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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2016 – Animal Activism Year in Review

In the world of animal rights, 2016 has definitely seen some positive changes worldwide. More people are vegan than ever before, and also many vegans have turned to activism to use their voices for animals. It has been my first full year of animal activism, and taking action for animals has became a huge part of my life. Here are some of my proudest achievements from 2016…

Essex Pig Save’s First Vigil

Read about it here.

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This was my first ever save vigil of any kind, and it was in my home county! I have always been a huge supporter of Toronto Pig Save, and was so happy that the Save Movement was expanding to the UK. This was the first of many vigils which went on to occur every month, with a growing team of activists. Our numbers have pretty much doubled since this very first vigil. We were able to bear witness to pigs entering Cheale Meats in Brentwood, Essex, and offer them comfort in any way we could. The next Essex Pig Save vigil will be held on 16th January 2017 – check out the Essex Pig Save Facebook page here for more information.

I Stand with Anita

Read about it here and here.

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This year I got to spend some time with Anita Krajnc and the rest of Toronto Pig Save as I attended a series of vigils in Canada. I also got to cover Anita’s court case, where she was put on trial for feeding water to a pig dying of dehydration. People around the world were horrified that Anita had been charged for simply an act of kindness. The trial talked about a lot more than this one incident, and ended up putting animal agriculture as a whole on trial. The case will be continuing in March 2017. Working with Anita has been a great honour this year, and I look forward to doing a lot more in 2017 to show the world that compassion is not a crime.

Japan – The World is Watching You

Read about it here.

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At the start of this year I took part in the London Against Taiji Dolphin Massacre March. We marched through the streets of London to the Japanese Embassy, using our voices to stand against this barbaric tradition that happens every year in Taiji. Documentaries like Blackfish and The Cove have meant a huge fall in profit for companies such as Seaworld. It’s so important that people know that every time they buy a ticket to a marine park that uses animals for entertainment, or partake in swim with dolphin programmes, they are actively paying for this yearly dolphin slaughter. The workers seek out the ‘Flipper’-like dolphins that have become so popular, while the rest are trapped in the cove to be slaughtered the following morning, and sold as dolphin meat. Many people in Japan don’t even know this is happening. Please don’t be part of it. Boycott Seaworld, marine parks and all swim with dolphin programmes.

Fearman’s ‘Pork’ Show No Mercy

Read about it here.

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Not long after returning from Canada myself, I watched this heartbreaking event live, as it happened, outside Fearman’s ‘Pork’, where I had protested earlier this year. Although the events of that day were completely incomprehensible, the stories of the pigs who died will never be forgotten. The incident gained worldwide media coverage, and people began to question whether eating meat can ever really be humane. A special thanks to all the activists who were at Fearman’s that day, and later organised a candle-lit memorial for all those who suffered such cruelty, all because of human greed.

Vegfest London 2016

Read about it here and on The Vegfest Express.

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In the build up to this year’s Vegfest London, I interviewed some of the speakers appearing at the Vegan Activists Summit – including Kate Strong, Rebecca Fox and Marta Zaraska. I’m so pleased that Vegfest is just getting bigger and better every year. I thought the speakers this year were particularly inspirational, and it was great to listen to such heroes as David Smith MBE talk about how a plant-based diet has changed their lives.

Ink Activism

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This year I also got my first ever tattoos which have been great conversation starters, and have also enabled me to visit some of the best vegan tattoo studios! My first was the animal liberation symbol, which I had done at Fifth Dimension in London. My second was the word ‘compassion’ which I had done at James Spooner’s Monocle Tattoo studio in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, I do have the tattoo bug now and have heard of some other great vegan tattoo studios which I plan to check out in 2017!

Protesting with Emily from Bite Size Vegan

Read about it here.

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I attended an Essex Pig Save vigil with popular American YouTuber and blogger – Emily from Bite Size Vegan this summer. This was a very hard day as we said goodbye to truck-loads of pigs entering Cheale Meats to be slaughtered. But later on, I went to London to watch Emily’s speech, and my dedication and hope for animals was truly restored. Emily talked about the importance of bearing witness, and not turning away from what is happening to animals, but instead doing all we can to change it. I’m a huge fan of all the work Emily is doing.

Fiona Oakes – For The Animals

Read about it here.

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Also at the start of this year, I got to meet champion marathon runner and all round superhero for animals – Fiona Oakes, along with all the animals at Tower Hill Sanctuary. It was great to hear Fiona’s story and how she has managed to achieve so much for animals. Tower Hill looks after over 400 rescued animals, which is no easy task! She also uses her extreme marathon running (she has run a marathon on every continent, and the North Pole) to promote the vegan lifestyle… destroying the stereotypical view of vegans as ‘weak’.

Other mentionable animal activism achievements this year include attending the first East London Chicken Save vigil, meeting Renee and all the friendly folk at Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, Texas, and volunteering at Piebird Farm Sanctuary in Canada. Overall, I’m really pleased with what I have accomplished this year, the world is definitely beginning to wake up to the realities that so many animals are forced to endure at the hands of humans. The Save Movement has grown rapidly in 2016, there are now 24 groups in the UK alone! It seems that ignorance is no longer bliss. I am looking forward to achieving much more for animals in 2017.

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‘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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Animal Liberation Tattoo at London Vegan Tattoo Studio

On Saturday, I had my first ever tattoo. I looked around and found that some tattoo inks contain animal by-products, so I needed to make sure I went somewhere that used vegan ink. But then I thought, what better place to get a vegan tattoo then London’s one and only vegan tattoo studio?

Fifth Dimension in Shoreditch, London, is exactly that, and it’s great that you can relax knowing that all the products used in the studio are 100% vegan.

Unfortunately, a lot of tattoo inks contain animal by-products. These are found in the glycerine, which is made with animal fat, and some inks even contain elements of bone char. Gross. For more information, check out this article from The Dodo. Luckily, there are a lot of animal-friendly inks out there, such as StarBrite which you can ask for at a tattoo studio, or just choose a completely vegan studio.

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Tattoo by Miran, Fifth Dimension.

I’d wanted this particular tattoo for about a year after coming across the symbol online, then felt even more tempted after visiting LA Ink on my trip to California, which I wrote about here. It means ‘Animal Liberation – Human Liberation’, and as I couldn’t decide which animal to get tattooed on me, I decided to get something that represents them all. Although animal exploitation is something that is still happening all around us, all the time, there are also lots of great changes happening for animals currently. This symbol means being a part of this change, and represents the hope that animals will not have to suffer in the future, as they are now.

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Vegan tattoos are also a great talking point to spread the word about animal rights. Have you got any?

Animal Advocacy at Dismaland – Banksy’s Abysmal Creation

Yesterday I visited the UK’s most disappointing theme park – Dismaland in Weston-super-Mare. This is a little different to your average family day out, urban street artist Banksy identifies creating it as an attempt to send an appropriate message to the next generation: “Sorry kids. Sorry about the lack of meaningful jobs, global injustice and Channel 5. The fairytale is over, the world is sleepwalking towards climate catastrophe, maybe all that escapism will have to wait.” On a grey, wet and miserable day which fitted the mood perfectly, everyone was eager to see this unique display of work from artists across the world, comprising an iconic display of anarchy. One of the unavoidable topics throughout the park was animal advocacy.

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Dismal day.

The first subject which was pretty difficult to avoid was orca captivity. From all the media hype of the past week, I was well aware of this but didn’t realise it would be to such an extent. The first gallery includes the interesting work of Josh Keyes, whose distinct paintings resemble diagrams that you’d find in a school textbook. These two images tackle the concept of orca captivity – capturing the giants of the sea below animals living on land.

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Josh Keye’s orca captivity artwork.

Next was the sculpture I had been waiting for. Created by Banksy himself, this is argued to be the best anti-Seaworld art created. It shows an orca jumping from a toilet bowl, through a hoop held by a trainer, with a child’s play-pool awaiting the whale’s landing. Located at the far end of the park, the sculpture is placed in front of old, decaying steps which seem to resemble those that a cheering audience would be watching from at Seaworld. Due to recent documentaries such as Blackfish, the controversial topic of keeping orca’s in captivity is becoming increasingly discussed. Here, Banksy points out what these intelligent, impressive creatures have been reduced to in marine parks that use them for entertainment purposes.

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Banksy’s anti-Seaworld sculpture.

Keeping with the theme of marine animals, the consequences of over-fishing was also acknowledged in a sculpture of a dolphin being caught up in a fishing net. Another predicament the creatures of the ocean are in, due to human actions.

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One of the consequences of large-scale fishing.

To my surprise, even factory farming was targeted, with the methods used called to question in an exhibition called ‘Cruel Designs’. First was the method of stunning which was ‘advertised’ in an ironic advert similar to those found on tubes in London. Much like those used to promote household or garden equipment, this advert was promoting stunning devices which would ensure an ‘effective stun’, ‘high performance kill’ and a ‘perfect scald’.

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Ironic stunning advertisement.

There was also recognition of ‘humane’ slaughter, posing the question: can slaughter ever be humane? Here there was footage from a factory farm, paying tribute to the 20 million animals that are slaughtered in the UK food industry each week. The accompanying information identified how these non-human animals are able to feel pain, terror and trauma just the same as humans. This then recognised the contradiction in the term ‘humane slaughter’, just as in the search for methods of ‘humane execution’ upon humans in America.

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‘Humane’ slaughter information.

Together with several more animal-related artwork and references throughout the park (a copy of the game-changing book ‘Animal Liberation’ was even in the library of a run down caravan), I think it’s safe to say that issues concerning animal rights were definitely made a priority at Dismaland. Open for five weeks, this unique ‘bemusement park’ is an absolute must-see, and will probably leave you with more questions about the world than you had to begin with. But as Banksy so rightfully puts it, “Here you’re encouraged to consider, not just consume, to look, not just spectate and most important of all – beware of uneven floor surfaces.”

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Dismaland over Disneyland.