Being vegetarian since the age of five and officially turning vegan a handful of years ago, I’m often faced with the struggle to find vegan friendly food outside of my own kitchen. Whilst a lot of restaurants still fail to embrace vegetarianism, others bravely test a single vegan dish on their menu; a step forwards nonetheless, but a far cry from the wide choices available to carnivorous diners.
Veganism is fast becoming more acceptable and fashionable as we take greater notice of health and nutrition which I largely attribute to social media. Gone are the days of celebrating stumbling out of nightclubs at 6am, living on takeaways and spending all weekend in bed with a hangover. Motivation, inspiration and role models fill our timelines and newsfeed, educating us to lead healthier, happier and longer more fulfilling lives which starts with what’s going on inside. I’m more than happy to confess I flick through my feed to find delicious foodie posts and new vegan recipes above looking at shoes nowadays!
Veganism in its rawest form is seeking a way to live without exploiting or attributing to the cruelty to animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. This plant-based diet avoids all meat including fish, seafood, insects, dairy, eggs and honey as well as leather, fur goods and products tested on animals. Everybody has their own individual reason for seeking a vegetarian or vegan diet, from food intolerances, weight loss goals, enhanced fitness or trying to save the world – my opinion has always been ‘each to their own’ as I’m well accustomed to sitting at a table with friends and family whilst they feast on meat and dairy beside me.
Veganism tends to be seen in either a ‘love it or hate it’ light, but it’s undeniable that it’s acceptance, understanding and popularity is on the rise as in 2018 The Vegan Society found that the number of vegans in Britain has doubled twice in the past four years and currently stands at around 600,000 as one of the fastest growing lifestyle movements in the UK.
Yet it’s rare for me to find a restaurant that allows me to have more than just a salad or a vegetarian option with the dairy picked off of it, and many vegan diners face the same frustration as I. So when I came across the strictly vegetarian/vegan restaurant, Tibits in London, it was like all of my Christmases had come at once because I could finally eat everything on the menu!
Their ethos is to make food ‘fresh, delicious and easy going’ with over 40 homemade vegetarian and vegan salads, hot dishes, soups, freshly pressed juices and desserts served daily from breakfast through to dinner and recipes always evolving. This buffet style restaurant is packed full of fresh local produce and focuses on paying by weight so that diners can eat as much or as little as they choose without the confines of a menu.
Founded in 2000 by three brothers in Switzerland, triumphantly Tibits is one of Europes most well know vegetarian and vegan restaurants for which there are now eight venues across Switzerland, the UK and soon-to-be Germany. Providing deliciously fresh and mouth-watering vegetarian and vegan-friendly buffets with health conscious food, fast service and cosy corners to relax, it’s the perfect place to socialise and revitalise on everything plant-based.
After a pretty heavy gym session with my boyfriend Freddy – a non-vegan – we ventured to Tibits for a hearty post-workout meal. Neither of us had ever dined by the weight of our food before and having such huge appetites we initially questioned if it would be value for money or ridiculously expensive for us.
When eating out I struggle to find choice and quantity in food as I usually have to pick at the bland side dishes of vegetables or a salad rather than having a vegan main option in most restaurants, whilst Freddy tends to eat all of his meat and leave stodgy carb-laden food on his plate which I see as very wasteful.
Each dish within the buffet is labelled with nutritional information to show its suitability for vegans and whether it contains dairy products, eggs, gluten, soya, nuts, peanuts, sugar, spice, celery, onion, garlic, sesame or is child-friendly. All salads and vegetables have not been genetically modified, all cheeses are rennet free and all ingredients are MSG free which gives added peace of mind.
Being the hungry bunnies that we are we decided to each have a starter, main and dessert along with two freshly squeezed juices from the menu; surprisingly our six dishes and drinks came to the same amount as a typical lunch where we’d have usually shared a starter and had a simple main and drink each. Despite our varied and very generous sized portions, the food is incredibly affordable which meant that Freddy and I had over our five-a-day in fresh fruit and vegetables whilst also trying many new dishes we’d never had, nor heard of, before and there wasn’t a single morsel left on any of our plates.
Freddy says: “I’ve been eating a lot more vegan food since meeting Tracy. I often go a meal or two a day without eating meat now as I’m enjoying the taste of vegan food so much more. The food in Tibits is sublime and the copious amounts of food options and combinations available are a real treat rarely seen in meat focused restaurants. By weighing the food it really makes you deliberate on what food to try and I enjoyed fitting in as many tasters as possible.”
“With so much rich and flavoursome food available you really don’t notice that it’s meat-free; it doesn’t feel as though anything is missing from a meal by not having meat there. The desserts, which are my favourite, were delicious too and I was unable to tell that the dairy was missing.”
There are so many plus points to eating meat-free, from the favourable cost, freshness and nutritional benefits to being more understanding and educated in what we eat. I’ve taken away some fantastic new recipe ideas, a tummy filled with nutritious love and the knowledge they they also serve takeout in carbon-neutral reusable boxes; hoorah!