Getting on board Veganuary

Getting on board Veganuary

22 January 2019

As part of Veganuary, we have taken a look at how train food services in the UK are catering for vegans. As well as some great vegan-friendly places to visit.

In 2018 there was a significant increase in the number of people sticking to a vegan diet as well as a strong rise in the number of people who are 'vegan curious’. Demand for vegan food rose dramatically over the course of 2018. Leading supermarket chains bolstered their vegan ranges and, in the restaurant world, 51% of chefs added vegan options to their menu according to a study by food industry insight company ‘Foodable Labs’. And of course, in January 2019 Greggs - that classic British institution - introduced its delicious, vegan sausage roll. This month has also seen record numbers of people take part in Veganuary, a widely promoted campaign led by an eponymous charity. At one stage in December, a person was signing up every six seconds.

The driving force behind veganism has traditionally been animal equality but there is also now an environmental motivation for many people choosing to become vegan. Research by the University of Oxford, published in the journal “Science” in June 2018, showed that cutting meat and dairy can reduce an individual's carbon footprint by up to 73%.  Not surprisingly, many vegans are environmentally conscious when it comes to travel as well. So, at Loco2 we are asking UK train operators if they are catering for the increasing demand for vegan food.

Train companies catering for vegans

Vegans will be pleased to hear that seven rail operators now have vegan food options on their menus. The train companies with the best train food for vegans are Virgin Trains, East Midlands Trains, Greater Anglia, Grand Central, CrossCountry, Great Western Railway and Hull Trains. The Vegan Society has noted that many of these companies have improved their onboard catering for vegans and included sandwiches, hot meals, cakes and plant-based milk for use in tea and coffee.

If you are travelling on a Virgin Trains service between London and Glasgow, for example, their vegan items range from an all-day vegan breakfast to a selection of ‘Indian bites’. These are available from the onboard cafe or as part of the at-seat service if you are travelling on a First Class ticket.

Great Western Railway’s First Class menu includes a falafel and hummus tomato wrap whilst the onboard cafe has a wide range of savoury vegan snacks, including nuts and olives. CrossCountry’s cafes provide a vegan ploughman's sandwich as part of their main menu offerings.  

Top places to visit by rail for vegan food

Famous for its pier, pebbles, and environmental credentials “London on sea” is a top vegan food destination with a plentiful supply of vegan cafes and restaurants. For example, Purezza was the first vegan pizzeria in the UK and is just close to the famous Royal Pavilion (there is also one in Camden Town, London). In December 2018 Brighton also city hosted a fully vegan Christmas market.

It’s no surprise that Londoners think nothing of just going to Brighton for the afternoon. Direct trains from London to Brighton take an hour or less.

There are several vegan festivals held in Brighton throughout the year. From Vegfest in January to the Brighton Vegan Summer Festival, held 8-9 June 2019, with a great programme of events showcasing the finest plant-based food from all over the world.

Having referenced the vegan options available on the way to Glasgow, the city itself is turning into a vegan haven. Which may come as a surprise to many, as Glasgow has kept its culinary prowess and, in particular, its commitment to veganism, quiet. Situated in the heart of the trendy West End, the University of Glasgow was the first in the UK to be accredited by the Vegan Society. The city has many places to help your vegan experience go from strength to strength. The Flying Duck is famous throughout Scotland for its lively subterranean cafe scene and it also hosts a monthly vegan market. Indeed throughout the year, Glasgow hosts several vegan festivals including the Vegan Beer Fest in August and the Glasgow Vegan Festival in springtime.   

One of the host cities of the UK Vegan Festival 2019 along with Newcastle, Edinburgh, Brighton and Aberdeen. The Sheffield event takes place 28 September 2019. Yorkshire’s ‘steel city’ is emerging as one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the UK, thanks largely to a lot of social media activism led by Sheffield Animal Save group. Sheffield’s food scene has really taken off in recent years with cafes and restaurants reflecting the growing demand for vegan food. ‘Make No Bones’, in the north of the city, is regarded as one of Yorkshire’s top vegan restaurants and is often featured in national press famed for creating vegan alternatives to classic meat-based meals.

Travel from Manchester to Sheffield in 48 mins on a route covered by the vegan-friendly East Midlands Trains.

For any travellers heading off on trains to explore UK cycling trains, here are 12 vegan-friendly restaurants you will be able to find on the way.  


Photo credits top to bottom: Vegetables and fruits large overhead mix group on colorful background iStock ©Bojsha65, Ahead of the herd iStock ©PeopleImages, Eating different salad and appetizer on wooden table top view iStock ©KarpekovDenis,  Broccoli chickpea cilantro almond white and red rice ©nata_vkusidey, Freshly flame grilled Vegan burgers displayed in a row iStock ©coldsnowstorm.  

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