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I’ve been meaning to write about this for ages but kept forgetting. I got the Happy Cow phone app months ago and I’ve used it loads – definitely one of the most used apps on my phone (after facebook and instagram :)). It’s so nice to know that you can be anywhere and really quickly see on a map how far you are from any veggie/vegan places to eat.

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It uses your current location, and you can either search nearby or search a different location.

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If I click “browse nearby” when I’m in Oxford then it comes up with a list like this:

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The above search showed everything (vegan, vegetarian, veg-friendly etc) which is why there are quite a few veg-friendly places…but if I did a search for vegetarian (I know there are no vegan places in Oxford! I’ve looked before, but alas no), then I get to see a few more helpful results. As you’ll see, Oxford only actually has 2 veggie places – the other two are quite far away! (it’s great that it shows you how far you are from the places in the list).

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Then if you click on the one you’re interested in, you can see much more information about it, like a description, directions, contact details, link to a map etc.

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If you click on “map”, it opens in your usual maps like this:

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And you can see reviews too:

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So there you go. It’s really a great app – I used it a lot in London and it’s how we found Tao. I think I had to pay a couple of quid for it initially but I’d definitely recommend it 🙂

Here’s the website with more info about it

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I work in the centre of Oxford and the closest place for a drink or some food is The Living Room. I go there for a drink fairly frequently but haven’t been for food very much. I went a while ago and had some kind of mushrooms on toast (fancy mushrooms, ciabatta) which was vegan friendly but they have since changed the menu. I remember when I did eat there before that they were a somewhat tricky place – there was a tomato humous starter and it turned out they put cheese in the humous. What!? Why would you take a vegan’s favourite food and put bloody cheese in it!?

Anyway, a colleague wanted to go there for lunch for her leaving do and after looking at the menu (it didn’t seem hopeful) I thought I’d email and find out what they said.

This is their response:

Hi  Jen,
 
Thank you for your  enquiry.
 
We  don’t  cater for Vegans but we can arrange something for you. The Houmous suitable for  vegans and the risotto can be adjusted to suit you but we need to have a bit of  notice on that one.
 
Kind  Regards,
 
Jorge Dores
Sales & Marketing  Coordinator

Now the thing is, in life I am generally a pretty easy to please vegan. Give me a salad with a bit of avocado or an olive or two, or a nice pasta dish with some veg. I know when going to most places that I’ll have to adjust whatever is on the menu and the chances of there just being a vegan dish available are slim to nil. But really? I think it’s the “we don’t cater for vegans” bit that bugged me about this email. Without reading any more about humous or advance-notice-risotto, I’m really not bothered about going there. I don’t think I’ve ever received such a disinterested email from a restaurant I have emailed about food!

OK, rant over! 🙂

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Alpha Bar in Oxford

I don’t love my job in the cente of Oxford, but I do love the many lunch options available to me on the days I am too disorganised to bring anything from home.

Alpha Bar is in the covered market, and I tend to go there every friday 🙂

They do a variety of salads, sandwiches and hot things (like curry), and I tend to stick with the salad boxes. When I first started going there I asked about which things were vegan, and they knew loads about the food they have on offer. Some of my favourites to go in my small salad box are:

  • coleslaw made with dijon mustard dressing
  • roasted veggies (butternut squash, sweet potato, onion, etc)
  • marinated tofu
  • brown rice
  • giant butterbeans in tomato sauce
  • lentil salad (with onion, herbs etc in it)
  • olives
  • salsa-type salad (tomatoes, onion etc)
  • tomatoes with fresh basil

Today’s box has roased veg, tofu, lentils and coleslaw (most of which is hidden beneath the veg), and they always offer toasted sunflower seeds to be sprinkled on top. It cost £4, which is kind of pricey for a work-day lunch, but they are super special and therefore improve my day 🙂

Not the best photo, since it was taken with my phone. Delicious though!

The website says they also do an order-and-collect service, but I have never used it (I like to make decisions when I see the salads in front of me).

The only downside about this place is that it is situated opposite a butchers, so there are some very grim things on display. But I have mastered a route which walks past as little of this as possible (enter the covered market via market street) and I know where not to look.

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