THE county’s major cities have been rapidly evolving to become more vegan and vegetarian friendly. The benefits of a plant-based lifestyle now extend to dining out without compromising on quality or variety. Here we round up some top spots for vegans and vegetarians to sample…

Tchai-Ovna

Hidden down a wee cobbled lane in the heart of Glasgow’s West End, on entering Tchai-Ovna you would be forgiven for thinking you are stepping into a Himalayan tea room or a Turkish bazar.

Tchai-Ovna was founded in 2000 by a group of Glasgow University students tired of the prevalent alcohol culture. When they first discovered the location, an old 18th C stables, it was badly in need of some t.l.c. but its magical, Bohemian, offbeat atmosphere was perfect. Too young to get business funding, with help from friends and the community they invested their student loans and refurbished the premises, keeping as many original features as possible: cobbled floors, horse’s tethers etc. The vegetarian speciality tea house they created was only supposed to last a year, but almost twenty years on it is now a firmly established Glasgow institution.

Today the menu represents a broad swathe of cultures including Mexican, Arabic and Indian. It is produced by award winning vegetarian specialists; the chipotle chilli won an award for one of the best chillis in the West End, and it is completely vegan. The vegan curry, produced by Balbirs Restaurants celebrated Punjabi chefs is hearty, tasty and authentic. Whilst you are enjoying your meal you can partake in one of around 100 speciality teas, all Tchai-Ovna own brand, and many of them blended in house and to order. They also retail many of the teas in the shop and online as well as wholesale across Scotland

Many know Tchai-Ovna as a much loved community hub, where people of all ages and backgrounds meet to socialise, play board games and listen to local, and international, live music acts and performances. It is welcoming, informal and unpretentious. Perhaps it is for this reason that even well-known celebs have become patrons. Belle and Sebastien’s album art for Dear Catastrophe Waitress was shot here, members of Franz Ferdinand stop by when they are not on tour, and Scarlett Johansson likes it so much she has been twice.

Whatever your reason, be sure to stop by for a cuppa when you are in Glasgow.

www.tchaiovna.com
42 Otago Lane
Glasgow
G12 8PB

Open 11am-11pm every day 

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Hanoi Bike Shop

Vietnamese food was vegan friendly before vegans were vegan. The streets of Hanoi are filled with vegetables and fresh produce that many of us here in Scotland have never heard of, let alone tasted. Plant-based food is everywhere in Vietnam and at the Hanoi Bike Shop they continue this tradition without ever sacrificing taste or flavour.

HeraldScotland:

The little restaurant is situation just off Byres Road in the West End. The twinkly lights, Vietnamese flags and vintage bikes will draw you down the lane but once you get through the door don’t be put by the smell, they swear it’s not ‘wet dog’ or ‘hamster cages’ as some TripAdvisor reviews would have you think. Fish sauce is a staple in Vietnamese cuisine and does leave a lasting impression on the senses. Although they use Tamari (a Gluten-free and vegetarian alternative to fish sauce) in all of their vegan dishes the fresh pho broths are always on the boil and help to give Hanoi its distinctive odour.

Hanoi Bike Shop chefs have created a vegan menu influenced by seasonal availability of local produce as well as the salty, sweet, sour and spicy balance of Vietnamese cuisine.

The star of course, is their organic handmade tofu, which is carefully, simmered, strained and pressed daily in house.

HeraldScotland:

Hanoi’s vegan menu consists of over twenty freshly prepared dishes ranging from Kimchi Spring Rolls and Daikon and Soya Bean Cakes to Chilli Glazed Sesame Rice Cakes and Curried Banana.

They implore all customers to adopt their dining motto ‘sharing is caring’ and go for the ‘Feed Me’ option. The passionate staff will listen to your likes and dislikes and design a bespoke banquet around you. Then you just sit back, relax and let the banquet begin.

www.hanoibikeshop.co.uk

Instagram www.instagram.com/hanoibikeshop/

Facebook www.facebook.com/TheHanoiBikeShop/

booking.resdiary.com/widget/Standard/HanoiBikeShop/14258?

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OM Sweet OM

OM Sweet OM is a vibrant haven, tucked behind Central Station in Oswald St, in the centre of Glasgow, committed to the art of sustainable happiness and conscious living. The charity is set up to promote well-being which will empower you to experience a higher taste in life thus satisfying your physical, emotional and spiritual needs.  

Inspired by the ancient Bhakti tradition of Vedic culture they integrate and unite the various yoga systems to form a lifestyle to benefit yourself, those around you, the planet and all of its varied inhabitants.

OM Sweet OM practice Ahimsa, the principle of non-violence, in their vegan dishes and lifestyle to increase compassion for all living beings and reduce harm to our environment. A plant-based diet is crucial for their individual wellbeing and that of the planet itself.

Most of their events feature vegan meals and all of the meals served in OM Sweet OM are lovingly prepared by the cooks at Krishna Eco Farm (www.facebook.com/krishnaecofarm/)  to a very high standard, often using produce fresh from the gardens. The most popular event is the Vegan All You Can Eat Feast where everyone is personally served a delicious thali-style meal until fully satisfied...and then dessert. They have a thriving programme providing free vegan food on the streets of Glasgow via the project Food for Scotland (www.facebook.com/food4scotland). This is aimed at homeless people and also promote plant-based diets. 

Just as the body needs nourishment by vegan superfood, they also offer yoga classes to maintain a good flow of healthy energy. They have classes to suit all levels of practitioners and even entry level by donation to encourage newcomers to try. Award-winning yoga teacher, Daniel Gronan, has several lively classes featuring vinyasa yoga and mantra movement.

For those wanting to dive deeper into philosophy, there are classes available to discover and discuss timeless yoga wisdom of India. The western giants of modern philosophy all take their roots from the Sanskrit teachings. Many psychologists and neurologists are realising the benefits of mantra sound vibrations on our well-being.

In conjunction with Krishna Eco Farm, retreats are available to immerse oneself in yoga, mindfulness and mantra meditation in the beautiful countryside of Lesmahagow, with wonderful vegan meals.

OM Sweet OM, Food for Scotland and Krishna Eco Farm are all projects of ISKCON Scotland, charity number SC001127.

www.omsweetom.co.uk
www.facebook.com/omsweetomglasgow
www.instagram.com/omsweetom.glasgow)

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Kalpna Indian Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurant

Open since 1975, Kalpna Indian Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurant stands as one of Edinburgh’s most established Institution. During this time, it has won several awards for excellence in Indian and vegan and vegetarian categories.

HeraldScotland:

In their dishes they use only the freshest ingredients, which, wherever possible has been sourced locally.

Kalpna have a new look but have kept many of the much loved favourites from their old menu and they have also introduced new dishes which reflect the contemporary style of cooking in India today, a style that embraces the concept of fresh, seasonal and exciting food.

They remain a family run restaurant serving high quality Indian vegan and vegetarian food to the people of Scotland for over a quarter of a century and many of their customers have been visiting the restaurant since their childhood. The restaurant is often referred to as an institution rather than a restaurant.

HeraldScotland:

The owner is passionate about a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle and the family is dedicated to introducing people to the pleasures of Indian vegetarian food. The chefs at Kalpna draw on their vast experience in Punjabi, Gujrati and South Indian delicacies.

www.kalpnarestaurant.com

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Picnic

Picnic was opened in late 2016 by Michelle Morrow, as a healthy and ethical alternative to the many other food outlets in the Merchant City area. With a 100 per cent cruelty free menu - yet appealing to vegans and nonvegans alike - Picnic quickly established itself as an extremely popular place for a fantastic, healthy breakfast, a delicious lunch or luscious slice of cake and a cup of coffee.

Picnic serves a wide range of freshly prepared, healthy vegan food, including delectable homemade waffles, salads, wraps, soup, curry, sandwiches, juices and some of the best smoothies in Glasgow.

At weekends and on public holidays, Picnic serve a phenomenal full cooked breakfast, which, although healthy, is every bit as satisfying as the traditional full Scottish. Definitely something to try, if you’re in the mood for some guilt-free, comfort food.

Open seven days a week, Picnic is known not only for fantastic food and beverages but also for its bright, cheery decor. This is all backed up by attentive, friendly and welcoming service. Everybody is welcome and you can even bring your dog along with you.

Naturally, Picnic has been a big hit with Glasgow’s rising number of vegans. However, you’ll also find many non-vegan regulars frequenting the cafe, all enjoying the terrific food and the friendly vibe. Picnic is very highly rated across all major online review platforms. It is currently the top-rated vegan eatery on Happy Cow (worldwide, the most trusted source of information about catering outlets for vegans and vegetarians) in Glasgow. Picnic is also ranked in the top 100 globally by the same website.

Going into its 3rd year - as Glasgow City Centre’s first 100 per cent vegan cafe - Picnic continues to set the standard for healthy and ethical food.

Be sure to pay Picnic a visit, next time you are in the Merchant City area.

www.picnic.co.uk
www.instagram.com/picnic.glasgow/
www.facebook.com/picnic.glasgow