Eating Vegan in Scotland
On my recent trip to Scotland, I was a bit worried about what kind of options I'd find to eat there. When it comes to food while travelling, there's always a fallback - go to the grocery store and load up on fruits. But the best thing would be, instead, to be able to eat the local fare but with a vegan twist.
I was pleasantly surprised that, since my last trip to Scotland 12 years ago, the vegetarian options have exploded. I even found Vegetarian Haggis!
Here are my favourite picks of things I ate while in Scotland.
Veggie Haggis Tower at The Royal McGregor in Edinburgh
Most people think of Haggis and start by "eww" quickly followed by "no way." When I tell them there's a vegetarian version of Haggis, they all wonder what could that be? The traditional version of Haggis consists of sheep's heart, lungs, and liver minced in with oatmeal, spices, salt, and stock. But as it turns out, the main ingredient in there is indeed oatmeal.
So when you look at the vegetarian version of Haggis, it's mainly oatmeal and spices, although you'll see people add a variety of different things including onions, peas, carrots, mushrooms, or even nuts. The main point of Haggis though is the distinctive spices, which come from allspice, marmite, pepper, and treacle.
At the Royal McGregor, they made a tower with three levels - veggie Haggis, then mashed potatoes, then turnip and carrots. It was very comfortable home meal, and definitely a type of casserole that I'd love to make at home when I'm in the mood for something warm. They served it with a cream sauce, which (for obvious reasons) I didn't eat but the dish didn't feel lacking without it.
Curry, Pasta, and Bruschetta at the Haakon Pub in Kyleakin
This place (literally) isn't even on the map - but if you go to Kyleakin, on the Isle of Skye, all the locals will tell you Haakon's the place to go. This pub serves excellent food, has a great atmosphere and a view of the water with a lovely sunset.
My sister and I weren't expecting much from this local eatery, but we were pleasantly surprised. The bruschetta was, I kid you not, the best I've ever had. The toast was perfect, and they'd put a pleasant mix of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions drizzled with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It re-ignited my love of bruschetta, which I haven't eaten a lot of recently.
The first night I had the vegetable curry, which came with rice and salad. It was pleasant but not overly spicy. It was good enough, though, that my non-vegetarian sister ordered it the next night. I got a vegetable linguine that night and was happy to see that it came with some veg including zucchini and peppers. I also tasted some of the local Skye Ale which was very good!
This place is so beautiful I can't wait for a chance to go back!
Tomato Soup at The Granary in Portree, Isle of Skye
Although the wait staff at first wasn't sure if they had margarine, they managed to rustle some up to go with my bread when I ordered Tomato Soup at the Granary. This restaurant is right in the heart of Portree, and always busy. We were lucky to get a table outside so we could enjoy the (rare) sunshine. I had a refreshing glass of Thistly Cross cider that was fantastic.
The tomato soup wasn't anything to write home about, but the atmosphere of the place was great.
Vegetarian Breakfast at Lucious Edinburgh
Breakfast is one of those things that's always the most tricky when travelling. I normally tend not to eat breakfast when home - but when on the road, the amount of walking around can sometimes require the morning meal. Also sometimes breakfast for lunch can be a good thing.
If you're strolling down the Royal Mile from the castle down towards Holyrood Palace, then on the left hand side you'll see a little café called Luscious Edinburgh. They caught my eye when I saw that they had a vegetarian breakfast option, and it didn't disappoint. The food was great, a pleasant quality.
I was, however shocked at the cost of the tea. Tea itself cost 5 pounds, which works out to about $10 back home. $10 for a cup of tea? You jest, sir.
Homemade Breakfast at the Corran B&B in Kyleakin
One of my favourite dishes on the trip, though, hands down had to be the handmade breakfast at the Corran B&B. Although I took pictures of it (much to the chef's delight), I seem to have somehow lost the pictures (much to my horror).
If I can describe to you, though, I got not only a healthy portion of beans and toast, she also made me some fresh tomato and grilled mushrooms. But hands-down the star of the show was the hash browns - she actually made handmade hash browns from scratch. I kid you not, these were not store-bought hash browns hastily reheated - you could taste the freshness how she had just chopped those potatoes and fried them up. They were completely fantastic and have inspired me to try making my own hash browns at home.
All in all...
If I had to summarize my experience of eating vegan in Scotland, I'd say that it was great. People were always very accommodating to my needs, and inevitably the food I ate was always fresh. Food there tends to be a bit heavy, a bit on the "comfort" food side, but when eating vegan it's like you get to keep the "comfort" part while leaving behind that heavy feeling in your stomach afterward.