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  1847 to 2011 ... Magnificent Manchester

      by Charlotte Everett, Exclusive to

When people think of Manchester, they usually think of Manchester United, arguably the most famous football club in the world. Or perhaps they think of British television's most famous address: Coronation Street. The truth is that Manchester has a lot more to offer than soccer and soaps. From shopping, to Stag Do's - Manchester is one of the fastest growing cities in the United Kingdom; a mecca of leisure, music, culture and cuisine.

In fact, there's something else Manchester is famous for: vegetarianism. It was in 1847 that the Vegetarian Society was first founded, in Manchester, and to this day, the city boasts a strong and active vegetarian and vegan community. There are a number of vegetarian and vegan groups to join, or even meet up with if you are a visitor to the area. Events and recommendations are well-publicised, and the city even has its own vegan society.

It makes sense therefore that the city caters excellently for vegetarians and vegans alike, with a number of restaurants, including Simon Rimmer's famous restaurant, Greens. But my restaurant of choice would have to be 1847, an exquisite vegetarian bistro, which is quickly gaining a reputation as the number one fine-dining vegetarian restaurant in Manchester. I've written a mini-review for 1847, detailing just how incredible this place is, so be sure to check it out!

If fine dining is not your scene however, then Manchester still caters for veggie visitors looking for a more down-to-earth dining experience. And no doubt you will be wanting to visit at least one traditional English pub during your stay. Check out The Seven Oaks, a local pub which proudly serves home-cooked vegetarian and vegan food.

With excellent transport links, it's very easy to get around Manchester. Make your way to Exchange Square and hop on the Manchester Wheel, day or night, for the best views of the city. Or if shopping is more your scene, head to the massive Arndale centre, for one of the largest retail offerings in England.

With the weekend, come the Hens and Stags - so if you're out in Manchester on a Saturday night, you will be sharing the streets and the clubs with a large population of pre-wedding revellers. The city has a reputation for being one of the best places for Bachelor and Bachelorette parties, and in true English tradition, these celebrations usually last the whole weekend. The diverse array of colourful costumes and spirited laughter only add to the vibrancy of the city centre. Choose from one of the many pubs or clubs, or if you prefer, find a party out on the streets, where crowds tend to gather, dance and generally enjoy themselves in the company of street musicians and performers.

The city is anything but congested, however if a quieter pace of life is more appealing, head out into Greater Manchester to explore some greener space. Travel by tram to Eccles, and from there it's about a 15 minute walk to Monton, where you will find a proper English meadow, along with all of the peace and privacy you're looking for. At most, you may be disturbed by the sound of cows in a neighbouring paddock, or the occasional dog-walker. Languishing in the sunshine, we enjoyed a home-packed vegetarian picnic, complemented by fresh marinated olives purchased from a local deli.

Given its cultural vibrancy, fast economic development, and modern approach, it's surprising that Manchester has never been one of the top destinations for tourists visiting the British Isles. However, as it continues to reinvent itself, and attract some of the best culinary talent that the United Kingdom has to offer, this looks set to change in the very near future. Make sure you make some time for Manchester next time you visit England.

Charlotte Everett is VegDining's City Ambassador for London. A "mainstream vegan", she's committed to showing the non-vegetarian world that vegan cuisine is not intimidating or bland. Charlotte's also a freelance tour guide, conducting walking tours throughout London.

Photos courtesy of Charlotte Everett.

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Australia/New Zealand:
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    Amsterdam: Seductively Intoxicating
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    Montreal: VegMontreal
    New York City, The Big Apple
    Ottawa: Ottawa's Green Scene
    Goin' Vegan in Philadelphia
    Quebec City: Storming the Ramparts
    Quebec's Eastern Townships
    San Diego: Vegetarianism on the West Coast
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    San Francisco: Sparkling Jewel in the California Crown
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    Toronto: A Great City for Vegetarians
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South America:
Rio de Janeiro: Carnival Capital

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