Travel: Best Vegan Food Spots in Glasgow, Scotland

Happy new year everybody! I hope you all had a great Christmas break. I find the new year the perfect time to get focused and set out goals to achieve for the next twelve months. In my previous blog, I picked out some of my highlights from 2016 (view here), but unfortunately the world of animal rights still has a long way to come, so I plan to achieve much more in 2017!

I spent my New Year’s in Glasgow with one of my best friends and photographer Lottie, check out her awesome photography website here. It’s no wonder she decided to move to Scotland, it really does have spectacular views. We drove to Glen Coe and were greeted by mountains, snow, and plenty of sheep! If you’re staying in Glasgow, Glen Coe is about a two hour drive, and perfect for a day out escaping the city and appreciating the natural world.

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Now…on to the food! To be honest, Scotland really did surprise me. An area known for traditional dishes such as haggis (which you can find the vegan version of at the restaurants I’m about to talk about), I didn’t hold out much hope for vegan food. I was so, so wrong. Not only is the vegan scene thriving in Glasgow with an aray of different vegan pubs and restaurants, these just happen to be the coolest places in town too. My first stop was The Flying Duck which I had heard about prior to visiting, this was just next to the city centre, so easy to find for yummy vegan goodness.

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I absolutely loved everything about this venue; the artwork, the food, the music, the vibe. It reminded me a little of my favourite vegan pub back home in Essex called The Railway Hotel (check out my write up of Mother’s Day at The Railway here). Extra points for the amusing menu with a section named ‘Dawgs’.

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We ordered burgers and mac ‘n’ cheese, which was a little optimistic but its easy to get carried away with vegan food. Everything was delicious. It’s definitely worth checking out The Flying Duck website to see which bands are playing too.

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I also visited Stereo which was another vegan pub/restaurant/gig venue, with a similar vibe to The Flying Duck. I’d heard good things about Stereo, and it’s safe to say I wasn’t disappointed. I think this photograph says it all.

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So good! A special mention goes to the battered cauliflower which was amazing. I also had a hot dog with pretty much everything, and brownie for desert. Everything on the menu looked great! After visiting both places, I was reminded of just how relaxing it is going to a restaurant that is 100% vegan. No worrying about specifically ordering soya milk, or making sure the margarine on the bread is plant-based…Glasgow has you covered with these 100% vegan food spots!

I had also planned to visit Mono which I have heard great things about, however this was closed on New Year’s Day (my last day)… so I guess I’m just going to have to make another trip to Glasgow soon! It definitely looks worth checking out, and all these restaurants are within walking distance from Glasgow city centre…bonus!

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So if you’re travelling to Glasgow for whatever reason, you’re pretty much sorted for vegan food. Are there any other hidden gems in Glasgow I haven’t mentioned? I just hope the rest of Scotland is this vegan-friendly!

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Travel: Los Angeles, California – Top Vegan Food Picks

It’s only when you leave Los Angeles that you realise how easy vegans living here really have it. You’re never far from an amazing vegan restaurant, or places serving delicious vegan options. After my trip last year, I wrote about my food favourites from Southern California, check this out here. But last year was different for me as I was moving around a lot more, exploring as many beaches as I could possibly fit in. This time, LA was my last stop, ending six incredible weeks of travelling through Canada and the States. So I stayed in Venice Beach, and explored as much vegan goodness that this area has to offer. And trust me, there was a lot!

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Venice Beach Boardwalk.

First off, I would 100% recommend Venice Beach as a place to stay while visiting LA. It’s easy to get back and forth to the city, but you’re also right in the centre of some incredible beaches. Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan and Redondo Beach are all within close reach.

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End of Route 66.

Los Angeles is one of the easiest places in the world for finding vegan food, so I’ve decided to do a countdown of my top five food picks from this incredible trip (these are predominantly in the Venice area, as that’s where I spent a lot of time).

5. Veggie Grill

So in case you didn’t know, Veggie Grill is pretty much everywhere in So Cal. On my last trip, I was so surprised to see a vegan chain restaurant! I visited the Veggie Grill on North Fairfax Avenue, LA, just after I got a tattoo at LA’s only vegan tattoo studio which you can read about here. Good food, quick service and hugely convenient, I really hope Veggie Grill will expand to the rest of the world! (Check out ‘Vegan Life in Southern California – Food Favourites’ for more information on Veggie Grill).

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Indian bowl – yum!

4. M Cafe – Beverly Hills

So wandering through Beverly Hills gazing at shops I pretty much had no interest in (an abundance of leather, fur, alligator skin etc.), I was quite skeptical about finding any decent vegan food options here. But to my surprise, I was pointed in the direction of M Cafe. This is a dairy, egg, and meat-free restaurant, but it does sell fish (unfortunately). However there are plenty of vegan options, and the cookies looked amazing too! If you’re vegan and shopping in the Beverly Hills area, this is your best bet for fresh, wholesome, vegan food.

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Who knew a burger and fries could be so healthy?!

3. The Butcher’s Daughter

If you’re looking for something a little more fancy in the Venice area, The Butcher’s Daughter is definitely for you. Just a short walk from Venice, The Butcher’s Daughter is a vegetarian (but with a lot of vegan options) restaurant with style! Recently I’ve found a huge love for vegan cheesey pizza (check out my blog for Fat Gay Vegan about a new vegan pizzeria in England here), and the one I ordered here definitely hit the spot. I also love the name of this place, and the design and general feel of the whole restaurant. Thumbs up for The Butcher’s Daughter!

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So so good! Vegan cheesey pizza and vegan mac ‘n’ cheese.

2. Seed

Now Seed could not be more different to my last restaurant! This is definitely more of a take-out, quick snack type place, and I pretty much stopped here every day whilst I was staying at Venice Beach. It goes higher up on my list because it’s 100% vegan, organic and everything I ate there was 100% delicious! Smoothies, breakfast burritos, tacos, and even vegan cookies…this place has you covered for a day exploring the local beaches. Personally I would have been lost without it!

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Oatmeal with fresh fruit…goooood morning!

 

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The best kind of club.
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Ain’t no scramble like a tofu scramble!

1. Cafe Gratitude

Cafe Gratitude gets my first prize for vegan food in Southern California. Also located in Venice, the restaurant boasts 100% vegan, organic and locally sourced food. And the theme of gratitude is apparent throughout, even down to ordering from the menu, where you can say ‘I am…’ and then choose your desired feeling/food option. To be honest I’ve never been anywhere quite like it! Great atmosphere, incredible vegan food, and an all round one-of-a-kind restaurant. Even if you’re not staying in the Venice area, this restaurant is so popular there are a couple more around LA, and it’s no surprise why… Cafe Gratitude gets it spot on!

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I am…humble.
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Amazing deserts at Cafe Gratitude.

So that’s my run-down of favourite places to eat in Southern California. What’s your top So Cal spot for vegan food? 🙂

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View from The Big Wheel, Santa Monica Pier.

‘Compassion’ Tattoo at Los Angeles Vegan Tattoo Studio

So I’m back from six weeks of travelling Canada and the States, and it was pretty awesome! There are so many highlights which I’ll be writing about over the coming weeks, but one of the things I’m super happy about is finding an all-vegan tattoo studio in Los Angeles!

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Monocle Tattoo is owned by James Spooner and based in North Fairfax Avenue, LA. Even though I was staying in Venice Beach where tattoo shops were on every corner, I wanted to have my tattoo done somewhere that was completely free from animal products. I can’t think of anything worse going into my skin and staying there forever! People don’t often realise that a lot of inks used in tattoo shops aren’t vegan – but luckily there are alternatives. You can either contact your chosen tattoo shop to see if they can use vegan ink, or just choose somewhere completely vegan like I did.

I had my first tattoo done a few months ago, which was a symbol for animal liberation, at an all-vegan tattoo studio in London which you can read about here. For my next one, I wanted something to symbolise my time travelling, during which I got to work with the incredible group Toronto Pig Save and attend save vigils. I also spent a lot of time with Anita Krajnc, Toronto Pig Save co-founder, who was about to go on trial for feeding water to a pig dying of dehydration. You can read about the outcome of this trial here. So the word ‘compassion’ seemed pretty relevant to this, and also something that has become central to my life since becoming vegan.

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Cesar Hernandez did my ‘compassion’ tattoo, and I love it!

So if you’re travelling to Los Angeles and are thinking about getting a tattoo, I would definitely recommend Monocle! Great artists and 100% cruelty-free. Check out their website here.

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The Do’s and Don’t’s of Vegan Eating in Brighton

Last week I spent the day in sunny (but cold!) Brighton. I had been here before as a vegetarian, but was excited to experience my first visit as a vegan. I’d heard lots of good things about the wide selection of vegan restaurants, so was eager to try it out for myself. I’ve compiled my experience into a short do’s and don’t’s list for vegans. Please note that there are plenty more options for vegans in Brighton, but this is what I managed to cram into a day!

DO Experience Purezza – The UK’s Only Plant-Based Pizzeria

 

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Purezza was the place I was most excited about visiting, and it was even more than I had hoped. The food was delicious – plenty of pizzas to chose from for those that like their fake meats, and those that prefer more of a vegetable based option. I went for the latter and chose the Funghi mushroom and rocket combination, everything on the menu looked amazing!

 

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I was far too excited about the cheesy garlic bread too, as I hadn’t found a good replacement since ditching dairy over two years ago, and this really was perfect. The dairy-free cheese that was used on this and on the pizza was so nice, I’m fairly certain that plenty of people enter Purezza, enjoy their pizza, and leave without ever knowing that everything was plant-based.

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I wish I could have stayed for desert but was conscious of all the other vegan places I wanted to try. With the added bonus of great customer service and a lovely restaurant to eat in, I would 100% recommend Purezza to anybody travelling to Brighton. I really felt like it gave me a glimpse of the future, hopefully this will be the domino that begins many more plant-based pizzerias!

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DO Visit Infinity Foods Shop and Food Kitchen

This was the dark horse of the day for me as I had never even heard of Infinity Foods! It was only through passing that I saw the shop and thought it was just a health food shop that might be worth a look. It was actually more of a Whole Foods style supermarket with plenty of vegan options. I particularly liked the beauty section with an array of cruelty-free and vegan beauty products, I bought a couple of creams from a brand called Faith which I will be reviewing soon. The even better surprise was the food kitchen, which was just a few stores along.

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Tempted in by the selection of cakes with the heavenly sign ‘vegan’, I decided to give this place a try. But it was only when I sat down that I realised how unique and delicious the food was. I tried the Vegan Snickers ‘Vickers’ bar and Ferroro Rocher slice, and aside from being unlike anything I’d tried before, they were delicious!

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The even bigger bonus is this place doesn’t just stop with cake, there were plenty of meal options too, with a fantastic-looking chickpea and lentil curry and vegan lasagne available today. With the option to eat in or takeaway, the staff were really helpful, and more than happy to insist people try before they buy. They were proud of the nutritious and delicious food and wanted people to experience it. Next time I’m in Brighton I can’t wait to return here for a meal, I’m so happy I found this unique place!

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DON’T Get Your Hopes Up With VBites

As much as I really love finding a new vegan restaurant, I’m always completely honest and if somewhere, although vegan, disappoints me – I’ll let people know. Sadly, this was the case with VBites. If you’re like me you may have heard about VBites, or be familiar with the brand for sale at your local Holland & Barrett store. Opened by Heather Mills, I read recently that the VBites cafe was something that would eventually be a vegan chain restaurant, and had hopes that it might have been something similar to Veggie Grill which I found on my trip to California. Sadly, if this restaurant in Brighton is anything to go by, don’t get your hopes up.

The menu is full of the VBites meat alternative, which I guess is good for those that have recently given up meat and really enjoy the taste. But I think a lot of vegans are on a journey, and the longer you’re on it, the more your eyes are opened to the world of healthy, natural, organic plant-based food instead of sticking with plant-based meat copies. Anyhow, I ordered the simplest thing I could find which was a VBites burger, and I guess the vegan version of a Big Mac.

Although this isn’t the most important thing, I must say I was instantly put off by the customer service. I found the employee at the counter to be rude, unhelpful, and just completely uninterested in the entire restaurant. I at least expected somebody that knew what the VBites meat was made out of, but couldn’t even be helped with this.

At dinner time, the restaurant was almost empty (tell-tale sign) and after sitting down in a cold dining room upstairs, our food arrived shortly after…and by shortly, I mean it took not even five minutes. A little baffled as to why the food arrived so quickly, I was then greeted with a cold burger, and bland fries. With no employee in sight to voice the issue, after a couple of bites I didn’t feel like eating anymore. It was only long after we had finished that the chef finally appeared, at which point I was offered a cup of tea on the house to make up for a cold meal that I didn’t eat…doesn’t seem like the best deal in the world to me.

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I know that VBites only opened last year, so I’m going to be optimistic and say that hopefully they will be making a lot of changes. The competition for vegan eateries in Brighton is tough, and I hope VBites will rise to the occasion to add to the fantastic choice for vegans in Brighton.

DO See What Vegetarian Shoes Is All About

Okay, so not food but I had to give Vegetarian Shoes a mention! Since buying some vegan ‘Ugg’ boots from them a couple of years ago, I have loved this place and bought a second pair of boots online. Comfortable, long-lasting and unique shoes that are just as good as some of the top brands in footwear, but without the cruelty. Vegetarian Shoes is a must to check out in Brighton.

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Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting vegan Brighton experience. I hope this helps you with your tough decision on where to eat vegan during your next trip! What’s your favourite place to eat in Brighton?  Any other restaurants I should try? 🙂

Vegan Life in Southern California – Food Favourites

This week I’ve finally got round to going through my photos from last year’s amazing trip to California. I wrote about my trip to Farm Sanctuary in ‘California Dreaming – A Trip To Farm Sanctuary’, and thought it would be rude not to reminisce about the huge selection of vegan food that was available during my trip. Here are some of my highlights that I would recommend to anyone travelling to the Golden State:

1. Veggie Grill

God bless you, Veggie Grill. You became a part of my daily routine when travelling through So Cal. This chain restaurant is 100% vegan and the great thing is, it’s pretty much everywhere. I visited Veggie Grill restaurants in L.A., Irvine, Long Beach and San Diego, not to mention a couple of others I stopped by to pick up ‘take out’ for a ‘road trip’. The food is delicious, nutritious and great value for money. They also cater for every mood; vitamin-packed salads and bowls for when you’re feeling the California health buzz, Mac-n-Cheese and a selection of faux-meat favourites for when you’d prefer some comfort food. Together with vegan treats (the carrot cake was ridiculously good) smoothies and juices, Veggie Grill wins my gold star for eating in California!

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Veggie Grill Menu
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100% vegan. 100% delicious.

2. Whole Foods Market

Now I know Whole Foods isn’t anything new to people in England as we have a few in London, but believe me, Whole Foods in the U.S. is a completely different experience. For one, it’s so much bigger. I almost got a little emotional when confronted with the choice of dairy-free milks and cheeses in the supermarket, and wondered why the hell I hadn’t visited America sooner?! Whole Foods is a California vegan’s paradise. Completely spoilt with a wide selection of organic, fresh, vegan goodness, and with stores always within easy reach, Whole Foods makes you laugh at all that time you spent staring at the ‘Free From’ section in Tesco. Not in California.

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Dairy-free milk? No problem!

 

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Whole Foods aim to please…with vegan cheese!

3. Nature’s Health Food & Cafe, Palm Springs

My final recommendation goes to a hidden gem that I’m really pleased I found in Palm Springs. This was a stop off en route back to California from Las Vegas. I was tired, hungover, hungry and when the sign for Nature’s Health Food & Cafe appeared in the distance, I felt like my guardian angel had intervened to save me.

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Hallelujah! Vegan cafe on the drive back from Vegas

The smoothies here were incredible, and there was a large selection of healthy and organic vegan food. I opted for the faux-chicken fajitas which were delicious. The cafe is inside the health store, which is also stocked full of vegan products – perfect to grab a few necessities for the rest of your journey.

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Holy fajitas! Plenty of protein at Nature’s Health Food Cafe

Overall, California was truly a Vegan Boho success! I’ve never had as many options for food as I did here. I’m currently planning my next trip to the U.S., and am looking forward to re-visiting Southern California to experience more vegan food favourites. What are your California vegan recommendations?

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Welcome to Long Beach, CA