In my experience, travelling Scotland as a vegan is really easy. But when you’re long-distance hiking in the Highlands, you usually get to more remote rural areas where it can be harder to find plant-based options. This is my Speyside Way vegan guide to the vegan-friendly restaurants and shops I tried in the Speyside region during our hike.
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The main ingredient to a successful vegan food experience on a Scottish hike is preparation. As soon as we had decided on our route for the Speyside Way, where we’d stop and the places we’d stay, I started researching vegan-friendly restaurant options. The next step was to ring up our hotels and B&Bs to let them know about my dietary requirements and ask about vegan breakfast options.
The Speyside Way is not a super touristy hiking trail and particularly the northern towns are not very well equipped with restaurants. Still, there are lots of vegan options to be found along the Speyside Way!
This is a guide to the vegan-friendly eateries I tried along the Speyside Way, vegan-friendly accommodation, how to prepare your lunch packs for the trail and what to shop at the local Scottish supermarkets along the trail.
Vegan-friendly restaurants in Aviemore
Mountain Cafe | Run and owned by an award-winning chef from New Zealand, the Mountain Cafe is exactly the kind of surprise that will make your first day on the trail perfect! Kirsten and her team are cooking up a storm in a relaxing atmosphere, and you will find loads of vegan options on the breakfast and lunch menus. I went for a full veggie breakfast and had the halloumi and eggs replaced by hash browns and extra veg. Other vegan options include homemade granola, fresh porridge, breakfast rolls, soup, and sandwiches.
111 Grampian Road, Aviemore PH22 1RH, Mon-Fri 8.30am-5pm, Sat-Sun until 5.30pm, website
Ski-ing Doo | Aviemore is particularly popular in the winter, because of its proximity to the Glenshee skiing resort. Because of that, a lot of the bars and restaurants in town have a kind of an apres ski vibe – wooden interior, hearty pub grub and an extensive drinks menu. Skiing-Doo is exactly that. On the menu, you’ll find loads of meat, but there are also a few vegan-friendly options, like baked potatos and stuffed peppers. The food won’t win awards, but the peppers were a satisfying dinner and we loved the outdoor seating in front of the pub.
9 Grampian Rd, Aviemore PH22 1RH, Sun-Thu 12-11pm. Fri-Sat until 12am, website
Vegan-friendly restaurants in Boat of Garten
Boat Country Inn | There are just a few restaurants in Boat of Garten, but I knew from a bit of online research that the Boat Country Inn & Restaurant would be the best for vegan options. Our waitress was very accommodating, double checking ingredients with the chef for me, and making sure I got some healthy replacements. I went for a beetroot, red pepper and quinoa burger on a dairy and gluten-free bun with chips on the side and some extra salad. I liked that they went beyond the regular falafel burger you often get and put some thought and effort into burger recipes!
Deshar Rd, Boat of Garten PH24 3BH, website
Vegan-friendly restaurants in Abernethy
Nethy House | On day two of our trek en route from Boat of Garten to Grantown on Spey we came through a small village called Nethy Bridge. I was already half-way in the local Spar shop to buy a few supplies for a picnic when we realised that there is a small cosy cafe across the bridge, directly on the Speyside Way. Nethy House Cafe & Rooms is a beautiful little place with a cafe, a sun deck and a few rooms to stay in. On the menu are light lunch options, breakfast rolls, and homebaked cakes. I had a vegan potato and leek soup with an avocado, beetroot and hummus sandwich. The coffee was also excellent and they have various plant milks!
Nethy Bridge, PH25 3EB, Fri – Tue 10 am – 5 pm, Sunday from 11 am, website
Vegan-friendly restaurants in Grantown on Spey
Bay Leaf Spice | There are a few restaurants and takeaways in Grantown, most famously probably the Wee Puffin pub (which was closed when we visited) and Craig’s Bar (famous for its pies). Not in the mood for British fare with chips though, Bay Leaf Spice, an Indian restaurant on the High Street was a great choice for us. I ordered my veggie curry without ghee and chapati instead of naan. It was not the best Indian food I’ve ever had, but a welcome change from the often carb-heavy vegan options.
47 High St, Grantown-on-Spey PH26 3EG, Mon – Sun 4.30 – 11 pm, website
Vegan-friendly restaurants in Ballindalloch
Delnashaugh Hotel | Ballindalloch would be the only place where we stayed along the Speyside Way, where we didn’t have any other choice than eat where we slept – the Delnashaugh Hotel. Just like the hotel, the restaurant menu is traditionally Scottish – lots of locally sourced meat, seafood and vegetables, but not so much on the vegan side of things. However, the owners of the hotel are super accommodating and made me a traditional Scottish curry with soy cream and we shared a side of sweet potato fries. If you’ve never had a British curry, this is a good place to try it, because it’s homemade with fresh vegetables – very delicious!
Ballindalloch AB37 9AS, website
Vegan-friendly restaurants in Aberlour
We only stopped in Aberlour for drinks, a whisky distillery tour and a cafe at 3 Bags Wool, but a little research has shown that it would have been tricky to find vegan food in this town. Despite its touristy appeal, there are only a handful of restaurants in town – hotel restaurants and the Mash Tun pub. From what I can see, none of them have vegan options on the menu, but might be able to accommodate you, if you call ahead!
Vegan-friendly restaurants in Craigellachie
Craigellachie Hotel | Maybe the fanciest restaurant we ate at throughout our Speyside Way trip, was the Copper Dog gastropub at Craigellachie Hotel. I had looked up their menu online and was already excited about the promised cauliflower steak, only to find out that they had changed their seasonal menu in the meantime and the vegan option was a Moroccan tagine with couscous. Luckily, the tagine tasted great and the salad came with a refreshing dressing! The only downside of this restaurant for us was, that the portion sizes were rather small, but the prices were not… It’s worth treating yourself though, even if it was a rather easy day of walking here from Ballindalloch!
Victoria St, Craigellachie AB38 9SR, website
Vegan-friendly restaurants in Fochabers
Milano’s Pizza Takeaway | We arrived in Fochabers late (around 7.30 pm), more longing for a pint than a plate of hot food. And so we settled into the pub at our hotel (which didn’t offer food) and picked up some takeaway pizza and pasta later in the evening. There are a couple of takeaways in town, but I was told Milano’s Pizza Takeaway would be our best choice – and I can only agree! Getting a veggie pizza without cheese was no problem, and the pasta arrabiata was deliciously spicy! The takeaway is owned by an Italian couple, so you can be sure it’s proper Italian food.
1 The Square, Fochabers IV32 7DG, 4.30 – 12 pm, Fri & Sat 3 am, Monday closed, website
Vegan-friendly restaurants in Buckie
Rosemount Hotel | I already knew that dinner options would be limited in Buckie – vegan or not – so we booked a dinner at our accommodation, the Rosemount Hotel. Ellen, who runs the place, cooked up a mini-storm for us, using only fresh and local ingredients. For my friends, she made seafood pasta, and for me a veggie couscous with large garlic mushrooms, garlic bread, and a side salad. I’m normally not a huge fan of couscous, but I have to say, with the amount of veg in it, it tasted really amazing! The one thing I’d say, is that it was a bit pricey, (£13 for the vegan option, £18 for the seafood pasta) but considering that we didn’t have much choice, and it was a properly homemade and healthy meal, it was OK to treat ourselves.
Non-residents are welcome. Advance booking required!
62 E Church St, Buckie AB56 1ER, website
Bengal Brasserie | The only other place we tried in Buckie was Bengal Brasserie, an Indian restaurant on the main square. We arrived here fairly late in the evening, half an hour before closing, but the staff was still happy for us to enjoy a quick sit-down meal. Again, it was fairly easy to find vegan options on the menu, as long as you order your dish without milk, cream, butter or ghee, you should be fine! The food was good, the staff really friendly, and we were happy to have found a restaurant in Buckie, with vegan options.
5A Cluny Square, Buckie AB56 1AH2, Mon – Fri 5 – 10 pm
Vegan-friendly restaurants in Cullen
Rockpool | Cullen is not strictly on the Speyside Way, but it’s a beautiful village to visit before going home, or even to stay in after finishing the walk in Buckie (I’d recommend doing that). We had lunch at Rockpool cafe, which is a lovely place on the central square of Cullen. If you hadn’t guessed it yet, this is where the traditional Scottish fish soup, Cullen Skink comes from, so my friends were happy that they could try it here. On the menu there are a few vegan options, I had a spnach burger with vegan cheese and chips, which was delicious and very filling!
10 The Square, Cullen AB56 4RR, Tue – Sat 9.30 am – 4pm, Sunday opens 10 am, Monday closed, website
Vegan-friendly Accommodation on the Speyside Way
While there are no fully vegan B&Bs or hotels in this part of Scotland, most accommodation will be happy to accommodate vegan guests during breakfast.
I was able to order porridge at every single of our B&Bs that offered breakfast and asked for it to be made with water, or soy milk if they had any. I don’t mind drinking my coffee black, but most places I was also able to get some soy milk for the table. At traditional B&Bs breakfast includes a plate of cooked food, and your vegan options are mushrooms, tomatoes and baked beans on toast – I’d ask for it to be prepared without butter as that is often the case. Veggie sausages were a rarity in my experience, but to be honest, I prefer a veg-heavy breakfast anyways.
I recommend bringing your own toiletries, as most B&Bs will not provide vegan soap or shampoo. More upscale hotels, like the Delnashaugh Hotel, offered sea kelp toiletries from Scottish Fine Soaps, which smells amazing, but I’m not sure it’s vegan. Scottish Fine Soaps does not test on animals, but some of their products contain milk and lanolin. It’s best to check the ingredients yourself if you want to try their products.
Vegan-friendly Shops on the Speyside Way
There are a number of towns along the Speyside Way with Co-op supermarkets where it is easy to pick up vegan supplies for lunch packs and snacks. Whether you will require packed lunches for your hike along the Speyside Way, depends on your route planning. We ate out on the first two days between Aviemore and Grantown on Spey but brought lunch packs with us the rest of the days. We shopped at the Co-op in Grantown for day 3 and 4, in Aberlour for day 5, and in Fochabers for day 6. There are also supermarkets in Buckie and Cullen to pick up snacks at the end.
On most days my vegan lunch pack consisted of a fresh roll, a tub of hummus, a snack portion of olives, a carrot or bell pepper, an apple or pear, and vegan Trek bars, which are available in the Free From section at the Co-op.
Another shop I’d like to point out is the Spey Larder in Aberlour, a delicatessen shop, where you can buy fresh olives and other pickled vegetables for your lunch packs!
Finally, did you know whisky is vegan???
Travelling Scotland as a vegan is easy, but when you’re planning a walking holiday along the Speyside Way as a vegan, and you don’t have a car to escape to nearby towns and restaurants, it requires a bit more preparation.
I hope that with this vegan guide to the Speyside, nothing stands in the way between you and your vegan adventure on the Speyside Way!
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All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.