Donegal vegans rejoice! It may seem like the Forgotten County has forgotten us vegans, but as you will read here – we’re not too badly off. Donegal is great for vegan food!
I’ve done some thinking outside the box, and have come up with loads of options of where to eat in Donegal as a vegan – some that won’t even disappoint staunch meat-eaters. Feel free to make other suggestions and keep the conversation going.
If you’re already vegan or plant-based, and from Donegal, you already know that Wholegreen is our vegan mecca in Letterkenny.
Wholegreen has made a significant impression on the café scene in Donegal and is representing plant-foods with style. Actual style – Anna is a former interior designer and so Wholegreen is incredibly cool and easy on the eye.
They’ve already made a mark on TripAdvisor and as of writing this blog post are sitting at no.5 in the top restaurants of Letterkenny. The food here is incredibly good, it’s tasty, it varies day to day, it’s healthy, and it’s ridiculously good value for money!
It is such a treat to have this gem in my hometown and I hope more Donegal restaurants and cafés follow suit with healthy plant-based menus.
LETTERKENNY ARTISAN MARKET
There are a number of stand-out farmers’ markets in Donegal where you can avail of fresh and locally grown veggies, try artisan foods from local producers, and discover handmade vegan-friendly cosmetics.
Letterkenny Artisan Market is going from strength to strength. Every Saturday the market is buzzing with people up having a look around, whether it’s to satisfy their hangover cravings with a delicious curry from Paula at The Spicy Bird, or getting their weekly fruit and veg haul from Ballyholey Farm.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while on you’ll know that nearly all of my recipes from before I moved to Spain contain one or more of some of the delicious organic vegetables grown out in Ballyholey. If you like cooking vegan or vegetarian food then getting your produce from John and Gareth at the Letterkenny Artisan Market is a must! There’s no comparison between it and the sprayed and imported stuff you get packaged in plastic in the supermarkets.
Curries, wheatgrass shots, and banoffie pies…
Another favourite of mine is the phenomenal “The Legumerie” – a young vegan food business set up by Donegal girl Claire Duffy. From her stall, assisted by her new business partner and brother John, Claire serves up delicious vegan lunches and dinner for you to bring home – keeping you from slaving over a hot stove on a Saturday evening! She also makes incredible salads and the best vegan quiche that ever was known to man. And don’t forget to try her signature vegan Banoffie Pie – make sure you’re sitting down when you taste it because you will be blown away.
The Letterkenny Artisan Market is also a good place to stock up on wheatgrass for the month. Award-winning business, Simply Natural Health, can provide you with frozen organic wheatgrass shots, fresh wheatgrass and even even masticating juicers!
Also, word on the street is that Simply Yum sell some tasty vegan buns and breads – perfect for a cuppa and a chatter with the neighbours!
If you’re only up in Donegal for the weekend and based in Letterkenny, I would recommend stopping by here on the Saturday morning and stocking up on some snacks that you can munch on while you tour the coast.
Not traditionally vegan, and, not traditionally native to Donegal so where am I going with this?
Firstly, pizza without cheese is delicious if you choose your toppings wisely. I always go for the standard onions, mushrooms and peppers, but I’ll add some stronger flavours like olives, artichokes, or sun-dried tomatoes, to give the pizza another depth of flavour that meat would typically provide.
Rustic style veggie pizza with a cold Kinnegar…
Secondly, some seaside Donegal towns like Dunfanaghy, Rathmullen and Carrigart boast top-quality pizzerias that have real wood-burning pizza ovens. It’s the perfect treat after a swim in the sea or a brisk walk on the beach.
One that stands out is The Rusty Oven in Dunfanaghy. Situated literally in the back garden of Patsy Dan’s pub and decorated with a mishmash of up-cycled chairs and random vintage house objects stuck to the walls with plants and sparkly fairy lights strung up everywhere – this place is breathtaking!
It has a boho-rustic and country vibe, and, being so near to the sea it’s the kind of place you’d happily go to for dinner every night of your summer holiday. The pizzas are made in a traditional wood-fired oven with organic stone-ground flour and lots of fresh herbs. For the vegan option choose whatever veggies you want and they’ll throw something delicious together for you!
Rathmullan House also boasts a traditional wood-fired oven in The Tap Room, situated in the “cellar” of the house. This is another picturesque setting to enjoy freshly made pizzas as Rathmullan House is situated halfway up Rathmullan beach. You can reach it by car by driving through the town or via the beach – enjoy with a nice cold Kinnegar beer (yes – also vegan).
Another highly-rated pizzeria set in a rustic and traditional Irish pub is The Goose and Gander which you can find in Logue’s of Carrigart. Now I haven’t personally been here yet but I’ve heard great things about it. Plus, being in such a good location of Carrigart, right beside the popular seaside resort of Downings, you can’t go wrong!
Supply and demand…
Stoneground pizzas are always really delicious, even the cheese-less vegan pizzas – if you choose the right toppings. However, it’s 2017, and you can get vegan cheese so easily these days. Whether you order it online from an artisan vegan cheesemaker or buy a packet of VioLife or Nature & Moi from Dunnes, it’s very doable.
I would urge vegans and dairy abstainers to message these establishments and make your needs known. If it brings more customers in their doors I’m sure they wouldn’t mind!
Last summer I went on a road-trip around Donegal with my friend Rachel.
The morning of the road trip we packed up a big basket full of vegan snacks and goodies. We made smoothies, overnight oats, and packed rice cakes, peanut butter, apples, mangoes, and so much more! It ended up being one of the best trips I’ve ever been on in my home county.
We had full reign over where we went and explored every nook and cranny of the county. This took us to tiny unknown beaches and to the tops of windy hills. We went off the beaten track a number of times and never worried about when and where we were going to eat because we had so much food with us.
I specifically remember sitting on a rock on a tiny beach somewhere up in Fanad with the most beautiful views, not a sound to be heard except the sea, sipping on a thick and luxurious green smoothie and munching on apples dipped in homemade peanut butter – it was perfection!
I would highly recommend taking the time to do this. You never know where you might end up starving of hunger!
Heading down to the south of the county now and there’s a well-known health food shop that is a vegan haven! Simple Simons not only stock a huge range of vegan food and household products, but they also have a cute little café where you can enjoy a delicious lunch which a variety of vegan options.
Simple Simon’s serve fresh soups, salads and specials fresh every day and there are even sweet bites to tempt you – perfect for meeting friends for a soya latté and a chat about vegan life. For vegans from the south of the county this is a handy little one stop shop for all your vegan essentials.
SWEET BEAT, SLIGO
Sweet Beat may not be in Donegal, but it’s only a stones throw away from those in south Donegal. Definitely worth the drive, Sweet Beat is a an almost fully vegan (with the exception of a bit of honey here and there) café/restaurant in the heart of Sligo town, just along the river.
Sweet Beat serves an array of creative and beautifully presented juices, smoothies, starters, soups, mains and desserts in the form of baked goods, raw treats. The food is incredibly tasty and very unique for a food establishment in the North West.
Using the healthiest ingredients, many locally-sourced, they create the finest plant-based dishes that you’ll never forget (I’ve been once in 2016 and I still haven’t stopped thinking about it).
Spread the word…
If you enjoyed this post, share on social media so that you family and friends who are veggie-inclined will know where to treat themselves to a tasty bite in Donegal.
If you’re a café or restaurant in Donegal offering great vegan food, send me your vegan menu and I’ll share it on my Facebook page.
Slán agus beannacht,