FRY’S ARTISAN SMOKED HOT DOGS – GUILT-FREE (AND DELICIOUS) VEGAN SUMMER BBQS AWAIT

fry family food company smoked vegan artisan hot dogs
Hi, Pathetically

These take me back. To a simpler, or perhaps more complicated time. When I’d drop a couple of chilled viennas in a pot of boiling water, slice up some hotdog rolls, squirt them with mustard and ketchup and eat them watching Seinfeld in my boxers. Now, thanks to the Fry Family Food Company’s new Vegan Artisan Smoked Hot Dogs, I can relive those dreary salad days with a bit more sophistication. And trousers.

The hotdogs are “naturally smoked” in a classic wood smoker and they taste legit. They’re smoky and light with a perfect hot dog texture. Like the “high-end” version of the real thing, only without those repressed pangs of denial-of-origin. Instead, these sausages are mostly soy and wheat vegetable protein and your regular concoction of flavourings and thickeners. So more processed treat than everyday eat.

To make sure my dogs lived up to their “Artisan” billing I added last night’s homemade chimichurri and a mix of leftover baked panko crumbs and Corn Flakes for added crunch. And needless to say, Seinfeld has never been enjoyed over hot dogs as sophisticated as these.

So far I’ve only found the Fry’s range in larger Sainsbury’s stores. But if you’re in the mood for an easy, tasty vegan hot dog, or on your way to a summer BBQ, you can’t go wrong with a pack of Frys Vegan Artisan Smoked Hot Dogs.

THE FULL NELSON – SPELLBINDING SOUTH EAST LONDON VEGAN JUNK FOOD WITCHCRAFT

full nelson seitan colonel burger vegan
Hi, Pathetically

Deptford, New Cross and surrounding-area vegans flock to The Full Nelson like bugs drawn to light. And once zapped, you always come back. I’ve actually held off reviewing the place, scared I’d come across more raving fanboy than vegan food blogger. Because if I had to choose a last meal, right now, it would probably be a Colonel burger with buffalo Seitanic Wings and Penthouse Fries.

It’s the sauces. The magical combination of flavours. And the painstaking attention to detail that separates The Full Nelson from similar seitan-peddling vegan junk food joints. It’s a standout. I’ve ordered takeaway before and sat on the bus a drooling mess, high on the heady wafts of truffle oil, buffalo sauce, parmesan and blue cheese.

I’ve tried most things on the the menu but my favourite’s the Colonel burger. The vegan version of KFC’s Zinger. Only fresher. Tastier. And with more zing. The battered seitan fillet’s always perfect. Juicy, moist and crispy on the outside. A delicious, disbelief-suspending recreation of fried chicken. And the combination of garlic buffalo sauce and lemon and black pepper mayo is pure witchcraft.

full nelson veggie vegan bar penthouse fries
Hi, Pathetically

Likewise, the Penthouse Fries are just as decadent. The most glamorously dressed, indulgent chips conjured into vegan junk food creation. Think rosemary and smoked paprika-seasoned fries topped with buffalo blue cheese dressing, truffle oil and vegan parmesan. To be honest, I battle to think, talk or do anything else other than eat them, until there’s nothing left.

seitan vegan wings
Hi, Pathetically

If that’s not enough, the Seitanic Wings have seriously addressed many of my meat-eating friends’ seitan-is-just-gluten phobias. Unlike some joints, The Full Nelson always gets the texture right. Never dry. Like crispy, succulent chicken tenders, with none of the guilt. Well, some of the guilt. You can order them buffalo, BBQ or teriyaki, but I always go buffalo, with celery and vegan blue cheese sauce on the side. Just like the old days…

It’s a hip hole in the wall, really, that opens late, serves good beer and does brunch on Sundays – seriously, ask for the off-menu Colonel Benedict. And because of the relative smallness of the operation, and the longer-than-usual wait times, you really feel like every efforts being put into making your food look exactly like it does on Instagram.

The seitan is created by South London vegan “meat” and Sunday roast innovators City of Seitan. One thing to keep in mind, though, is everything on the menu’s available either vegetarian or vegan. So it’s up to you to specify when ordering.

Oh, and beware. It’s always packed. You can’t phone ahead. And they’re not on Deliveroo. There is a small (tiny) off-peak window, if you really plan ahead. Otherwise, it’s fun to share and always worth the wait.

Address: 47 Deptford Broadway, Deptford, London SE8 4PH
* The menu is also available Tuesday-Sunday at The Four Quarters, Peckham.

HELLMANN’S VEGAN MAYO – NO EGGS AND BETTER THAN THE REAL THING

hellmann's vegan mayonnaise
Hi, Pathetically

I don’t know how they’ve done it, but Hellmann’s Vegan Mayo tastes even better than the real thing. And if you see a jar in your local supermarket, grab it. Fast. Because that shit sells out quicker than Spice Girls reunion tickets. And by the time you waltz back over with a cheeky bag of Bournville Buttons, it’ll be gone.

When I hit the mayo aisle my eyes scan the shelves anxiously. Real. Light. Lighter Than Light. Squeezy. Lighter Than Light Squeezy. Garlic. Olive Oil. Chilli…

Vegan Mayo’s like the Holy Grail. And so far, I’ve only found it in bigger Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda (once) stores. But your chances are slim. It’s like Russian roulette. And supermarkets, it seems, simply can’t keep up with the demand.

Comparing ingredients, the biggest difference between Real and Vegan Mayo, of course, is the lack of egg yolk, which Hellmann’s seem to have replaced with modified maize starch and natural mustard flavouring. Other than that they’re identical; rapeseed oil, water, spirit vinegar, salt, sugar, lemon juice, antioxidant and paprika extract.

Only somehow, the vegan version comes out whiter than Gandalf’s beard. It’s like designer mayo. Tastier, creamier and richer than the real thing.

KIRSTY’S CLASSIC MARGHERITA – THE NO-FRILLS FROZEN VEGAN PIZZA YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR

kirtsys vegan pizza
Hi, Pathetically

Fuck falafel. Fuck artichoke. Fuck onion. Sometimes you just want a frozen pizza with some cheese on it. Something easy, that you can stick in the oven at the end of a long day. That doesn’t taste like feet. And so far, Kirsty’s Classic Margherita is the best frozen vegan-friendly supermarket pizza I’ve stumbled across.

Kirsty’s was started by “Lancashire mum” – and 2010 Dragon’s Den contestant – Kirsty Henshaw. Inspired by her son’s allergies and intolerances, Kirsty decided to start her own “healthy” free-from chilled and frozen food empire. But so far, I’ve only found her pizza in a few big Tescos. In the frozen vegetarian / vegan sections.

To be honest, it’s a good frozen pizza. Period. Tasty. Simple. To the point. And for a vegan pizza, it really doesn’t feel like anything’s missing on the classic, gooey margherita front. The base is thin and crispy. The tomato sauce is rich and tasty. And the cheese alternative is sticky and way more cowabunga than your average supermarket “free from” bullshit.

Looking at the list of ingredients, you’re not quite sure what to make of it. But then again. It’s a frozen pizza. It’s not organic kombucha. And ultimately, if you’re looking for Netflix and chilled, Kirsty’s delivers. Well, Tesco does. But seriously, go pick one up yourself.

TASTE THE RAINBOW – BREWDOG’S COLOURFUL NEW VEGAN BURGER GOES ABOVE AND BEYOND

Hi, Pathetically

You know you’re witnessing the early stages of a full-blown vegan revolution when Brewdog’s hosting sold out beer and cheese pairing nights, with vegan cheese. The “fiercely independent” – albeit with its own private plane – craft beer chain even does 2-4-1 half-price veggie and vegan mains every Monday. And their jazzed up Born to Live burger might just be the best dressed Beyond Meat patty in town.

Recently, I tried Honest Burgers’ Beyond Meat Plant burger. But to be honest, I found it dry and uninspired. Emphasising just how important it is to put a Beyond Meat burger together with the same kind of love and consideration you would any other. You’ve got to know what you’re doing.

Even if you keep things simple, it’s all about the right complementary flavours. The right sauce. The best cheese. The right attention to detail. And a few signature moves to really make that burger sing. It can’t just be a forced-seeming afterthought, because enough people asked for a vegan option.

Enter the Born to Live burger. A crazy work of technicolour art featuring a juicy Beyond Meat patty, roasted red peppers, a creamy vegan chipotle slaw, vegan gouda and pickles, on a scarlet-red beetroot brioche bun that looks like it was baked by Willy Wonka.

The burger was originally launched in January, as an exciting new option for those dabbling in Veganuary. And it’s still on the menu now, almost five months later – at least, it is at Brewdog Tower Hill. It’s just been rebranded, and is now simply known as the Beyond Meat Burger. But trust me. It’s the real deal.

A Beyond Meat patty on a vegan junk food rainbow. The smoky, soft texture of roasted red pepper. The rich, gooey, perfectly melted vegan gouda. And the creamy, Mexican-style spicy chipotle slaw. I was skeptical of the gimmicky, OTT-seeming bun at first. Mainly because I’m not a big fan of beetroot. But, I’m happy to report, it’s sweet and fluffy and the beetroot taste is subtle to non-existent.

According to Brewdog the burger goes well with Punk IPAs. But honestly, who the hell drinks Punk IPAs at Brewdog. So I paired mine with Hazy Janes. Lots of Hazy Janes…

Address: 21 Great Tower St, London EC3R 5AR

HALO BURGER – PROPER MELTY FAST FOOD BURGERS WITH NONE OF THE MURDER (AND ALL OF THE GOOEY CHEESE)

halo burger vegan cheese burger
Hi, Pathetically

I used to think all Beyond Meat burgers were created equal. But they’re not. It’s all about how you cook them. And dress them. And serve them. And Brixton-based Halo Burger know exactly what they’re doing. In fact, this 100% plant-based “bleeding burger joint” will fill that red and golden-arched, fast food-sized hole missing in your new, meat-free vegan lives.

To replicate that squish-in-your-hand, wish-you-had-another-one-now feel, Halo Burger reshape their Beyond Meat patties. Cutting and double-layering them in a moreish, Big Mac, Five Guys Double Bacon Cheeseburger kind of way. Most importantly, the non-dairy cheese is “hand steamed” on each half patty as well. Making sure the burgers are soft, gooey and delectable – and disappear fast.

Everything’s right. The look. The flavour. The texture. The way the orange cheese melts and rehardens to the shape of the wrapper at the edges. It’s like an old In-N-Out Burger dream, without the guilt. And Halo Burger is the perfect plant-based replacement for your drive-thru, late-night, golden-hour burger needs.

Address: 49 Brixton Station Rd, Brixton, London SW9 8PQ

LOVE SHACK – MEATY MERCATO METROPOLITANO’S NEW PATCH OF VEGAN PARADISE

Hi, Pathetically

Mercato Metropolitano’s a laid back, good-food and tasty-beer oasis in the heart of Elephant and Castle. Yet, despite the Italian-themed food hall’s seemingly endless array of colourful culinary possibilities – from all around the world – most diners seem to make the same choice; a mountain of chips and grilled meat. So needless to say, not so friendly for the vegans.

Recently, however, a new vegan startup planted its plastic-free roots in the midst of the carnage. Enter Love Shack London, a Hackney-based good vibe peddlar, now offering “plant-based power to the people” of south east London.

Setup alongside a stock waffle joint and beef and chip shop, the new Vegan Shack menu sparkles like a rainbow over a sea of beige. A tropical palette of fresh ideas bursting with even fresher ingredients. I felt Spring in my step just reading it.

When it comes to vegan fast food, I don’t usually go for more “rustic” burger patties. But this time the burger in question sounded surreal, like an eccentric work of vegan art. A flavour fiesta I was (not) dying to celebrate.

They call it The Mexican, but it might as well be called The Vegan Sunset. And it features a walnut, mushroom and black bean patty, guacamole, tomato salsa, a mysterious slice of “smoked vegan cheese” and grilled pineapple. All on a fluffy beetroot brioche bun.

The patty itself was perfect. Juicy and firm, yet fresh, wholesome and beany at the same time. And everything was complementary. The creamy, homemade guacamole. The tangiest, tastiest, most tantalising tomato salsa I’ve ever tasted. And the sweet tartness of the grilled pineapple.

Unsurprisingly, The Mexican kind of fell apart in my hands. But it didn’t matter. I licked my fingers in silence. Spellbound by every single bite. It was exquisite. And paired perfectly with the overpriced bottle of Brewdog x Verdant Sheena IPA I got from The Italian Job.

Address: 42 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6DR