It seems to get earlier every year, but last Friday saw the annual Edinburgh’s Christmas celebrations kick off once again, marking six weeks of celebration and festive cheer in the Capital. With charming markets, tempting street food and thrilling fairground rides, it’s a great opportunity to meet up and get merry with family, friends and colleagues. But you want to know that you’re not going to go hungry – right?
Don’t worry, friends, I’ve got your back. I recently went on a wee factfinding mission to uncover what vegan treats are on offer at this year’s festivities – so read on to discover the good, the bad and the ugly of the vegan offering at Edinburgh’s Christmas.
Vegan pretzels at Kassler
Enter Edinburgh’s Christmas on the Mound from Princes Street, to the left-hand side of the Royal Scottish Academy, and in front you will see a big German-style stall selling street food. Don’t worry – it’s not all pork sausages and cheese. They have a small range of pretzels which are made from a dairy-free dough, making them suitable for vegans. At £3 they’re hardly cheap, but they are a decent size and it’s worth it to enjoy and soak in the Christmas spirit.
Swing a left towards East Princes Street Gardens and you’ll find more street food carts and stalls. Right up in the corner, almost behind the big wheel, there is a stall specialising in roast salmon. I asked if they had vegan options and they told me they had a vegetable soup. Imagining a nice rich broth, I decided to give it a try.
What I got was a grim polystyrene bowl of watery stock with some bits of vegetables floating in it. It’s £4 for this little mug of lukewarm misery, but save your cash – it’s better spent elsewhere.
Don’t worry, dear reader. It’s not all doom and gloom. Just across from the salmon stall you’ll find a nice wee place offering galettes. Similar to crêpes in look and texture, galettes are made from buckwheat flour, carbonated water and soy milk. Technically these wee beauties are gluten-free too, but they do use the same griddle for their crêpes so be wary of cross-contamination.
These galettes can come with a range of sweet and savoury toppings, including fried mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, fresh strawberries, banana, cinnamon, flaked almonds, sugar, maple syrup and dark chocolate sauce (the ingredients of which are vegan, but it does come with a standard “may contain traces” warning).
The kind people at this stall rustled up a glorious chocolate strawberry beauty for me, and I can confirm it tastes as good as it looks.
You’ll also find galette stalls down towards Santa Land and on Castle Street.
Mimi’s Cake Cabin
Head around the big wheel towards the Star Flyer and you’ll come into a lovely area full of local business stalls worthy of your support. Mimi’s Bakehouse is a firm favourite with most Edinburgh locals and it’s great to see that they have started catering for vegans too. Stop by here for a comforting mug of vegan hot chocolate or a vegan cupcake!
Curry at Babu
Just around the corner from Mimi’s you’ll find Babu street food. They have a great wee selection of curries and savoury snacks that are clearly marked as suitable for vegans. Choose from their chana curry box, tattie pattie “naan-wich” or roti wrap.
Chip on a Stick
Finally, head down towards Santa Land and you’ll spot a large stall that specialises in everything fried potato, from chips to twirly potatoes on a stick. Seen as these are fried in vegetable oil, they are suitable for vegans. The piri piri and salt & vinegar seasonings are good for vegans too.
There are some hits and misses at the Edinburgh’s Christmas 2017 celebrations, but overall I think it is a vast improvement on last year, with more choice than ever before. Hopefully as more of the stall and event organisers realise the demand for vegan food, the selection will only get bigger with time.
Who knows – maybe next year we’ll get a vegan bratwurst option? One can dream.