Leah D’Ambrosio (VP of The Shelter Animal Reiki Association (SARA)), Kelly McDermott (Director of SARA’s East Coast Projects) and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Glasgow, Scotland, where I had the honor of speaking on “Reiki for Dogs” at the Natural Canine Care Convention, alongside other amazing speakers such as Dr. Karen Becker and Dr. Isla Fishburn. I learned so much about caring for dogs holistically! What I didn’t realize when I arrived in Glasgow, was that I was about to embark upon a journey of culinary yumminess that rivals any trip I’ve ever taken! It’s sometimes a bit tricky, trying to eat gluten free/vegan while traveling, but not this time 🙂
Little did I know that Glaswegians (the term for natives of Glasgow) pride themselves on their vegan food! I even had a few locals tell me that Glasgow is the vegan capital of the UK! After spending a week there and sampling many restaurants (both those solely vegan and those just with vegan options), I must say I agree! I loved the food here even more than my last trip to London.
To top it off, the people here were so polite and friendly. It made me a bit embarrassed to be a “rude” American, LOL. (Well let’s just say that landing in JFK, NYC was a bit of a culture shock after spending 7 days in gracious Glasgow.)
If you’re vegan and/or gluten free and planning a trip to Scotland, make sure to spend a few days in Glasgow so you can sample their amazing food! Here is a short summary of my food experiences in Glasgow.
When we travel, we try to get an apartment with a kitchen so we can eat at least a few meals in. So as soon as we landed, we stopped at the local Waitrose to pick up some Violife cheese (amazing!), Oat Milk (perfect for Scottish porridge), hummus with kale crackers (for snacks) and of course, our favorite UK tea, TeaPigs.
We stopped in here because we were starving (had just arrived and didn’t have our bearings yet) and freezing (it was snowing out). I know, the title doesn’t sound promising, but they were very accommodating and actually have several vegan options on the menu. I chose a beet burger (gf bun) and a side of sweet potato fries. It was surprisingly delicious, and a great way to start my trip. They seem to have several locations around the city, so this restaurant will be easy to find!
Well you can’t visit the UK and not have afternoon tea! This lovely hidden gem was our favorite! They have several milk alternatives available if you like your tea with milk. I had “The London Fog” which was a sublime Earl Grey tea blended with Oat Milk (they recommended oat as it foams). Absolutely delicious! The best tea I’ve ever had, hands down! As a plus, this place was filled with locals, including a 5-year old girl in her equestrian show outfit (helmet included), which was a delight.
Although they offered v/gf sandwiches, the tea cakes were only available dairy free/gf. Everything is made with love and care, and it was a wonderful experience!
This Indian restaurant had great reviews, and luckily (due the cold weather) we were even able to have it delivered. Imagine our surprise when our dinner was delivered via bicycle messenger. Boy did I feel like a weather wimp (In full disclosure, I’m CA born and raised, so can you really blame me?) We ordered a variety of curries and they were perfectly seasoned, not too spicy. They lived up to the reviews!
Curious about this popular destination, we also decided to try the well-known Willow Tea Room, whose lovely décor was inspired by the great Scottish designer Charles Rennie MacKintosh. Although crowded with tourists (including a very wealthy millennial wearing fur, eeck!) and operated by slightly stressed and over-worked wait staff, we enjoyed our v/gf afternoon tea here!
This restaurant is so casual-looking you might pass it by, but don’t: it’s worth a visit. We met our local friends here and shared several appetizers. I got their kale salad, which was amazing. The vegan cheeses here were to die for. But dessert was my favorite part – the ice cream sundae, apple cake and chocolate cake were the best. This is my favorite combination in a restaurant: unpretentious and great food!
On our day trip to see Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond, we took a side trip to the tiny town of Callendar. Although The Crown Hotel Restaurant doesn’t have vegan options on the menu, we were able to put together some sides and make a delicious lunch. All the food was very fresh and their gf bread was great! It’s been my experience that the UK does gf bread much tastier than the typical American options.
In the mood for my favorite comfort food (Indian) again, we opted this time for a 100% gluten-free kitchen of southern Indian cuisine. This place was super spicy but delicious! We opted for the keerai bhajji (spinach and onions in gram flour, fried), and I chose the masala dosa for my main. This is a fermented crepe made from rice flour and lentils, filled with potatoes, onions and spices. We also shared a selection of amazing Indian breads. This place was a gem!
Since our conference was held at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, we popped into this restaurant just a couple of blocks away out of convenience. When they discovered we were vegan, they brought us a special menu which had many options! We tried the vegan/gf pizza (amazing), a colorful, tasty and fresh salad (with extra broiled veggies on top) and a flavorful, delicious mushroom risotto.
Also near the Royal Concert Hall, was this hip and modern Greek place. With several vegan/gf options, this place was truly special. I had the most delicious grape leaves ever!
Our 2nd try at delivery, this place didn’t disappoint. The vegan rolls were delicious and they even had a choice of gf soba noodles for their vegetarian noodle dish. Yum!
Of course no trip to any European city is ever complete without a trip to a local chocolate shop. Most chocolates are made with milk, which limits choices for vegans, so imagine my great surprise to see that they offered vegan drinking chocolates with milk substitutes. I chose a dark chocolate mint hot chocolate, and it was truly sublime! Glasgow is a shining example of a city where animal-friendly food choices abound. Dear friendly city, bye for noo!