London’s ‘first vegan pub’ launches

In 2012, Soho’s The Coach and Horses became famous as London’s first-ever vegetarian pub.

The pub is working with local breweries to serve cruelty-free beer.

Now, the veggie-friendly boozer in the heart of the capital has a rival in east London, as a venue claiming to be the city’s first vegan pub opens its doors today.

The Spread Eagle, which sits on Homerton High Street in Hackney, opens today, becoming the first pub in the capital to be 100% cruelty-free from bar to kitchen.

It is owned and operated by Meriel Armitage and Luke McLaughlin, who are determined to show that vegan food doesn’t have to be holier-than-thou.

The pub will serve a menu of plant-based Mexican dishes from street food vendor Club Mexicana, which is also owned by Armitage.

“Just because food’s ethical doesn’t mean it can’t be naughty,” Armitage, 34, told the Evening Standard.

The dishes take traditional meat-based meals and give them a plant-based makeover, with Mexican items including Jackfruit carnitas; vegan chorizo, and nachos topped with “cheez” made with soya and coconut oil, as well as vegan pub classic like beer-battered “tofish” and chips.

“If you’re looking for chickpeas and chia seeds, you’ve come to the wrong place,” The Spread Eagle’s website reads. “Heaped with handmade toppings just bursting with colours and flavour – guacamole, tomatillo salsa, sour cream, pink onions, pickled chillies, chimichurri, fresh lime and coriander, their food is guaranteed to get your taste buds dancing!”

“We’ve got something on the menu that looks like the best Mexican fried chicken burger ever. It tastes like it too. You blow people’s minds when they find out it’s vegan.”

The drinks themselves are just as ethical. The Spread Eagle has rotating cask ales that are specially brewed without the addition of finings, “making them not only natural, but deliciously tasty and 100% vegan.”

Armitage and McLaughlin are also working with local breweries such as Beavertown to provide beers which have been fined without animal-based products.

Traditionally, many brewers use products such as isinglass — a fish bladder protein — to fine their beers.

Veganism has skyrocketed on the priority list for restaurants and supermarkets alike in the past year. Plant-based diets were tipped as a top food trend for 2018 in Waitrose’s annual Food and Drink Trend Report, while supermarkets such as the Co-op and Tesco have also started to bolster their vegan wine offerings.

“These supermarkets aren’t buying into veganism because of a sense of moral duty,” says Armitage. “They’re buying into it because the demand is there. I never thought we’d reach this tipping point in my lifetime.”

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