“ Address: 7 Fletchers Walk / Birmingham B3 3HJ „
Since I moved back to my original hometown of Birmingham (though I must confess my heart still resides by the sea), I've been pleasantly surprised by some of the large but subtle changes that have taken place in this gloomy city over the last 10 years. Perhaps partially to do with the fact that The Vegan Society relocated here in 2006, a number of veggie- and vegan-friend places have sprouted up in the West Midlands. When I was growing up here, there was very little to convert me to animal-friendly living, although I wanted to give up meat as a young child, and loved my cat Tigger very much. Veged Out cafe is based in Fletchers Walk, a series of indoor shops which cater for different needs, including a meditation and yoga centre, a martial arts centre, and an 'alternative' pub that hosts a lot of heavy rock nights. The cafe is near Central Library in Birmingham City Centre, just off the highest and very close to the fountains and big outdoor TV. It is less than a 10 minute walk from New Street train station and only a minute's walk from the local tourist information centre. The cafe closes at 3pm on weekdays, but if you get there before 2pm you can have a hearty, home-cooked, tasty meal for the fabulous price of only £4. The cakes and drinks are £1 each, and there is always a good range of veggie/vegan desserts and beverages available. I have been to Veged Out cafe many times now since discovering it, and I have never been disappointed. The cafe is run as a co-op, so it's not-for-profit, and all the staff members are volunteers. The food is sourced locally, seasonal, and fairtrade where possible and the specials menu changes almost every day, which usually also include gluten-free options. They cafe also does wraps and sandwiches to take away for £2-£3. As the cafe is run as a co-op, the volunteers are always happy to help, and the service and food is always exceptional. In my experience, they really listen to what you have to say. The baby changing space out the back often has boxes and things stacked onto it, due to the small size of the cafe, but these have always been removed swiftly and without a fuss by the staff, when I have approached them about nappy changing. The changing mat is always clean and is a good quality mat. The cafe has a leather-free sofa ideal for sitting comfortably, and hard-backed chairs set at wooden tables for dining. The atmosphere is peaceful, the toilets are clean, and there is art for sale on the walls. Veged Out recently branched out to host evening openings too, so on Fridays and Saturdays they are now open from 6.30pm to 11pm. You can pay £10 for a 3 course meal or £8 for 2 courses, with a range of desserts on offer and 2 options per main and starter to choose from, with acoustic music to accompany your meal. But what do you get for £10? Last time I ate there, I had a Mediterranean starter including a very yummy freshly-made olive tapenade, then paella made with brown rice and lots of veg in it as my main, and a slice of chocolate tart for pudding. Another time I had a salad starter, then 'phish and chips' where the fish was actually battered tofu, and cheesecake for dessert. In the daytime for £4 I have had a pizza or pie, a fizzy drink for £1, and then a cupcake or muffin for £1. There are usually at least 4 types of cake on offer and at least 10 different mains you can choose from, which although cheap are also very filling. Unsurprisingly, the local LGBT group, Birmingham Sling Meet, and the local film club regularly meet at the cafe, as do various other local community groups. So I can't say anything other than 5 stars for this gem of a cafe -- and I advise that if you're ever in Birmingham, get yourself down there, and VEG OUT!