Vegans no longer have to take a packed lunch when travelling beyond Scotland’s central belt.
Destination organisation, Argyll & the Isles Tourism Cooperative has launched the UK’s first Vegan Food Trail, which covers the islands of Mull and Iona, Jura, Islay and Colonsay as well as mainland Inveraray, Cowal and the Kintyre and Gigha peninsula. It joins their other Wild About Argyll Trails, which include the Seafood Trail, Spirit and Beer, Coffee and Cake and Farm Produce.
The newest addition showcases the area’s plant-based producers and hospitality offerings, of which there is a surprisingly large contingent.
The idea is that visitors to the area can plan their trip around one or two eating stops, or organise a food crawl, which could start at Loch Lomond and curve along the coast up to Etive Restaurant in Oban.
“We are delighted to launch this new visitor experience to celebrate the wide range of vegan menus and showcase the providers across Argyll and the Isles, “ says the organisation’s newly appointed chief executive, Cathy Craig. “All of our eateries on the Vegan Trail feature local or sustainably sourced plant-based produce and many do this alongside other menus, allowing mixed groups to enjoy a shared experience that mirrors individual tastes”.
As part of the online map, there are 29 of these businesses, each of whom offer something way more sophisticated than a baked potato with hummus (hold the butter).
They include Kilmartin Glen’s Kings Reach Vegan Bed and Breakfast, which swerves the full Scottish fry-up in favour of a completely plant-based breakfast, which includes tofu scramble, “this isn’t bacon”, a breakfast sundae and chia pudding. There’s also coffee shop The Salty Dog in Lochgilphead, and the Lodge on Loch Lomond, who’ve recently launched a vegan menu featuring charred aubergine carpaccio and warm freekeh salad, among other things. On the island of Colonsay, there is just one vegan hang-out – Colonsay Pantry, in the small village of Scalasaig.
One of the other more remote businesses is Catchacarrot Vegan Pop-Up in the village of Kilmelford near Oban.
It’s owned by Janine Calder, who creates inventive vegan dishes including “unchicken” sandwiches, Biscoff cheesecake, banana, walnut and chocolate mini loaves or Mediterranean and tofu tart with Greek-inspired salad. She’s been increasingly busy, since being ahead of the plant-based curve when she opened back in 2013.
“Catchacarrot has been providing vegan food and advocating a cruelty free, kinder lifestyle in Argyll for a number of years, and most people who have visited during this time can’t believe that there is a dedicated vegan café in the middle of nowhere,” says Calder. “With so many people now inclined to try a vegan lifestyle and more education and evidence on the diet and how it directly affects the planet, it’s great to see so many other local producers increase their options. Vegans don’t just eat vegetables, and we look forward to showcasing some of our fare to visitors old and new.”