Located in the northeastern region of England, Newcastle-upon-Tyne is known for many things: its inhabitants’ distinct “Geordie” accent, a thriving arts scene and vibrant nightlife, Newcastle United Football Club, a Premier League soccer team, and the popular MTV reality TV show Geordie Shore. However, this “city of bridges”—seven unique bridges cross the River Tyne to connect Newcastle and Gateshead—is evolving into a vegan destination that also happens to have a rich history and thriving arts, shopping, and dining scenes. Thanks to the openings of a handful of plant-based restaurants and the expanding menus at others, the foodie scene in Newcastle and its neighboring city Gateshead is growing. Even better? Dining establishments aren’t the only cruelty-free businesses in the area. For example, there’s LEVOI Champagne Nail Bar, an upscale salon that doesn’t use products tested on animals, and Farplace Vegan Store, a shop that sells everything from vegan toiletries to locally made “Tyne” cheese and dairy-free chocolate. For a better look at the vegan-friendliness of this region, we’re highlighting six businesses where cruelty-free living is taking over.
1. The Ship Inn
Located in a section of Newcastle known as Ouseburn, this vegan bar and pub is frequented by locals who love to chat with Geordies and tourists alike. The beer is vegan, and the food—such as the Aloha Teriyaki Burger (made with soy and black beans and served with a grilled pineapple ring and signature hand-cut chips), the Lucky Fish n Chips (marinated tofu wrapped in nori seaweed and fried in a crispy beer batter, accompanied by mushy peas, chips, and a homemade vegan tartar sauce), and a nachos appetizer (pita chips, vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, onions, and jalapeño peppers) is as delicious as it is hearty. That said, try to save room, as the pub’s varying dessert menu includes a chocolate and peanut butter tart and a berry crumble with custard.
2. The Sky Apple Café
Located outside the city center, The Sky Apple Café is a vegetarian eatery with white clouds painted on the restaurant’s sky-blue walls. Many vegan offerings—including a Bunless Asian Burger (two sweet potatoes, coriander-corn burgers filled with Asian slaw, avocado, and tomatoes topped with a coconut sauce) and the Volcano, a fried tortilla with sweet potato gratin, refried beans, salsa, and vegan cheese—are featured on the menu, along with a Korean “Beef” Roll, battered sausages, a vegan cheese board, and fruit doughnuts served with coconut ice cream and spiced pear compote.
3. dAt bAr
This restaurant/pub features vintage montages on walls lined with comfortable booths and clearly labeled vegan options such as Sweet Potato Mac ’N’ Cheese, White Bean and Butternut Squash Risotto, and a Pappa al Pomodoro with chunks of sourdough bread and a hearty, fresh tomato base. dAt bAr also offers three varieties of vegan pizza (Luca, Coco, and Romilly) featuring plant-based mozzarella called “Mozzarisella” and 20-everchanging craft beers on tap.
4. The Bohemian
Billing itself as a “vegan bar, restaurant, and vinyl record shop,” this fun eatery has a cool, laid-back ambiance with black-and-white photographs of musicians on the walls. There’s also several tasty tapas, flatbread options, and an array of pizzas (such as a classic margherita, Tex Mex, and Hawaiian) that feature vegan mozzarella. Furthermore, the Chili Dog Calzone (served with spinach, onion rings, and skinny fries) might not be the healthiest option, but it sure does go great with an afternoon tea, a scone, or cake.
5. Grumpy Panda
This fairly new vegan diner and coffee bar, opened by a husband-and-wife team, serves a variety of traditional English breakfasts all day, as well as hot dogs, burgers, macaroni and cheese, “Dirty Fries” (with chili and cruelty-free cheese sauce), and other diner-type food. The owners make their own “meats” and “cheeses” on site, and there is a children’s room with toys, books, and stuffed animals. Grumpy Panda is just over the Newcastle border in Gateshead, but many people don’t differentiate and refer to the two cities as one: Newcastle-Gateshead.
6. Quilliam Brothers
This quaint coffeeshop/tea house on the Newcastle University campus has a traditional English library feel with books lining the walls and an impressive assortment of teas served in pastel-colored ceramic pots. The flavorful “Winter Dream” (black tea with apple and almond pieces, cinnamon, vanilla, and Christmas spice flavor) is a must-try, while the menu also includes several vegan versions of traditional English breakfast items, as well as at least a few vegan scones and cakes listed on a large chalkboard that is changed daily.
Juliet Pennington is a Boston-based journalist who focuses on travel, entertainment, and all things vegan.