As we grow more conscious of what we put in our bodies and how we treat the planet, taking up veganism, vegetarianism or (the awfully titled) flexitarianism seems to be a no brainer.
Just take a stroll down Broadway Market in east London, where you will see vegan fish & chips on one stall and jackfruit dirty burgers on the next.
Head on past the kombucha and the vegan brownies and you will come across the excellent ‘I Am Nut OK’, a stall with an artisan vegan cheese offering.
It seems there is a meat- and dairy-free option available for even the most discerning, socially and health conscious customer.
Just around the corner from Broadway there is even the Hackney Downs Vegan Market, an event exclusively dedicated to celebrating the humble vegetable.
But, before all this, long before the pop-ups, market stalls and ever-expanding vegan options, one of the first purveyors of healthy, responsible meat free products was tibits.
First launched in Zurich in 2000 by the Frei brothers, the brand was born out of frustration with the lack of choice for vegetarians.
The original idea behind the company was to create ‘a delicious vegetarian buffet, but as speedy as a fast food joint and as cosy as corner café’ – an admirable aim and one at which they have succeeded.
The idea made its way over the English Channel ten years ago and since then tibits has become the capital’s leading vegetarian and vegan restaurant group, with branches in Southbank and Mayfair.
Having recently launched a new spring menu with expanded drinks offering, I was invited down to check it out.
Co-founder Reto Frei explains: “It is hard not to get excited about the abundance of fresh produce in spring.
“At tibits, we show the maximum respect for fruit and vegetables by aiming to use 100 per cent of each ingredient – not only making food more interesting, but promoting good health and minimal waste.
“We are trying to reduce our impact on the environment and be as responsible as we can.”
This excitement rubs off as my guest and I head down toward the Southbank location for dinner.
The space features a cosy dining room, a glass ceilinged conservatory, a buffet station and a fully stocked bar in the middle of the premises.
Warm low lighting and comfy armchairs create a homely atmosphere.
The buffet features over 40 vegetarian and vegan dishes drawing on cuisines from all around the world and includes soups, salads, hearty hot meals, freshly pressed juices and desserts.
The new spring additions include Muddai Piratthal, a Sri Lankan influenced pasta salad with tofu and chickpeas, and two new nutty salads – green beans, radicchio and spelt as well as the asparagus, radish and quinoa offering.
For the sweet-toothed, there is a fresh pear tarte Tatin, which uses fruit with a Nordic twist thanks to the spicing the of the Moorish glaze with cinnamon.
Also on the menu is star anise and cardamom, alongside a polenta and almond basbousa, which is gluten free and low in sugar.
The meals are charged by weight, which allows you to get creative and try as little or as much as you wish, and come to around £15 a plate.
I go for the green bean and walnut salad, mange tout, egg frittata, a roasted daikon and breaded cheesy jalapeno poppers.
All the veggies taste fresh and crunchy, while the dikon is full of flavour.
The cheesy jalapenos provide some much-needed wholesomeness, while my guest is vocal in her praise for the chilli sin carne.
All of the above, washed down with a glass of Tempranillo makes for one happy, well-fed customer.
We choose the cheesecake for dessert and it is just right – delicate, not too sweet with subtle blueberry undertones.
The polenta, however, is a little dry and underwhelming, but I can imagine it is hard to produce a quality dessert with little or no sugar.
Just a short walk away from Tate Modern, tibits is a great addition to the area perfect for a quick lunch or a healthy dinner after a day of art therapy and sightseeing.
To find out more about the new spring and summer menu at tibits head over to the official website.