The much lauded Bundobust is a shining example of the movement towards vegetarian eating. This terrific bar of great craft beers offers a menu of Indian small plates which is barely noticeably missing meat, and all the more delicious for it. Before Bundobust stole our hearts, Hansa’s wowed a similar furrow, serving veggie Gujarati dishes full of flavour, and to this day continues strongly sans meat. And in Kirkgate Market, new Leeds favourite Manjit’s Kitchen is cooking up a lip smacking crowd pleasing Indian street food storm that is all vegetarian. But goddam, the lamb chops at Akbar and the crispy pork at Mommy Thai are hard to give up!
Away from Asia, where certain areas high life expectancy is accredited to a high plant low meat diet, there are increasing veggie options too. The likes of Humpit and Falafel Guys focus on the vegan triumph of chickpeas, with fab, fast, filling servings of hummus and falafel. At Roots & Fruits, the menu has been vegetarian for over two decades, and is now predominantly plant based and vegan. The options vary from the humble cheese sandwich to the innovative jerk jackfruit, and along the way incorporates nutritious salads and wholesome bowls or naughty burgers, chilli dogs and chips: the choice is yours.
Bars have got in on the act too, with all vegan affairs at The Old Red Bus Station and Oporto, through their respective in house caterers Cantina and Knaves Kitchen. Both offer dirty vegan grub such as seitan kebabs and burgers that are damn satisfying. But, but, but… so are I Am Doner and Meat Liquor’s non-veggie versions…
Other modern additions to the Leeds dining scene may not be exclusively vegetarian, but ensure veggies and vegans are catered for handsomely. Notably in the small but perfectly formed The Swine That Dines, where the taster menu is of set small plates that are ever changing with the seasons in inventively elevated ways. Far from sidelining the non-meat-eater, a roots-to-shoots menu is lovingly created once a month for a delightful hit of all veggie goodness. And newish-comer Eat Your Greens is aptly named, plating up organic awesomeness from breakfast till supper, and turning menus on heads by offering a meat option or two alongside the otherwise veggie selection.
Whilst the no meat alternatives gather pace, others remain keen to battle back. Not only with standard menus of middle grounds, but with meat championing joints. Red’s led the way with slogans such as ‘let there be meat’ surrounding barbecued treats that continue to stuff many a meaty face. The journey towards a meat free diet isn’t always easy for the weak minded food lover – but should that be what we are aiming for? To meat, or not to meat? That is the question.