It’s a pity that PETA uses casual sexism, objectification of women, and even jokes about domestic violence and serious bodily harm to promote animal rights, because it is still one of the biggest and most visible organisations in the world concerned with the promotion of an animal-free lifestyle. This month it announced Glasgow as the Most Vegan-Friendly City in the UK, which was also noticed by The Guardian.
HI! happened to be visiting Glasgow that same week, and so had a chance to check out some of the animal-free offerings…
THE 13TH NOTE: 50-60 King Street, G1 5QT
A very light and spacious place, which doubles as a venue at night – there’s some pool tables in the back, but they don’t crowd the restaurant space in the daytime. The menu offers some snacks, soup, salads, meze, curry, moussaka, falafel/veggie/spicy burgers – and only two dishes seem to contain cheese, though the labelling could definitely be clearer. Clearly marked vegan desserts include ice-cream.
There is an extensive list of burger toppings (hash browns, hummus, fried onions, mushrooms) but again, it is not clear if the cheese or bacon or mayonnaise listed are vegan or not. The spicy burger is very tasty though, and served with a side of leaf salad and delicious slaw, excellent rosemary salt chips and an impressive selection of condiments. It is also very filling. Unfortunately the sweet potato fritters are way too oily and don’t hold their shape or texture. The drinks menu has a very good selection of vegan beers and wines, and one of the seasonal cocktails can be made vegan.The scribblings on the toilet walls suggest an interesting clientele;
‘Knowledge is Power’, ‘By and large, happiness is a choice’, and a heated discussion about Scottish independence.
22-28 Renfield Lane, G2 6PH
Stereo also hosts more cultural attractions than just food, and is 100% vegan. Excitingly, it also serves a vegan version of the Scottish specialty: haggis. It tastes delicious on their thin, crispy pizza, served with a side of slaw and well-dressed leaf salad.
There is also a good selection of tapas, including stuffed vine leaves in tahini dressing (tested – good!), veg tempura, falafel, haggis fritters, as well as soups, sandwiches (with such exotic ingredients as tempeh rashers and grilled jackfruit) and Mexican dishes – the nachos are probably not worth it as a main dish, but the quesadillas with refried beans, fantastically done aubergine, vegan cheese and sour cream are a highlight. The burger comes in a pita pocket, which is a good option if you want something lighter. Desserts are announced on the board depending on availability – Monday night is good for a deal on tapas, but at 5.30pm there is still no sweet option if you just wanted to pop in for a slice of cake.
Still, the place is crowded on the weekend as well as weekdays and has a very pleasant atmosphere. The same people own the small independent arts centre and bar The Old Hairdresser’s on the opposite side of the tiny Renfield Lane and you can also order Stereo’s food there. There’s also a very nice selection of vegan beers, ales, and ciders.
All bread is baked on the spot and gluten free options are clearly marked.
THE BUNGO BAR AND KITCHEN
17-21 Nithsdale Road, G41 2AL
One of the few restaurants located in the South of the city, in the Strathbungo neighbourhood. It offers an impressive range of vegan options for a place that is not animal-free as a rule. The locale is very tasteful and chic, and fairly busy at lunchtime, even on a weekday.
The staff are extremely nice and knowledgeable and go an extra mile in making sure all of your order is made vegan – we get our haggis and chickpea burger without a bun, because there was a doubt about a supplier using milk powder in them. The supplier was no longer used by the restaurant, but as they could not be 100% sure the stock was not still from them, they choose to err on the side of caution. It is not a frequent occurrence for a restaurant to admit to a doubt and go through the process of explaining it to the customer so transparently.
The burger is substantial enough even without a bun, and the haggis and chickpea combination tasty, though not exactly holding the burger form and texture. Their chips must be fried in the same rosemary salt that The 13th Note use, though just a tiny bit more greasy, and come with a smaller side salad. Other ‘can be made vegan’ options include gnocchi, mezze, red onion fritters, soup, falafel, courgette shwarma, and a whole vegan breakfast, served till 4pm daily, with vegan haggis sausages, potato scones, grilled tomato, mushrooms, beans, and toast. Unfortunately none of the desserts are available as vegan and the drinks menu lacked labelling, but the staff are able to easily identify a number of vegan as well as local brews such as St Mungos.
THE 78 BAR
10-14 Kelvinhaugh Street, G3 8NU
With only one non-vegan beer on the extensive drinks menu it’s definitely a place to visit regardless of hour, even if it’s just for a shandy (get it with Williams Bros Draught). The food menu is 100% vegan and there are lots of fresh options on the regularly updated boards, including full breakfast, snacks such as the world’s biggest beer-battered onion rings, soup, spring rolls, samosas, a wide selection of wraps and salads, and at least two different burgers (the classic 78, mushroom, falafel, etc).
The mushroom burger, topped with jalapeños and accompanied by either chips cut in wide half-moons or the pea and mint soup of the day is delicious, although again its texture makes it a bit of a challenge to eat gracefully. Unfortunately The 78 are also out of marinated tempeh which we were keen to try as an additional topping. The burger was packed with enough stuff though, lots of lettuce, huge slice of tomato and pickle, some delicious marinated cabbage, and served with a great slaw/salad and vegan condiments including mayo. The portions are quite big, so desserts are a challenge to manage, but sound so good they might be worth a separate visit: several ice-cream flavours and two types of cake.
So, if you’re hanging out in Scotland’s most glamorous city and fancy some vegan-friendly dining, now you know where to go. And don’t forget if you are stuck in Glasgow, to go and see resident music-lover, our very own Kirsty Gillespie. Och aye!