Outside of more traditional dishes, Scotland’s innovative restaurant culture means plenty of vegan options from outside the local cuisine. There are specialist vegan grocers, delis, and restaurants to discover in the cities, and not just Edinburgh and Glasgow. The late 19th and early 20th wave of immigration from Italy that brought us Paolo Nutini and deep-fried pizza also means a plethora of vegan Italian options. Many of the best guard their unique recipes for the notoriously hard to perfect vegan cheese as tightly as they do for their marinara sauce.
Even in the dramatic scenery of the Highlands and other wilder parts of Scotland, the importance of tourism means you’re never likely to be too far from somewhere with plant-based options. And, if all else fails, Scotland’s love of soups means you’ll end up with a steaming bowl of something delicious to reinvigorate you after a long day of hiking through blooming thistles and jagged peaks.
Scotland’s vegan delights don’t just stop at food, either. The spiritual home of whisky, the country has dozens of distilleries producing the amber delight. Unlike some other types of booze, which often use animal products in the distilling process, whisky is all vegan. The only exceptions would generally be those flavoured with non-vegan items, like honey or chocolate. Even if you’re not big on having a dram or two, after a day spent in the whipping Scottish wind you’ll be glad to feel a gulp of the sizzling liquid sliding down your chest. And, more importantly, this is one item that you’ll never be far from.
With this all said, I’m not claiming that Scotland is a vegan mecca. You can still go to a supermarket and get a slab of meat that took an entire lifetime to create for a disturbingly cheap amount, and, like much of the West, many people are not educated about where their food comes from. But with veganism becoming more popular, as shown by the growth of events like the Scottish Vegan Festival, the Scots are drawing on the wealth of their own knowledge to create more opportunities for plant-based food to gain popularity and even thrive – something that is vital to helping with the looming nature and climate crisis. And, in the end, that deserves all the support it can get.