With all of the excellent emerging and established vegetarian restaurants on offer, the idea that eschewing meat means missing out really is a myth.
From crispy halloumi burgers to coconut lentil pizzas and earthy smoked mozzarella ravioli, there's a lot to be grateful for in the world of fruit and vegetables - plus they've been shown to improve your overall happiness. If you needed more incentive, eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of cancer and animal agriculture causes between 10 and 25 per cent of global greenhouse gases.
At the very least meat is considerably more expensive so you could save yourself some cash whilst helping our 4 legged friends. Instead of seeing vegetarian food as a total life change, choosing a meat-free restaurant once in a while is a small easy change. Good vegetarian food celebrates high quality produce and flavours that sing, so you might be the one missing out. Here are some of the best meat-free eateries London has on offer, try them to expand your palate and feel good about yourself.
The first branch of Mildreds opened in Soho back in 1988 when most vegetarian food was still bland and unremarkable. Fast-forward nearly 30 years and Mildreds have 2 additional sites in Camden and Kings Cross. All 3 sites are teeming from 12pm onwards throughout the week with customers chowing down on their delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes.
If you've got the time to sit and sample the best of the menu, the starters are excellent, particularly the rose harissa hoummus and lemon and ricotta tortelloni with saffron sauce. The lentil salad is packed with a variety of tenderly cooked vegetables and the stir-fry zings with Asian flavours. If you can't stay long, all 3 locations serve fresh salads, quiche and daily specials to go. Your lunch al-desko has never tasted so gourmet.
Mildreds, 45 Lexington St, London W1F 9AN
If your chicken sandwich is no longer cutting it then Ethos will reinvent your lunch routine. The airy restaurant filled with birch trees is a welcome escape from hectic Oxford Circus and the buffet style lunch is available to eat in or takeaway. Fill your plate with offerings from the salad section like the seaweed salad with carrot ribbons and miso dressing or more filling mains like the spring green scotch eggs with spicy ketchup. Your meal is costed by weight so cautiously stack salad items or break the bank with a plate full of curry depending how far away from pay day you are.
Ethos, 48 Eastcastle St, London W1W 8DX
Does a vegan raw restaurant sound like tasteless torture? You haven't tried Nama. Their small stylish spot in Notting Hill expertly creates raw food dishes that maximise health benefits but still taste delicious.
The raw vegan pizza will make you temporarily forget your love affair with mozzarella and the courgette pasta and vegetarian burrito taste as good as you feel eating them. Best of all raw food is surprisingly filling. You don't need to go raw forever just take a day off and glow with how zen you feel.
NAMA, 110 Talbot Road, London W11 1JR
The Gate have been serving upmarket vegetarian cuisine in Hammersmith since 1989 and more recently opened the second branch in Islington. Both locations pride themselves on serving dishes rich with seasonal ingredients, the watermelon and feta salad being a particular recent summer highlight.
You won't find clichéd offerings of tofu or Quorn, instead the promise of well cooked, seasoned and presented food that doesn't attempt to replace meat like-for-like. Woody Harrelson, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow are regulars, they're onto something.
The Gate, 370 St John St, London EC1V 4NN
Vegetarian doesn't normally spring to mind when you think of traditional Japanese cuisine. Instead we are used to maki rolled stuffed with thick slices of fish or doughy duck gyoza. Itadaki Zen disagree somewhat and for this reason are Europe's first vegan and organic Japanese restaurant.
Menu highlights include the marinated peanuts with udon noodles, seaweed rolls with shiitake mushrooms and their light spring rolls which can be order grilled to digest more easily. The restaurant believes in creating food that avoids waste and encourage customers to take leftovers with them. Tomorrow's lunch sorted then.
Itadaki Zen, 139 King's Cross Rd, London WC1X 9BJ
Claiming the title of Europe's oldest gourmet vegetarian restaurant, Manna attracts a keen crowd to the Primrose Hill spot. Vegan, gluten-free and organic options are all on the menu but without sacrificing inventive and delicious food.
With a catering service in Los Angeles, Manna are on the pulse of Californian food trends evident in dishes like their raw maki rolls. Another firm favourite is the the fennel and pumpkin seed sausages in their bangers and mash, a truly delicious meat alternative.
Manna, 4 Erskine Rd, London NW3 3AJ
The rich aromas of Italian food pair surprisingly well with vegetarian cooking whether in pasta, sauces or salads. Amico Bio cook up vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free (or gluten-filled) Italian dishes from smoked mozzarella ravioli to the fried goats cheese and pumpkin salad.
The mixed nature of the menu caters to all your fussy friends so nobody will be left out. With a great Italian wine list also on offer, you can have an indulgent meal out without a burger.
Amico Bio, 44 Cloth Fair, London EC1A 7JQ
Much of the cuisine of South India focuses on vegetarian curries, sauces and stews that combine punchy spices with ingredients like chickpeas, spinach and onions. In their popular 4 London branches Sagar have created dishes where the flavour of the vegetables are rich and memorable.
Try the lentil pizzas topped with coconut or chilli or their impressively large array of vegetarian curries. The dosa dishes are what really set them apart however, a large South Indian style pancake which Sagar serve with sambar & coconut chutney and stuff with different peppers, onions, cheese and spices.
Sagar, 17a Percy St, London W1T 1DU