Student guide: going vegan, Scottish style.

Whether you’ve lived in Scotland all your life, or you’ve ended up here by boat, car, plane, or through clearing – there’s plenty of ways you can try out some traditional Scottish fare and go a wee bit more vegan this September.

Now, unless you’ve spent your life living under a rock, you’ll have heard of the famous Scottish delight that is haggis. I can’t say that even in my pre-vegan days the traditional recipe for haggis held much appeal, but this version is a must. You can serve it up with some neeps and tatties, or take a look at the Macsween (@macsweenhaggis) Instagram page for some inspiration: think haggis nachos, haggis pasta, haggis burgers… It’s one ingredient you can definitely transform into a multitude of different meals – a definite student plus.

When I first arrived in Scotland to study, my first venture to the fish & chip shop, or chippy, with my housemates proved to be not quite as expected. Chippy sauce is not standard fare south of the border. Pakora, I’d never heard of [Ed: you’re kidding, right?] and as for deep-fried pizza covered with salt ‘n’ sauce – mind-blowing. And if you’re vegan, there’s no need for you to miss out on these delights, as many a chippy is now offering plant-based alternatives.

In Edinburgh, Marchmont’s #Fish provides a whole vegan platter so you can try it all. You can find vegan fish and chips at Land & Sea in Falkirk, and The Kent Fish & Chip Shop in Finnieston, Glasgow, has an entire vegan menu. If you’re heading to the west coast for a late summer day at the beach, don’t forget Gino’s Fryer in Largs. Their vegan menu is extensive, and nothing beats eating their deep fried pizza and chips down by the water – you’ll make some happy seagull friends while you’re at it.

There’s been a raft of vegan meat alternatives to hit the market, so you’ll not struggle if you pop into any supermarket, even the small ones. For a proper Scottish treat, try Bells new Vegan Scotch Pies, which launched back in May. Other vegan meat alternatives include vegan Lorne Sausage (square sausage) – Simon Howie makes a tasty one. You can shove this in a roll for a quick breakfast, add it to a full vegan breakfast or (and I recommend it) follow the below recipe and recreate my first night in Scotland, with some traditional Stovies.



Recipe: Vegan Stovies

Ingredients

Five portions – Flatmate approved

1kg peeled and sliced potatoes

500g chopped onions

350g (5 slices) vegan Lorne sausage

1 veggie stock cube (10g) dissolved in 200ml hot water (Oxo Meat-free Beef Stock Cubes are perfect)

1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

Method

Pour the veg stock into the bottom of a large pot.

Put a layer of sliced potatoes in the pan then a layer of onions.

Sprinkle a fair amount of salt and pepper and top with the remaining potatoes. Careful though, you can always add seasoning, but you can’t take it away.

Put on high heat with a lid on. When it comes to the boil, turn it down to a low flame and sprinkle the diced vegan sausage on top.

Put the lid back on and try not to take it off to check for at least 15 minutes. It will take about 45 minutes to cook. The more often you take the lid off the pot, the more moisture you’ll lose.

Once the potatoes are nice and soft (test with a fork) mix in the Worcestershire sauce.

You can serve stovies on their own or with oatcakes. For a treat, my favourite vegan kind are thick Fife Cut Oatmeal Oatcakes from Your Piece Baking Company – I discovered these in Real Foods, Edinburgh.

You’ll find Scotland is one of the most welcoming places in the world to be vegan. I hope you enjoy these traditional tastes as much as I do.

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