Just last year Scotland – the land of game, whisky, castles and kilts – was rated as Rough Guides’ most beautiful country on Earth. But its iconic square sausages, black pudding and animal fur sporrans might mean that at first glance, it may not seem like the perfect destination for vegan or eco-conscious travellers.
However, you’ll be glad to know that if you plan to soak up the Caledonian atmosphere for a few weeks, you won’t struggle to source suitable food, clothing and wellness products. So, without haste, it’s time to jump on a plane and head to the Highlands. Or walk. Bloody carbon footprint. Whichever way you choose to travel, you can lessen your green guilt with these; our 5 IDEAL ways to have an ethical holiday in Scotland.
Finding an eco-friendly place to stay in Scotland is as easy as ah hoon, a dhà, a trì. Seeing as the Scottish countryside is so cherished and at its best, largely untouched, it makes perfect sense for the adjacent accommodation to also be low slung and low impact. That way, the lowest possible impact is made on the exquisite natural wonder of the country. We don’t think you can improve on the carbon neutral log cabins of Eagle Brae; simply stunning and guilt-free, too. If you want to get even more amongst the great outdoors, you could also consider glamping in the grounds of Dundas castle. And if you want to keep things green but fancy being in a more urban setting, then Glasgow’s Radisson Blu Hotel takes its sustainability very seriously; winning the Gold Award for Green Tourism in 2009.
GO ON A CONSERVATION HOLIDAY
If you want to travel responsibly, then you can’t beat a conservation holiday in the Scottish highlands. Indeed, giving back never felt so great. Conservation and rewilding weeks are available through Responsible Travel. The former involves five days of tree planting, fencing, removing non-native trees and collecting seed, in the name of preserving a natural environment for animals native to the highlands to thrive. Rewilding is based on restoration. And while you’ll certainly be getting your hands dirty, both offer plenty of wildlife watching opportunities, as well as the camaraderie and reward of teamwork.
EAT OUT SUSTAINABLY
Many Scottish cafes and restaurants offer vegetarian or vegan options, but whether you’ll be served a single lettuce leaf on a plate or a delicious salt baked celeriac with burnt apple and puffed grains is often hard to predict. Sometimes the effort afforded to the veggie side of things is minimal, other times it defines the restaurant. Best then, to do some research prior to making reservations.
There are plenty of dedicated vegan restaurants which serve food so superb that they even attract carnivorous guests in search of something healthy and nutritious. One of these is veg legend Hendersons of Edinburgh; a mini ethical empire which boasts a vegan restaurant on Thistle Street in the city centre and three other outlets dotted around town. You’ll find vegetarian and vegan wine and beer here as well as edibles. Glasgow’s Ox & Finch has a stellar reputation and a thoughtful, carefully composed vegetarian menu, while Aberdeen institution Bonobo cafe is another 100% vegan, 100% delicious option. What’s more, it’s a worker’s co-operative. Double win!
SHOP AT ETHICAL STORES
If you fancy picking up some ethical clothing while you’re enjoying Scottish hospitality, there are plenty of options to choose from. So with some prior planning and a little insider knowledge, it’s perfectly possible to survive in Scotland without relying on products that don’t chime well with your conscience.
Bolshie Clothing in Glasgow’s Bank Street is one of the best — offering delicious organic tea, cakes and coffee as well as eco-friendly shoes and Fair Trade outerwear. ‘Bolshie’ means feisty and combative in the local lingo, but don’t be tentative, staff are actually super-friendly and Glasgow has worked hard to earn its reputation as one of the most welcoming cities in the world.
If you need to source organic and natural health products in Scotland, rather than trawling around high street stores, order online from wellbeing superstore Kijani Living. With over 1500 bath and body, hair care, makeup and superfood products on offer, there’s more than enough to keep you stocked up until you return home.
DON’T MISS OUT ON ‘HAGGIS’
Haggis is Scotland’s national dish and this spicy savoury pudding might taste great, but the traditional recipe is fundamentally unsuitable for vegetarians or vegans. However, it’s possible to order a vegetarian haggis online from food specialists Macsween — it tastes sublime, so pack a few in your luggage in order to celebrate the annual Burns Night celebrations on 25th January in authentic style anywhere in the world, while satisfying your dietary requirements.
It’s also worth remembering that meat-based haggis is banned in some countries. The vegetarian option travels better, and as such is a great souvenir or unique gift for a loved one. And won’t get you in hot water with authorities; no one wants to end up with a criminal record because of haggis smuggling, after all.