Wrapped Up In Books


It’s easy being vegan in Scotland, Y/N?
September 29, 2008, 7:18 pm
Filed under: A, Food Politics, Rants | Tags: , , , , , ,

A friend asked me in a message awhile back whether or not I foresaw any difficulties being vegan in Scotland. I never responded, but went on some tangent about traveling in small towns, seeing really interesting things (and not so interesting things, cough, Falkirk Wheel, cough). So I’ll try to answer his question in this blog post for the benefit of other veg(etari)ans.

Yes, it is difficult being vegan in a small town in Scotland. However, it’s hard to be vegan in a small town anywhere. Go to Little Britain (haha), Ontario, and I’m sure you won’t be able to find soy milk in the grocery store, nevermind tofu or some better soy imitation of meat. The same rings true for small Scottish towns, and unfortunately for me, the towns really obviously outnumber the cities by a landslide.

Any time we were traveling through smaller towns (Roy Bridge, Dufftown, Maybole, Aberfeldy, Crieff, etc.) eating became monotonous and completely devoid of nutrition. I cannot remember how many substandard veggie burgers and chips I suffered through, when I was really dying for some legumes and a proper salad. I should’ve kept a food diary of what I ate and where as a testament to this fact. I used to live kitty-corner to the best fish & chips place (it’s really more of a shanty than a resto) in Toronto, and I’d indulge in the chips portion of the title from time to time. However, the novelty of fries seriously wears off after you’ve eaten them for 2+ weeks, twice a day.

In larger cities like Inverness, Edinburgh, and Stirling, eating was much more tolerable, and not so much of a chore. Despite stumbling upon the same American-style resto more than once (gah), at least Chinese food was thrown into the mix, as was Italian and Indian. I am so glad that Indian food can be found in most large Scottish areas – it’s something easy to eat as a vegan and I don’t have to play 20 questions with the waiter about what the food might’ve been cooked in or made with, or attempt to make substitutions (‘Can I please have the haggis without the entrails, not stewed in a stomach….oh, just forget it’ – not a true story, but you get the gist).

That’s as far as going out to eat is concerned. My new challenge is what and where to get groceries to allow my veganism to continue. My biggest fear prior to moving here was that I would have to stumble down to vegetarianism (I mean no offense to the vegetarians when I say this; I am not elitist about veganism, I just think it’s the diet that everybody can and should follow for a sustainable Earth, and I have no intentions to ever abandon it) and eat cheese at the very least for dairy/protein relief. I even had a few nightmares on the topic before I left Canada.

Fortunately for me, this fear should never materialize. Whilst my choices are severely limited, I will be able to stay healthy and vegan the whole duration of my stay in Scotland.

I have a feeling that there are fewer vegans in the UK, however. The reason is that here they give a crap more about animals in the first place, so fewer people have to resort to veganism to make a stand. Free range eggs are absolutely everywhere here. Marks & Spencer advertises that all of their pre-made foods with eggs in them have been of the free range variety since 1998. That’s ten years more than any store in Canada (or the USA) has attempted, to my knowledge. Furthermore, when you aren’t buying free range eggs here, it says straight on the box that you’re buying eggs from hens who were caged.

(I am trying extremely hard not to launch into a tirade about animal cruelty in the meat/egg/dairy industry now, and it’s very difficult for me not to, so my apologies if this gets out of hand.)

Anyway, tofu here is of only one sort, which isn’t ideal.  And any of the soy meat items have eggs (albeit free range) in their ingredients listing.  Otherwise, they do offer some vegan food that can’t be found in Canada, such as the (limited range of) Linda McCartney frozen dinners.   Otherwise, I cannot find soy ice cream for the life of me.  I find this slightly tragic, but it’s ok as long as there is vegan chocolate, and there is.  Moreover, there is no soy cheese, so I’m free of my previously-judged-as-poor grilled cheese sandwiches for the year.

The loss of soy ice cream and soy cheese isn’t felt just by me; one of my roommates has an anaphylactic reaction to whey (milk, when left to separate becomes ‘curds and whey’, just like Miss Muffett taught you), so she can’t eat dairy, and now is similarly left with no alternative.

The final limiting factor about what I can and can’t make is the fact I am not interested in fully kitting out my kitchen with utensils, mixing bowls, cupcake sheets, etc., if I’m going to be moving within a year’s time.  If I knew I’d be here longer, I’d consider it an investment, but for now it just seems like a waste.  So I am not baking anymore or making anything that goes in the oven, or takes more than one pot to make.  So I guess that’s the part of the blame that I’ll pick up.

But it’s not as if raw chickpeas will give me E. coli. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be just fine.

Copyright © 2008 WrappedUpInBooksBlog. All rights reserved.

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9 Comments so far
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good on you for your dedication 🙂 A friend of mine returned from about 9 weeks in Ireland this summer no longer a vegetarian, because she found it impossible to remain healthy and a vegetarian while working crazy hours in northern Ireland… I haven’t asked why she hasn’t gone back, now that she’s in veggie friendly Guelph, but if she found it hard to remain vegetarian I imagine vegan must be harder…

Comment by Maggie

It’s easy to stay vegan if you don’t mind eating canned baked beans at every turn. While we were in Belfast my breakfasts consisted of (daily): half a plate of baked beans, fried potato bread, fried mushrooms, and fried tomatoes. Scottish breakfast is just about the same, except no potato bread.

It’s just a seriously heavy way to start your day and made me feel awful from the get-go.

Comment by bohemianvegan

your breakfasts were about the grossest things i have ever seen. the only thing grosser were MY breakfasts. (appalling!)

just gonna say that this nation is too expensive to be a carnivore. meat is PRICEYYYYYYYY. ps they sell quorn cheapola @ Frozen Foods near Bon Accord. Bonus.

Comment by whitehotretort

If you go along to Holland and Barrett in the Trinity Centre (or the one in the back lane opposite the side entrance to Marks & Spencer) then you should find soya ice-cream and cheese there. Also nature’s Larder on Holburn Street has a brilliant selection of vegan goodies. Welcome to Aberdeen (and maybe see you at the S’n’B as well):-)

Comment by Maureen

If they carry Linda McCartney dinners, I’m in. Provided the one I’m about to eat gets a thumbs up.

Comment by bohemianvegan

Addendum: THANK YOU FOR THAT TIP – will check it out tomorrow!

Comment by bohemianvegan

There was an amazing vegan non-soy ice cream that I had in Edinburgh – the ingredients were water, agave nectar, cashews, and vanilla oil! It was amazing. I think the thing to do is to figure out where the health food store is – there’s one in Edinburgh called Real Foods, but I’m not sure if it’s a chain or what. Then at least sometimes you’ll be able to get some variety.

Comment by laura

Thanks for the tip, Laura, but I’m in Aberdeen (permanently) and Edinburgh is only for little weekends away. I’ll keep that in mind though.

Comment by bohemianvegan

Hi! Saw your name on the Aberdeen SnB – I have still never been but I harbour ambitions to attend.

There are various delis that may stock what you look for. I live in Cults (west side of Aberdeen) whichhas 2 shops you might like: “Cults Deli” and a little organic food shop at Newton Dee. A trip on the No 19 bus will get you out here to investigate.

Happy Birthday! 1984??? I had read “1984” before 1984!

Comment by Fiona




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