The Royal Hotel, Bridge of Allan.

Yesterday I attended a retirement party in the Royal Hotel. Any organised set meals that I’ve ever attended have been a nightmare for anyone with ‘restricrd diets’. (I hate the term restricted diet, as my diet is anything but restricted). Nevertheless, I put my dietary requirments forward and went along hoping for the best.

It was a semi formal affair, and the theme was afternoon tea!

The starters began to roll out and to my shock, the soup was cheese and haggis! 🤣 Possibly the least vegan dish you could offer to a vegan! Despite the manager having had a meeting with the chef prior to the function, they did not have an alternative soup ready and waiting. So, I watched my friends and colleagues eating their soup.

Very promptly, my own wee vegan plate came from the kitchen. Despite no soup, the little platter was gorgeous.

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I enjoyed a small bowl of pickled salad and a wrap…to be honest I can’t with a hundred percent certainty tell you what was in the wrap, but it looked like artichoke, peppers an cucumber.

Mid way through my wraps a bowl of tomato and basil soup arrived, which was delicious.

Sadly though, they failed to supply even a single vegan cake. A gorgeous 5 teir tray of cakes were sat on the table, but…not a single offering for me. I do think this is a poor show, made worse by the fact there had been a meeting beforehand to discuss options, and despite this the chef made no attempt at a vegan sweet thing. It’s really not hard….and as it was a afternoon tea, I really feel a cake should have been standard. I also couldn’t partake in a tea or coffee as they only had cow’s milk. 😲

They did redeem themselves slightly by serving a sorbet…

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Overall I did enjoy the meal, but…I am forever shocked at how much chefs struggle with preparing vegan alternatives. It is as though their entire mindset is geared around meat and animal products!

For my afternoon tea experience…I’d give 5 out of 10. You can’t call something an afternoon tea without tea/coffee or a cake!

I’d eat there again….if they could come up with a sweet thing! 😉

Harmonium, Edinburgh.

Last night we decided we’d drive through to the burgh to try out the new vegan bar/restaurant Harmonium.

Harmonium can be found on Henderson Street in Leith. It’s a gorgeous wee building, kitted out very naturally with lots of wood! I believe it’s been open about 4 weeks, so very much still in its infancy!

We arrived at 6.20, which was 20 minutes after the kitchen opened. The place was pretty quiet with a few people sitting at the bar and a couple of tables worth of people eating. The staff were very friendly, but if I’m totally honest a little bit vague. We were walk ins, who hadn’t booked a table (in case anyone doesn’t get the ‘walk in’ terminology). The staff informed us they had nothing until 8.30pm, as they were expecting 8 people in approximately 5 minutes. Ok…fair enough…we hadn’t booked, it’s a chance you take. But…this is when it got a bit weird for me and they lost me.

They told us we could take a seat and have a drink whilst we waited and if something became available earlier we’d be taken. Great! Totally fair! But…then they sat us at a table, and told us we could eat at this table….they gave us menus…🤔 I’m not going to lie, I’m now lost. I assumed they were fully booked until 8.30? But…she then explains…they cannot take our order as the kitchen will be busy when the 8 people arrive, in about 5 mins, so they can’t take our order until the kitchen serves the 8 people and it gets quieter! 😲

That made no sense to me, as they had a table…and kitchen staff and we were there…ready to order…and the 8 people weren’t anywhere to be seen yet!

Thankfully, they spoke to the chef who clearly seen the madness in this idea too and agreed to make the food if we ordered. So, we did so…without haste!

Liz went for the fillet-o-tofish, with added vegan cheese and chips and I opted for the tofu katsu curry with brown rice! Mini me didn’t fancy anything really, so she ordered some chips and orange juice only.

I was well impressed with the alcohol free beer and my other half really enjoyed her red wine. Sadly, she cut her lip on a chipped wine glass, but they replaced the glass and gave her a fresh serving of wine, so all well that ends well. 👍

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Let’s get to the food….

The tofish was absolutely gorgeous. Tasty AF! The batter was to absolutely die for and the bun was lovely and soft. Sadly, the chips were freezing, but again…they sorted that out without any bother!

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The katsu is what I actually drove through for, so I was extra happy it was on the menu. It did not disappoint!

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The sauce was exquisite! I loved it, not too spicy but super aromatic. The breadcrumb coating on the tofu was lovely and although not extra firm, the tofu itself was lush. I’m a tofu addict though, and would eat it in any form!

My only criticism is that the portion sizes are small. The chips are sparse on the side and even the separate portions are very small…about 1/3 the size of a Mono portion. The rice was kind of congealed and there was hardly any at all, no where near enough to soak up the sauce. And…the meal was served just warm, a long way off hot! That didn’t bother me last night, as we were starving…but I may have sent it back on another occasion.

The service is a bit sporadic, they forgot our daughter’s chips and took ages to get us mayo, etc. But…they are just open and probably getting to grips with full service on busy nights etc. I’m sure it’ll come together! Oddly enough, quirky service seems to be the norm in vegan establishments….that and short troosers! 😂 (you’ll be looking for that now).

We didn’t manage a dessert as they’d ran out of chocolate cheesecake (which is odd considering the kitchen had only been open an hour when we were ordering dessert). The sweet selection isn’t up to much, but hopefully they’ll work on this. High street chains have more impressive vegan treats, but give the place time…it’s only 4 weeks old and the main menu is extensive already!

Despite the wee niggles, we had a gorgeous meal and we would definitely go back!

I’d give harmonium a firm 7 out of 10 right now….which I’m sure will improve with time.

They need some music too. I can’t recall hearing anything!

Overall, big thumbs up to a vegan restaurant in auld reekie. They’ve got a long way to go until they’re as pro vegan as Glasgow, so this is a welcome addition to the city I’m sure we all agree!

Sleep is for the weak!

Today was supposed to be my ‘sleep day’ following a run of nights. Sadly for me I had to collect blinds from Glasgow, so I could only sleep for two hours!!! 😲

Plus side is….we went to Mono for our lunch. I really like Mono!! The atmosphere is lovely…the staff are super quirky and friendly…and the music is always good!!

The service is sloooooowwwww….as in you need to put aside a good three hours for a ‘quick snack’ but as long as you’re equipped with this knowledge you’ll be fine.

Today the theme was sharing. We had the platter…..💖

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The pickled veg is bliss!!!

And followed this up with the raw avocado and chocolate cheesecake to share and an oatly cappuccino (we had a coffee each…wwll, B stole mine!).

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My friend pointed out that the puree looks like a skid mark and now I can’t unsee it!! 😂😂😂

The huge bonus to Mono is location. Ideally situated for a wee walk to Glasgow Green…which is what we did. Baby B played for a while before we found ourself caught in a storm of biblical proportion.

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Trying to shelter!

Despite this severe soaking, we had fun! It’s always fun to be with the people I love the most.

Tonight I was craving vegan junk food, so vegan junk I had.

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Pasta with garlic, chilli & olive oil. My comfort food.

It’s now bedtime. Oh…and the blinds were worth getting up for.

G’night! 🤘

Ask Italian.

We went out for dinner tonight, mainly because I’m shattered and could not be bothered to cook….or do a shop to facilitate cooking. We decided to try Ask…as Liz had read they had a vegan menu.

They weren’t lying…the definitely have a decent vegan menu…

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They even had a FULL KID’S VEGAN menu! Now THAT is unheard of!!

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Because despite what most food establishments believe….kids can be vegan too!

The menu made me laugh in parts….for example: vegan plum tomatoes and vegan broccoli. Is there really any need for the word vegan before a bloody plum tomato or bit of broccoli. Surely these things are vegan by default….is there any other non vegan tomato or broccoli?? 🤣

Anyway, despite this we are overjoyed to be seeing more vegan options appearing in chain restaurants.

For starters we ordered the dough balls and bruschetta. By the way….we have a taste card so everything we had was two for one…

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Bette has the vegan cucumber and vegan carrot 🤣🤣 and bread sticks. It was served with a side of tomato sauce…not some fancy chef sauce…no, Just Heinz tomato sauce. That was a bit of a fail for me, but it IS vegan!

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For mains we all had the same. A vegan pizza, with olives and caramelized onions with mushroom. They were lovely pizzas. My ONLY criticism is that it could have done with more vegan cheese. It was definitely lacking in creamy cheese….

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For dessert Liz and I opted for the chocolate and blood orange torte….OH MY GOOD GOD!

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This truly was delicious. The orange was amazing and the chocolate was so rich and creamy! The base was to die for…and the sorbet was delish! Ten out of ten for the pudding.

Overall it was a gorgeous meal…the service was very disjointed and slower than a week in the jail towards the end. But this was down to poor management rather than a lack of effort. To us it appeared that one waiter was serving the entire floor…as well as preparing the sweets behind the scenes. Too much for one poor guy…no wonder he only weighed 2 stone wet through!

I’d give Ask 9/10 for their menu. They’ve tried…and they’re doing more than many places.

Thanks for a lovely meal Ask!

The Tudor, Ayr.

Tonight we invited ourselves to a family meal. We obviously had to go to the restaurant they picked, so really weren’t very hopeful of a decent vegan meal.

We called the restaurant prior to going to enquire about any vegan choices they may have. Sadly, for us…they had NO VEGAN OPTIONS on the menu!

However, all was not lost…because the staff were super friendly and were more than happy to alter dishes to make them vegan.

After a brief chat with our waitress we agreed on vegetable tempura with chilli sauce as our starter. It was absolutely gorgeous….big chunks of broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and pepper rings. It wasn’t at all greasy and tasted really fresh, with lovely crunchy veg. I forgot to take a picture as I was too busy laughing and yapping with my uncles.

For the main we established that the vegetarian fajitas could be veganised if we left off the sour cream and cheeses. We added extra guacamole and took our own coconut cream (as you do!) to use as sour cream.

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Gorgeous crunchy vegetables in a sticky hoi sin like sauce.

The fajitas were absolutely gorgeous. They had peppers, onions, mushrooms, broccoli and potatoes. Never would I have thought to include tatties in fajitas, but they REALLY worked!

Overall, considering the Tudor didn’t have a single vegan option on their menu, I’d give them 10/10 for our delicious meal!

I’d suggest they don’t sell themselves short and add a little sentence to their menu saying dish X, Y and Z can be veganised. Because, they pulled it out the bag tonight.

No puddings for us, as you’d expect, but that’s a tiny little criticism of an overall lovely meal.

Thanks for being so helpful and going to the effort of making a dish, or two, for us. We greatly appreciate it.

✌

Some people are so poor all they have is money…

Nobody said it was cheap being a vegan. We don’t eat processed food (as a general rule), we use fresh plant based ingredients for every meal. Our shopping usually consists of 80% fruit and vegetables, 10% grains/pasta etc and 10% other items (coffee, sauces, etc). Today….we went equipped with a VERY detailed list and we came home with £105 worth of delicious vegan goodies.

In fairness, this haul will last us for 10-12 days. So it’s not a huge amount per day, but I did watch people go through the checkout with trolleys packed with frozen, processed rubbish; loads of animal proteins/products; alcohol and their trolley came to less than ours!

There is something fundamentally wrong with this! It should not be cheaper to buy rubbish and flesh of a being, than it is to buy plant based fresh food.

I’m forever impressed with Aldi. As well as having fab veg at fab prices, it has now started doing some powders and supplements to add into your diet. I normally buy all of these things from Holland and Barrett, but decided I’d give these a go. They were super cheap, so I’ll use them in my smoothies and let you all know how the fair with their extortionate counterparts.

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Dinner tonight was a new dish for me. I decided to try a West African Peanut ‘soup’.

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Very few ingredients required.

This recipe was super easy to follow. You literally just throw everything into the stock and let it cook down. (I’ll post a separate recipe later, for those interested).

The end result was DELICIOUS!

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West African Peanut ‘soup’ with kale and sweet potatoes. Served with bulgar wheat and roasted cauliflower.

I’d say this has shot to the top of my favourite meals list. It’s actually heaven in a bowl!!! And to think people actually believe vegans have a boring diet and struggle to eat ‘anything’. Pffftttt!! 🤣

Before we left today we had a real lunch of champions. I skipped breakfast, which is rare, but made up for it with an extra half of bagel.

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Bagel with houmous, avocado, tomato and seeds. 💗

Liz is in to marmite in a HUGE way right now, so she swapped the houmous for vegan cream cheese and the seeds for marmite.

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Marmite, do you love it or hate it?

Plan for tonight is to relax (perhaps enjoy a wee coconut cappuccino and some alpro chocolate over fruit later) and watch a movie.

We have been trying to watch more movies recently. If you haven’t seen ‘I, Daniel Blake…’ I urge you all to watch it before you go down to cast your vote. It really is an emotive and informative movie, about the reality of our benefits system. Referring to state assistance as ‘benefits’ is absurd. They make it sound like a luxury, like you’re really hitting the big-time if you’re lucky enough to be in receipt of it. 🤣

Hope you’ve had a good day, whatever you’ve been up to. ✌

Meal planning…Lists and Food Shop Prep. ðŸ¤—

The time has come to do the ‘big shop’ again. This time comes around twice a month….the rest of the time I just pop in for a ‘couple of things’, several times a week, and spend forty quid a pop! 🤣

I’ve always been very particular about the food shop. I love a list….or 4!

Rules of the process…

  1. Everyone involved in the process must eat prior to commencement of the list making.
  2. Only I can write on the lists.
  3. Items must be listed in store running orders.
  4. We discuss the options for meals before I make all decisions! 😉
  5. I must retain the written list on my person at ALL times following its completion.
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Can’t beat a list….

So, before we started I whipped us up a quick pasta dish. Our vegan comfort food is definitely avocado pasta…with some olive oil garlic ciabatta.

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I have very little to say today. I’ve been working…I’m starving and I’m tired.

I did find out something very interesting over the weekend though.

Are you all familiar with the new polymer bank notes?

Did you know that these notes are not suitable for vegans as they contain an animal fat known as tallow?

The good news is….

Scotland have confirmed that all their polymer bank notes are now suitable for vegans and vegetarians as they are not using tallow.

England have not made this commitment and as such you should know that your notes issued by an English bank will still not be vegan.

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Why they need animal products in notes is beyond me. It seems we just like stuffing death and suffering into everything we possibly can . But…it’s good news that Scotland have recognised the use of tallow is not ethical and as such made a change. It shows….being vocal pays off!

Let’s continue to be the change!

From now on….any English polymer notes I get will be returned straight to the store/bank, but I’ll happily accept and use Scottish issued notes.

On a separate issue. Anyone who knows us will know the tale of our little dog, Davey.

Davey was given to us as a puppy because he had a very serious genetic heart condition, he wasn’t really expected to have much of a life. Despite this poor prognosis, Davey the wonder dog has continued to defy all odds and is going strong 8.5 years later. He had a grade 6 heart murmur, is blind and suffers anxiety as a result. He goes everywhere with us and cannot cope without us being with him.

He has recently had an accident (common in blind dogs) which has caused a corneal abrasion. As he was ill from birth, he’s never been eligible for insurance. So, we’ve been paying for all this treatment without help from insurers. As it stands his eye has some vessels and we’re continuing on with medical treatment (anaesthetic is SOOOOOO risky), but he’s already cost in excess of 4 figures in treatments and we’re far from over.

We set up a crowdfund page in the hopes we may get some assistance with the cost of his treatment . It’s due to end in a few days and we’ve done well…but I thought I’d use my blog for one last push. I set the target at £300 and we’re nearly there, but as I said…his treatment has already far exceeded this total.

If you can donate, even a pound, it would be greatly appreciated. If you can’t, please include Davey in your thoughts and prayers. 🙌

If you can help…please pop over to his page and donate.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Daveydug?utm_id=100&utm_term=BkbawDB38

If you can’t….like I say….send some positive energy his way. He’ll appreciate it!

From all of us here….

Peace, Love and Laughter! ✌🤣💗

Glasgow Vegan Festival.

Today was the day for the long awaited Glasgow Vegan Festival. The event was on from 11am Saturday until 5pm Sunday (not 24 hours, you understand, it did close at 5pm each night). We’ve had this date in our dairy for quite a while .

It was held in the Trades Hall on Glassford Street and entry cost £3 on the door.

The building is absolutely gorgeous and it was wel laid out, considering. However, to say it was roasting was an understatement. I felt like I was perusing stalls on the surface of the sun! There wasn’t a breath of air in the place to begin with, then when you add hundreds of vegans into the mix…it all gets a bit unbearable! I was a wee bit crabbit, if I’m being 100% truthful.

Nice touches….

Once you paid in at the door there was a wee table selling Vegan Life and Cook Vegan magazines for £1.50, instead of the usual £4.99. This, I liked!!

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If I’m totally truthful, I wasn’t super impressed with the festival. I am ALWAYS happy when veganism is promoted and celebrated/enjoyed by the masses, but I just didn’t feel there was very much to see.

I was at the Edinburgh festival recently and the quality and quantity of stalls far outweighed the Glasgow selection.

There was one and a half rooms of stalls…perhaps 20 in total. The food was kept separate, which was definitely for the best as that room was like the bowels of hell in terms of heat.

They had the usual merchandise stalls, the lovely Alternative Grocery Store guy with all his wares, and some fox hunting/fracking subscription stalls.

To be honest, I couldn’t concentrate on browsing too much as I was roasting and it was BUSY!

Upstairs, and I mean UP STAIRS!!!!…there were talks and demos…and childrens yoga with Lindsay, which our little Bettelicious thoroughly enjoyed (for an hour).

I was keen to buy a theVEGANkind box, but they were totally sold out. 😭

Downstairs was the epicentre of the festival…the food area. Sadly, for us…most of the stalls were already sold out (we arrived at midday, so not late) and as a result EVERYONE seemed to be flocking towards one stall. This is where my experience became really enjoyable….food, of course.

After a VERY long wait, we got to the front of the queue. Sadly, they had sold out of rolls….at this point I really did want to throw myself on the floor and take a tantrum. But…there wasn’t enough floor space and I think it would have been judged quite harshly. So, instead…I ordered it with the bread instead!

I had an ‘egg’ and ‘bacon’ sandwich, with mayonnaise.

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This picture does not do it justice. Head to my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TheProgressiveVegan/) for a video of the gooey ‘yolk’ running out it. 💗

This sandwich was amazing. I would have preferred the pretzel roll, but it was gorgeous on the bread too.

Liz got a ‘steak’ and cheese roll, again…without the roll.

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There was no facility for cold water/juice, so we took leave after the food was placed into our sweaty hands and headed outside to eat it on the pavement of Glassford Street, like a hobo! Happy hobos!

On a side note….do not ever buy this chocolate. It’s awful. It peels itself out the packet and jumps into your mouth….even when you don’t want it.

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Vega. The chocolate of the vegan Gods! 💗

I was hoping to pick up amazing vegan pies….vegan meat and chocolate…but sadly they had all sold out. So, overall not a very productive trip for me.

That being said. I enjoyed it. And I ate well….even if just for one meal! ✌

The Lotus.

I haven’t done a review in a while, mainly because I haven’t had time to galavant around the place trying out new food places.

However, as we were travelling through Glasgow around dinner time tonight (that’s 7ish to us) we decided to try the Lotus vegetarian (although in fairness it’s all vegan except 3 dishes) Chinese restaurant.

The Lotus Vegetarian Cuisine Limited, to give it its official name, can be found on Bridge Street in Glasgow. There is handy parking right outside, if you go after 6pm, and a wee pay and display a stone’s throw away if you visit during the day.

Inside the restaurant is pretty modest. It’s absolutely spotless and the staff are perhaps the friendliest I have ever encountered.

I usually take a picture of the menu, but to be honest I was too excited by the vast choice that I forgot entirely. Let’s just say there is at least four pages of vegan yumminess for you to peruse!

They also make it abundantly clear that NOTHING is too much bother. Everything is made fresh, to order and they’re happy to alter dishes or make up whatever you want.

For us, the most exciting part was the vegan ‘prawn crackers’. I haven’t been able to enjoy a prawn cracker for well over a decade…and tonight…I thought I was going to die and go to heaven! I know…I know…calm down, it’s only a prawn cracker. But…to me, it was a big deal!

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💗

With so much choice we took a while to decide what we were having, but we eventually opted for vegan prawn toast and deep fried dumplings for starters.

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You get 4 bits, but Liz stole a piece off the plate before I took the photo.

The prawn toast was gorgeous. Have no idea what it was filled with, but it was pink and fishy and the texture was right. It was a really gorgeous dish.

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Little pockets of salty, crispy gorgeousness.

Again, I dont know what these were filled with but I’d guess tofu and veggies. Regardless, they were perfect! The dipping sauce was also lush!

For the main I ordered Szechuan tofu and fried rice. This dish was absolutely amazing. It tasted so fresh and vibrant. It was medium spiced and the tofu itself was exquisite. Soft and creamy but packed full of flavour.

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Szechuan tofu.

Liz had….wait for it…sweet and sour ‘chicken balls’ with boiled rice.

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Delicious little crispy balls! (Don’t pervert the innocence of a food blog!)

These truly were amazing. I again, have no idea what the balls were actually made of. They didn’t taste of quorn or anything, so perhaps a soya protein they make themselves into balls? Regardless, the sauce was THE BEST I’ve tasted, and the texture of the chicken balls took me back to my omni days. For me, this dish was LOVE!

Bette had a love affair with the boiled rice, she ate loads and stated “this is the most good restaurant I’ve ever been to”. That’s straight from a four year old’s mouth. She thought her food was so good it made her want to cry! 😂  So really, everything I’ve said is totally unnecessary! 👍

Bette enjoyed a BIG bowl of vegan chocolate ice cream before we settled the bill.

If you’re going here you should know, they don’t serve alcohol…or meat, of course. The portion sizes are massive (but shamefully we ate nearly everything). Everything is cooked to order (and MSG free), so its not fast food. We sat down at 8.15pm and didn’t leave until 10pm. We waited a while between starter and main meal, a little bit longer than I’d have liked, but as soon as the food arrived I totally forgot about the wait. You become immersed in the flavours of the dishes and the waiting time seems like a distant memory. I’d do it all over again, rather similar to childbirth! 😉 Finally, the price is super reasonable…so you won’t need to remortgage your house for a meal here!

I’d give this little gem of a place a solid 10 out of 10!

A lovely experience from start to finish! We will definitely be back.

Thanks Lotus…for making vegan dining an absolute pleasure!! 💓

Some hae meat and cannae eat….and some wad eat that want it…but I don’t want meat and I cannae fucking eat….in my packed lunch I’m thankit!

Why, when there is such an amazing selection of plant based foods out there, can you not get anything when you’re trying to grab and go?? Is it so hard to imagine putting rice and avocado without a big lump of chicken on top? Or pasta with tomato and nae cheese?

It’s torture!!! Overall I’m usually pretty successful with my grab and go days, but today was dire!

Behold….Waitrose’s lunch selection….

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All of that food and they can’t provide one vegan option??? Have the never heard of houmous or falafel??

Eventually, after reading the fine print of everything I found a wee packet of veggie sushi that was accidentally vegan! Woooooohooooo!!!

Vegan food is in no way hard to make.

For example…you could fire some vegan cream cheese on a bit of toast with avocado, tomato and marmite as I’ve done below. Cheap, easy and bloody tasty.

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Or….a vegan burrito. Loaded with avocado, black beans and rice.

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Got this from a wee place in silverburn.

And if you’ve got more time…

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Orzo pasta in a butternut squash sauce with kale and onions.

I’ve also discovered some amazing vegan pate. It’s really really tasty. I’d say it’s more like the cheap meat spreads, but it’s amazing.

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My point is….if manufacturers thought a bit more about ingredients, they’d be able to make easy vegan choices.

Thankfully M&S and Starbucks got it right for me this weekend. So it’s not all bad.

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A Buddha bowl and juice. Plus, a bar of amazing chocolate (which wasn’t for me btw…it was for us all at home)

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Starbucks got it right too!

I always make my own lunch, but this weekend was madness and I didn’t manage it.

Lesson – don’t rely on food outlets for lunch on the go, always make your own!

✌