Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guest Post: The Crafty Green Poet takes us to Scotland!

Today, I'm happy to welcome fellow writer and vegetarian cook The Crafty Green Poet to give us a quick tour of her corner of the world. Be sure to check out her poetry blogs with lovely seasonal haiku and other works, as well as her green living blog, full of artful ways to live and eat.
Peace, Mari

Vegetarian in Scotland

Scotland is home to a wide range of vegetarian dishes from the healthiest breakfast (porridge) to the unhealthiest snack (the deep-fried Mars Bar). This range sums up the Scottish relationship with food. We like to think we're trying our best to be healthy but there are a lot of dark secrets in the larder. After all we are one of the unhealthiest countries in Europe.

However, Scotland is an easy place to be a vegetarian. There are a lot of vegetarian restaurants (you can see a list here). In the relatively small capital city Edinburgh (where I live) there are over 20 vegetarian establishments; shops, restaurants and cafes, including two restaurants that serve specifically Indian food. Most restaurants, cafés and pubs understand the concept of vegetarianism and can offer something more imaginative than macaroni cheese. Many will make vegetarian versions of meat dishes if you ask them.

There is even a vegetarian version (or rather several vegetarian versions!) of the well-known Scottish dish haggis. Traditionally haggis is made from a sheep's stomach stuffed with ingredients such as heart and lungs of lamb. Not surprisingly, it's not only vegetarians who prefer the vegetarian version! The vegetarian versions are made from oats, pulses, vegetables and herbs and spices. Traditionally, haggis is served with neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes) but Scottish chefs enjoy creating interesting new dishes with haggis, including fusion dishes such as haggis burritos and haggis pakora.

If you like to cook, Scotland has a good number of vegetarian wholefood shops. Edinburgh is home to Real Foods which has two branches in the city, plus Henderson's which has a shop, a bakery, two cafés and a bistro bar. There are several veg box schemes in Scotland that can deliver fresh produce to your doorstep every week. Some people find the unpredictable ingredients of their veg box* a challenge, so the Scottish Organic website Organikal has put together a list of veg box recipes.

More and more people in Scotland are growing their own fruit and vegetables, in back gardens, in allotments or in community gardening projects. I grow tomatoes and herbs on my window-ledge and have grown potatoes in pots outside the back door of our tenement block.

For the adventurous, foraging is becoming increasingly popular in Scotland. Traditionally, we've been less confident about gathering wild food than have continental Europeans. Of course you need to know what you're picking and several organisations now from local countryside ranger services to upmarket food shops offer foraging courses.

So Scotland is a great place for vegetarians, just stay away from the deep-fried Mars Bars!

*Similar to a CSA assortment.


  1. There will be an addendum to this post later today-- much info about the various veg box schemes offered in Scotland.

  2. Thanks for inviting me to do this guest post!

  3. Thank you for this post! I am a vegetarian moving from California to Edinburgh, and I have been afraid that I would have to adjust-- I just assumed that Scotland was less vegetarian-friendly. This puts me at ease! I wonder though, how is the availability of fresh produce year round in Scotland? I'm guessing that it might be hard to come by in the winter, but I'd love to be wrong about that too!

  4. ps- I might have to try the deep fried Mars bar... just once!

  5. Hi Rianne
    thanks for your comment! It's easy enough to find fresh produce all year round in Scotland! Of course if you like your food to be locally sourced then that will be a problem, in winter a lot of our fresh produce is flown in from abroad. It also depends what you're looking for, we might not have the same range as you're used to in Cailfornia! I hope your move goes well!

  6. I have an admission to make! When i said there are over 20 vegetarian restaurants in Edinburgh, I was wrong, there are over 20 vegetarian establishments, including shops, restaurants and cafes. Sorry for the error!

  7. Thanks for the reply. Very good to know!