The Vegan Express

The Vegan Express

The vegan lifestyle is versatile, healthy and  environmentally friendly. It works across all faiths and cultures. Anyone can be a vegan.

Vegan Express is a brand new, entirely vegan eatery located at 913 Garratt Lane in Tooting. It’s a family start-up run by Charles and Ulrika Diallo. Charles has 20 years experience in the catering industry, and always puts flavour at the centre of any dish he creates. We went along to try as much of the menu as possible and to find out more about the first vegan restaurant in Tooting.

Vegan Express on Garratt Lane and their delicious all vegan menu.

Charles and Ulrika’s own vegan journey began in 2013 when they both stopped eating meat and dairy products. Initially they were a bit apprehensive about breaking with their life-long habits as omnivores; would it be too one-sided to just eat plant-based food? Would it be too bland? Would they be able to socialise as normal? Would their meat-eating friends think they were weird?

However, switching to a plant-based diet had such a positive impact on their health that they felt they had to share the joy.

This is how The Vegan Express was born. Without being patronising or derogatory to meat-eaters, they want to challenge omnivores to come in to their bright and friendly restaurant to try their plant-based alternatives, so that they can prove that you don’t have to compromise on taste, texture or flavour by cutting out meat and dairy.

Undoubtedly their obvious customer base are vegans, but their mission is to make the vegan life-style more mainstream by demystifying the plant-based diet.

“We want to challenge perceptions, such as if you are a vegan you only eat salad. We want to bring delicious, tasty vegan food to a much wider audience.”

Vegan Express plan to become a top-rated vegan restaurant chain in the future. They want to become recognised by vegans and meat-eaters as a high-quality, fresh and friendly restaurant with a great atmosphere and super-tasty food.

These are big words from someone who has only been in business for a couple of months, but already the response to their food has been phenomenal and they know they have the passion, drive and knowledge to expand.

“There is no sign of veganism declining at present – booming is a better description!”

They have now launched their brand-new vegan pizza-range which comes with a variety of toppings, some with traditional tomato-sauce and others with a cashew-cheese white sauce.

We started our meal with home-made hummus, olives and pitta to share. The bread was warm and soft and the hummus tasted delicious. We also ordered a bottle of vegan wine, an Italian Montepulciano.

A vegan Montepulciano with homemade hummus, olives and pitta to share.

We shared two starters – a grilled pepper, shredded green papaya and mango salad, with a basil dressing and a spinach, avocado and oven-charred aubergine with a lime basil dressing. Both were wonderfully fresh, large portions with the right amount of everything for a perfectly balanced dish.

Spinach, avocado and oven-charred aubergine with a lime basil dressing and grilled pepper, shredded green papaya and mango salad, with a basil dressing.

We followed with a vegan pizza (tomato sauce, vegan mozzarella, caramelised red onions, sun-blushed tomato pesto, oven charred red peppers, finished with tofu cottage cheese) and a butternut squash, lentil and cauliflower moussaka with garlic bread and a salad (contains soya and nuts). The pizza smelt amazing as it arrived and both dishes were fantastic. I would never have thought a pizza could taste so good without it being covered in regular cheese – wow, was I wrong!

The vegan pizza and butternut squash, lentil and cauliflower moussaka with garlic bread.

Everything on the menu sounded tasty, but we were more than happy with our choices. Vegan Express is a great new addition to Tooting and Ulrika and Charles have the biggest passion to continue on their journey in making people understand more about vegan cooking and values. We are very much looking forward to our next visit to Vegan Express and we wish them all the best for the future.

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