Why Scotland is a great place for a vegetarian to live

Dropping meat from your menu and embracing the ways of the herbivore doesn't have to mean losing out on great food or constricting yourself to a limited menu.

Published 28th Sep 2015
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

Scotland is one of the best countries in the world to go green; with its wonderful natural larder and inspiring people who will ensure you'll never be short of the freshest produce made for you in the best possible way.

The restaurants 

Let's face it, eating out with friends, families or partners is one of the best things about life. When you are a vegetarian this can sometimes be a minefield of exclusion, confusion and annoyance depending on the availability of dishes, the knowledge of the serving staff and the type of restaurant you intend to visit. That's why it's always great to visit restaurants catering for vegetarians and vegans, alleviating all of these worries and leaving the night as it should be; all about great food and great company.

Scotland offers some of the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants anywhere in the UK.


Recently voted the most vegan-friendly city in the UK by PETA, Glasgow has an abundance of great vegetarian and vegan restaurants. These include the art and music venue the 13th Note, established vegan cafe stable mates Stereo and Mono,  wonderful new comer the 78 and the CCA's great little Saramago cafe bar.



Not to be outdone by its west coast cousin, Edinburgh is also a hot bed of great places to eat for vegetarians and vegans. There is Hendersons which is practically an institution and was also the city's first vegetarian venue, David Banns, which offers cuisine with influences from all over the world and Kalpna, which offers stunning Indian vegetarian food.


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Aberdeen also offers some great venues to sate your green urges, including the wonderfully named Tropical Gateway vegan café in the city centre, the vegetarian-friendly Books and Beans and Belmont Filmhouse cafés and the always fun Kilau coffee shop.


The rest of the country:

One of the more remote options is the excellent Ellishadder Art Cafe on the north east coast of Skye, which specialises in locally-sourced dishes. There's also the Riverdale Organic Café in Inverness or the Artisan lounge in Ayr.


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Scotland loves food. It also loves to socialise and these two wonderful passions are often combined to create some truly amazing festivals. Herbivory is celebrated widely across Scotland in all its forms, with foodie festivals, weekly meet-ups, club nights, dinners and social gatherings aplenty.

There are also events to watch out for, such as the Vegfestwhich arrives at the SECC in December (an international festival offering cookery demos and talks and celebrating all things vegan), and the Edinburgh Vegan Festival, which brought the first ever celebration of vegan food of its kind to the capital in August.

The Community:

The best part about any passion for food is definitely sharing that passion with others and there's no better way to do so than joining a club. Great groups such as Vegan Edinburgh and Glasgow and the Vegetarian Society Scotland offer advice, information and dining nights to enjoy with other members.

The food:

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Scotland produces some of the best seasonal vegetables and fruits to be found anywhere in the UK. This is often reflected in the availability of these wonderful ingredients in both supermarkets and local restaurants.

Best of all, you can get involved too. Scotland offers many places for you to pick your own fruit and vegetables at the many pick your own farms and orchards ensuring you get the freshest produce available. You can learn from experts about the varieties grown locally in Scotland and even discover the magical world of herbs at the Secret Herb Garden.


Scotland also has some fantastic signature vegetarian dishes that visitors and locals alike will often rave about. No self respecting Scottish breakfast would be complete without the humble tattie scone, and many swear by the wonderfully named Rumbledethumps - a traditional dish from the Borders made using onion, cabbage and potatoes.

And saving the best for last, the wondrous veggie haggis is a firm favourite with most (even those who eat the non-veggie version) and is a must try for any visitor to these fair shores.

Shops and markets:

Offering an alternative to the usual supermarkets and high street shops, health stores such as Real Foods in Edinburgh, the Stirling Health Food Store  and Whole Foods in Glasgow offer great places to pick up supplements, herbs and organic foods.

Why not buy straight from the source? Scotland has a thriving infrastructure of farmers and local growers and the many Farmers markets happening up and down the country are a great way to not only buy the freshest fruit and vegetables around but also get advice from the people who worked so hard to grow them.


Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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