Not only is it a beautiful place to enjoy a staycation, but as Richard Webber discovers, there's plenty of vegan food in Devon to enjoy too...
The South Devon coast is varied, encompassing everything from dramatic cliffs and secluded coves to enticing sandy beaches and popular family resorts, including Torquay, Paignton, Dawlish and Teignmouth.
Step inland and you’ll be offered a feast of rolling hills, isolated moors and truly glorious landscapes.
Meanwhile, NorthDevon is famous for its dramatic coastline comprising high sea cliffs, rocky coves, long sandy beaches and picturesque towns.
Step away from the coast, and you’re treated to wide open spaces, wooded combes and deep valleys sheltering tiny villages. The region boasts over 66 square miles of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including special places such as Combe Martin, Woolacombe, Saunton, Westward Ho!’s Pebble Ridge and the Hartland Peninsula.
In search of somewhere to eat after a day soaking up the sea air, Richard Webber finds there are several cafés and restaurants across Devon offering vegan dishes, especially in the market town of Totnes.
In this guide, Richard shares his tips on how to enjoy a happy (vegan) holiday in Devon:
- Vegan restaurants in South Devon
- Vegan restaurants in North Devon
- Where to stay in Devon
- Top five things to do in South Devon
- Top five things to do in North Devon
Vegan restaurants in South Devon
This welcoming café, half a mile up from Torquay seafront, has a wide vegan selection. I had a Moving Mountains burger with fries (£10).
Other choices include jacket potato with vegan chilli (£8), or for a sweet treat, try waffles (from £6) or blueberry Bakewell (cakes from £3).
Owner Craig is a keen upcycler, so chairs, tables and crockery have been passed down from relatives. Open:
Weds-Sun 9.30am-3pm, Sat 6.30pm- 10.30; 480 Babbacombe Rd, Torquay; @DaisysCafeTorquay on FB.
This cosy 100% plant-based café offers breakfast, sandwiches, toasties, wraps and main meals.
I sampled a Soul Bowl of up to six house salads plus, among others, houmous, kale, roasted chickpeas, baked tofu, mixed seeds and soy/tahini dressing (£8.75) – it was certainly a generous portion!
Liz, the owner, is always willing to adapt the menu for little ones or specific dietary requirements.
Open: Tues-Sat 9am- 3.30pm; 12 Regent St, Teignmouth; @TeignmouthDevoneatplants on FB.
In an enviable coastal position, this eatery has an uninterrupted view of Paignton’s seafront through floor-to-ceiling windows.
This artisan pizza and burger restaurant lives up to its slogan, “Pizza is our passion”, with my cheese and pineapple-covered margherita (£11) being one of the best I’ve tasted.
If you’ve not had enough pizza when you get to dessert, try a strawberry and chocolate sauce dessert pizza or, as I did, enjoy salted caramel cheesecake.
Open: Mon, Tues, Sun 9.30am-5pm, Weds-Thurs 9.30am-8pm, Fri-Sat 9.30am-9pm; Eastern Esplanade, Paignton; paigntonbeach.com
4. The Edgy Veggie
Ruth’s contemporary café is inside Totnes’ 18th century Mansion House. Vegan lunch choices on the day I visited were homity pie (£5.50) and lentil/ lemon soup with vegan cheese scone (£4.50).
I had a slice of carrot cake with walnuts and cashews (£2.50) with a fab oat latte. The soup is always vegan, while about 75% of the remaining dishes are plant-based.
Open: Tues- Fri 8.30am-4.30pm, Sat 8.30am- 3pm; The Mansion House, 36 Fore St, Totnes; theedgyveggiekitchen.co.uk
5. The Hairy Barista
This cosy café is popular with locals and tourists alike. A 98% vegan menu includes cheesecakes, sushi rolls, veg pie and their own vegan cheese.
The café also sells produce from plant-based providers in the area.
I loved the orange/lemon cheesecake with thyme and mesquite crust, plus the raw blueberry cheesecake (£4.25).
The toastie, packed with smashed falafel, tomato, pickles and leaves, was tasty too.
Open: Mon-Sat 9am-4pm; 69 High St, Totnes; @thehairybarista on FB.
Willow’s menu changes daily and has both vegan and veggie dishes from around the world. Try African curry of sweet potato, peppers, baby corn and mangetout, with brown basmati rice (£7.50 or £11.50 with salad).
The most popular cake is apricot, mango and banana oat slice. If the weather is kind, sit in the garden.
Open: Mon-Sat 9am-4pm, Fri-Sat 6.30pm-10pm; 87 High St, Totnes; @Willow RestaurantTotnes on FB.
7. Seeds 2 Totnes
This self-service café-cum restaurant has a set sit-in price of £9.95, entitling you to choose as many times as you like from the food bowls.
Among the offerings for my visit were stir-fry noodles, carrot and beetroot, lentil dhal and a selection of breads.
Seeds 2 has been recently taken over by Katie, who plans to run things on the same lines.
Open: Mon-Sat 11am-3pm; 40 High St, Totnes; @Seeds2totnes
8. The Wild Fig Deli & Café
Though not entirely vegan, there’s lots of choice here, such as savoury tofu tart (£9.25). Two soups were pumpkin and squash with coconut, plus sweet potato, squash and green lentil.
I had crushed avocado with chilli flakes and spicy butter beans on sourdough toast (£8.45). For dessert I had chocolate courgette cake.
Open: Mon-Sat 10am- 3pm; 53 Fore St, Totnes; thewildfig.co.uk
Encouraged by her daughters, nutritionist Emma opened Bubblelicious.
Inside it is bright, cheery décor and the menu is 100% vegan. Choose from milk and fruit teas, all with a choice of popping boba.
I enjoyed the coconut milk tea with passion fruit boba – very refreshing.
Open: Mon-Sat 10am- 6pm (shut Weds), Sun 10am-4pm; 3 Wellington St, Teignmouth; getbubblelicious.co.uk
UK towns and cities are teeming with vegan restaurants! Check out what’s on offer here:
Vegan restaurants in North Devon
10. Aleafia Plant Bar
Tucked away off Barnstaple’s high street, this 100% vegan café forms part of a wellness centre. Fitness sessions, yoga, massage and holistic health care are available. This attractive rustic style café offers everything from smoothies and juices to Buddha bowls and nachos.
Unit 1, 12 Gammon Walk, Barnstaple EX31 1DJ; aleafia.co/plant-bar-cafe
11. Willows Tea Room
In the peaceful village of Landkey, this tearoom has a 100% vegan unfussy menu. Breakfasts, burgers and jacket potatoes are among the options. We had a tasty trademark KFM burger, made with oyster mushrooms. For a treat, try a Willow’s High Tea (£15 for one/£27.50 for two).
Blakes Hill Rd, Landkey, Barnstaple EX32 0JH; willows-tearoom.co.uk
12. Tarko Lounge
This Barnstaple café-cumbar has a vegan menu. The atmosphere is relaxed and the décor eclectic, as in its sister establishment, Cosy Club. Breakfasts are served all day. For lunch, try the Vegan BLT (£8.25) or the Mexican Superbowl (£8.95).
Unit 19, 20 Greenlanes Shopping Centre, Barnstaple EX31 1UH; thelounges.co.uk
The stunning location overlooking Woolacombe’s beach is a major selling point for this café, along with the many tasty vegan options. I tried the vegan breakfast with smashed avocado (£8), but was tempted by the pancakes, offering a sweet or savoury treat.
The Esplanade, Woolacombe EX34 7DJ; facebook.com/WoolacombeBeach
14. The Cedars
Set in 3 acres of landscaped gardens, the hotel offers a menu with clearly marked vegan choices. Vegan options include Meatless Farm burger (£11.49) and, our choice, the delicious lentil cottage pie (£11.49). Keep room for the Bakewell tart with raspberry coulis (£5.79).
Bickington Rd, Sticklepath, Barnstaple EX31 2HE; greenekinginns.co.uk
Along with a smaller branch in Braunton, Roots is eat-in or takeaway. The central theme is vegetarian with Middle Eastern, Mexican and Indian influences. Many items are vegan or can be adapted. Try a wrap (£4.95), burger (£12) or baked enchiladas (£14.50) to dine-in.
49 Boutport St, Barnstaple EX31 1SH; facebook.com/RootsDevonLtd
16. Blue Groove
This laid-back café/bar in Croyde, has plenty of seats, inside and out. Its menu contains several vegan dishes, along with options that can be adapted. Try a vegan breakfast (£9.95), superfood salad (£15.95) or vegan cheese burger with BBQ sauce and vegan cheese (£15.95).
2 Hobb’s Hill, Croyde EX331LZ; blue-groove.co.uk
17. The Bath Hotel
In the picturesque coastal village of Lynmouth is The Bath Hotel. Try tasty tof-ish and chips (£17) or Marrakesh spiced pearl barley with charred veg (£9). For something sweet, try chocolate brownie or vegan crumble with vegan ice cream (both £9).
The Harbour, Lynmouth EX35 6EL; bathhotellynmouth.co.uk
18. Fireaway Pizza
This small, fast food-styled pizza restaurant in the heart of Bideford offers takeaway or dining-in options. The menu lets you build a pizza from base to toppings, with vegan cheese and plenty of veg toppings available (from £13.95). Our pizzas were great and the service friendly and efficient.
25-26 Mill St, Bideford EX39 2JW; fireaway.co.uk
19. Watersmeet Tearoom
Combine a delightful riverside walk with a stop at this secluded tearoom. A former fishing lodge, the tearoom is at the confluence of two rivers and has served refreshments since 1900. Alternative milks, vegan scones and cakes are available.
Watersmeet Rd, Lynmouth EX35 6NT
Where to stay in Devon
Need a rest after tucking into all the delicious vegan food on offer in Devon? Here’s where to stay to catch some rest.
Cofton Holiday Park
Tucked away amid the gentle curves of Devon’s lush landscapes is a gem of a holiday park. Set in 80 acres of countryside, Cofton Holidays has been family-run for more than 40 years and is open all year.
We enjoyed a three-bedroom luxury lodge, which came with all the mod-cons, including floor-to-ceiling windows making the most of the stunning views.
Each lodge offers a contemporary open-plan kitchen, living/dining area and spacious bedrooms. Onsite facilities include indoor/outdoor pools plus a large restaurant with some vegan options.
Anyone who fancies a break in this part of the world will be hard pushed to find a better location or holiday lodge.
Further information: visit coftonholidays.co.uk or call 01626 912016.
Top five things to do in South Devon
1. Trip on the South Devon Railway
Jump aboard a steam train for the seven-mile journey between Buckfastleigh and Totnes, running alongside the River Dart.
Buckfastleigh Station offers a museum and gift shop, with a model railway. Enjoy a riverside walk, too.
Further information: southdevonrailway.co.uk
2. Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve
The extensive beach at Dawlish Warren has been awarded the coveted Blue Flag for 23 consecutive years.
Its sand dunes are home to almost 600 types of flowering plants and are among the most important in the UK for wildfowl and wading birds.
Further information: Dawlish Warren Visitor Centre is open April-Sep; free entry.
3. Babbacombe Model Village
Open for nearly 60 years, the model village is one of Europe’s best. Set in four acres of beautiful gardens and boasting over 400 model buildings and 13,000 characters, it’s a delight for all ages.
Further information: model-village.co.uk
4. Teignmouth and Shaldon Museum
Take an enlightening look back at life during Teignmouth and Shaldon’s rich fishing and shipbuilding history.
Plus, discover how during the mideighteenth century the area became one of the first fashionable seaside resorts along the Devon coast. It was even dubbed the “Montpellier of England”.
Further information: teignheritage.org.uk
5. Buckfast Abbey
On the edge of Dartmoor, Buckfast Abbey was founded in 1018AD and restored in the 20th century.
Visit the extensive grounds, with a lavender garden in summer, along with the restaurant and gift shop selling produce made by the monks.
Further information: teignheritage.org.uk
Top five things to do in North Devon
1. Walk through the Hartland Abbey and Gardens
Photo © Peter via Adobe Stock
Visit this award-winning 12th century abbey with its beautiful gardens and woodland walks situated in a winding valley leading to a wild Atlantic cove. Now a family home, it’s just a mile from Hartland Quay, so take the opportunity to visit this stunning corner of the Hartland Peninsula, too.
Further information: hartlandabbey.com
2. Ride the Cliff Railway
Photo © doethion via Adobe Stock
Head to the pretty village of Lynmouth, which is nicknamed England’s ‘Little Switzerland’, and walk along the sea front before jumping aboard the highest, steepest, water-powered funicular railway in the world.
Photo © Richard Webber
Further information: cliffrailwaylynton.co.uk
3. Visit Marwood Hill Garden
This charming private garden set in a peaceful valley is just a few miles from Barnstaple. Stretching over 20 acres, Marwood Hill Garden offers interest throughout the seasons. During our visit, the candelabra primulas – whose rainbow colours seemed to be popping up everywhere – took centre-stage.
Further information: marwoodhillgarden.co.uk
4. Stretch your legs
The dramatic North Devon coastline offers myriad walking opportunities, with the South West Coast Path weaving its way through the region. My favourite routes include a circular walk around Heddon’s Mouth and strolling along the coast path from the hilltop village of Lynton to the spectacular Valley of Rocks.
Photo © Richard Webber
5. Explore the beaches
All along the coastline are wonderful sandy beaches worth exploring, including Saunton Sands, sand dune-backed Croyde Beach and three mile-long Putsborough Sands.
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