Taking a trip to the Midlands? Jess Dixon is your guide to help you discover the best places to find vegan food in Leicestershire.
Leicestershire is a landlocked county in the middle of England which offers history, culture, great shopping, natural beauty, and fantastic vegan food.
Whether you’re embracing staycations thanks to the ongoing threat of Covid-19, or just looking for vegan-friendly options on your doorstep, I’ve put together a guide to my favourite vegan hotspots in and around the city of Leicester.
Melton Mowbray, where I live, is most famous as the home of the pork pie. It is surprising to many people, therefore, that this small market town has an absolute gem of a 100% vegan cafe and restaurant.
Apteekki owners Luck and Boo (AKA Marcus Jefford and Becky Dakin) have been vegan since 2018. Marcus is a Michelin-trained chef who once worked at Marco Pierre White’s Mirabelle in Mayfair, and before taking over Apteekki, the couple ran vegan pop-ups at venues across the midlands.
Unusual and creative dishes on the latest menu included “Not a Fish Supper,” made with banana blossom, a Meze selection, and a vegan take on Vietnamese Pho. Occasional themed nights offer limited edition menu options. There’s also a range of vegan cakes, bakes, and desserts (get the chocolate brownie – you’ll thank me later!)
There’s also a range of beautiful and delicious drinks including dairy-free lattes, nutshakes, and hot chocolates. You’ll find unusual ingredients such as Japanese matcha, raw cacao, and even CBD oil.
Open: currently closed for refurbishment with new opening hours to be confirmed. Prior to Covid-19, hours were 9am-4pm Monday-Saturday plus Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.
Leicester is a hugely diverse city and is home to the UK’s largest Indian population outside of London. If you love Indian food, there is simply nowhere in the UK with more or better options than Leicester. Many of the restaurants you’ll find on the famous Golden Mile or across the city are 100% vegetarian or vegan.
My favourite is Herb, which offers vegetarian and vegan based dishes based on cuisine from the Kerala region of India. The focus is on fresh ingredients, herbs and spices, and the principles of healthy and healing food.
I recommend ordering several different dishes for the table and sharing, family-style. My favourites are the Kadala curry, which features black chickpeas in a coconut sauce (£7.65) and the Cheera Kizhangu, a curry made with poached spinach and potato (£6.89.) If you go at lunchtime, the lunch Thali (£5.95) is a filling and affordable option.
Open: Noon-10pm 7 days a week (currently offering takeaway for collection and local delivery only.)
Shivalli, located on Welford Road, is a southern Indian restaurant with a purely vegetarian menu, the majority of which is also vegan. Dishes are made by master chefs from Udupi in India and use traditional cooking methods and herbs and spices.
I love the Thalis, which offer a three-course menu of soup and poppadoms, followed by mini portions of five different curries, and then a dessert. Remember to specify that you’re vegan when you order. The Shivalli Special Thali costs £12.99. The Channa Masala and Aubergine Curry (both £5.79) are also delicious.
Prior to the pandemic, Shivalli offered an all-you-can-eat Sunday buffet with majority vegan food. I’m very much hoping this will return once buffet-style eating is safe again!
Open: 6-9pm, Wednesday-Sunday (currently offering takeaway for collection and local delivery only.)
4. More Coffee Co.
This gorgeous independent coffee shop in Melton Mowbray has a small menu of locally sourced food, including vegan options. Some other menu items can also be veganised with simple swaps, such as replacing cheddar with vegan cheese.
There’s a continually changing array of cakes and bakes, which always includes at least one delicious vegan option.
I’m obsessed with the vegan breakfast burrito, which costs £7.50 and comes with crisps and salad. Drinks-wise, I usually get on oat milk latte but the dark hot chocolate (vegan if you ask for it with plant milk) is perfection, too.
Open: normally 8am-5pm Monday-Saturday and 10am-4pm Sunday. Currently operating on reduced hours due to Covid-19.
5. The Good Earth
This independent, family-run restaurant has been serving healthy and delicious vegetarian and vegan food to the Leicester community since 1965. The menu changes periodically based on what is in season, but usually includes a soup, a plant-based roast, and several individual dish options.
Open: post-pandemic opening hours are TBC
6. Gelato Village
When you think of veganism, gelato—Italian slow-churned ice cream—likely isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But the award-winning Gelato Village, located on St Martin’s Square in Leicester, also offers a range of sorbetto, which is perfect for vegans looking for a sweet treat in the hot weather.
You’ll find traditional fruity flavours like strawberry and raspberry, and also creative flavour combos you might not have thought of. I love the lemon and basil flavour, a surprisingly tasty mix and so refreshing in the summer! Fancy something chocolatey? The Arriba, Vidama, and Dark Chocolate Orange sorbettos are all vegan.
Pro tip: for coffee lovers like me, Gelato Village’s espresso and cold brew are unbeatable.
Open: Currently 2-5pm Friday and Saturday, and 12-3pm Sunday, for takeaway and outside service only. Longer opening hours are likely to resume in the summer.
Zero waste and vegan shops in Leicester
1. Currant Affairs
Currant Affairs, on Loseby Lane, is Leicester’s first 100% vegan shop. The takeaway menu features freshly made cakes, bakes, and sandwiches, and the shop offers an enormous range of ingredients, dried goods, vegan meats and cheeses, store cupboard essentials, and treats.
Tip: get the Booja Booja truffles for the best vegan chocolate you’ve ever tasted.
Open: 10am-4pm Tuesday-Saturday. Home delivery is also available in the local area.
On St Martin’s Square in Leicester (seconds away from Gelato Village) you’ll find NADA, a haven for environmentally-conscious vegans. As the city’s first and only zero-waste, plastic-free store, NADA offers a huge array of sustainable and ethically sourced products including rice and pasta, nuts and seeds, cereals, tea and coffee, and vegan chocolate and sweets.
You’ll also find household items from soap and toothpaste to reusable straws, menstrual products, and candles.
Open: NADA is currently open from 11am-3pm Tuesday-Saturday and also offers click-and-collect.
More and more students are going vegan (or even just cutting down on their consumption of animal products.) PETA put together a list of the most vegan-friendly universities in the UK, and Leicester made the cut thanks to the availability of vegan foods on campus.
Combined with the array of options across the city, vegan students will love living and studying in Leicester.
Top four things to do in Leicestershire
Richard III Museum & Leicester Cathedral
The remains of King Richard III were discovered under a car park in Leicester, on the site of the former Greyfriars Friary Church, in 2012. This extraordinary discovery eventually resulted in the remains being reinterred at Leicester Cathedral in 2015.
Visit the Richard III Visitor Centre to learn about the discovery and about the controversial historical figure, then cross the road and see King Richard’s final resting place in Leicester Cathedral.
The King Richard III Visitor Centre will reopen on 21 June 2021, subject to Covid-19 restrictions. Leicester Cathedral is currently open only for services but will reopen in due course.
National Space Centre
Enjoy an “out of this world” experience at the National Space Centre, a museum covering many different aspects of space science and astronomy. Explore six galleries, see the iconic Rocket Tower and the UK’s largest Planetarium, walk through a mock-up of the Columbus Module from the International Space Station, and much more.
The National Space Centre will reopen in May 2021, subject to Covid-19 restrictions. Tickets cost £12.50 for concessions and £15.50 at full price. Under 5s go free.
Walking and Deer-Spotting in Bradgate Park
Bradgate Park is located in Newtown Linford, just a few miles from Leicester City Centre, and offers over 800 acres of beautiful parkland. The wild, dramatic landscape will soon make you forget you are mere minutes from a busy city.
Explore the hills, walk up to the Old John Tower and enjoy beautiful views, and see if you can spot the resident herd of over 500 Red and Fallow deer. The River Lin runs through the park and is a beautiful spot for a picnic on a warm day.
Entry to the park is free, but parking costs £4.50 for a full day (£5.50 on weekends and bank holidays.)
Belvoir (pronounced “beaver”) Castle is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Rutland (and yes, it’s in Leicestershire, despite its NG postcode!) Its position on top of a hill makes it an impressive and imposing presence! Take in the Castle’s history, walk in the beautiful gardens, and enjoy the stunning views across the Leicestershire countryside.
Currently, only the gardens are open, but the Castle will reopen when Covid-19 guidelines permit. Castle and Garden tickets range from £9.00 to £22.00.
About the author
Jess Amy Dixon is a freelance journalist who has written for publications including The Independent, Metro, and Well&Good. She is also a PhD student at the University of Winchester, and co-host of the Women VS Everything podcast. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found reading, knitting, or sipping coffee. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @JessAmyWrites.
Now that you’ve found the best places to eat vegan food in Leicestershire, fancy taking a virtual tour of the best vegan restaurants in Bristol?