Take a Nighttime Walk

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Years ago, when my dog Payton was still with me, the two of us walked frequently at night. Payton, who was a rott/chow/lab mix looked like a Rottweiler. And she was the size of one. No one ever bothered us as we walked the neighborhood after dark. In fact, people tended to cross to the other side of the street if they saw us coming.

Today, I don’t walk much at night, even when I travel. Most evenings you’ll find me back at my accommodations by the time the sun sets.

However, when I visited Edinburgh during the month of December, I quickly discovered that darkness enveloped the city by late afternoon. Every day there, whether I was still out exploring, attending an event or grabbing groceries to take back to my apartment for dinner, I experienced Walk #46 in my 52 Ways to Walk book…Take a Nighttime Walk.

Take a Nighttime Walk title

Take a Nighttime Walk

According to Annabel Streets, author of 52 Ways to Walk, 99% of Americans and Europeans live under skies that are so light polluted that the Milky Way is barely visible.

Which is why, in 1999 when an earthquake cut power to Los Angeles, panicked citizens called emergency centers, reporting alien activity in the skies. People reported a “giant, silvery cloud” hovering over the city. Turns out, these citizens of LA were just seeing the Milky Way for the first time!

We need night vision. Darkness is a fundamental human need. Scientists suggests the lack of true dark skies contributes to depression, insomnia, obesity, weakened immunity and heart disease. Exposure to light at night interrupts circadian and neuroendocrine physiology, which potentially speeds up tumor growth.

Take a Nighttime Walk Princes Street
Take a Nighttime Walk – The sun is setting on Princes Street…at 3:10 PM

Turn Off that Nightlight

According to Dr. Eva Selhub, even low levels of light at night affect the plasticity of the brain and interfere with normal brain cell structures. Plus researchers believe that even a nightlight inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep.

Night walking helps us sleep by acting on the homeostatic sleep drive. In spite of the almost universal fear that humans have of the dark, it is apparent that we need darkness to survive and thrive.

Nocturnal walks reacquaint us with starlight and moon beams, and introduce us to landscapes that feel both familiar and strange. Night walks recalibrate our bodies’ clocks according to light/dark cycles that have existed for millennia.

Organizations like International Dark Sky Association are designating areas of darkness with night skies protected from light pollution.

Go to DarkSky International to find the area of darkness closest to you.

Take a Nighttime Walk Anchors Close
Anchors Close, off of the Royal Mile, where I could take a nighttime walk with very little light.

Tips for Walking at Night

You don’t have to drive for hours to find a dark place to walk. However, the less light, the more authentic the experience.

For a first time night walk, pick a familiar area. Walking at night involves some risks which can be minimized by choosing an area that is level and free from trip hazards.

Start your walk at dusk so the eyes adjust to the failing light. Walk slowly. Listen to sounds such as owls hooting or frogs singing.

Carry a flashlight with a red light setting to protect your night vision and yet provide some light if you need it.

Wear sturdy shoes or boots and layers of clothing as temps cool after sunset. Use a walking stick for greater stability.

Bring along a fully charged cell phone, in case you need to call for help, a water container and snack, if desired.

Take a Nighttime Walk Wheel
Take a Nighttime Walk = The Wheel

Taking a Nighttime Walk in Edinburgh

While I did walk with some light, many of my nighttime walks in Edinburgh were in very low light. Fortunately, I’m very familiar with the city and didn’t experience any problems walking in the dark.

The golden hour in Edinburgh during winter begins about 2:30 in the afternoon. The sun sets about 3:30 and it is full dark between 4:00 and 4:30. I confess that while I researched many other aspects of being in Edinburgh during the winter, such as temperatures, I failed to check sunrise and sunset times. My first afternoon in the city I checked the time on my phone in surprise when I noticed twilight approaching. It was 3:10 pm.

However, I came to love Edinburgh after dark. That magical old city becomes even more magical in the dark. Lanterns cast soft lights in closes and even busy streets such as the Royal Mile are not brightly lit.

And perhaps most enchanting of all was walking through Edinburgh Botanic Garden after dark. The familiar completely disappeared, replaced by fairy tale landscapes lit by candles and lanterns and tiny twinkling lights.

Take a Nighttime Walk Cindy
At Edinburgh Botanic Garden after dark.

Seeing with Fresh Eyes

Because my other trips to Edinburgh were during summer and fall, I’ve never experienced the city after dark. During those seasons, the sun doesn’t set until 10:00 pm or after.

I’m so grateful for the experiences of walking Edinburgh in the dark and seeing it with fresh eyes. And I slept well at night, in total darkness, in my little Rose Street apartment.

If walking provides an important form of exercise for you, then the book 52 Ways to Walk is for you!

The activities in the book are so varied and the information in each chapter is well presented and motivational.

I appreciate that the book contains a full year of weekly walks. You can read about my first walk from the book HERE. And Walk with a Map at this LINK.

Do you take nighttime walks? Where is your favorite place to walk in the dark?

Take a Nighttime Walk Grocery shopping
It was twilight when I went shopping for groceries for my first dinner in Edinburgh…and full dark when I left the store.

 

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Walk in the Cold

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I admit that I am not a fan of cold weather. Normally I choose to stay indoors when temperatures dip into the 30s and lower.

However, on my December trip to Edinburgh, Scotland I knew I’d better change my mindset. I didn’t travel to Edinburgh to sit inside my temporary apartment. No. I traveled to Edinburgh to attend the city’s Christmas Market and to explore the city on foot.

It was fun to combine that trip with one of the walks from 52 Ways to Walk, the book I purchased last year.

This is Walk #1, Walk in the Cold.

Walk in the Cold title

Why Walk in the Cold?

Some people love the winter season and absolutely enjoy spending time outdoors in spite of the colder temps. In fact, those people feel exhilarated by the brisk air.

I’m not one of those people, or at least, I wasn’t. No, I’m more a snuggle up indoors person waiting for winter to shift into spring.

For many years however, I wanted to explore my favorite city during the holiday season and experience the Christmas Market. I researched the weather in Scotland during December and watched the forecasts on the Weather App. Expected day time temps were expected to hover in the mid 30s with night time lows in the 20s. That’s below average temperatures for Scotland in winter.

I adjusted my attitude about the cold, read Week One, Walk in the Cold in my book and prepared for those low temps by purchasing the proper clothing and outerwear. (Read about the essentials for cold weather that I traveled with HERE.)

I discovered there are benefits that come from spending time in moderately cold temperatures. Check them out.

Walk in the Cold coat
For my daily walk in the cold in Edinburgh, warm layers and a heavy coat kept me comfy.

Cold Reduces Inflammation and Pain

We know this is true. Injuries such sprains respond well to an ice pack. The cold eases painful muscles, joints and tendons while reducing inflammation and swelling. Cold also raises the levels of adiponectin in the body, a protein that combats inflammation.

Cold Increases Fat Burning

The body has stores of brown fat tissue, which is different from white fat. Brown fat burns calories and uses energy, essentially turning calories from food into heat. Cold increases brown fat activity and raises metabolism.

Researchers studying brown fat found that it also contains mitochondria, tiny factories inside the cells that convert food and oxygen into a form of energy called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP supports all the processes in the body, regulates appetite, improves insulin sensitivity and stops the premature death of cells.

Walk in the Cold boots
Walk in the Cold – keep feet warm and dry with wool socks and sturdy boots.

Cold Strengthens the Nervous System

An increase in fat burning modulates the sympathetic nervous system. The colder temps act as a mild workout for the nervous system, which in turns adapts and grows stronger.

The brain functions better as well, during colder temperatures. The brain needs glucose and when glucose is low, the brain becomes sluggish. That’s why we think more clearly when exposed to cold rather than heat. The body uses more glucose to cool down than it does to heat up. Studies found that we think more clearly, decisively and calmly when in cooler temps than we do in warmer temps.

Cold Improves Mental Health

Spending time outdoors, during cold temps, has powerful restorative and revitalizing effects. The cold calms the nervous system while slowing and steadying the heart rate, easing anxiety and stress. We build endurance as well, without requiring the body to work so hard.

Walk in the Cold st andrews square
Walk in the Cold – St Andrew’s Square, Edinburgh

Tips for a Walk in the Cold

First, we are talking about walking in moderate cold with temperatures above 0. Anything below that is considered extreme cold and great care should be used when outdoors in those temps.

Dress in layers to keep the body comfortable without sweating. The hands, feet and head cool down first so wear gloves, thick woolen socks, boots and a cap on the head. Make sure boots have adequate tread on them to prevent slipping on ice and snow.

Keep the body hydrated. Carry water or even a warm drink in a thermos. Caffeine, found in coffee and some teas, actually spurs on brown fat activity.

Fuel the body with frequent highly nutritious snacks or small meals. We burn more energy while out in the cold. The body needs the extra fuel.

Walk briskly. We use our arms for balance so keep gloved hands out of pockets. Use a walking stick to navigate slick areas and step sideways on stairs and when going downhill.

Walk in the Cold castle
I carefully climbed many stairs, some coated with a thin layer of ice, for this incredible view of Edinburgh Castle.

My Walk in the Cold

I spent a week in Edinburgh, walking in the cold daily. And you know what? I came to deeply appreciate my cold walks.

I dressed properly. I carried snacks and water. And when necessary, I walked with care in icy places. Every moment spent in that magnificent city was wonderful and the cold didn’t deter me at all.

My daily routine included breakfast in my top floor apartment (Check out CoDE Boutique Hostel), a morning spent exploring, lunch at a vegan restaurant and then more walking until dark, which occurred about 3:30 in the afternoon. Yes, the Scottish days are extremely short during winter. I ate dinners that I prepared in my apartment.

Some days I headed back to my apartment shortly after darkness fell. Other days I attended scheduled events such as Christmas in the Botanics at Edinburgh Botanic Gardens. And some days I just enjoyed wandering Edinburgh’s cobbled streets after dark, taking photos and marveling over lighted Christmas displays.

My last full day in Edinburgh was the coldest. Temperatures never rose above the low 20s. After days of walking in the cold though, my body acclimated and I like to think my brown fat was firing away! I did well that day, exploring Dean Village, strolling through the Christmas Market and saying goodbyes to beloved places in the city.

I did indeed feel energized and revigorated. And I learned that I can tolerate the cold and not only that, I can enjoy the outdoors in chilly weather.

Walk in the Cold circus lane
One walk in the cold took me to a new to me area in Edinburgh…Circus Lane.

Pick Up Your Copy of 52 Ways to Walk

If walking provides an important form of exercise and relaxation for you, in all kinds of weather, then this book is for you!

The activities are so varied and the information in each chapter is well presented and motivational.

I appreciate that the book contains a full year of weekly walks. You can read about my first walk from the book HERE. And my Walk in the Rain at this LINK. I intend to continue selecting different walks from the book.

Pick up your copy of 52 Ways to Walk. And watch for future posts. I’ll share occasional highlights of some of the walks.

Do you enjoy walks in the cold?

Walk in the Cold Edinburgh

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Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome

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One of the highlights of my recent trip to Edinburgh was a vegan afternoon tea at The Dome. This gorgeous restaurant seemed perfect for a fancy afternoon tea. My nearby accommodations meant I could walk to The Dome. And I knew, from photos on social media that the interior was magical, all decorated for the holidays. I couldn’t wait.

And yet, that afternoon tea almost didn’t happen!

Check out my beautiful experience. It’s a memory I cherish.

Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome title

History of The Dome in Edinburgh

Located at 14 George Street, in New Town, The Dome occupies the site of the former Physician’s Hall. Built in 1775, the construction of the hall ran over budget, leaving the Physician’s College in debt. The college eventually sold the building to the Commercial Bank of Scotland.

In 1844 the hall was demolished, making way for the current structure. The Graeco-Roman style, with arched and keystoned upper windows and a Corinthian portico offered a magnificent presence on George Street. Inside, twin staircases rose to offices on the floor above and in the main hall, arched ceilings and a coffered dome capped the center of the building.

In 1959 Commercial Bank of Scotland joined with the National Bank of Scotland. The building on George Street no longer served as the head office. Caledonian Heritable Ltd bought the building and created The Dome, opening its doors in 1996.

Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome exterior
The beautiful exterior of The Dome on George Street, Edinburgh

What The Dome Offers

Whether you desire afternoon tea or a delicious meal, a meeting room or a place for a private dinner, The Dome provides.

The Grill Room

The former banking hall under the dome now functions as the Grill Room. The Bar Area in the room serves snacks, sandwiches and drinks. The meal menu is a la carte. The Grill Room opens daily at noon. Check out the menu and make an online reservation for a meal or drinks HERE.

Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome under the dome
Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome – the Grill Room under the dome

The Club Room

​The sumptuous Club Room is considered one of the most beautiful rooms in Edinburgh. Sparkling mirrors and chandeliers preside over dark green banquettes and tan chairs. This room provides the perfect setting for a romantic meal, a casual catch up with friends over tea or a special family get-together.

The Club Room opens daily from 10:00 – 2:00 for breakfast and Morning Tea.

Click LINK for menus and to make a reservation for the Club Room.

Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome lobby
Looking up after walking into The Dome.

The Front Bar

If you want a cozy yet gorgeous room for a drink, look no further. The Front Bar occupies the building’s storeroom. Outfitted with rich wood paneling and Swarovski crystal chandeliers, it’s an intimate yet showy spot to share drinks with friends.

Choose from superb cocktails, an amazing malt whisky selection and a huge range of gins. Or try a craft or draught beer, champagne or Prosecco.

A 50 inch television allows sports fans to catch a rugby game or a Wimbledon match.

Opening times for the Front Bar differ daily. Call ahead to find out when the bar room opens.

Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome lighted doorway
Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome – lighted doorway into the Grill Room.

The Georgian Tea Room

Daily afternoon tea is served in the beautiful and classy Georgian Tea Room upstairs. In Scotland this is called the first floor, as opposed to what Americans call the second floor. Climb the gorgeous curved staircases for access to this room or take the lift (elevator).

The tea room offers a variety of tea services: afternoon tea, gluten free tea, vegan tea, tipsy tea and children’s tea. The tipsy tea provides a tea infused cocktail for each tier of food.

The Georgian Tea Room opens daily at noon. Check out each menu and make reservations ONLINE.

Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome georgian tea room
The Georgian Tea Room

The Afternoon Tea That Almost Didn’t Happen

As I shared at the beginning of the post, this beautiful experience almost didn’t happen.

I booked the trip to Edinburgh in August, inspired by years of dreaming about attending the city’s Christmas Market. After two years of shut downs and limited travel due to COVID, I was excited to finally attend in 2022.

A formal afternoon tea at a special location, like The Dome, was high on my list of planned activities.

I knew I needed to make a reservation. What I didn’t realize is how popular The Dome afternoon teas are, especially during the holiday season. Early November I got online to make my reservation and found The Dome completely booked up for the week of my visit. I felt so disappointed. However, I knew other places for vegan afternoon existed in Edinburgh. The search began for another afternoon tea time.

Two weeks before my trip, having not found another unique place like The Dome for afternoon tea, I felt a nudge to check online reservations again. Perhaps, I thought, a cancellation opened a spot. I am so glad I checked. There was indeed a time available, three days after my arrival. I happily booked my vegan afternoon tea at The Dome.

Cozy Georgian Tea Room.

My Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome

I chose the vegan afternoon tea. Although I do have a gluten sensitivity, The Dome can’t combine gluten free AND vegan so I didn’t worry about gluten that afternoon.

My accommodations on Rose Street, CoDE Boutique Hostel, was one block away from George Street. My second day in Edinburgh I walked by, to make sure I knew the precise location and then eagerly anticipated my special afternoon tea.

With my reservation pulled up on my phone, I arrived at The Dome fifteen minutes early on Friday, December 9. On the portico, people queued, waiting for an opportunity to step inside The Dome and admire the Christmas decorations. With a reservation though, I didn’t have to wait.

Once inside I took photos of the lobby and then climbed the stairs to the Georgian Tea Room. My table for one was ready!

I ordered a pot of Delicious Berry tea and while waiting for my afternoon experience to begin, took more photos before the room filled with people.

Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome Christmas trees
Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome – Christmas trees in the Georgian Tea Room

Unforgettable Afternoon Tea

Truly, even after all the anticipation, the experience surpassed my expectations.

The wait staff appeared often to see if I needed anything. Soft lights, Christmas decor, crisp white linens, a silver teapot and shiny silverware created a beautiful oasis to relax and savor the moments along with the tea.

I know my eyes teared up when the tiered tray with my vegan treats appeared.

On the lower tier I found a baby potato with walnut pesto and three sandwiches: roasted veggies and hummus, sundried tomato and basil, and artichoke, peas and mint salad.

The next tier contained a scone with vegan cream and jam.

And the top tier offered sweet treats: lemon tart, strawberry sponge cake and Mille-feuille, a puffed pastry filled with vegan cream.

It was ALL delicious, filling and perfectly prepared. I had an hour and a half to enjoy this special treat so I took my time, nibbling and then pausing to sip tea. I relished my the time at The Dome and made it count.

Pot of Delicious Berry Tea at The Dome
Pot of Delicious Berry Tea at The Dome
Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Dome
Beautiful vegan afternoon tea at The Dome.

Afternoon Tea Fan?

I’ll never forget my afternoon at The Dome. In a city I dearly love, enjoying a Scottish tradition that I practice daily, this experience felt magical. I’m ever so grateful.

And, I look forward to a return experience someday.

Are you an afternoon tea fan? When you visit Edinburgh, I highly recommend The Dome.

For other wonderful vegan fare in Edinburgh, check out this post.

The Dome

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Vegan Eats in Edinburgh

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

In December 2022, it was my great pleasure to experience my first international solo trip. A long held dream of mine became reality as I visited Edinburgh, Scotland during the holiday season. I enjoyed the Christmas Market, the beautiful décor and festive atmosphere, visiting areas of the city I’d yet to explore AND the amazing vegan food.

This was my fourth visit to this extraordinary city, my third as one who practices a plant based lifestyle, and I so appreciate all that Edinburgh offers in the way of vegan options.

Check out these vegan eats in Edinburgh, for your next visit to Scotland.

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Researching Vegan Eats in Edinburgh

Because of my dietary restrictions, by choice, before I travel I research places to eat. And because I am typically on foot once I reach my destination, it becomes especially important to find accommodations near where I’ll explore and then search for vegan options in the surrounding area.

I’m very familiar with Edinburgh, Scotland. The city centre is comprised of Old Town and New Town, separated by a valley that is now Princes Street Gardens. The Christmas Market occupies space along Princes Street and in the gardens, which is officially in New Town and at the edge of Old Town.

Fortunately, I found the perfect accommodations for me, on Rose Street just a block from Princes Street and the market. You can see why I fell in love with CoDE Boutique Hostel, in this post on my other blog site.

Once I reserved a cozy, private apartment in the hostel, I searched the area for vegan cafes or at least, restaurants that offer vegan options. Edinburgh is home to SO many wonderful vegan restaurants. Plus, many regular cafés offer vegan and gluten free options as well.

I stayed a week in Edinburgh. The apartment’s kitchen meant I could prepare healthy breakfasts and dinners there while allowing me to dine out for lunch and/or afternoon tea.

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh typical breakfast
The breakfast that I prepared each morning…oatmeal.

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh

These are the places I chose during my week in Edinburgh. All but one were new to me, which meant delightful first experiences. And all were within easy walking distance from my accommodations except for one.

Seeds for the Soul

My sister and I enjoyed lunch at this 100% vegan restaurant in 2019. I KNEW I wanted a return meal here, even though it is not located near the city centre.

Located at 167 Bruntsfield Place, I dropped my carryon off at CoDE Boutique Hostel and then took an Uber to Seeds for the Soul for a leisurely lunch. This is literally the first place I visited upon arrival, other than a quick stop by my accommodations. After a long day of travel, Seeds for the Soul was such a treat, easing my weariness with hearty, nourishing vegan food.

Seeds for the Soul offers an impressive menu. From full vegan breakfasts to an assortment of hearty and healthy lunches and specialty drinks, this café believes in changing the world one plate, one meal at a time.

They make most of their food from scratch using organic and locally sourced produce. And they take to heart the words, “be the change you want to see in the world”, offering cruelty free meals, always. Read more about my first visit HERE.

This visit I lingered over the Nourish Bowl and then savored a pot of tea with a slice of vegan carrot cake. Seeds for the Soul was the perfect way to welcome myself back to Edinburgh!

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh seeds for the soul
Vegan Eats in Edinburgh – Seeds for the Soul bowl
Vegan Eats in Edinburgh seeds for the soul dessert
Seeds for the Soul vegan carrot cake and a pot of tea.

Holy Cow

This cozy café, located at 34 Elder Street , was one of the first fully vegan restaurants to open in Edinburgh. While they are famous for home-made vegan burgers, Holy Cow offers a variety of mouth watering meals and desserts.

Holy Cow prepares their food with careful attention to every detail, using only fresh, local, organic ingredients. Their Chefs bake organic rolls and gluten free breads every day. And if there’s room still after the meal, try one of the luscious home-made sweet treats created by Pastry Chefs Justina and Anatol.

A short 10 minute walk brought me to Holy Cow. The cozy café is located down a flight of steps, below sidewalk level, with windows along the front wall. I enjoyed a vegan Reuben sandwich, which was marvelous, and a side of rosemary fries…called chips in Scotland!

As I did at Seeds for the Soul, I took half my meal back to the apartment, for dinner, so that I had room for a slice of mango cheesecake with blackberries and a pot of tea. So delicious!

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh holy cow meal
Vegan Eats in Edinburgh – Holy Cow Reuben Sandwich
Vegan Eats in Edinburgh holy cow dessert
This vegan mango cheesecake tasted amazing!

The Dome Afternoon Tea

The Dome, located at 14 George Street, occupies a site that originally contained a physician’s hall before becoming a bank and then an award winning restaurant and bar. The current stately structure was built in 1844 after the original building was torn down.

The massive building houses a bar, a dining room, a private dining area, meeting rooms, an outdoor garden area for summer dining and a Georgian Tea Room. While it is not 100% vegan, The Dome offers vegan options.

There’s a cool story behind my afternoon tea at The Dome. Due to its popularity, reservations are required for dining and for afternoon tea. About a month before my trip, I attempted to make online reservations for the second week in December. To my dismay, there wasn’t any availability. The Dome was fully booked.

Disappointed, I began searching for another place for a special afternoon tea, however, as of two weeks before my trip, I had not found anything quite as unique as The Dome. I felt a “nudge” to check the online reservations again, in case there was a cancellation. Indeed, there was an opening, and I happily booked my reservation for a Friday afternoon, ordering a vegan afternoon tea.

This was such a treat, truly an experience I will treasure always. My afternoon tea was a visual and culinary delight. Check out The Dome online, for reservations and to see the menu. And watch for a full, upcoming blog post on this experience.

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh afternoon tea
Vegan afternoon tea at The Dome.

NovaPizza Vegan Kitchen

After a morning spent exploring in a new to me section of Edinburgh, called Stockbridge, I visited this charming vegan Italian café for lunch. Because of my pre-trip planning, stopping by was no coincidence. I looked for vegan restaurants in the Stockbridge area before I visited Edinburgh.

NovaPizza claims status as the first Italian vegan restaurant in Edinburgh. It’s owned by a Roman family that prepares and serves authentic Italian dishes, plant based style!

Located at 42 Howe Street, NovaPizza uses local products as much as possible, while offering pizzas, pastas and other meals. They also offer gluten free options as well.

Although I arrived as the café opened, and was seated immediately, the small, cozy interior fills up quickly with hungry patrons. A reservation is recommended. I enjoyed a vegan gnocchi with a homemade rocket (arugula) pesto sauce, topped with tomato confit. It was incredible! And very filling.

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh novapizza
Vegan gnocchi at NovaPizza Vegan Kitchen.

Stack & Still

This fun restaurant, located at 53 Rose Street, was literally steps from my accommodations on the same Street. They serve pancakes…in many different combinations, sweet and savory. You can create your own stack…or choose from their selection of signature dishes.

And while they are not 100% vegan, they offer vegan, gluten free and no added sugar options. That made Stack & Still my destination for a wonderful Sunday brunch.

I chose a vegan, gluten free, no added sugar pancake topped with fresh blueberries and strawberries, with a side of pure maple syrup. It was the perfect start to my day of exploring.

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh pancake with fruit
Vegan Eats in Edinburgh – Stack & Still vegan pancake with fruit.

Wanderlust Café & Bistro

Located on the Royal Mile, in Edinburgh’s medieval Old Town, this little café was the perfect spot for a quick meal and a chance to get out of the cold!

Wanderlust offers savory breakfast meals along with lunch, freshly squeezed juices, smoothies and hot drinks. You can request a vegan menu and non dairy milk for your coffee or tea.

Their specialties include vegan crepes, both sweet and savory.

I felt like nachos, however, and LOVED the vegan version served by Wanderlust. The meal warmed me up and gave me an energy boost to continue my walk along the Royal Mile.

Vegan Eats in Edinburgh wanderlust cafe and bistro
Vegan Eats in Edinburgh – Wanderlust Café & Bistro vegan nachos.

Christmas Market Vegan Food

On my last full day in Edinburgh, I chose to eat “festival food” at the Christmas Market. I’d already walked through the market several times on previous days and scouted out which of the many food booths offered vegan options.

There were plenty of choices. I found an assortment of vegan offerings, from brats and hotdogs to sweet treats to hot chocolate made from non dairy milk to crepes and nachos.

It was very cold on this day, with temps hovering around 24 degrees Fahrenheit. I enjoyed a dairy free hot chocolate. And although I ate nachos the day before at Wanderlust, I couldn’t resist the smell of nachos…with vegan cheese, vegan haggis and jalapenos! I needed the heat. And how often do I get to eat vegan haggis??

I loved the lively, colorful, festive atmosphere at the Christmas Market. The cold didn’t stop people from enjoying the rides, the booths, the music, the sights and the food, me included.

I carried my steaming hot plate of food to a large communal dining area, with stand up tables and canopies overhead to protect from falling rain or snow. A light layer of snow clung to the table nevertheless, which felt perfect to me! I smiled at the mother with her children across the table from me and tucked into my meal.

It felt like a wonderful final vegan meal in Edinburgh.

Christmas Market nachos
Christmas Market nachos with vegan cheese and vegan haggis! It was wonderful. And yes, the photo is slightly blurry. It was so cold that my iPhone was not operating well.

Edinburgh, Scotland

I absolutely loved this solo trip to my favorite city in the world. It always feels like coming home to me, like I belong here more than anywhere else.

With their wealth of vegan restaurants and options, I certainly appreciate the ability to find plant based food here. In fact, there are so many vegan options in Edinburgh that I’ve only barely scratched the surface of what’s available. That just means I must return, to try more restaurants!

Have you visited Edinburgh, Scotland? What restaurants did you enjoy?

Enjoying tea tine at The Dome
Enjoying afternoon tea at The Dome.

For more info about being plant based in Edinburgh, read this post.

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Plant Based in Edinburgh

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As one who eats a plant based diet, it is crucial for me to adhere to that lifestyle when I travel. For me there’s no eating whatever I want while on vacation or exploring another country. The consequences are almost immediate and dire, if I stray.

I’m okay with following healthy practices away from home. I know my body thanks me for not throwing it off balance and I thrive, no matter where I am. Therefore, I am fine being plant based in Edinburgh…or any other city in the world.

Perhaps you have not adopted a plant based lifestyle…yet…however there are simple health practices that can help you feel your very best while you travel.

Plant Based in Edinburgh Title Meme

Health Tips for Traveling

These are health practices that my sister Debbie and I observed, during our 11 day stay in Edinburgh, to ensure the greatest level of health. Why is that important? To enjoy ourselves the most, it’s important to feel our best. We walked…a lot. We stayed busy throughout the day with explorations, tours and family gatherings. Energy and stamina were crucial.

It was our great joy to be in Scotland. The last thing I wanted was the distraction of not feeling well.

Request Special-Diet Meals

I discovered on my last international trip that vegan and gluten free meals can be requested on flights, as long as they are made prior to the travel dates. My travel agent Ken, with GalaxSea Cruises & Tours, listed our meal preferences when he booked our flights. On our long travel days, going to Scotland and returning home, our primary meals were in airports and on board airplanes. We ate simple vegan snacks like fruit or veggie sushi in the airports and enjoyed plant based meals on the plane.

For six days, Debbie and I explored Edinburgh on our own. The remaining five we joined family members from around the world for the Clan Maitland Gathering. Carolyn, our North American clan officer, arranged all of the meals that we shared as a family. She contacted the restaurants and made sure they prepared vegan meals for us. My food was gluten free as well. From tea houses to cafés to formal restaurants to lunch at Thirlestane Castle, I enjoyed wonderfully prepared meals that supported my health, rather than weakened my body.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to make your dietary needs known. My experience is that the cooks and chefs go above and beyond to prepare healthy and delicious meals that meet those needs. They seem to take great pride in presenting those carefully prepared dishes and appreciate hearing that they are wonderful.

Plant Based Meal at New ClubBeautifully prepared plant based meal at New Club in Edinburgh, with gluten free bread.

Stay Hydrated

Traveling makes one thirsty, especially when flying for an extended time. I discovered that it is permissible to carry an empty metal water bottle through airport security. Once through security we filled our bottles and carried them onto the plane.

In Edinburgh, we took those water bottles everywhere. It saved us money, since we didn’t have to purchase bottled water, and it cut our plastic use to virtually zero. And we could easily refill the bottles throughout the day, to help us stay hydrated. Choose foods that help to hydrate the body too.

Tip: Consider carrying a metal or glass water bottle and refilling as needed, to stay hydrated.


Click on photo to order a metal water bottle.

Prepare and Cook Your Own Food

Being plant based in Edinburgh, for us, meant purchasing, preparing and cooking many of our own meals. We chose to stay in an apartment in the New Town part of Edinburgh so that we could have a full kitchen. It was very easy to shop for fresh fruit and veggies, hummus, gluten free pasta and no sugar pasta sauce and prepare our own simple meals, when not dining with family. I cooked and my sister cleaned up!

Tip: Consider staying in an apartment or a room with a mini kitchen, and prepare many of your own meals. You’ll know what you are eating.

Plant Based in Edinburgh CookingPreparing a simple meal of boiled new potatoes and stir fried veggies.

Make Healthy Choices

The few times that we ate in a restaurant, on our own, we made healthy choices. I love how easy it is to be plant based in Edinburgh. They have many vegan cafés to choose from and regular restaurants offer plant based options. We found a vegan and gluten free bakery just down the street and a vegan café across from the apartment we stayed in.

I researched vegan restaurants in Edinburgh before the trip. As a blogger, I offered several a blog post and social media shares, in exchange for a healthy meal or afternoon tea. I’m grateful to these restaurants:

Beetroot Sauvage Café – Vegan Afternoon Tea

Seeds for the Soul Café – Plant Based Lunch

Naked Bakery – Vegan and Gluten Free Goodies to take back to the apartment

We also enjoyed plant based meals at The Elephant House and Henderson’s Vegan Restaurant.

Tip: Before a trip, Google restaurants and cafés that meet your dietary needs. If you happen upon a delightful eatery, while wandering around, make wise choices that support your health.

Seeds for the Soul Cafe An amazing lunch from Seeds for the Soul.

Pack Supplements and Meds

If you take supplements and prescription meds at home, by all means pack those for the trip. Prescriptions needs to be in bottles with your name and your doctor’s name on them. I carry vitamin B12, Cat’s Claw and MSM with me when I travel, in their original bottles. Most of the time you can carry supplements through security in the plastic daily pill sorters as well.

For this trip, Voke Superfood Supplements sent two boxes of tablets with us to try. These all natural supplements overcome jet lag quickly, support the body and boost energy. We started them as soon as we arrived in Edinburgh and found them to be very helpful.

Tip: Travel with any necessary prescription meds and include supplements that are most crucial to your well being.

Voke Superfood Supplements

Listen to Your Body

I’ve learned to pay close attention to my body’s needs. When traveling, with changed schedules, more activities and different time zones, this becomes very important.

Stretch legs and walk back to the rest room frequently, on the airplane. (If you are staying hydrated, this will be a necessity!) Do yoga poses in the hotel room or apartment. Rest when you are tired. Get enough sleep. We retired earlier than we normally do at home, most evenings, to ensure we were well rested each morning. And we gladly observed the practice of afternoon tea, which provided a welcome break in our busy days.

We walked all over Edinburgh. Proper fitting shoes prevent blisters and sore feet. Pay attention to weather through online apps and pack accordingly to stay cool enough or warm enough. Don’t go too long without a healthy snack or a light meal. The body needs the fuel to keep energy levels up all day. My sister brought along packets of nuts and seeds, which were great for toting.

Tip: Listen to what your body tells you. Stretch. Rest. Eat. Pause. Take a break. Wear comfortable supportive shoes if you are walking or hiking. Begin checking a weather app a couple of weeks before the trip, to get an idea of temperatures and weather conditions, and pack accordingly.

Walking in EdinburghWe climbed to the top of Calton Hill in Edinburgh, twice!

Enjoy Your Travels

The whole point of following health practices while away from home is so that I can focus on enjoying myself, rather than battling an upset stomach or a flare up of inflammation due to eating foods I shouldn’t. I know what my body needs, to operate at a high level of health and wellness, and I’m happy to support it.

It’s not worth it to me, to abandon a plant based diet and suffer the consequences while I’m traveling. Rather, I’ve found that I do so much better if I eat in a healthy way and listen, really listen, to the feedback I’m continually receiving from my body.

I know I can drink a Thistly Cross hard cider in Scotland, and be okay. And I enjoyed one. I also know that if I indulge in gluten laden foods or allow dairy or meat products into my diet that I will pay a price for that, one I’m not willing to pay.

Tip: Learn what foods best support your body and adhere to that lifestyle, even when traveling. As I often say, NOTHING tastes as good as healthy feels. And when I’m traveling, that is especially so. Nothing taste as good as exploring a country or a city feels to me.

Plant based in Edinburgh? Oh yes, gladly so. And I’ll be plant based anywhere else that I go.

Plant Based in EdinburghPlant based in Edinburgh.

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