The number of vegans in the UK has quadrupled over the past 10 years, and as major chains everywhere embrace the trend, the tentative “do you have… soy milk?” no longer produces head-scratching and muttering about the weird hippy in the corner.
If you’ve recently decided to join the plant-based army or have a vegan friend coming to stay, you’ll find the city centre bursting with options. But what’s the situation here in Splott? …not too bad, it turns out. From gut-busting brunches to tantalising takeaways, there’s plenty here for vegans to get stuck into. So, after the best-fed week of my life, here’s four of my new favourite haunts:
The Imperial café – for a brilliant brunch
Where? 33 Splott Road – When? Mon-Sat 7am-4pm, Sun 8:30am-4pm
This Splott Road institution is a cheerful babble of after-school treats and late lunch dates when I arrive on a weekday afternoon on the hunt for one of its legendary all-day breakfasts.
Stacey, serving behind the counter, is an absolute star. One of the previous staff members was vegan, she tells me, so everyone’s pretty well-versed in what’s suitable. The veggie sausages have milk powder in (a shame, as I’d read great reviews of them) but together we construct a breakfast plate that sounds wonderfully carbtastic.
Settling down at a table, I barely have time to crack open the apple juice before the meal arrives. And what a meal it is. Split over two plates, this feast of hash browns, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, salad and chips is a formidable opponent – but it’s piping hot, wickedly tasty and hits the spot ten times over.
Some sneaky coleslaw has made it onto the plate, but given it’s nearly closing time and I’m probably today’s most difficult customer, that’s easily forgiven. Plus, you know, they have just provided me with a day’s fuel for £5.50…
Benedito’s – for vegan staples
Where? 15 Splott Road – When? Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri 10am-9pm, Sun 11am-6pm (Closed Tuesdays)
Portugal might be famous for its local fish dishes, but as this quirky little delicatessen proves, the cuisine can be adapted beautifully for plant-based diets.
One of the country’s best-loved snacks, lupin beans (or tremoços) are excellent for vegans, with an exceptionally high protein content. Here you’ll find them cooked, salted and ready to eat: a blessing for those of us who don’t trust ourselves to cook away the toxins in raw tremoços.
The shop also stocks a huge variety of beans, peas and grains – staples for a vegan diet – while olives, pickles and rich marinades promise to jazz up any Mediterranean-themed meal.
Other vegan treats include a wickedly sweet chocolate powder, perfect for hot drinks. And of course, no balmy Portuguese evening would be complete without a bottle of ice-cold Super Bock – so grab a couple of these vegan-friendly lagers from the fridge before you head to the counter.
Luvly Grub – for a friendly feast
Where? 17 South Park Road – When? Mon-Fri 9am-3pm, Sat 9am-2:30pm. Also open Fri-Sun 5:30-10pm.
Brightening up a quiet corner between Splott and Tremorfa, Julie and Paul Lane-Anderson’s colourful diner is the antidote to boring fast food options everywhere. Its decadent burgers are the stuff of Splott legend – but amongst the cheesy chips and meat feasts is a vegan experience just waiting to have its day in the limelight.
Quorn fillets and hash browns make up the bulk of my towering lunchtime burger, cushioned by mushrooms and encased in a perfectly toasted and fluffy bun. Add in a crisp, fresh salad and an enviable sauce selection and you’ve all the ingredients for an incredibly satisfying vegan treat. And at £6.50, it’s easy on the wallet (if not the jeans waistband).
This quirky pit-stop has gone from strength to strength since opening in December 2016 – and with a trusty carton of soy milk always handy and a stash of vegan substitutes, Julie and Paul are doing their best to make sure no-one misses out on the hype.
Masoom’s Kitchen – for the Friday night curry
Where? 22 Splott Road – When? 5-11pm (Closed Tuesdays)
Bangladeshi and Indian food is renowned for its huge variety of vegetarian dishes, and Masoom’s – one of Splott Road’s newest additions – is no exception.
Chef Yawar Miah makes meals from scratch, so can tell you exactly what’s in each dish. The nan breads are made with egg, and some vegetarian dishes include butter, cream and ghee. However, the veggie Balti and dhanak are vegan. And there’s also the option to supersize a vegetarian side – which adds aloo gobi, saag aloo, tarka dahl and channa masala to the list.
A thick onion-based gravy, the starting point for most dishes, is already bubbling on the stove when I arrive, and as soon as I’ve made a decision (channa masala, rice and chapatti), Yawar starts rolling out dough and cracks open the chickpeas. The kitchen is right behind the counter, and it’s reassuring to see everything prepared in spotless conditions.
The channa masala is rich and satisfying, and the sauce – almost reminiscent of chip shop curry sauce, but in such a good way – the perfect thickness. Meanwhile, the chappathi is chewy and doughy with a subtle charred tang.
With veggie mains at £5.45 and free delivery under two miles, Masoom’s is one new kid on the block who’s pretty easy to get along with.
Written by Hannah Butler, student journalist at Cardiff University School of Journalism.