The trend for plant-based diets is flourishing and a crop of new vegan dining options has joined the South West’s veteran veggie restaurants. With a kaleidoscope of creative dishes, risqué ‘junk food’ and indulgent desserts, even die-hard carnivores are turning over a new leaf, discovers Kathryn Lewis. Check out our coolest finds …
The Green Rocket, Bath
With bloody mary toms on toast, homemade maple granola and a mighty monster brekkie tussling for brunch-goers’ attention, you may have to scramble for a table at The Green Rocket.
Fuelling legume lovers, dairy dodgers and the simply curious from daybreak to dinner, this veggie kitchen includes plenty of inspiration for the inventive vegan. The evening menu (Wednesday to Saturday) deals in hearty classics revamped for a shrub-centric diet – smoked mushroom, chestnut and sage sausages with mustard mash anyone?
Game changer: Vietnamese coconut curry with pickled veg salad and crispy noodles
Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen, Bath
Sharing a city with some of the region’s finest restaurants, this plant-based bistro proves that supper sans meat can still be a refined affair. Head chef Steven Yates raids the local larder to create dashing dishes such as Wye Valley asparagus with rich mushroom parfait and butternut squash terrine with pine nut risotto, all served in Acorn’s historic dining room. Living it up? Take advantage of wines matched to each course.
Game changer: Espresso parfait with chocolate ganache, cold brew and rapadura gel and pink peppercorn crumb
VX is breaking down veganism’s salad-worshipping, vegetable-revering reputation, one dirty dog, cheesy burrito and stuffed toastie at a time. The junk food inspired grub from this East Street eatery is turning Bristol’s prolific carnivores to the plant side. Before 11.30am it’s all about the vegan breakfast buttie, while the VX nacho box (tortilla chips, refried beans, tomato sauce, jalapeños, seitan mince and melted cheese) and peanut butter and banana toasties are a big hit with the lunch crew.
Game changer: Mushroom, spring onion, jalapeño and vegan cheese quesadilla
Rabbit Vegan Cafe, Exeter
Think that diet-disgracing desserts such as chocolate orange jaffa torte, cookie dough cheesecake and Oreo milkshakes are off the menu once you ditch dairy? Not at Exeter’s Rabbit Vegan Cafe. On hand to undo all good intentions with homemade masterpieces, the colourful cafe on Well Street also satisfies savoury cravings with mac ‘n’ cheese, masala hot dogs and chickenless burgers smothered in sriracha mayo.
Game changer: Chocolate and raspberry truffle torte
The Flat, Exeter
Behind its wood-clad facade, there are more than just Instagram opportunities to be relished at Fore Street’s latest indie addition.
Visit for freshly-thrown gluten-free pizza and organic pasta that taste as good as they look on your feed.
And there’s a vibrant selection of veggie and vegan toppings and sauces to choose from, courtesy of The Flat’s eco-focused chefs. Want to scoff your new fave slice from your sofa? Check out the takeaway menu.
Game changer: Smoked vegan mozzarella, mushroom, red onion chutney and ground pepper pizza
Good Vibes Cafe, Falmouth
By day, this chilled cafe in the heart of Falmouth deals in badass brunches and bright ‘n’ beautiful lunch plates, catering to its animal-free followers with at least three vegan dishes on the menu.
Plant plunderers should also check out Good Vibes‘ Facebook for chef and owner Daniel Rossiter’s busy calendar of afterhours veggie events.
Collaborating with vegan chef Jesse Dodkins, the seasonal supper clubs take legumes to the next level with six course tasting menus crafted from local and foraged ingredients. Dinner goes down on the second Sunday of every other month and tickets sell out quickly, so plan ahead.
Game changer: Watermelon soup
The Bean Inn, St Ives
Serving St Ives’ resident vegans and visiting veggies from the ground floor of Coast B&B since 2003, The Bean Inn is a pioneer of creative plant-based grub in this pocket of the country.
Big on locally sourced, organic and seasonal produce, everything on the modest vegetarian menu can be adapted to an animal-free diet – even the wine list is vegan friendly.
Game changer: Vegetable bourguignon with herb dumplings, fondant potatoes and spring greens
Vinnie’s Eatery, Cheltenham
Vinnie’s only opened on Cheltenham’s Crescent Terrace in April, yet the casual dining spot has already attracted a cult following for its nomadic daily menus.
Stop by on a Monday and you could be tucking into a Middle Eastern mezze. Tuesday may be an entirely Italian affair with green bean and cherry tomato ragù, while Wednesday could conjure saag aloo, chickpea and fennel flatbreads on a whistlestop tour of India. One thing that remains constant is the breakfast stack which balances roasted portobello mushroom, avocado, toasted red pepper and cashew cream cheese on homemade toasted nut bread.
Game changer: Mango, cucumber and red pepper sushi rolls