Vegan London: Ping Pong

Dear Ping Pong,

What took me so long to find you?! Why was I frightened by the thought of your buns and what made me think you wouldn’t provide a banquet fit for a Vegan diner?

I have been back in London for almost two years, selling my soul to the big marketing devil in the sky, but funding my future yoga & massage based adventures, kitty love, a return to gigs and sampling the delights of dining out of home. In Brazil my annual income was below that of a grad in London, less even than an intern. My rent, household bills & travel costs came to over half that, which left me the equivalent of £400 per month to buy food, toiletries, clothes, yoga mats, contribute towards a Brazilian travel fund, save for the rainy days/holidays when all my students were travelling and I had no classes and have a social life.

Something had to give and it was the social life and the traveling fund. If I’d known I wasn’t going to be in Brazil forever I would definitely have travelled more, there are so many beautiful places yet to discover. It is a land of unrivalled beauty and nothing will match it.

Living life as a full time yoga teacher was amazing, I loved it.  There is nothing like spending your whole day doing what you absolutely love. Even if you are physically exhausted, have no time for your own practice and end up working from 6 am to 11 pm. You are poor but happy. All your needs are met and you live life with the satisfaction that you in your small way are making a difference, contributing to positive changes in the physically, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of the people you teach and adding to a global shift in consciousness. Somehow, getting a digital media plan signed off doesn’t evoke quite the same feeling! I taught amazing individuals who each of them left an imprint on my psyche and my heart. I am still in touch with a large majority of them and pleased to witness their continued yogic journeys.

When you work odd hours and live within a healthy passion on your souls journey, you tend not to want to stay out late or frequent bars & nightclubs. Generally when you turn your life more fully to yoga, you turn away from toxic influences and environments. I’d like to say toxic people, but for some (hopefully karmic) reason I couldn’t see the wood for the trees there. Alcohol and losing your self to a toxic takeover of consciousness loses its appeal.

I spent most of my time politely declining invitations for all the reasons above as well as the vegan and financial ones. I just couldn’t afford it. When I did meet people socially it was either for lunch at a buffet restaurant with lots of options for vegetarians and vegans or on the rare occasion I did go out in the evening, I ate at home, drank water and left early when the drinkers eyes started getting squiffy, got the repeats or slurs or to the tipping point of sleep required for the next day’s physical exertions.

Whilst I having been working my passion, i have learned so much and know that whilst I can’t explain the reasons now, all the skills I am polishing will put me in great stead in the future. It has been wonderful to explore the vegan delights of London with the money in my pocket to pay for it, to take classes from gifted yogic souls, indulge my passion for music, develop other facets of my self and reconnect with loved ones.

I’ve been slowly working my way around the incredible variety and array of eating options in London. Exploring Vegan & vegetarian thoroughbreds and also finding the vegan options on the high street which I feel are overlooked by some vegan listing sites and are infinitely more accessible for making plans with friends.

I once went for dim sum with a friend with the sole purpose of introducing me to the buns. I hated them. The texture was off for me. The flavours didn’t work and it wrote dim sum restaurants off in my mind for years.  Meeting a friend on London’s Southbank, I searched for restaurant’s and found that Ping Pong has a Vegan menu. We gave it a try and were not disappointed.

Vegan friendly dim sum and garlic, soy broccoli at Ping Pong, London

Vegan friendly dim sum and garlic, soy broccoli at Ping Pong, London

The seating is shared, but you are in your own food adventure and you feel like fellow conspirators rather than wanting to share the experience and actually talk to your seat mates (standard London anti-social behaviour!). The air has a tang of excitement and buzz. With about 10 dishes on the menu open to vegans we set about trying about 5 of them, a rice dish with mushrooms, baby sweetcorn & black beans ranks highly, as does the portobello mushroom and dim sum parcels with peanuts and a (good) ton of garlic.

It was a great place to have catch up and set the tone before heading to the Chet Faker gig at the Coronet in Elephant Castle.  Chet Faker was excellent, the venue was not. Maybe we needed to have started our evening off with less sophisticated collegiate tones and the illegal rave feeling venue would have been like water off a dim sum’s back.

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