Did you know that Scotland is an incredibly vegan-friendly destination? Its capital Edinburgh boasts an endless list of plant-based restaurants and cafes, food ventures and markets and the majority of regular eateries also offer vegan options on their menus. With so many restaurants to choose from, it can be tricky to find the most delicious plant-based meals in the city. This guide details some of the most delicious vegan restaurants in Edinburgh.
If you are like me, you like to save money on flights and accommodation, but when it comes to food, you bring out the big guns – read: the credit card. Apart from hiking holidays, I spend most of my time when I’m on vacation, eating my way around the city. I’m a massive foodie and that has not changed ever since I turned vegan.
While I might live in the vegan capital of Scotland – click here for my favourite vegan restaurants in Glasgow – Edinburgh is not far behind. There are lots of vegan cafes and restaurants and new ones are opening all the time. Even regular restaurants can barely afford not to cater at least a couple of vegan options on their menus. According to a survey from 2018, Edinburgh has the second-highest proportion of vegan in the UK! (Only Glasgow has more.)
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Whether you are vegan yourself, curious to taste some of the local vegan cuisines or travel with someone who doesn’t eat animal products, plant-based eating out in Edinburgh has never been easier!
I love trying new restaurants in Edinburgh and tasting which ones have the best vegan options on the menu – someone has to do the hard work!
Here is my go-to list of delicious vegan food in Edinburgh.
On top of my personal list of vegan eateries in Edinburgh is Harmonium in Leith. The restaurant is the little sibling of Glasgow’s vegan icons Mono, Stereo and co. and offers top-notch vegan cuisine in the casual environment of a cosy pub.
The menu is very diverse and includes comfort food classics, like pizzas, burgers and mac & cheese, but also more creative options like scallops made from King Oyster mushroom (I order these every time) or beer-battered nori banana blossoms with chips. During my last visit, I ordered the chicken parmigiana: breaded chicken cutlets served with spaghetti marinara. Mind blown!
I love the relaxed atmosphere at Harmonium and it’s a great place even just to grab a few light snacks and a couple of drinks if you are not looking for a full meal. It is located in a trendy neighbourhood in Leith, an easy bus ride from the Old Town and near The Shore.
Harmonium offers a weekend brunch including tofu scramble, chicken waffles, pancakes and bottom less coffee.
Harmonium, 60 Henderson St, Edinburgh EH6 6DE, +44 131 555 3160, website.
Loudons New Waverley [Old Town]
Disclaimer: My meal at Loudons New Waverley was a gifted experience. All opinions are my own.
Loudons runs two cafes in Edinburgh – the original on Fountainbridge, and a new spacious location at New Waverley, a development project with living space, hotels, shops and restaurants just off the Royal Mile.
Loudons New Waverley is a stone’s throw from the Royal Mile and thus a perfect place for a hearty breakfast before you start exploring, or pit stop for a rest from all the sightseeing you’ve already done. The cafe is not fully vegan, but has several delicious vegan options on the breakfast and lunch menus, including pancakes, quesadilla, a walnut burger and a vegan Benny – their speciality. A Benny is an English muffin with different toppings – the vegan option comes with tomato dill haricot bean houmous, garlic roasted cauliflower and spinach and is topped with romesco sauce, pickled mixed vegetables and toasted flaked almonds.
That Benny is exactly what I had, but we also tried the quesadilla and several of the cocktails from the menu – it all tastes delicious and we left feeling incredibly well-fed, nourished and also a little tipsy!
Loudons New Waverley, 2 Sibbald Walk, Edinburgh, EH8 8FT, +44 131 556 7734, website.
Checkpoint [Old Town]
Checkpoint is a trendy restaurant around the corner from the National Museum of Scotland. It is close enough to the Old Town centre of Edinburgh, to be convenient for lunch or dinner on a city trip, but also far enough from the Royal Mile to have a more local feel to it.
They offer a full vegan breakfast and several vegan options on their day time menu, but since I went there for dinner, I’ll tell you more about that. At first glance, I was a little underwhelmed – there are two vegan mains, a chickpea & sweetcorn burger and a chickpea, spinach & sweet potato dahl. However, then my friend pointed out that the salads are really good, so I ordered the quinoa avocado salad and was blown away. It was a huge portion with lots of ingredients such as spinach, endive, beetroot and peppers.
When our waiter came to clear away the plates, he mentioned the vegan cheesecake on the dessert menu. Even though I was very full from the salad, I had to order it and I’m so glad I did – it tasted delicious!
Checkpoint, 3 Bristo Pl, Edinburgh EH1 1EY, +44 131 225 9352, website.
Holy Cow [New Town]
Holy Cow is perfectly located in Edinburgh’s New Town: around the corner from St Andrews Bus Station, not too far from Edinburgh Waverley and near many popular sites and attractions like Scott’s Monument and Princes Street.
The cafe is 100% vegan and focuses on burgers, sandwiches, salads, soup, coffees and cakes. The menu changes seasonally and there are always specials on offer using local and seasonal produce. I’ve had some tasty salads and sandwiches here before, but particularly if you are looking for something sweet like a cake, Holy Cow is a great place to head to.
Holy Cow, 34 Elder St, Edinburgh EH1 3DX, website.
Ostara Cafe [Leith]
When it comes to popular breakfast and brunch cafes, Leith is the Edinburgh neighbourhood to go to. Ostara is a favourite among locals and when I made a brunch date with two friends who both live in Leith, I was happy to see that they also offer some vegan options on their menu.
There are four options. If you are after a light breakfast only, you could choose the home-made granola with yoghurt, or locally made sourdough bread with margarine and jam. If you’re looking for something more substantial, order the beetroot and coconut dahl or the Masala pancakes.
I went for the latter and while the portion was not very big (not in comparison to my friend’s non-vegan options anyways), it was very tasty. What sealed the deal for me and made me add Ostara to this list, is their offering of vegan cakes though. After breakfast, I indulged in a massive piece of vegan mint chocolate cake – I was glad I still had space for it!
Ostara Cafe, 52 Coburg St, Edinburgh EH6 6HJ, +44 131 261 5441, website.
Chapter One [West End]
Chapter One is a neighbourhood cafe near Haymarket train station in the west end of Edinburgh. They have always had a wide range of vegan-friendly offerings, but in June 2019, Chapter One went 100% vegan!
One the menu you will find what you would expect in a small cafe – a variety of plant-milks for your hot drinks, breakfast rolls, cooked breakfast, sweet treats like pancakes and French toast, granola and porridge bowls for breakfast; paninis, wraps, sandwiches and soups for lunch; and loads of vegan cakes and bakes.
I picked up a vegan sandwich from their deli counter to take on the train back to Glasgow and loved the convenience. It also tasted great, so thumbs up!
Chapter One, 107 Dalry Rd, Edinburgh EH11 2DR, website.
Snacktime: Falafel Wraps [Old Town]
We’ve all been there: no time for a proper sit-down meal because you’ve spent too much time in the museum and are now almost running late for the tour you booked in the afternoon. Enter, the best snack for busy tourists around the world: the falafel wrap.
If you find yourself hungry and under time pressure in the Old Town of Edinburgh, there are two options for amazing falafel wraps.
Palmyra has always been one of my favourite places to eat in Edinburgh. It’s delicious, cheap and conveniently located on Nicolson Street.
22 Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9DH, +44 131 667 6655, website.
Pomegranate Express: A friend recently took me to Pomegranate Express for a quick falafel lunch before a guided tour that started on the Royal Mile, and it was the perfect pick-me-up before the walking tour!
12 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DH, +44 131 557 4040, website.
Edinburgh’s vegan restaurants are always good for a culinary surprise. Make sure you try some of the plant-based food in the city on your next visit.
Of course, there are many more vegan-friendly eateries in Edinburgh and I have a long list of places I hope to try soon and add to this post – from Henderson’s to Beetroot Sauvage, the afternoon tea at Casa Angelina and doughnuts at Considerit.
In the meantime, if you want more tips, head over to my friend Emma’s website Vegan Edinburgh. Emma reviews a new restaurant each week and has created a huge database of vegan-friendly places to eat in Edinburgh. Find it here!
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All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.