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Vegetarian in Scotland?

Have any vegetarians gone on the Scotland tour ? Wondering if it was challenging or do-able?
Thanks for any feedback!

Posted by
16059 posts

Stay away from the haggis! Tell 'em you just want the oatmeal, and they can keep the sheep's stomach and the wee bits of chopped-up sheep innards.

Posted by
7477 posts

There is no meat in the whiskey! Rumor is they have some good stuff,

Just tell your guide at the 1st meeting and he will see to it that at the group dinners you have something to fit your dietary choice.

Posted by
940 posts

Hi, qualeo,

Vegetarianism and even veganism have caught on in Scotland in a big way in the last few years. Many B&Bs and smaller hotels cater to both diets. However, once you cross the Caledonian Canal, your choices are going to be a lot less. If you're with a tour group, let the tour company know ahead of time about your dietary restrictions. If you're touring on your own, it will actually be easier.

You shouldn't have any problems except maybe in the Northern Highlands. Best to keep a few pot noodles (noodles in a styrofoam bowl, to be combined with hot water - similar to Maruchan) on standby just in case you're going to be far from any towns.

MacSween's makes an excellent vegetarian haggis, which is also suitable for vegans. It's available in most supermarkets. The only problem would be keeping it fresh, and cooking it. If you're going to be staying in one hotel or B&B for a couple of days, you could ask them to refrigerate it for you. It can be pan fried or microwaved. Any good lodging would be respectful of your diet, and would be willing to help out.

Most chippies offer a mac & cheese pie as an option. And if you have a sweet tooth, the deep fried Mars bar was invented in Scotland. It's best with vanilla ice cream.

Have a wonderful time in Scotland, and thank you for being a vegetarian!

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
8246 posts

When are you going on the Scotland tour? My brother and I are both vegan and are on a tour date in early June. If you are after us I'll happily let you know how things go.

On all my prior tours (8) I did as suggested and spoke with the guide right after the 1st meet-up. I also have it listed on my personal tour information which all the guides get. I have learned to travel with some back up food - generally will pick up a jar of peanut butter and some compliant crackers or bread - in case there is a group meal restaurant that is not able to work something out. As a vegetarian I'll bet you'll have no problem. We also both carry something like Clif bars as well as nuts and dried fruit if push comes to shove and nothing works.

I have gone thru the listings on happycow.net for restaurants in Edinburgh and my SIL went thru all the Trip Advisor restaurants where it looks like we'll have dinners on our own, then she looked at restaurant menus to get some ideas for our time on our own. In point of fact what we'll probably do is a combination of her list and just walking around looking at the conveniently posted menus of nearby restaurants!

Posted by
1291 posts

Vegetarian options will be found in virtually all eating places, although they may get repetitive the further from the main cities.

Vegan dishes will be harder to find, as most vegetarian dishes are liable to include dairy, both milk products and eggs.

Posted by
940 posts

Hi, qualeo and Pam,

If you're spending any time in Edinburgh, Henderson's Salad Table, at 94 Hanover Street, has been serving vegetarian food for over 40 years. Prices are reasonable, and they have a huge selection.

They also have several vegan options on the menu, but they have recently opened an all-vegan branch around the corner on Thistle Street. There is a website, www.veganedinburgh.com.

And also, www.watchmesee.com/blog/vegan-scotland-traveling-vegan-in-scotland/ has lots of tips for vegans, which can also apply to vegetarians.

Posted by
940 posts

Hi again,

Some Glasgow friends told me about the Mono Cafe and Bar. It's on King Street, just below Osborne Street, and not too far from the Trongate and the St. Enoch Centre. Apparently they have excellent and reasonably priced vegetarian and vegan food, and live music.

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
8246 posts

Auchterless, thanks so much for those vegan links and suggestions! I'll go thru and see if there are any suggestions not just for Edinburgh but for the overnight stops on Rick's Best of Scotland tour. We are spending one night ahead of the tour in Edinburgh as well as 3 nights after the tour in Edinburgh so plenty of meals on our own.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for all the great suggestions!
Have a wonderful trip, Pam!
Looks like Edinburgh will be easy. My tour is late June so I’d love to hear of any finds farther down the road on the tour!
Will bring some nuts and bars as well.
Cheers!
Julie

Posted by
8246 posts

Julie, I’m currently near the end of a Villages of South England tour and funny enough our guide usually does the Best of Scotland tour. He thought there would be no problem for us except at Kenmore which is very small. However our tour stays in Dunkeld and that hotel restaurant does list some vegan options.

I’ll update you as we travel!

Posted by
996 posts

I have not done vegetarian on the RS tour, but I have done a tour in Scotland where I said I wanted the vegetarian menu. I had no problems with this. I did have to repeat myself once or twice, but that's normal wherever I am...

Posted by
63 posts

I spent three weeks in Scotland last spring and had no trouble at all finding vegetarian meals, even in the most rural parts of the country. I ate in a restaurant in rural Mull that had just five tables and was essentially in the cook's living room, and one of the three available options was vegetarian. In Edinburgh, don't miss David Bann, a fine dining restaurant that is entirely vegetarian. You have to make a reservation, but it is well worth it.

Posted by
8246 posts

Hey!

Back with a quick update. Finished the Best of Scotland on Friday AM and got home last night. No problem at all with vegetarian or vegan food. There were 2 of us who were vegan and one lactose intolerant person. There were vegetarian selections for every group meal. Every group meal was able to do a vegan option for my brother and me and they were all very good.

The only day I would really go prepared is the day you go to Iona. We hit very bad weather here with pouring rain for our drive across Mull and a very iffy ferry schedule due to a storm blowing in. We were not sure we were even going to be able to get to Iona but on the Mull side the crew gave our guide the go-ahead with the caveat that the ferry would likely be cancelled after 3PM due to high winds. (It was!) We got to Iona and had maybe 1.5 hours there so not really enough time for a meal after we did a short walking tour to and of the Abbey and walked back to the dock (in wind and rain). While we were gone, the Mull bus driver organized someone to make sandwiches for the whole group but there were no vegan options. It was fine since my brother and I had brought bagels and peanut butter as a back up for this day. There were some cheese and tomato sandwiches so that would work fine for vegetarians. The sandwiches were passed around and we ate on the bus when we returned from Iona on the 230 ferry.

Anyway, this was the only day that could have been inconvenient if we hadn't prepped ahead.

On the day you are in St Andrews, that is your lunch stop. We ate at Bibi's Cafe on North St and each had a huge and delicious mezze platter. Wow. Yum!

I also got brave and tried the vegan haggis at a really great lunch spot in Edinburgh called Loudon's. It was right around the corner from our Edinburgh hotel and had lots of vegan options. I got a vegan haggis benedict and it was so delicious I can't even tell you how good it was! Fabulous desserts!

Also the day you do your walking tour in Edinburgh, you'll wind up at the National Museum of Scotland. There are 2 good lunch options within a block or 2. Right across George IV Bridge road by the statue of Greyfriars Bobby, go to the left of the driveway to the church and the 1st option for vegan sandwiches is Bobbie's Sandwich Bar. It's mostly carry out but you can walk a little further on Forrest Rd down to a pedestrian area called Middle Meadow Walk and/ or continue to the park called the Meadows. On Forrest is a small cafe on the left (with your back to the Scottish Museum) called Union of Genius which is soup and salad. Unbelievable vegan desserts. Oh my.

Anyway, you'll be well-fixed for food. Talk to your guide after your meet-up just to make sure they know you're vegetarian.