The Big Vegan Fete is a monthly event where a rotating roster of Glasgow’s best plant-based food & drink come together in the chill setting of the The Flying Duck; an underground gem of the city’s vegan culture, with quaintly mismatched chairs and tables, posters plastered on the walls, relatable bathroom graffiti, and an enticing gig lineup in the designated music area. On this particular Saturday afternoon the quirky bar is buzzing with folks enjoying a showcase of vegan sweets and treats from the likes of Cool Jerk Vegan Pies, Missy’s Vegan Cupcakes, The Wild Witchery and Vegan Tablet, alongside reps from various environmental organizations and animal charities. One of the highlights for this reporter was petting the few greyhounds milling about, which, if you’re the kind of person who exclaims ‘dog!’ every time you see one, is a big selling point for any event; a close runner-up was the dairy-egg-and-gluten-free gin cupcake I sampled from Red Rosa’s Specialist Cakery’s stall.
If you’re a vegan, it’s something of a relief that places like the Flying Duck exist. If we’re being honest, being a vegan and dining out isn’t hard – 9 times out of 10, there’s something you’re going to be able to eat at whatever food truck or burger emporium your friends decide to stop at. But when you’re used to having to do your research and eventually just resigning yourself to a depressing portion of limp, greasy fries or some steamed broccoli, having a place that advertises itself as 100% vegan like the Flying Duck and serves full-sized portions of mouth-watering food is a luxury straight out of your wildest fantasy – the menu boasts a selection of burgers, mac and cheese, bangers & mash, hotdogs, subs, and milkshake cocktails (alcoholic and otherwise), which if you’re a “junk food vegan” like yours truly makes this a place you’re definitely going to drag everyone you know and their grandmothers to. Every plate served is animal produce-free, and there’s a wealth of gluten-free options to show some coeliac solidarity, too.
While progress on the battlefield of animal rights activism is exasperating if you think too hard about it and we’ve still got great lengths to go, there are some small causes for celebration; the growing number of cruelty-free and vegan businesses is definitely a help. Glasgow was voted most vegan-friendly city in the UK by PETA in 2013, not least because of its line-up of vegan festivals and host of renowned establishments such as the 78, the 13th Note, and the Bungo Bar & Kitchen.
If you’re thinking of going vegan in Glasgow, there are a few things you can do to make the transition easier. Social media is great for vegan info; check out the university Vegan Society’s Facebook page, or try looking up Vegan Humour for some comic relief. Another great resource is Vegan Connections, a Scotland-based news source on all things plant-based. The internet is a bustling marketplace of recipes, and if you’re a bit skint (hey, we’re students) Cooking On A Bootstrap is a treasure trove of cheap recipes that can easily be made vegan.
Or, if you just want to get more information about veganism, Netflix boasts an impressive range of nature and health documentaries that’ll definitely sway you – take everything with a grain of salt, though, because vegan advocacy still requires you to think critically about the information you’re given. If you’re interested in the ethical or environmental side of veganism, Earthlings is as good a place as any to start (bonus: Joaquin Phoenix’s soothing but stern narration will definitely win you over). Once you’ve finished that, there are plenty of other award-winning docs worth checking out, including Cowspiracy, Food Inc.; Food Choices, What The Health, Fed Up, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, Live and Let Live, and Blackfish.