Fresh seafood, beef from Angus, cheddar cheeses and the mystery that is haggis – the first things that come to mind about Scottish cuisine are not necessarily vegan-friendly. And yet you’d be surprised how vegan Scotland really is! This vegan travel guide for Scotland will answer all your questions about eating vegan in Scotland, vegan restaurants in Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Scottish Highlands, finding vegan accommodation in Scotland and a few extra tips for travelling vegan in Scotland!

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As a frequent traveller and as a vegan it is probably the most frequently asked question I get – isn’t it difficult to unite my vegan diet with my frequent travelling?

There is a point to it – vegan travel is a challenge in many ways but overall it is not as hard as people might think.

Travelling Scotland as a vegan, in particular, comes with its own challenges, but also many surprises waiting behind every corner and restaurant door. Not only is it possible to travel Scotland as a vegan, but I would also argue it is actually a great destination to give a plant-based travel diet a go, even if you’re normally an omnivore.

This vegan travel guide for Scotland will cover a variety of topics related to vegan travel and hopefully answers all your questions about planning a vegan trip to Scotland.

Looking for a vegan tour guide? Get in touch with Niall McOwan of Scottish Guided Tours and enquire about private tour guiding. He’s vegan himself and knows all the best spots to get food around the country. For an organised vegan small group tour of Scotland, check out Veg Jaunts & Journeys.

You might also like: Scottish podcasts to fuel your wanderlust

Vegan breakfast at Ostara Cafe in Edinburgh

Vegan restaurants in Edinburgh & Glasgow

Eating out in the biggest cities of Scotland, is no difficult task for a vegan. There are many vegan restaurants in Edinburgh and in Glasgow, and most omni restaurants will have options, vegan menus or can at least figure out how to adapt a dish to suit your diet.

I have yet to come across a restaurant in the cities, where the staff is not sure about what ‘being vegan’ means – something I don’t take for granted anymore, since a waitress in London repeatedly asked me if I still ate bread. Many restaurants label their vegan dishes on the menu, and if you’re not entirely sure, the staff is usually very helpful in explaining what a dish contains or checking with the chef. It’s a bit trickier with drinks, as it is not too common yet for omni-restaurants to label their vegan drink options, but in vegan restaurants you can expect to be able to choose from a variety of vegan wines and beers.

I suggest downloading the Happy Cow app for general listings and a few reviews.

Vegan Restaurants in Edinburgh

I’m definitely more familiar with the vegan scene in Glasgow – but Edinburgh is not lagging behind!

Some of my favourites are Hula Juice Bar on Grassmarket, which has brilliant acai bowls and smoothies for breakfast; and Harmonium, which serves all the vegan comfort food you can imagine.

You might also like: My Favourite Vegan Restaurants in Edinburgh

The website Vegan Edinburgh is another useful resource for vegan food in Edinburgh – definitely check it out!

Vegan Restaurants in Glasgow

I’m much more comfortable to recommend vegan restaurants in my own home town – so comfortable, that my list of favourites is long enough to start a website… In fact, I’m working on a Glasgow Vegan Guide platform as we speak, so watch this space!

Let me give you just a few options for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the West End, City Centre and the Southside:

  • West End: The Steamie in the West End is well worth visiting – I really like their full vegan breakfast (find more vegan breakfast options in Glasgow). Other West End picks are: Hanoi Bike Shop, Soul Food Kitchen, The 78 and Piece.
  • City Centre: Picnic is a brilliant location for breakfast or lunch in the city centre, and the raw pad thai makes me happy whenever I have it. Other City Centre picks are: Glasvegan, Plantyful, Stereo and Singl-end.
  • Southside: The Glad Cafe is a social cafe and event space in the trendy Shawlands are in Glasgow’s Southside – their menu is fully vegan. Other Southside picks are: Tapa Coffee & Bakehouse, Brooklyn Cafe, Freddy & Hicks and Ranjit’s Kitchen.

You might also like: My ultimate vegan guide for Glasgow

Glasgow is an incredibly vegan-friendly city - but did you know that it is particularly women, who spearhead the vegan cafe scene in the city? Here are 5 women who run vegan cafes in Glasgow and their stories from the beginning of a vegan revolution to their full success!

Vegan-friendly restaurants in the Scottish Highlands & beyond

Travelling the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is where being vegan becomes a bit trickier – especially because these areas are famous for their fresh seafood, cattle, lamb and game… And yet, it is possible to travel these parts of Scotland with a vegan diet, it might just require a bit more prep and flexibility.

Outside of the bigger cities, unfortunately, Happy Cow does not have many listings and fully vegan restaurants are basically non-existent. Keep checking the app though, and more importantly, add vegan-friendly places you find to the listings!

When I travel around Scotland, I like to get an idea of where I might stop for lunch or stay overnight, and do a quick Google search of local gastro-pubs and restaurants. A few phone calls later, I usually already know whether it will be an eating out or eating in day. Many restaurants also have their menus online, so you can check without having to call ahead.

If you’re interested in a certain area, have a browse through my archive, as I try to always include a section on vegan travel in my travel guides!

In general, you might have to do a little more explaining in smaller towns and less touristy restaurants, as to what you can and cannot eat. Vegan options are also not necessarily clearly marked on the menu, so it’s always best to ask. However, as the Scots are a very friendly people, they will usually try their best to get a hot plate of food in front of you. Awareness is growing all over the country, as well as the numbers of vegans in Scotland, and I’m always surprised to find how flexible and accommodating restaurants can be!

You might also like: 3-day tour to Arran incl. vegan-friendly restaurants

Vegan lunch at The Lodge on Loch Lomond

Common vegan options in Scottish restaurants

Soups | Unless they’ve got cream in them, vegetarian soups are usually good to eat for vegans. They are widely available in restaurants, cafes and gastro-pubs, particularly during lunch time.

Hummus sandwich | Another popular lunch option is the hummus sandwich in all its variations.

Pasta dishes | Unfortunately, pasta dishes are not super common around the Highlands, but when you find them, they are often the vegetarian option on a menu and can easily be veganised.

Curries | Curries are a staple in the Scottish diet, no matter where you are, and the next Indian or Pakistani restaurant is usually not that far. In my experience, curry houses are a great choice for vegans, as long as they serve curries without cream in them.

Burgers | Another common veggie option on countryside menus are burgers – often, but not always they are vegan; better check with the restaurant staff!

You might also like: 20 Driving Tips for Scotland

Hearty baked potato with chilli and salad in Scotland.

“Traditional Scottish” Vegan Foods & Drinks

Scottish cuisine is not exactly famous for its heavy use of vegetables, but there are a few traditional Scottish dishes, you can try anyways!

Vegetarian haggis | Arguably, this is not entirely traditional, but the meat-free alternative to “real” haggis is not far off from the real thing in terms of taste, and many omni actually prefer it! Google what’s in haggis, and you’ll know why. Vegetarian haggis is usually vegan by accident, so when you spot it on the menu of a restaurant or a chip shop you should be able to order it without a worry!

Curries | Again, some might argue that this is not traditional, but considering how staple they are to the Scottish diet, I consider curries to be traditional “Scottish” food; IMHO. They are also just delicious and often accidentally vegan – a carefree feast for vegans in Scotland.

Irn Bru | While I’m not a huge fan of Irn Bru myself, this bright orange soft drink, more popular in Scotland than Coca Cola, is absolutely suitable for vegan. If you’ve never tried it before, you’re in for quite a ride!

Single Malt Whisky | If you’re vegan and a whisky fan you will be happy to hear that single malt whiskies are vegan! Unless it is whisky cream liqueur or has honey in it, whiskies are perfectly vegan-friendly. A dram for you, and a dram for me!

Unfortunately, that is just about it. The most famous Scottish dishes contain meat or sea food, or are at the very least sprinkled with lots of cheddar cheese or drowned in cream. Eating traditionally Scottish food as a vegan requires a bit more creativity in the kitchen, which you usually only find in the vegan restaurants in the large cities.

You might also like: My guide to tasting Scottish whisky

Preparing a vegan picnic

When vegan options are scarce, it is important to be prepared. When I travel around Scotland, I always have a few snacks with me, and when I’m not sure I will get a full meal, I bring packed lunch or picnic supplies with me. 

In general, picking up vegan food in Scottish supermarkets is not a problem. Humus is widely available and allergens in bread usually labelled, so that making sandwiches becomes an easy feat. If you insist on things like tofu, fake meats or vegan cheese, you’re better off taking these with you from the big cities.

Open avocado sandwich in a takeaway box.

Vegan accommodation in Scotland

When you book accommodation, I suggest finding a place with a kitchen or at least available fridge space to store food overnight. Some B&Bs provide shares kitchen facilities, as well as hostels, but if you prefer your own kitchen space, holiday rentals are the way to go.

Platforms, such as VeggieHotels make it easier to find vegetarian and vegan accommodation, although there are only a few listings of purely vegetarian guest houses across Scotland. Luckily they are all located strategically, so they all make great bases to explore popular Scottish regions:

Vegan breakfast at the Cosy Vegan B&B in Fife.

Many more B&Bs and hotels will be able to accommodate vegan guests though. If you book a place including full Scottish breakfast, it’s a good idea to talk to your host about your dietary requirements in advance.

Make sure that they can accommodate your needs and discuss which options they can provide – beans on toast with mushrooms and tomatoes is always an option and they might even be able to source some vegan sausages. I have been both, disappointed and positively surprised before, so I learnt to always make sure to ask before I book!

Vegan Travel Tips for Scotland

Here are my top tips for vegans travelling through Scotland at a glimpse:

Download the Happy Cow app | It’s particularly useful in the cities, but also keeps surprising me with options in the countryside. Download it here!

Join the Vegan Edinburgh & Glasgow group on Facebook | Not only do members exchange information about restaurants in the cities, it is also OK to ask for recommendations further afield – usually people are super helpful and share which options you might have somewhere in the Highlands or Islands. Join here!

Call ahead | Researching lunch/dinner options and calling ahead has made it easier for me to relax on a trip around Scotland – I can simply enjoy travelling more if I know I will find a full meal later on.

Don’t be afraid to ask | If you can’t see a vegan option on the menu, don’t be afraid to ask if any of the dishes can be adapted. If you’re not sure whether a dish really is vegan, ask the staff to clarify ingredients with the kitchen. You will find, that restaurants staff in Scotland is very sensitive about dietary requirements.

Bring travel snacks | Whenever I travel, I always have a few travel-friendly snacks in my backpack: bags of nuts, snack veggies like carrots or sugar snap peas, oatcakes or crisp bread, sometimes even humus or a tub of olives. These snacks help between meals, particularly when all you had for lunch is a small bowl of soup…

Book accommodation with access to kitchen | No matter which budget you have, you should be able find accommodation where you have access to your own or shared kitchen facilities. If you stay at B&Bs without kitchen access, talk to your host and ask if it is possible to store a few essential items in the fridge overnight. Find out more about booking accommodation in Scotland here.

You might also like: Everything you need to know about planning a trip to Scotland

Veggie breakfast at the Mountain Cafe in Aviemore.

Just in case you wonder whether travelling through Scotland as vegan is easy or even doable – yes it is! It might require a bit more prep and flexibility – like vegan travel always does – but don’t think you’re missing out on any culinary delights!

Are you vegan and plan a trip to Scotland, or did you travel Scotland as vegan or with other dietary requirements? I’d love to hear what questions you might have, or what your experience was like!


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24 thoughts on “Vegan Scotland: A Complete Guide to Travelling Vegan in Scotland

  1. Michelle says:

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful wealth of knowledge! I am so excited to visit Scotland for the first time, hopefully next year! I was honestly quite concerned about being able to eat well or easily before reading your article. Slàinte mhath from Northern California in the U.S. 🙂

  2. Surya says:

    Thanks for putting out this great article. So happy to hear that it will be this easy for myself and other vegans in Scotland. I am looking forward to visiting soon, as I have got the scotch bug bad…especially Islay. Have you explored Islay and if so how was your vegan experience there?

    Blessings…

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Surya, oh there are plenty of options on Islay! I went twice this year and tried a few different places. The cafes at Lagavulin and Ardbeg distilleries have vegan options; in Bowmore I ate at Peatzeria and at the Bowmore Hotel and was find in both. My favourite meal on the island was at the Machrie Hotel – a bit fancier, but the chef is vegan himself and the food was breathtaking! I had lunch there and the food + views were stunning. I also stayed a night at Islay House Hotel and they made a beautiful 5-course meal for me! Additionally, there are Coop shops where you will find anything you need if you do self-catering. You’ll have a great time!

  3. Mark says:

    Hi Kathi: We’re considering a cycling holiday on the Outer Hebrides and we’ll have a vegan riding with us. Will our friend find enough to eat? Cheers!

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Mark, it depends what you’re looking for. The supermarkets in the Hebrides are great and they will find plenty of foods for snacks/self-catering meals. Cafes are usually good and there is either a vegan friendly soup, baked potato or just beans on toast (my go to). Restaurants for dinner are a little harder and I found it sometimes pretty boring (pizza with no cheese, tomato pasta, veggie curry etc). Hope you have a great trip!!

  4. Nicole Guenther says:

    Hello

    Thank you for this great post.
    It’s pretty funny, everytime i visited scotland in the past years, i always thought, wow it is so incredible easy to get vegan dishes in scotland.
    Scotland is my personal vegan paradies. 😀

    I live in switzerland and it’s still a vegan desert here or you feel like suffering from a very bad desease when asking for vegan options.

    I found your blog because a will be hiking the WHW next year. Fantastic blog you have, thank you!

    Do you have any tips for quick and easy self-prepared food in hostels or bunkhouses? I will not do camping, but try to keep my budget as low as possible. 🙂

    best wishes from switzerland

    • Kathi says:

      Agreed – we’re very lucky here! I’m a pasta lover – so pasta and tomato sauce, or pasta with olives and fresh tomatoes and some olive oil would be my preferred option – but you might end up with leftovers or half-full pasta packets… Beans on toast, another favourite, or veggie stir fries. I like making cous cous salads with beans and veg – easy and quick to make and you can carry a pack of cous cous with you. You can get great little packs in the supermarkets here that have all the spices, curry paste and a pack of coconut milk for a Thai green curry – just need to add veg and noodles or rice! I hope you have a great trip on the WHW! WOuld love to hear how you got on!

      • Nicole Guenther says:

        Thank you Kathi, i’m a huge pasta lover as well. 🙂
        I’m really looking forward for my coming adventure. Have never done something like that before only 1-day trips, most of them on a mountainbike.
        But i’m pretty sure it will be fun.
        I’ll let you know how i got on.

  5. Shelley Seale says:

    Great post! We included it as a fantastic resource on Trading Places’ roundup of 10 top destinations for vegans to visit. I’ve only spent 2 days ever in Scotland but am DYING to go back. I’m so glad I found your beautiful blog!

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  7. Eileen says:

    I run a B and B in north Scotland on the North acoast 500 route. I am planning to offer a vegan breakfast menu but want to know how I can promote this and if my B and B can be added to any lists of vegan friendly hospitality venues.

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Eileen, many thanks for reaching out and letting me know about your plans regarding the vegan breakfast menu – that’s amazing! Why don’t you send me an email to kathi@watchmesee.com so we can chat a bit more? All the best, Kathi

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  10. Jenn says:

    What an interesting post! I was in Scotland myself over the summer and would have thought finding vegan options to be difficult. I can’t believe there is vegan haggis! Will love to come back to visit Scotland again and give this a try 🙂

  11. Anya says:

    This is so helpful! I’m not vegan, but I’m slowly trying to reduce the amount of animal products I consume! It’s super important for the environment! I love this! I’ve just moved to Edinburgh, so I’ll definitely be trying out some of the restaurants you recommended!

    • Kathi says:

      That’s amazing – reducing the demand is so important!! You’ll love all the vegan food in Edinburgh – it’s a perfect country to get a taste for vegan food 🙂

  12. Annika says:

    Awesome post even though I am not vegan! And it is so interesting that whisky is in fact vegan (I don’t care for whisky but still – that is a good selling point). I also love love love that rose lemonade!!

    • Kathi says:

      I know, right? As long as it’s pure single malt and not “refined” with honey, it’s good to drink for vegans! Makes me happier than it should… 😀

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