Saying that, it is much easier now to get vegan food in these places, than it was when I first went vegan. So here's a few options for you if you're stuck in a shopping centre with only chain restaurants for comfort!
(I was hoping I'd have pictures for pretty much all of these, but I did a massive clear out on my phone, because there wasn't enough memory and I deleted all the old food pics. Silly Sal! I will edit this post as and when I have pics though!)
I have tried to organise this page a bit, as it was getting unruly! So here are some jump links below:
Frankie and Benny's
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Handmade Burger Co
Le Pain Quotidian
Pizza express are great though at subs (there's some info on their site about making things vegan and bringing your own cheese!). I quite often just ask them to make some changes to a veggie pizza for me and I take my own cheese, which I just ask them to put on for me. They've never said no!
They also have a couple of salads you can veganise (Leggera Superfood & the Bosco) and you can just ask them to take off the cheese (or if it doesn't already have it in, sub avocado).
Their dough balls are also vegan without the garlic butter and if you order the Doppio (the sharing sized portion), the pesto and garlic butter dips are not vegan. I'm waiting for them to confirm to me by email if the harissa dip is vegan (STILL waiting!) or not and will update here if/when they reply.
There is a list of vegan stuff HERE via their website too, which lists most of the components and not just the dishes, so that is actually pretty helpful!
Here is a link to the main menu, where you can see the options marked. Currently it doesn't show that much, but it does say you can create your own pizza (cheeseless), there is a vegan salad, pasta pomodoro, a spaghetti dish with a lentil ragu (Lenticchie) and a chocolate cherry cake on the dessert menu.
We also ordered the cinammon knots which are new on the menu. They are marked as vegetarian (not vegan) but again, no egg or dairy in the allergens list, just on the 'may contain'. If you're uncomfortable ordering without confirmation, then avoid.
They also have a portobello burger so you can just ask them to remove the halloumi. They do have avocado as an extra so they might be willing to sub this for you; I've never asked!
I also saw a couple of salads on their menu when looking recently that are probably vegan, or could be with modifications.
I've always enjoyed the food here and you usually just have to ask them to take off the cheese and sour cream. (The little tacos with coconut butternut squash are delightful and the Chilli Con Verduras and the Bahia Moqueca are really awesome mains.) Also, their cocktails are normally 2 for 1. Just sayin!!
The edamame beans and the veggie gyoza are also favourites, off the sides menu.
This is a picture of the Cha Han Donburi, minus the egg. I don't think you get that miso soup with it anymore, not that I ever ate it because I am not a fan!
They now have the Dippy Hippy listed on the regular menu and it's changed from a piece of pineapple and a pepper to a bean based patty, with beetroot hummus and guac on and it's good! The satay sauce is gone but you can still order that as a side to dip your chips in and again, I recommend you do this! :)
NOV 2016: I wrote to GBK as a number of people had told me that the bun isn't vegan at GBK and also because the Dippy Hippy has disappeared from the menu, here is what they said:
I went back to them after this, to check if the falafel burger was not vegan just due to using the same fryer as the onion rings (you also have to ask them to remove the yogurt sauce/mayo). They confirmed there are no animal ingredients in the burger but as above, it is fried in the same fryer as their onion rings, which contain egg and milk. So they won't stipulate that it's vegan due to cross-contamination. Personally I am ok with this and would still order it but if you're not, then go for one of the other options.
If I ever have no other option but Maccy Ds I will of course take photos!
They also have quite a few vegan side dishes, if you wanted to cobble something together. The allergen menu lists vegan items and can be found HERE. (I didn't link to the exact link as it's bound to change regularly!)
JAN 2017: I believe the 5 bean chilli is now vegan and they have a dessert that isn't just fruit. But I can't find an updated PDF of the menu to show you so you'll just have to look in your local.
No pics because I haven't been here since not that long after I went vegan and they were SO unhelpful back then. I ended with something akin to the Pizza of Sadness.
(I've just been advised by Boltonian Vegan that they also make an avocado and pepper wrap which is vegan if you ask for it without mayo.)
The balls themselves are very nice, they are flavourful and they are made of actual veggies rather than a meat substitute, which I like. The rice and broccoli was a bit dry without a sauce though, so next time I'd probably order these with chips instead of rice.
If you like them, you can buy a bag of the veggie balls in the frozen section of Ikea's food hall, which I did.
Also, on the way home after buying our food, Mr A decided he wanted a milkshake and he asked the guy on the food kiosk if the Cinnamon buns are vegan. Apparently they are not because they have gelatine in (wtf??) but he looked in the book and told Mr A that the donuts are vegan! WIN! So we had one of those each and they were very nice indeed.
I had a breakfast platter called the botanist, which was massive - too big for me to finish. But it was amazing. It had awesome bread, hummus, avocado, quinoa tabouleh, fruit salad and a fruity parfait which is perfectly sweet and lovely.
You can filter on the website for vegan options and basically NO mains come up - I think that is due to them all coming with cheese and sour cream as standard. But the garlic bread is vegan and so are lots of the sides.
When I went I had the Veggie Taglietelle Bolognaise. Now this doesn't come vegan as standard, they amend it for you and I think they have different pasta for the vegan options. Because the pasta was a bit of a weird texture. I won't lie this wasn't my favourite pasta dish ever. However, I would go back and try something else and I think it's great that they label vegan and are providing options.
Do you know of any other vegan options at chain restaurants? Leave me a comment and I will add it on!
Last updated 06 January 2017