I made a very special vegan trip to Glasgow at the end of February. James Aspey, vegan activist from Australia, was going to be in Scotland for the first time to talk to over 150 vegans attending a workshop organised by Go Vegan Scotland. My very good friends from Australia had talked about and posted James’ speech on social media (you can watch the one minute version here) and I was touched and encouraged by his passion to speak on behalf of the animals being consumed either as food or products we use on a daily basis. I was also lucky to meet and have a quick chat with James at the Go Vegan Scotland stall at Buchanan Street in the afternoon.
When you’re in another city that offers such a wide variety of vegan-friendly or vegan only restaurants and cafes, you can’t go all the way to Glasgow and not sample all the good places you’ve heard so much about, so that’s exactly what I did…fitted in a few vegan bar/restaurants and a cafe to my day trip schedule!
If you haven’t heard him speak before, James Aspey is an inspiration to vegans around the world. He has a approachable and logical manner, and travels around the world to give free talks about why you should go vegan and for vegans, how to approach vegan advocacy. I’ll post more about why you should become vegan and why it’s not as hard as you think it is later. James is very friendly and interested in hearing what others have to say and spends time talking to each and every person who wishes to know more about choosing a vegan lifestyle.
James’ talk couldn’t have been held in a more appropriate city than Glasgow. Being right in the city centre means it was quite easy for me to visit several vegan or vegan-friendly places I’ve heard others speaking about.
Although Edinburgh is now catching up with the rise in the number of people in the UK becoming vegan, there aren’t that many readily available vegan-friendly restaurants compared to Glasgow. James’ talk was held at Stereo Cafe Bar on Renfield Lane (opposite The Old Hairdressers’). A fully vegan cafe and bar, you don’t have to worry about being served egg mayo – they’re all vegan too! This was one thing that I was really surprised and excited about, with a limited choice of fully vegan restaurants in Edinburgh, you’re always a little on edge worrying about being served non-vegan condiments. At Stereo the staff are very friendly, but they are also very busy at lunchtime so if that’s when you were planning to visit, I would recommend booking a table in advance.
Another great advantage to a vegan restaurant is that there are more choices on the menu! There were so many different dishes to choose from that I had a hard time deciding which dish to pick.I had met several vegan friends beforehand to attend James’ workshop together and we’d decided to stay at Stereo for a lunch and catch up afterwards. I realised when we sat down that I had visited Stereo with the OH years ago for a cup of tea, but we didn’t end up eating there at the time. I decided to go with the pulled jackfruit quesadilla which was very tasty. One of my friends decided to go for the vegan chorizo gnocchi, but I was amazed at how realistic or close to the real thing the chorizo looked!
Vegan chorizo gnocchi (top) and pulled jackfruit quesadilla
There are lots of other amazing dishes that I really want to try the next time I’m in Glasgow, but at the time I didn’t think I could eat too much and the quesadilla with vegan cheese was just what my tummy needed.
I had arranged to meet a family friend of mine for dinner later that night, but we still had a while to wait before our dinner reservation. I spent a bit of time at the Go Vegan Scotland stall talking to other volunteers there and chatted with James a little, but my friend and I had decided before hand that we would head over to Deelicious Geelicious for a bit before we had to scoot off for dinner.
This is a small batch bakery who make all their cakes on the day. They also serve soft drinks and tea/coffee so there’s plenty to choose from! We didn’t want to spoil our dinner and after that fabulous lunch at Stereo, I didn’t want to be eating too much although all their cakes really looked deelicious! They clearly care about dietary requirements as well because each cake is clearly labelled if they’re suitable for vegans and/or gluten-free. Luckily almost all of the ones on display that day were vegan!
Slices of cake in a jar for gifting.
My friend and I decided to go with a slice of the loaf cakes as we didn’t want to spoil our dinner, but we couldn’t not sample the beautiful looking sweet treats.
I got the salted caramel and chocolate (top left) for a friend in Edinburgh as a wee souvenir from Glasgow who loves cake as much as I do! My friend got the coffee walnut loaf (top) and I went with the chocolate peanut butter
Strange as it might sound, I love a good chocolate and peanut butter combination. Not sure why, but peanut butter goes really well with sweet things like peanut butter and jelly. With vegan treats, you need to go for a dark chocolate that doesn’t contain any milk so it ends up not being too sweet. My friend enjoyed her coffee walnut loaf and I don’t know how or why, but my chocolate peanut butter loaf is out of this world! I was expecting the cake to taste of vanilla with a bit of peanut butter frosting, but it seems the peanut butter is right through the loaf so you get quite a good taste of PB. The chocolate swirls aren’t just mixed through the batter though, it seems the chocolate has been melted and run through the PB cake batter as it was quite hard like melted chocolate! I must say this has got to be my favourite loaf so far and if I ever get asked what celebration cake I would like, this would be it.
Before we knew it, it was time to head over for dinner.
There are so many places I could have gone with my omni friend, but I had a bus to catch at a specific time and I was worried that with it being on a weekend and it was a busy night (Scotland was playing against Wales in the Six Nations rugby match that day), food might take longer to get served. The Flying Duck is just 2 minutes away from Buchanan Street bus station so I thought this would be the perfect place to grab a quick bite to eat.
This bar/kitchen and restaurant is relaxed but very fun. It’s opened by the same owner as Stereo but it has a completely different vibe to the place. I didn’t get much of a chance to take photos around Stero when we were eating there as we were slightly later coming out of the talk and were needing to eat quickly to get to the stall, but Stereo is set up like a relaxed coffee shop to catch up with friends over a cuppa and a quick lunch, with Rennie Macintosh style windows. The Flying Duck on the other hand reminds me of a punk style music venue with neon lights and specials and drinks on blackboards.
The main reason I wanted to eat here was because of all the vegan restaurant choices in Glasgow, there was more of a variety at The Flying Duck in terms of what you could choose to eat. A few of the other venues I was thinking about were specifically a burger joint or Japanese/Chinese cuisine; at The Flying Duck, you can expect the usual comfort foods, but you’ve got a choice between a philly cheesesteak roll, a burrito, mac and cheese or burgers to name a few of the dishes. Up till now, I’ve never tried seitan so I decided to go with the philly cheesesteak roll and my friend added chips to her order.
The roll was a decent size and they certainly skimp on the seitan ‘steak’! My belly was definitely happy after all that vegan food, even my omni friend enjoyed her vegan philly cheesesteak roll.
I’m definitely looking forward to making another trip to Glasgow at some point to sample more of their delightful vegan offerings, but as of yet, I haven’t quite made any firm plans about when.
Do you have any favourite vegan restaurants you would recommend visiting? It doesn’t have to be in Glasgow, I love to travel and would love to know what other vegan restaurants are out there worth mentioning!