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10 best veggie/vegan eats in Essex

Discover the earth-friendly eateries rewriting the rulebook - from cool plant-based cafés to pubs with top-notch veggie menus.

Vegan curious? Or trying to cut down your meat consumption? Then get your plant-based fix at these Essex joints delivering zero-guilt dining experiences.

Food by John Lawson, Leigh-on-Sea

Food by John Lawson restaurant Leigh-on-Sea
Photo: Luke Ayling

Slap bang in the heat of Leigh-on-Sea’s buzzy cafe culture, Food by John Lawson is every mindful diner’s dream. Think locally sourced organic dishes, a sleek aesthetic, and dedicated plant-based options boasting damn fine flavours to boot. Lawson’s tangible focus on sustainability is as refreshing as his tasting-menu plates, which centre around nutritious, seasonal fare free from gluten, dairy and refined sugars. Vegetarian? You’re in safe hands. This place is all about serving honest food that works in harmony with the environment and your body.

The Star Inn, Ingatestone

Ok, so this village pub doesn’t solely serve up plant-based plates but it does have a really great veggie/vegan menu. And, we’re not just talking a token starter, main and dessert – there are fourteen fab dishes to choose from (plus sides). The squash and tarragon risotto with toasted pecans gets our vote. Yum.

Plant Faced Coffee Shop, Hadleigh

This new kid on the block, run by father-and-daughter dream team Stephen and Harriet, opened earlier this year and has been an instant hit with the locals. As you might guess from the name, everything is plant-based – from pancake stacks and pastries to the full English. Plus, it’s also a great little spot to get your morning caffeine fix.

The Olive Branch, Wivenhoe

vegan and vegetarian restaurants Essex

Offering delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes with a family style Syrian spin, this popular quayside cafe specialises in serving up Mediterranean okra, hearty veggie stews and traditional baclava (trust us, it’s a must-have dessert). Be sure to order one of their delicious herbal teas, or you can even BYO if you’re popping in for an evening meal. 

The OakTree Vegan Restaurant, Leigh-on-Sea

Having kick-started the vegan restaurant scene in Leigh Road in 2013, this bustling eatery caters for brunch, lunch and dinner sittings six days a weeks (they shut up shop each Monday) and delivers a 100 percent vegan menu – even down to the drinks served. But get your post-refurb reservation in quick: this cafe-style outlet is currently having a contemporary makeover and foodies are already chomping at the proverbial bit to get back in. 

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary Cafe, Sawyer’s Hall Farm, Brentwood

vegetarian cafe Essex

Launched to help raise much-needed funds for the animals who have found a loving home here (the sanctuary was initially set up to save ponies abandoned on the Rainham marshes), this 100 percent plant-based cafe now enjoys huge success with hungry visitors and makes the perfect pitstop after petting the alpacas. Hope and hot ‘sausage’ rolls? Sounds like a winning combo to us.

Vegan Vampire, Billericay

Vegan food Essex

This cool street-stall vendor, located on Radford Way in the Billericay Theatre grounds, serves up tasty homemade vegan fare with an American fast-food spin. Tuck into a ‘meaty’ Vampire burger complete with all the trimmings in a toasted vegan brioche bun or go all out for a Vampire dog topped with red onion or Vampire doner wrap with marinated tempeh and plenty of chilli heat. Our personal fave? The jackfruit Vampire Wingz with a lashings of creamy slaw on the side. 

Alec’s Restaurant Bar & Grill, Navestock

Vegetarian fine-dining restaurant Essex

While this quintessentially British establishment nestled in the Essex countryside isn’t strictly an all-vegan/veggie venue, its expansive plant-based menu – and uber-elegant decor – qualifies it as one of the most impressive fine-dining spots for non-meat eaters. From the roaring log fires and softly lit interiors, to the seasonal vegan menu (spiced lentils for me, please), this is planet-friendly food, done exquisitely.

Home Kitchen, Colchester

Vegan Cafe Essex

This super-cute bijou cafe and refill store is all about serving up planet-friendly food and home solutions, with a range of services in place to ensure eating wholesome, veggie and vegan fare is easier than ever. Menu signatures include smoked butter bean, tomato and basil vegan soup, Mediterranean vegan mezzes, kimchi noodles and satay, and a mouthwateringly good banana and walnut loaf – just remember to wash it all down with an iced black shroom espresso. Cleverly, the cafe has also offers home delivery, so not only are the dishes (and wholesome handmade ready meals) available to takeout, but you can also order some eco homeware and refill essentials to your basket, too. Genius. 

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