You want to grab a quick bite to eat, but you've watched all those docs, insiders and exposés, and maybe you're even vegan – so low-welfare meat, or any meat at all, is off the cards. But the hanger is growing stronger and you need food, stat.
Well, luckily for you the ethical fast food restaurants in London are as diverse as can be and there's a whole side to it that puts animals, the environment and your conscious consumer needs first – without any impact on flavour.
So next time you're craving some zero-fuss, sustainably minded fast food, look no further than this lovely lot. From vegan doners to higher-welfare fried chicken, here are some of the best fast-food joints with an ethical edge in the capital.
11 ethical fast food restaurants in London
1. What The Pitta
Shoreditch, Camden and Croydon
What The Pitta is on a mission to be 'Meat Free More Often', and supports global goals for sustainable development by using plant-based alternatives for its kebabs. You'd be forgiven for wondering what a vegan doner is, but we promise no one will miss the meat with the tastebud-tingling combo of spices and soya, served with homemade chilli sauce.
Seven Dials Market, 35 Earlham Street Street, London, WC2H 9LD (opening September)
After finding out that Britain exports more than 80% of its crabs, Fabian Clark decided to bring the crustacean back to our plates. A street-food stall turned casual restaurant, CLAW specialises in sustainable British seafood. Crab and lobster are from Salcombe, oysters from Colchester, veg from New Covent Garden Market, and ice cream from Hackney.
3. 28 Well Hung
60 Nunhead Ln, Nunhead, London SE15 3QE
Provenance is key to 28 Well Hung's ethos: the team's passion lies in having a connection to the farmer, the land and respect for animals – an ethical, sustainable supply chain that isn't just nodded to for marketing purposes. And we're totally on board, especially now we've tried the coal-grilled bavette steak sandwich smothered in green garlic mayo.
Baker Streetand Soho
This ethical fried chicken shop extols the virtues of free-range, high-welfare chickens from Somerset, and has won a place in our hearts (and stomachs), scooping the Best Casual Restaurant award at this year's foodism 100. But there's more: CHIK'N's staff are paid more than the London Living Wage, and there's an on-site biodigester, too.
6. Temple of Seitan
Camden and Hackney
If you haven't already heard, Temple of Seitan is here to show you that plant-based eating is anything but boring. These guys have concocted the perfect seitan recipe to create seriously good crispy 'chicken' burgers and subs. Head to their sites in Camden and Hackney to try superlative vegan junk food in all its wonderfully greasy glory.
7. Halo Burger
49 Brixton Station Rd, Brixton, SW9 8PQ
You’ve likely heard of Halo Burger, the UK’s equivalent to the impossible burger, but did you know that it’s seriously ethical in the way it’s produced and served? Not only is the Halo Burger totally plant based, they’re made from Beyond Meat which uses 99% less water, 93% less land and 46% less energy and produces 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Alongside the planet-friendly ingredients, the restaurants ethos is also as close to zero waste as possible: all food is made to order when there’s demand, meaning minimal is thrown away. Now that's how to be a sustainable fast food restaurant.
58 Hoe St, Walthamstow, E17 4PG.
Based in Walthamstow, SpiceBox is a community-driven curry house serving vegan and zero waste tiffin clubs - that are seriously good. The smart dining concept allows you to take away a full curry and sides of choice in a reusable tiffin container, banishing leaky dinners and unwanted plastic waste. Without compromise on flavour or ethical standards, SpiceBox serves delicious, sustainable food with a conscience, recycling almost all their waste and using seasonal produce as much as possible.
9. Club Mexicana
Shoreditch or Netil Market
From the team behind The Spread Eagle - one of our favourite sustainable restaurants in London - comes Club Mexicana, serving meat-free Mexican fare. That means your food will have a significantly reduced CO2 footprint, thanks to their strict no-meat menu. However, it’s worth noting this may not be the best spot for a bite to eat if you’re conscious of air miles, as some of the ingredients are imported - we’re looking at you, avocado.
Select Soho House restaurants
From Gizzi Erkinsine, came Filth; or what Twitter describes as ‘health food for hedonists’. Launching in Shoreditch for a three-month pop up earlier in the year, you can find the almost cult-like vegan burger at various Soho Houses now, again, made from wholly vegan counterparts plus sustainably sourced ingredients. Not bad.
11. Cook Daily
London Fields and Victoria
Starting life in a shipping container in Shoreditch (aka Boxpark, one of the best food markets in London), Cook Daily is loved by the likes of JME, Childish Gambino and Skepta thanks to founder and chef King Cook. The chef, who earned his stripes in Michelin-star kitchens before going vegan in 2014, began serving ethical grub in London long before it was cool to do so. His next-level tasty low waste vegan food has also always been served in recyclable bowls, with recyclable cutlery to boot. If that’s not eco-conscious in the form of a sustainable fast food restaurant, we don’t know what is.
12. The Vurger Co.
Shoreditch and Canary Wharf
One of the OG vegan burger joints to really rock the London bun scene, The Vurger Co. has always used served their vegan food in 100% compostable packaging, preferring to serve plants and not plastic. This means your meal is served in renewable natural materials and has a far lower carbon footprint than your average burger. Plus, The Vurger Co.’s ‘Eco Audits’ make the stats of their carbon savings and recycled materials visible to all.