Vegan Glasgow. Glasgow vegan. Those two words go together like kale and soba noodles.
While Scotland may not exactly be known for its healthy cuisine – deep fried Mars bar anyone? – Glasgow’s foodie scene is a vegan dream. From budget-friendly takeaways to plant-based fine dining, you’ll be spoiled for choice. It’s no wonder PETA voted it the most vegan friendly city in the UK a few years ago!
So when Virgin Trains asked me to share how I make the most of my free time visiting Glasgow was a no brainer. With a direct train from London taking just 4.5 hours, as opposed to more than 7 in the car, you can finally finish that book that’s been sitting on your night table for four months and eat to your heart’s content.
I mention this because I know making full use your time off work is really important. Did you know that the average Brit has just 17 days of free time each year? I used Virgin’s Free Me Calculator to find out how much I had and it’s just a disappointing 21 days. I was shocked by how little that was – especially because as a childless 23-year-old freelancer I should theoretically have lots of free time.
I’d be really curious to hear how much free time you have according to the calculator. Let me know in a comment below – and don’t forget to enter Virgin Trains’ competition for a chance to win train tickets and an amazing experience of your choosing up to the value of £500! All you have to do is share how you’d like to spend your free time one of Virgin Trains’ three designated Facebook posts. These will go live on their Facebook page on the following dates and run for 48 hours: Wednesday 16th, Saturday 19th and Tuesday 22nd August 2017.
Given our limited amounts of free time there’s no point in wasting it doing average things. So instead, why not go on a foodie bonanza in Glasgow? To help you make the most of your free time in the city, I’ve put together this extensive vegan Glasgow guide divided into three areas – the West End, city centre and Southside. It’s not an exhaustive list of all there is to see and eat of course, but it’s a great starting point.
Before you dive in, watch my vegan Glasgow guide below. We will not only visit all of the restaurants in this article – I’ll also be interviewing a few of their owners along the way. One of them used to be Bryan Adams’ private vegan chef for five years, which is pretty cool if you ask me!
All done? Please let me know what you thought about the video once you’re done reading. I’d love to know. But first, sharpen your knife/fork/chopsticks and let’s go explore Glasgow through our stomachs…
Vegan Restaurants Glasgow – West End
Glasgow’s West End, along with neighbouring Finnieston, has recently been named in the top 20 hippest areas in the UK. It’s full of students and young creatives which makes it a great spot for finding budget eats and great nightlife spots.
I started my culinary journey with a trip to Kimchi Cult in the West End. The small Korean fast food is run by Danny O’Sullivan who spent several years teaching English in the country and fell in love with its food. From authentic-tasting dishes to a wide vegan selection, the joint is popular with local students including many who originally hail from Korea.
I ordered the veganbap (£7), vegan kimchi (£1.50) and Korean citron tea (£1.50).
Sitting down with a book and a hot cuppa is Britishness at its best. But although they have both books and tea here is nothing British about Tchaiovna. The joint was inspired by the tea houses in Czechia. I know what you might be thinking. What on Earth do Czech people know about tea? Despite being one of them, I’m not sure of the answer myself but I do know that tea houses are extremely popular in the country. Small and ambiently lit, they combine meditation music with enough brews to keep you busy for a year. Tchaiovna in Glasgow is so exception with more than eighty types of tea on the menu.
I ordered tchai Zanjafeel (£5.20/pot). Ask for it with brown sugar instead of honey.
Hillhead Bookclub used to be one of my favourite hangouts in the West End while I still lived in Glasgow. That’s right, I spent a year living in the city. But I wasn’t veggie back then so revisiting my old stomping grounds still felt like a journey of discovery to me. This is more than just a restaurant – they host a vintage fair on Sundays, sewing club on Tuesdays and bingo on Wednesdays. Oh, and they have £3 strawberry mojitos!
I ordered the coconut and pistachio rice pudding (£4).
78 Cafe Bar
78 Cafe Bar is technically in Finnieston, but it’s just a stone’s throw away from West End’s world-famous Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. This unique, fully vegan pub has some great local beers on tap – my favourite was Birds & Bees from Williams Bros. Brewing Co. But even more importantly, their vegan food menu is fantastic. Have I mentioned they host regular live music nights? Definitely a fun place to visit.
I ordered the burger with soup (£8.40).
- Stravaigin – Awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand every year since 2012. They embody the ‘think global, eat local’ ethos.
- Siempre Bicycle Cafe – Independent cafe that repairs bikes, serves coffee and tasty locally sourced food.
- Mother India – A Glasgow curry institution with lots of vegan options. Can eat in or take out.
- The Hug and Pint – A vegan bar, eatery and music venue.
- Usha’s – Authentic Indian street food restaurant.
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Vegan Restaurants Glasgow – City Centre
Glasgow’s City Centre – like most city centres in Britain – is full of suits and tourists. But don’t let that put you off, because it’s also one of the most beautiful parts of the city with plenty of sightseeing opportunities and classy restaurants.
Red Onion restaurant is the brainchild of John Quigley – an award-winning chef who worked as Bryan Adams’ vegan private chef for five years. He runs the restaurant together with his wife and daughter, catering to a multitude of diets. They serve a fully gluten-free set menu, as well as a dairy-free and of course a vegan one. This was hands down the most refined vega dining experience I had in Glasgow on this trip, from the herby bang bang avocado salad to the light summery risotto.
I ordered the vegan set menu (2/3 courses £16.95/£19.95).
If you’re looking for a quick bite, Juice Garden is a great option. It’s just aroud the corner from Glasgow Central station so it’s a great place to buy snacks for your journey back home – although if you treat yourself and travel in Virgin Trains’ first class like I did you’ll be able to find veggie food on board. Juice Garden offer fresh juices, sandwiches and frozen acai bowls.
I ordered the small House Juice (250ml for £3.50).
Rose & Grant’s
Vegans love cake too… it’s just not quite as easy to find. If you lie awake at night with visions of flaky croissants and scrumptious donuts circling around your head, you must plan a trip to Rose & Grant’s. Their vegan dessert selection is truly a sight for sore eyes and a treat for hungry tummies.
I ordered the vegan croissant (£1.95), an Empire biscuit (£2) and a vegan peanut KitKat-lookalike (£2.25).
- Mono – Vegan café bar situated in Glasgow’s Merchant City. One of the most popular vegan joints in the city.
- Stereo – Vegan restaurant, a late night bar with regular live DJs, and a gig and club venue.
- The Project Cafe – A community centre serving a simple and wholesome menu.
- The 13th Note – An independent music venue (also hosting comedy and theatre and art), bar & vegetarian cafe.
- The Flying Duck – Bar, vegan diner and gig space in a chilled out and unpretentious hideout.
- Picnic Cafe – Ethical alternative to other Merchant City eateries, with a focus on organic and cruelty free ingredients.
- Saramango Cafe Bar – Vegan cafe inside the Centre for Contemporary Arts.
Vegan Restaurants Glasgow – Southside
Not that many travellers bother visiting Glasgow’s Southside, but I think that’s a big mistake. While it’s not exactly a sightseeing hotspot the area is full of lush parks, cute cafes and charity shops. You will find an eclectic mix of cultures here which makes for some incredible dining options.
Gusto and Relish
Gusto and Relish is where I often chose to work during my time in Glasgow. Their combination of Scandi decor, huge sandwiches and fast WiFi kept me coming back every week. They’ve since updated their menu and made it more vegan friendly than ever before. Their full vegan English breakfast was great, but if you’re only going to visit once I’d recommend you try one of their sandwiches.
I ordered the full vegan English breakfast (£7.95).
The Hidden Gardens
I don’t want you to think that all I did in Glasgow was work, but the Hidden Gardens were another work-away-from-home favourite of mine. This place is a lot more than a restaurant – in fact it’s primarily other things. The community centre organises yoga classes, gardening lectures and after-school activities for all locals, big or small. It’s the perfect place to visit if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and surround yourself with nature.
I just ordered some herbal tea, but I would highly recommend their soups and cakes.
- Glad Cafe – Visit for great coffee and a wide selection of cakes.
- Ranjit’s Kitchen – Probably the best Punjab fare you will find in Glasgow.
- Locavore – Not a restaurant, but one of the best health food stores in the city.
- Lebowskis – This is a meaty burger chain, but their veggie burgers rock. Available in West End as well.
- Kind Crusts – Amazing sandwich takeaway. Not in Southside, I just didn’t have a category for it.
Disclaimer: My trip to Glasgow was made possible by Virgin Trains, but as always all opinions and silly puns are my own.