Expect Soy to be divided and vegan joy multiplied.
We first stepped in on a Saturday morning, ducking out of the typical drizzly Scottish summer day and into the golden warmth of the cafe. Inside was bustling with activity, and we snagged a spot at the large table that seems to more often than not serve as a communal table. Community, coziness, and of course good food go hand in hand in hand at Soy Division, an all vegan cafe located in Glasgow’s southside.
We were house sitting just a 15-minute walk away. We always like to try as many different vegan places as possible (especially in a place like Glasgow, named the most vegan-friendly city in the UK on numerous occasions) when traveling but we just had to visit Soy Division twice. That’s how good the food is and how lovely the people are.
Debbie, the matriarchal proprietor, rises at 5am every day to prepare homemade vegan goodies. She makes the kind of food one could attempt to make, but never result quite as good as the progenitor. For example, Veren makes a damn good banana bread based on his mother’s recipe, but to him it never tastes quite as good as hers. Ultimately, it comes down to the parental experience of repetition and trial and error, all to please those hungry, ungrateful mouths. All of that practice creates that unique sense of taste that every culinarily inclined mother has. That’s why we love Soy Division so much.
Coaxing Debbie into a photo, we chatted with her and company about all the places we have visited and the vegan scenes we’ve searched for. Some we connect to more immediately than others, and Soy Division is her labor of love.
Without even seeing the menu, the choices displayed at the deli counter overwhelmed us, in the best way possible. There were stacks of sausage rolls, sandwiches, an assortment of sides…the list goes on. Veren’s spying eye even caught a hot quiche resting on the counter. He asked if it was available for eating – low and behold – twas.
The quiche is possibly the best we’ve ever had. According to Debbie, it takes around 4 hours and we’re not surprised. Our favorite Spanish tortilla in Madrid requires similar prep.
There’s so much on offer here. Want to experience a proper Scottish breakfast? Come here anytime, and expect a plate of saucy beans, bacon, a sausage square, tattie scone, bap roll, sauteed mushrooms and tomatoes with a side of whipped butter. Expect hearty portions, including big cups of fresh coffee.
It’s hard to choose what’s our favorite. Sausage rolls lightly spiced wrapped in a flaky crust. Casserole creations with beet colored ricotta like crumbles and lasagna you couldn’t tell was gluten free.
Their most famous dessert is the fudgie wudgie – a date based chocolate fudge bar with icing so smooth and shiny, you’ll see your reflection. Get it swimming in cream – apparently a British thing. Also, expect them to sell out.
We also had lemon poppy seed cake, something our tofu’d tongues haven’t tasted in years. With extra zesty lemony icing and a soft muffin like texture, we felt Soy Unified.
The clientele are super local and many seemed to be regulars. Couples, singles, parents with babies – all were pleasantly enjoying themselves and not necessarily die hard vegans. Children devoured sausage rolls without question as the family dog happily received maximum pets from passers-by. The work of local artist Linda McGowan adorns the walls so you can appreciate art while you eat – if you can pry your attention away from the fantastic food. See more of Linda’s work here.
Apparently, people have asked Debbie about possible menu additions – smoothies, rice bowls, hummus – the more trendy vegan fare. We assured her that there’s a real lack of hearty, homely vegan food and that she shouldn’t worry – just keep the indulgence coming. She’s always trying new things and there is a specials board as well, so you’ll likely plan your return visit during your first.
Usually, those claiming to have the most authentic food are the first offensive line in an army of fraudulent foodies. Rarely will one find the real deal right in town – sometimes you literally need to orient yourself outside of city centers. Soy Division reminded us of Giumella, a far flung vegan deli that we found while exploring the vegan scene in Florence, despite the tourist trap that city is.
Places like Soy Division are the reason why we search out all vegan places while traveling. While it’s fun to find accidentally vegan food in a country’s cuisine, there is no intention behind creating that food. We love to support vegan businesses and connect with passionate, like-minded people around the world.
We loved Glasgow. Expect more to come in the following weeks. Ever been to Scotland? What’s your favorite spot?