I have been visiting restaurants in London to check out their vegan offerings, in my quest to understand more about the Veganuary buzz. Here I share insights from my interview with Tom Dudley, manager at The Albany in Great Portland Street.
Tell me about your vegan dishes
Last year we had a few dishes on the menu, but we decided to create a Veganuary menu this year and it’s been a great success. We have eight dishes, starters, mains and desserts and I’m amazed at how popular they’ve been amongst all types of customers.
What’s different this year?
The classic vegan alternatives used to be salads and risottos, but we’re finding that people want proper pub food with a vegan twist. So, we’ve created vegan alternatives to our popular dishes, such as burgers, lasagne and curry. They’ve been such a hit. Our vegan beer is also popular. People come to a pub for filling, tasty home-style food and so our chefs have tried very hard to build flavour into our vegan dishes.
Which choice has been the hot favourite?
It’s got to be the Beyond Meat burger. We’ve previously tried out harissa burgers, with aubergine, red pepper and quinoa for a veggie option. But this one has been exceptionally well received. It’s made from soy protein and delivers on a meaty taste. Even our staff genuinely prefer eating this burger…
What’s next for the Albany in terms of vegan offerings?
This was just supposed to be a January promotion, but the popularity has made us rethink this and we are considering keeping the vegan menu all year round. It makes business sense and meets the needs of our growing vegan customer base.
Have you any thoughts on including nutritional information on your menus?
We are keen to look at nutritional analysis such as calories and protein on our website, or on our app. It’s not an immediate plan, but certainly something we will be looking into later in the year. It seems people want to enjoy the pub experience and are willing to look at healthier options.
My view is that people often assume vegan dishes are better for them. But the word “vegan” doesn’t necessarily equate to health. Missing out on meat and dairy foods can reduce your intake of important nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, calcium and iodine. More on nutrients you need to think about. Also check out my article about nutrient interactions on a vegan diet.
Research shows that plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains help you keep to a healthy weight, and can reduce risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. These foods provide fibre, anti-oxidants and other phytochemicals, and most plant foods also tend to be low in calories and nutrient rich.
Studies suggest that those eating a vegan or vegetarian diet have a lower body mass index (BMI) than meat eaters. With the exception of vitamin B12, a well-planned vegan diet can offer you a good range of all of these nutrients; a dietitian can help.
My thanks to Tom Dudley for inviting me to conduct this interview. This blog has not been influenced by The Albany. Check out my blogpost on how to choose healthier vegan options at The Albany.