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The Spread Eagle: London’s first vegan pub opens in Homerton High Street (and even the furniture’s animal-free)

PUBLISHED: 09:42 16 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:26 18 January 2018

Luke McLoughlin inside The Spread Eagle, Homerton High Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

Luke McLoughlin inside The Spread Eagle, Homerton High Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

In London’s first vegan pub, not only long-haired freaky people need apply.

Vegan cocktails at The Spread Eagle include an egg-free Tequilla sour. Picture: Polly HancockVegan cocktails at The Spread Eagle include an egg-free Tequilla sour. Picture: Polly Hancock

“We aim to break the stereotype of dreadlocked, sandal-wearing, peace-loving vegans,” said Luke McLoughlin, co-founder of The Spread Eagle, in Homerton High Street. “You get vegans in all walks of life.

“I think over the years veganism’s been quite separatist, almost elitist, with a kind of us-and-them mentality.”

The opening of The Spread Eagle on Friday is yet another sign of its move to the mainstream. The pub replaced the old Jackdaw and Star, run by the same team as The Star by Hackney Downs.

In the past two weeks alone both Tesco and Sainsbury’s have launched their own vegan ranges, and nearly 100,000 Brits are taking part in Veganuary this year, giving up all animal products for the month.

Luke McLoughlin inside The Spread Eagle, Homerton High Street. Picture: Polly HancockLuke McLoughlin inside The Spread Eagle, Homerton High Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

Luke hopes veganism’s increasing visibility will draw in a diverse crowd. “If vegans come in off the street and try our food,” he said, “that’s great.

“If people who’ve never tried vegan food eat with us, that’s great, too.”

The menu comes courtesy of Club Mexicana, a street food start up created by Luke’s business partner, Meriel Armitage. (Trainspotting local vegans might recognise Club Mexicana’s food from its residency at Pamela bar in Kingsland Road.)

She and Luke decided to open the pub together after “one too many shandies” at the Secret Garden Party festival.

"We aim to break the stereotype of dreadlocked, sandal-wearing, peace-loving vegans."

Luke McLoughlin

But it’s not just the food that’s animal-free; the drinks menu and even the furniture have been revamped too.

“We’ve stripped the leather off the chairs, and we use aquafaba [water from cooking seeds and pulses] in our Tequila sours instead of egg whites. Shake that up and it will give you a froth on your cocktail.

“Nobody is 100 percent vegan, because there are animal products in the last places you’d look. We still take £5 and £10 notes behind the bar, which contain animal products, but it’s about making the effort, I think.”

For Luke, going vegan was a matter of principle, but if everything goes to plan it may just prove to have been the best business decision he’s ever made, too.

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