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/ Vegan Climbers and Walkers

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harley.marshall8 - on 13 Feb 2018

I am looking for people to answer a couple of questions about access to vegan foods in the highlands.

I am doing a study into how many people would be interested in vegan restaurants.  Would be really grateful if you could answer a couple of questions please.

1 - Are you a vegan or interested in vegan food?

2 - Do you feel vegans are adequately provided for in the highlands?

3 - Would you entertain eating in a vegan restaurant or cafe based in one of the popular highland destinations?

atthedropofahat on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

What the highlands really needs is a decent fish and chip shop in Fort William. The existing ones are all absolutely dire to the point where even after a two day epic winter climbing trip, straight off the mountain, I chucked my much anticipated chippy in the bin within a few mouthfuls. Surely this needs sorted, alongside a redo of all food available North of the Clachaig. Vegan or not the Highlands is almost devoid of good food.

harley.marshall8 - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to atthedropofahat:

Hi thanks for your reply, even as a vegan I completely agree that the chippy's in fort William are dire. If you came across a good vegan restaurant with excellent chips, good quality food and great portion sizes would you eat here.  Thanks again

 

johncook - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

Only if it had fish as an option. 

toad - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

1a no

1b yes ish

2 not at all

3 would depend on quality. Probably not unless the alternatives were dire (which they often are). I'd be much more interested in a good vegetarian place with interesting vegan options

 

Post edited at 10:55
galpinos on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to toad:

What toad said.

L BattyMilk - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

1: Yes (vegan)

2: I'd say no - though experience is not huge. Only visited once for a Basic Mountaineering course provided by one of the bigger guide/training companies - accom and meals were included in the course and I informed them of my veganness at the time of booking and was assured it wouldn't be an issue. My provided packed lunch was 2 slices of bread with a couple of slices of cucumber in the middle, cheese and onion crisps (not vegan), a mars bar (not vegan) and an apple. Not a massive deal as I understand it's a relatively uncommon thing so came armed with a tub of peanut butter and more snack bars than you can shake a stick at but indicates a gap that could be filled. The kitchen at the lodge did a great job of trying to accommodate me but were clearly struggling I had cous cous with veg and a butternut squash one night and a plate of roast veg on the second.

3: Absolutely if there were options.

GrahamD - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

As a non vegan who has been on trips with vegan companions, I would say don't forget to cater for the rest of us or have at least 'normal' vegetarian options available.   Otherwise even if you could entice lone vegans, you would find it difficult to entice groups with vegans in the group.

leon 1 on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

  Would you entertain eating in a vegan restaurant or cafe based in one of the popular highland destinations? Probably not since the (albeit few) vegan restaurants Ive been in have felt patronising and snowflakey.

Agree about what GrahamD said Dont just limit yourself to vegan otherwise you're limiting your market too much and there are long periods of the year without tourists when you'll need a strong, probably non vegan, local trade

 

 

Post edited at 11:44
harley.marshall8 - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to toad:

Thanks toad much appreciated and great feedback

Ramblin dave - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

1) I'm omnivorous but my girlfriend is veggie so we eat veggie most of the time and vegan if we don't happen to put any dairy in. So I guess no but kind-of.

2) I'd guess not... even the veggie stuff tends to look pretty uninspiring tbh.

3) Possibly, and particularly in the evening - if nothing else, there are plenty of places in the highlands where the general eating options are pretty crap and I'd happily pass on meat and dairy options if the food was fresh, flavourful and properly cooked. I would be put off by anywhere that felt too worthy and "health-foody" though - if I'm in the highlands, I've probably been doing exercise all day and I want a big pile of tasty, greasy, crunchy, salty calories, not a purifying gluten-free superfood detox-bowl.

RX-78 on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

Whilst not going to the highlands anytime soon here' my take. I am veggie and we sometimes eat out vegan, even cook vegan meals but for a cafe/ restaurant that is vegan for me the biggest drawback is tea/coffee and  cake options. None of the non-dairy is as good as milk for tea and coffee, the cakes tend not to taste as well either. This might stop me using a vegan place if I was starving and looking forwrd forward to a hot cup of tea and a huge slice of cake.

Ramblin dave - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

> I am doing a study into how many people would be interested in vegan restaurants.  Would be really grateful if you could answer a couple of questions please.

By the way - partly out of curiosity, would you mind telling us a bit more about what you're doing this for? Is it a purely theoretical thing for a uni project, a business plan for something you're actually thinking of doing, market research for a major hospitality chain or what?

Cheers!

ChrisJD on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

1: No & No

2: See 1

3: See 1

marsbar - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

1 Not vegan.  Happy to eat most things occasionally so I would eat vegan if I was at a vegan’s house without a problem.  

2 No idea, I suppose chips and baked beans are available most places.  I suspect you’d have to plan ahead if you wanted special alternatives rather than just the none meat and dairy stuff.  

3 Probably not, unless there was a vegan in the group, in which case I’d give it a go.  

I think I’d miss cheese more than meat.  

Post edited at 13:54
marsbar - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to BattyMilk:

That’s not great, it’s not that difficult to check for milk in the ingredients and give you ready salted crisps.   Peanut butter or even hummus isn’t difficult to get these days for sandwiches.  

harley.marshall8 - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Thanks for your interest Dave, we are looking into a realistic possibility of opening somewhere in the highlands, not for a major hospitality chain, so just a bit of research to test the water. Thanks Lee 

skog on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

> 1 - Are you a vegan or interested in vegan food?

 

I'm veggie, have been vegan for several years way back, and more recently for half a year or so, and I mostly try to limit dairy in my diet (but not very strictly).

> 2 - Do you feel vegans are adequately provided for in the highlands?

 

It can always be better, but it's a lot easier than it used to be - a lot of places will cater for you with a little notice, and quite a few even without it. I think vegan options are now at least as common as veggie ones were a couple of decades ago, perhaps more so. And as a vegan, or even as a veggie (really as anyone with particular dietary preferences or requirements), it's a bit silly to head away assuming you'll be OK anyway - I'd always check in advance or take my own food to fall back on.

> 3 - Would you entertain eating in a vegan restaurant or cafe based in one of the popular highland destinations?

 

Yes.

 

But: I'm not convinced it's a viable business idea in the long-term. A veggie place with a good vegan selection will probably always be in demand to some extent, but veganism is trendy just now (!) and I'd be surprised if interest doesn't subside in the coming years, leaving any such business in a much harder situation (unless it adapts and starts also catering for other, less strict, diets).

harley.marshall8 - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to skog:

Thanks skog for your reply much appreciated and food for thought. Lee

wintertree - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

> 1 - Are you a vegan or interested in vegan food?

No and no.

> 2 - Do you feel vegans are adequately provided for in the highlands?

Forraging is a bit crap outside of bilberry season.  I sometimes have veggie food when eating out - including highland pubs - but only recall one place with an emphasis on veggie and pescatarian foods, a wonderful cafe in poolewe that has I think changed hands.  I don’t recall seeing any food labelled as vegan anywhere but there.  Might you, I normally go to the grill page...

> 3 - Would you entertain eating in a vegan restaurant or cafe based in one of the popular highland destinations?

No.  When I’m doing a lot of activity - especially cold water swimming - I know what I want afterwards, and I’m not going to find it there.  

Probably not very useful replies I know!

Post edited at 15:01
wintertree - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to skog:

> , but veganism is trendy just now (!) and I'd be surprised if interest doesn't subside in the coming years, 

I’m not convinced - if “animal free” lab grown meats and other proteins are counted as vegan, I think it’s the eventual future of much of the food business.  Veganism is a broad church, and apart from the vocal part, there are those motivated by concerns of animal welfare and/or the climate, and those concerns will one day be addressable through synthetic foods.  A long way off for sure.

skog on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to wintertree:

There's every chance that'll prove right further into the future - but I personally think veganism is likely to become much less popular again long before what you describe becomes mainstream, which would be a problem for a vegan business in an area with fairly low resident population and strongly seasonal visitor numbers. If I'm wrong, great - we'll see.

It's my fault for saying 'long-term' - it's a bit vague; I meant in just a few years, possibly sooner than that.

 

 
Post edited at 16:36
In reply to harley.marshall8:

I live in Wester Ross.Gairloch) Possibly a market for a vegetarian café/restaurant but I think vegan would be a dead loss.

Flinticus - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

1. No and yes

2. No. Veggies can now do OKish but its rare to find vegan options that are not simply the veggie one less the cheese / egg. Mhor 84 is a good example of a place that caters to all three diets.

3. Yes but while I drink gallons of almond milk I prefer dairy in my latte so your coffee would need to be top notch to lure me in. And you would need to come up with a substitute for halloumi!

Post edited at 17:43
womblingfree on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

A new craft ale micro brewery pub opened up down here in Swansea. Billed itself as a proper boozer, bands on a Saturday, open Mic, pub grub etc

Except the pub grub was mostly vegan, with one or two veggie options. 6 months in they've redone the menu, much less vegan, more veggie options, more meat

Flinticus - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to womblingfree:

No meat initially? Or some (you do say 'more meat'}?

alx on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

Hi Harley

I don't think the business case numbers will stack up to support a vegan only restaurant.  Your total available market of customers that would want a vegan restaurant will be low and seasonal, of which the % market segment of this that are interested in vegan only will be lower still.  Then you need to balance this against how much it would cost to set up selling vegan food. I would try and dissect why Fort William chip shops are in such a dire state, frying food should be an easy issue to fix, so why is it so crap?

As case studies go niche food tends to sell well in large towns and cities where the numbers of new and repeat business is likely to be high enough.

Lastly I assume its a tongue in cheek joke at the expense of the Scottish however there must be a grain of truth somewhere that the Scots are not known for their love of vegetables (chips don't count).

Mal Grey - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

Not vegan or vegetarian, so experience is limited. However, unless you are in one of the few larger towns, I can't see how restricting yourself to vegan only is going to be sustainable in most Highland towns or villages. You need to be able to attract the widest variety of customers to do well, especially as for half of the year it will be very quiet. Perhaps better to open a decent "fresh/local produce" type place and include vegan, vege and some meat dishes (I realise this may complicate both menu and cooking due to needing to double up on pans/storage etc). You would then have the best chance of survival, could still pull in the vegan customers as word spreads, but the rest of us would be happy to come along with them too. I still have a few mates who would almost panic if there were no meat dishes, including one who still talks about the time we went into Zeffirellis in Ambleside for a pizza and everything was vegetarian - poor lad was scarred for life, this was around '92...

 

Someone said the Highlands is almost devoid of good food. I'd disagree, nowadays. Its far, far better than it was 20 years ago, and I've had some excellent food in pubs or hotels in the Highlands in the last 10 years. There are still a few places where its puzzlingly poor though!

atthedropofahat on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

I'd recommend trying a different tack if it is a business. I  just remembered that when we were hill walking years ago we went into Ambleside as a family . Looked at a load of menus before we all agreed that the pizza place looked the best . We all sat down and ordered then realised we had all ordered something vegetarian. It was a vegetarian restaurant with no labelling. Veggies and vegans will see it for what it is at first glance and everyone else will look at it without prejudice. 

1. No

2. No particularly on courses, don't know if that's a viable market though

3. I just eat on a whim the food type interests me less than quality to provide what my body needs at the time . Sometimes that's a fry up, sometimes it's a croissant .

atthedropofahat on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to Mal Grey:

Maybe better than 20 years back .I can't comment but compared to south Wales, Yorkshire or the lakes it lacks the consistently good pub grub at a good price point . Similarly North Wales lacks good pub food on some areas but makes up for it with good cafes . 

Shieldaig sticks in my mind as a place which had spectacular views with spectacularly poor food to accompany them . A real shame because you've got to travel so far to get there .

atthedropofahat on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to Mal Grey:

Parallel experience in this post to my last... Thanks for telling me the resteraunts name I never forgot it .didn't forget the food though. Good all round .

womblingfree on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to Flinticus:

my mistake, previously no meat whatsoever. despite billing itself as a proper boozer, with classic pub grub and guest street food evenings

yeah, but it's all vegan!

jasonC abroad - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

1: No, happy to eat vegan though

2: Probably not

3: Yes

jasonC abroad - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to atthedropofahat:

Had exactly the same experience in the same restaurant.

ena sharples - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

No

No

Yes

My guess would be that an exclusively vegan food joint in the highlands would not last a season (if that), so the viable option would be to broaden the range to include veggie and dead animal based food to stand a chance of viability. This may run the risk of alienating the hardcore vegans but the question is whether you want to run a  successful business or an ethically orientated venture?

brianrunner - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

1. No (vegetarian)/ Yes

2.No

3.YES!

 

harley.marshall8 - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

Thanks for the response to the post everyone, it is much appreciated and very helpful to gain so many useful points of view.  Will attempt to keep people informed of what we decide to undertake.  Anymore points of view or opinions are very well one, thanks again Lee

 

jonnie3430 - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to atthedropofahat:

Ben Nevis takeaway in inverlochy?

To the op: maybe go for a meal at nourish in Inverness and see what they say, they're quite friendly in there.

RX-78 on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to jonnie3430:

Also, currently, when we go somewhere not veggie/vegan friendly for a few days we normally do self catering, so don't tend to go and eat out. Don't know if this is usual, but could mean your target customers will be more used to self catering than meat eaters who can rock up anywhere and expect to find suitable food.

Moondancer - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

1. No (vegan), yes (interested in vegan food)

2. Don't know, but probably not

3. Would depend on its focus. I could see myself visiting a place that serves hearty vegan food (e.g. curries, chilli, burgers, pizza), but generally don't fancy a vegan raw food salad after a day on the hills. 

malky_c - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to harley.marshall8:

1. No, and not especially.

2. I very much doubt it.

3. Probably not. Main reason I posted was to echo many other posters. I think you would struggle outside of Inverness to provide a vegan-only restaurant, as the population density is just too low. Your best bet is either to combine it with a non-vegan menu or to have another part of the business that doesn't rely on people actually visiting the premises. Look at other niche businesses in the northern highlands - for example Cocoa Mountain in Durness or the pie shop in Lochinver. I doubt either of these get enough trade physically through the door to survive, but both offer their fairly unique products by mail order/online.

The usual rule of the highlands applies really - you have to be able to do multiple things to survive.


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