Our Favourite Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Edinburgh
Just because you've decided to help the world at large (and help yourself) by foregoing the temptations of meat and dairy, that doesn't mean your nights out should be any less enjoyable. Mercifully, in today’s more conscious and responsible world, the vegetarian option no longer means a choice between a casually tossed together salad or a boilerplate burger with the beef patty swapped out for a sad portobello mushroom.
More people than ever before are ditching the meat to follow the veggie and vegan lifestyle, even if only for a few days a week. With all those extra veggie warriors on the street, more veggie options have sprung up to meet the growing demand with vegetarian and vegan restaurants now a common fixture on most major city streets. Edinburgh, as Scotland's cultural cornerstone, is no exception.
From decadent vegan cheese and juicy jackfruit burgers to vegetarian tacos and even veggie haggis (you heard us right), the vibrant and varied meat-free menus at the restaurants below should give both switched-on tourists and Edinburgh's local veggies and vegans enough to sink their teeth into for months to come.
Holy Cow (34 Elder Street, EH1 3DX)
Don't let the name fool you. This Edinburgh staple is a 100% vegan establishment set in an airy converted basement in a beautiful listed building right by the central bus station. One of the more unique vegan restaurants in Edinburgh, the Holy Cow doesn't serve up cows; it venerates them! Located in the heart of the city, just across from The National Portrait Gallery, the vegan burgers are the real draw, but Holy Cow also serves colourful sandwiches and salads as well as the more typical and comforting soups, coffees and cakes.
Ransacked Black Ovens (27-29 Marshall Street, EH8 9BJ)
Inspired by a deep love of Persian street food, Ransacked Black Ovens is named for the wood-burning oven that cooks all of the restaurants colourful cuisine and gives it that distinct, rustic flavour. Located in the midst of the city's bustling university district, Ransacked Black Ovens might not be an exclusively vegetarian or vegan restaurant, but there are enough meat-free (and gluten-free) options on the menu to keep fans of exotic and authentic middle-eastern food sated. The wood-fired sourdough flatbread is worth the pilgrimage in and of itself.
Herbivore Kitchen (65 Clerk Street, EH8 9JQ)
Comfortably one of the most popular vegetarian restaurants in Edinburgh, the Herbivore Kitchen typifies the bohemian atmosphere of the Newington area. Their Sunday vegan roasts have fast become the stuff of local legend and the extended menu is deliciously inventive. The restaurant started life as a vegan bakery that was expanded by founder Alison to become an artisanal wonderland. Wraps, rolls, pancakes, sweet treats and more; if it's not meat or dairy, you're covered.
Beetroot Sauvage (33 - 41 Ratcliffe Terrace, EH9 1SX)
So much more than simply a dining destination, Beetroot Sauvage sells itself as a plant-based café and fully-fledged wellness centre. A sanctuary for vegans from all walks of life, the kitchen serves a daily menu that is equal parts indulgent and healthy, with everything from cakes and stews to succulent mac and vegan cheese. Upstairs, meanwhile, you'll find a truly nurturing space that plays host to numerous healing classes and therapies. A holistic paradise situated in Newington on the fringes of Old Town, Beetroot Sauvage is a home away from home for the city's vegan community.
Henderson’s (25 Thistle Street, EH2 1DX)
The first fully vegan restaurant to open in Edinburgh (it went fully vegan back in 2015), Henderson's prides itself on its local produce and its inventive desserts. Legitimate vegan comfort food in a convenient location on the thriving cobbled Thistle Street, Henderson's offers a light and colourful experience where everything (from the beer to the ice cream) is 100% certified vegan. First established in 1968, the restaurant also boasts more than 40 years of history, which makes it unique amongst Edinburgh's vegetarian and vegan restaurants.
Illegal Jacks (44-45 St Patrick Square, EH8 9ET)
Whilst you might understandably baulk at the idea of vegetarian food at a 'tex mex' restaurant (given the cuisine's notoriously carnivorous nature), Illegal Jacks is as famous for its vegetarian options as it is its fully stuffed burritos. The two-time winner of Observer Food Monthly's “best cheap eats in Scotland” award, Illegal Jacks is one of the favourite student hangouts in the University district and provides a perfect meeting place for veggies, vegans and meat-eaters alike.
The Baked Potato Shop (56 Cockburn St, EH1 1PB)
Famous for its cheap and cheerful nature and the vegetarian haggis (which is so much more appetising than the real thing), The Baked Potato Shop serves up far more than just its namesake. Of course, you can find baked potatoes with a bevvy of toppings, but this vegetarian takeout favourite also keeps the city's Old Town vegans in cakes, salads and chilli.
Loudons (94b Fountainbridge, EH3 9QA)
Famous for years as the providers of the best breakfast in Edinburgh, Loudons now caters to vegans, with a range of tasty meat and dairy-free options. You can even ask to modify the vegetarian options on the menu so they are fully vegan. Remember to turn up early though, as it's not uncommon to see a large queue running down Fountainbridge on a Sunday morning. Simple. Tranquil. Elegant. Classic.
Vegans and vegetarians alike have been notoriously poorly-served by major restaurant chains, but the independent eateries have rallied together to pick up the slack. When it comes to independent dining, Edinburgh is one of the UK's most wealthy destinations. So, it makes perfect sense that the city would also provide those individuals socially and morally conscious enough to give up meat and dairy with not only enough tasty options to reinforce their decision, but hopefully convert a few carnivores too.
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