How To Survive A Night Away As A Vegan (West Cork Edition)

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Welcome back! Before I became vegan, I never even thought about how the lifestyle would affect my weekends away, or my last-minute dinner plans which used to happen so often. As I live in Cork city, I’m actually pretty lucky with the food options that are available to me – with many restaurants in the city now offering entire vegan menus!

I have been to Lanzarote and the Algarve in recent months, and I found many vegan options in restaurants in these locations. I came across them pretty easily as these areas tend to be heavily touristically populated, especially in the summer months. The influx of people visiting these places, in turn leads to a demand for vegan options in restaurants. Particularly in recent years with the ever-growing vegan population throughout the world.

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The modern cities of Portugal and Spain that I have experienced, which are rich in vegan-food options – are not a model for every town or place, YET! However, the world is evolving and demand grants supply. Now, let me tell you about my night in Bantry Bay, West Cork.

Although my boyfriend and I spend most of our time together, we felt like we wanted to enjoy a night away from the city where we could focus on just each other – and forget about working, cooking and cleaning. Both of us have been so busy lately, so we just wanted to relax somewhere quiet together.

I have recently come to the conclusion that I often prioritise going on weekends away, when I haven’t even experienced one percent of what Ireland has to offer. This summer is the summer that I hope to explore more of Ireland.ย With that in mind – we decided on Bantry, West Cork as our location.

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On the drive to Bantry, I began researching possible food locations for dinner that evening. I always use the Happy Cow app – It provides a list of all restaurants with vegan options in the chosen are and there are often pictures and ratings available too. I couldn’t find anywhere appealing in Bantry for dinner.

Typically, tourists travelling to towns such as Bantry (along the Wild Atlantic Way) are hoping to indulge themselves in Irish culture in every possible way. This includes eating the typical ‘Irish diet’ of roast dinners with spuds, veg and a big meat cutting. This sort of option was available in every restaurant in Bantry because once again – supply is met because of the demand! This is certainly not what we were looking for though.

I finally found somewhere in Ballydehob – which is about a 20 minute drive from Bantry. ‘Budd’s‘ restaurant had one review on Happy Cow, but its website was so professional and appealing that I just knew it was going to deliver! The pictures speak 1000 words I think. We truly hit the jackpot.

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One online search and we found some of the most delicious vegan food that we have had the pleasure to experience. To start; we shared a lemongrass and butter bean ‘hummus’ with dehydrated raw crackers. The substitution of butter beans for chickpeas worked well with the crackers, however I will always prefer the original chickpea hummus!

For our mains, we had a thick cauliflower, kale, pea and coconut curry with basmati rice and poppadum. Slightly spicy, but so satisfying – real soul food! I would have loved an accompanying chutney, but the curry was so full of flavour that it actually did not need it. For dessert we enjoyed raw cardamon cheesecake with homemade salted caramel ice cream. Wow is all I can saw about the ice cream. Four ingredients! It was the nicest vegan ice cream I have had.

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This small restaurant is an eatery which believes in using seasonal, local and fresh ingredients. Sustainability is one of their main goals, and they aim to source most of their ingredients from independent, local farms.

Budd’s is nestled away in the small village of Ballydehob – with a population of only 270 people. This village hosts an ethically driven restaurant with vegan options and the most superb, friendly staff. This is a tiny village in West Cork – times are surely changing! It is crazy to think that we were accommodated to in such a rural area. It was a pleasant surprise.

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This was all down to planning. Veganism can be so easily tainted by a lack of planning, and willingness to source good food. Gone are they days of strolling into restaurants and hoping to come across good meal options. I usually suss out restaurants by exploring their website, instagram page and reviews. Sounds a bit crazy I know – but I will no longer settle for mediocre food.

I find that my palette has developed since adopting a plant-based diet, and I only desire really great-quality food. Planning where I will eat when I am away goes hand-in-hand with this. I usually choose to go to the restaurant with the best reviews and the best food quality likelihood. Researching and planning is so rewarding in that you are almost always guaranteed to have the perfect meal.

Preparation also went into our breakfast the following morning. I personally am not a big fan of hotel food, so we opted out of breakfast and decided to fend for ourselves. Luckily, I packed a breakfast for us. Here is what I packed;

  • 2 containers.
  • 2 spoons.
  • 1 knife.
  • 2 servings of granola (in the containers).
  • 2 bananas (chopped into the granola in the morning).
  • 1 small container of Vegan Nutella.
  • 1 carton of Hazelnut Milk (unopened, bought from cereal aisle – does not need to be kept in the fridge).

Bringing our own breakfast just meant that we could ensure a healthy and fulfilling start to our day! It was also delicious and exactly what we needed – and cheap too! What could be better than breakfast in bed?

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The next day we went to Schull and Glengariff. Schull’s Sunday markets were on, and there were a few vegan options available such as vegan chocolates and falafels. I always research market days before travelling to somewhere new. Exploring markets in other countries is also one of my favourite things to do. You never know what you will come across at a market! I love that element of surprise. You’re almost always guaranteed good food at them too.

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We weren’t hungry enough to eat there (Big breakfast still coming in handy) – so instead we just stopped at a corner shop on the way to Glengariff and picked up some fruit (Pear and bananas) and biscuits (Maria biscuits and Bourbons) for our lunch. We took our bits with us over to Garnish Island, and enjoyed them as we strolled through the amazing gardens and pathways.

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This is a must-see attraction for everyone! I am so blown away by the magnificence and tropical essence of the island. If you told me that I was on an island in Thailand when we were there, I would have believed you! it was so picturesque and beautiful. However; the cafe had absolutely no vegan options (not even a milk alternative) which was slightly disappointing – but that is why packing your own snacks is essential.

Higher calorie snacks such as vegan flapjacks, energy bars or nuts are a great idea as they will provide you with long lasting energy for the day while also keeping you satisfied until your next meal.

Eating good-quality, healthy and nutritious vegan food while enjoying a night away from home is definitely possible. If an eatery in Ballydehob is catering to vegans – there are options everywhere! The hidden gems often turn out to be the best and most rewarding.

I even managed to find a dairy free mango sorbet in a homemade ice-cream parlour in Glengariff which was delicious. Demand creates supply and demand for vegan food is ever-growing.

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Preparation is key! Research your dinner options. Bring a packed lunch and snacks. Skip the expensive hotel breakfast. Enjoy good food!

Eating vegan has never been easier.