Food, Travel and Tech

London named the most vegan-friendly city in the world

Vegan salad
Violeta Stoimenova, Getty

London has been named the world's most vegan-friendly city, according to an annual ranking from an online restaurant guide.

The U.K. capital came top for a second year, in the rankings put together by HappyCow, which claims to be the largest vegan and vegetarian restaurant guide in the world, looking at options in more than 180 countries.

HappyCow's top 10 rankings were determined by the number of vegan restaurants within a closely proximity and its overall impression of each city's "vegan-friendliness."

London currently has 152 vegan restaurants and it was the first city on HappyCow to have more than 100 completely vegan restaurants in 2017.

Specialist eateries in the capital include the world's first vegan "chicken" shop, The Temple of Seitan, as well as the U.K.'s first vegan cheese shop La Fauxmagerie.

"Veganism continues to become a mainstream lifestyle in London, and this city takes veganism to a new level," said Ken Spector, a spokesperson for HappyCow.

The number of vegans in the U.K. has quadrupled between 2014 and 2019, with around 600,000 Britons now on a plant-based diet, equivalent to more than 1% of the population, according to charity The Vegan Society.

New York came second on the list, with 111 restaurants in a five-mile radius of the city.

Bangkok, Thailand was the only city to be added to the rankings this year, coming in eighth. HappyCow counted 74 vegan restaurants in the city. Spector said that most restaurants have "solid vegan options" on the menu thanks to Bangkok's "predominantly Buddhist background."

HappyCow cited data from Google Trends, which showed interest in "veganism" increased sevenfold in the five years between 2014 and 2019.

  1. London, U.K.
  2. New York, U.S.
  3. Berlin, Germany
  4. Los Angeles, U.S.
  5. Toronto, Canada
  6. Warsaw, Poland
  7. Portland, U.S.
  8. Bangkok, Thailand
  9. Tel Aviv, Israel
  10. Prague, Czech Republic

'Flexitarians'

Edward Bergen, global food and drink analyst at market research firm Mintel, spoke about the shift to veganism on CNBC's "Street Signs" last week.

He pointed out that around half (51%) of consumers in the U.K. said they were either meat-free or were actively reducing their meat consumption in 2019, rising from around 41% last year.

Bergen said health tended to be the main factor driving people to cut out meat or become "flexitarians," those reducing their meat intake in favor of a "part-time" vegan or vegetarian diet.

"Consumers are seeing availability of shelves and it's easier for them to move over," he added. "And also they get bored more so they're trying more foods altogether."

Environmental considerations and concerns over animal welfare were also motivating this shift by consumers, he said.

The U.K. overtook Germany in 2018 as the world leader for vegan food launches, according to Mintel.

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