Friday 11 September 2020

Tips for Travelling Vegan in Scotland

how to travel scotland vegan

Is it possible to be vegan in Scotland? Isn't that the place famous for serving up sheep intestine boiled inside a sheep stomach? (Also known as haggis.) YES! But also! Since it's launch in 2019 Macsween's vegan haggis has been a best seller, so, you know, there's hope. And more than hope! With this vegan guide to Scotland I'm going to give you everything you need to more than just 'survive' your trip to beautiful Scotland. In this blog post we're going to touch on accidentally vegan Scottish recipes and foods, how to veganise traditional Scottish foods, vegan restaurants in Scotland, where to stay in Scotland and ethical vegan tourism in Scotland. Thanks in advance for reading, I hope you enjoy it!

I. How To Be Vegan In Scotland

#1. Accidentally Vegan Scottish Recipes and Foods

accidental vegan scottish recipes
Tastes like orange soda... not the healthiest thing ever but at least it didn't harm animals [credit: wsj]

First things first, are there any Scottish foods and recipes out there which are already accidentally vegan?
  • Scottish Oatmeal: this is whole oats cooked slowly with just water and salt. Traditionally Scottish, tastes great, is accidentally vegan and will keep you warm in the colder temperatures
  • Mackies crisps: Mackies are the only crisps made in Scotland, and many of them are accidentally vegan - including, surprisingly, the haggis and prawn ones (but not including the cheese and onion ones)
  • Fruit: apples, strawberries, pears, plums and cherries all grow very well in Scotland - get them local, organic and in season wherever possible
  • Veg: potatoes, kale, broad beans, broccoli, onion, carrots, beetroots, chards and more ditto on the local, organic and in season front
  • Scottish vegetable broth: taking advantage of all their beautiful vegetables this broth is accidentally vegan
  • Skirlie: traditionally this is just oatmeal fried with onions, seasonings and fat - if you're lucky the fat will be vegan (marg, vegan butter, sunflower oil etc), but double check before purchasing/eating
  • Irn Bru: described by wikipedia as 'Scotland's other national drink' you know, after whisky, Irn Bru tastes like orange soda. It's not the healthiest thing ever but at least it didn't harm animals
  • Whisky: obvs. Fill up on oatmeal (or don't) before spending the day tasting the best whiskies in the world. 
  • Gin: this list is getting a bit liquidy... let's move on 

#2. How to veganise traditional Scottish recipes

This section is for if you're lucky enough to find a restaurant or chef that's happy to edit their recipe to be vegan friendly. Or if you want to cook vegan in Scotland (or anywhere else really)!

  • Haggis: grab a Macsween one or make your own with lentils. You can find a full recipe here
  • Shortbread: shortbread is really easy to make, it's just butter, flour and sugar. The latter two are vegan and you can find vegan butters in many shops now (or just use an accidentally vegan margarine)
  • Clapshot: this dish is made from mashing together swedes, turnips, potatoes, chives, salt and pepper - it would be accidentally vegan if it wasn't for the butter, so again, simply switch in a vegan butter (or margarine)
  • Potato scones: again almost accidentally vegan if it wasn't for the butter. You know what to do now. 
  • Cullen skink: this Scottish soup is traditionally made with smoked haddock, potatoes and leek. Swap the smoked haddock for smoked paprika (for the smokey flavour), spirulina (for the fishy flavour) and tofu (for the texture) and you've got yourself an authentic treat (without the haddocks high cholesterol, yey)
  • Rumbledethumps: hats off to Scotland, they have awesome names for their foods. Rumbledethumps is mashed potatoes and turnips, fried in butter, with kale and then smothered in cheddar and baked. Swap the cheddar for vegan cheese alternatives or combine olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt and lemon and you're good to go!

But essentially, if you're out and about in Scotland looking for vegan Scottish meals, your best bet is to try a vegan restaurant in Scotland:

#3. Vegan restaurants in Scotland

Scotland currently boasts 48 completely vegan restaurants with the majority (21) in Glasgow, followed by 12 in Edinburgh. Dundee and Aberdeen both have 3 each, and Elgin, Falkirk, Fort Williams, Inverness, Kimarnock, New Pitsligo, Oban, Perth and St Andrews all have 1. Check out the entire list (and a useful map) on happycow.

II. Ethical Vegan Tourism in Scotland

#1. Wildlife in Scotland

On that note, please be conscious on your travels in Scotland. Places like Edinburgh Zoo, Deep Sea World, Highland Wildlife Park and Blair Drummond Safari Park might be better than your average zoo or aquarium world-wide, but they're still nothing short of prisons for animals and fish and are only kept open through people visiting and continuing to finance these things. Please don't :( Opt instead for seeing wildlife where it should be - in the wild. Caingorms National Park, for example, is home to golden eagles and the Scottish wildcat. (And really, wouldn't you rather see a Scottish wildcat in the wild in Scotland than a random polar bear in a zoo?) You can also find deer, seals, otters, goats and more. And with all wildlife spotting remember to keep your distance and take your litter home :)

#2. Where to Stay in Scotland

vegan glasgow

Thus, to have the widest range of vegan restaurants your best bet is to head to Glasgow or Edinburgh (or both). An added bonus would be that there are many hotel and dinner packages in these two fabulous cities. Glasgow and Edinburgh are two of my favourite cities, but I would still recommend that you head up to the countryside at least for one night. If you can, avoid polluting the clean air up there by opting for public transport and bigger tours over renting a car.

III. Wrap Up: Tips for Travelling Vegan in Scotland

So there you have it, hopefully everything you need to travel easily in Scotland as a vegan. With your list of accidentally vegan foods you know what to keep an eye out for, and if you happen to find someone nice who wants to veganify their heritage, you know exactly how to ask for it. As always, let me know in the comments below or on social media if you have any questions and/or if you have anything to add that would help future readers. Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy your trip. Also, here is a video about making vegan Haggis (!!!) - enjoy :)

P.S.: If you're interested in an app designed for vegans & wanna support the vegan movement and us, veganvstravel as well, use this link plz to download Abillionveg. When registering, please use our referral code: TRAVELLINGWEASELS. If you wanna know why we think this is a great app, read here.

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