cool! Would you believe me if I told you that you could make Spicy Tofu Bibimbap with Rainbow Chard or heavenly Peanut Satay Tempeh with Chilli & Crispy Kale Rice in about 30 minutes? Another reason I choose Mindful Chef is because of their commitment to recycling. After four deliveries, you can pack up one of their boxes with your other broken-down boxes, ice-packs and insulation materials, stick the Collect+ label they provide on the box and send it back to them for free. Easy as that.
I couldn’t write an article about London’s food delivery without talking about fast food. We all deserve to skid siedways off the wagon in February, and with food apps Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats a touch away, it would be nigh on impossible to take on lockdown without a dirty burger. I will mention Halo and Neat because they are top-drawer, vegan filth with a side of fries. I’m not sure what else to say about them other than they will satisfy your wildest non-burger, burger desires. Imagine the tastiest of flame-gilled, plant-based patties, sauce dripping down your chin (ok, the cheese too), the crunch of fresh lettuce, the tang of tomato relish, kimchi slaw, crispy onions… as Neat says: “Clean, Green, Burger Dreams”!
To conclude my homage to those of us whose current excitement levels are somewhat akin to those of a dog at the door, tongue out, waiting for food to arrive… no list would be complete without dessert. London vegans worth their salted caramel will know of Bad Brownie from Maltby Street Market and others. They have an entire vegan and gluten free collection which is without doubt as gooey and crazy-delicious, if not more so, than its regular cousins. Deliveries include boxes of mixed Peanut Butter & Jelly, Cookie Dough, After 8, Chocolate Orange, Passion Fruit & Coconut brownies. Or simply hand me a large jar of the vegan salted caramel on their menu and a spoon. That is all.