Before our visit to Ireland, friends and family kept insisting we rent a car and drive along the coast. We didn’t rent a car, but managed to make our way west by taking the bus and hitch hiking. We were excited to visit the Dingle Peninsula, located in County Kerry, knowing we’d be treated to some beautiful views and landscapes. We weren’t sure what to expect for vegan food options but found there were more than enough choices to keep us happy.
Cul Gairdin Whole Food Cafe
Dingle is a small town, with a population around 2000 residents, but becomes flooded by tourists during summer months. Local and visiting vegetarians and vegans are lucky to have the Cul Gairdin Whole Food Cafe, the only place in town dedicated to offering veg food. The cafe is quite small, but has a cozy environment. We walked in to find a chalkboard showcasing their daily offerings. We were happy to see little red Vs were used to identify the vegan options. The menu included homemade soups, salads, juices and smoothies.
We chose the daily special, sweet potato and butter bean (lima bean) casserole with garden salad and brown rice. The plate was big enough to share and for about €9.00 Euros ($10.98 USD) we had a lunch for two. The sweet potato casserole was fantastic, slow baked and full of flavours. The side salad was much more than the typical pile of greens and had sprouts, carrot, beet, onion, tomato, cucumber and avocado mixed in. For dessert we had a lovely almond and sesame square for about €1.50 Euro ($1.83 USD).
Cul Sairdin Whole Food Cafe
An Grianan Cafe and Natural Food Shop
Another vegan-friendly spot in Dingle is An Grianan, a cafe and natural food store. The shop was stocked with lots of organic produce and packaged goods. The cafe didn’t have many vegan options, just a couscous salad, olives and vegan scones.
We bought a cocoa loco Nakd bar from the shop. The nakad bars, made from blended dates, nuts, seeds and fruit, were widely available in Ireland. We tried the apple, strawberry and cocoa flavours and liked them all. They made for great snacks as we took bus rides around Ireland. Prices seemed to vary €1.15-€1.55 Euro ($1.40-$1.89 USD).
The vegan scone we picked up from An Grianan, for €1.50 Euro ($1.83 USD), turned out to be very dry and dense, more like a roll than a scone. It had a few fruit pieces but not enough sweetness for us.
While in town, we heard some rumors about the cafe and shop separating and moving to new locations. The address and offerings of these places may change in the near future.
Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Tel: +353 (0)66 915 1910
We were lucky to be Couch Surfing with one of the few vegans in Dingle, a girl named Kristen who ran a booth at the weekly Dingle Market selling vegan goodies, including smoothies, muffins, raisin walnut rolls, pesto, salad with wild greens and edible flowers, and teas made from local herbs.
At the Dingle Market, you’ll find several vendors selling prepared food items and crafts, but not much local fruit and veg. You can find vegan options at the Thrive booth, as well as the Phoenix Home Products booth. From the Phoenix booth, you can buy meals, sauces and spreads made from organic and local produce. Some of their vegan offerings included sweet potato, chickpea & smoked tofu curry, and a quinoa, lentil, millet & vegetable bake.
Fridays 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Dinner & Dessert
We spent most of our time helping Kristen finish off leftover salad, smoothies and vegan treats from the Friday market. Our dinners in Dingle were simple but tasty. We picked up spelt pizza crusts from An Grianan and tried two different tomato sauce replacements: marjoram pesto and hummus. Both worked great! We topped the pizzas with tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and dried herbs. These were quick meals, requiring only a few easy to find ingredients.
We didn’t have to give up vegan sweets while visiting Dingle. We found some Celtic Chocolates vegan truffles and mint crisps, as well as Fry’s chocolate bars. You can find Fry’s bars at supermarkets and convenience stores around Ireland. Fry’s makes vegan bars with plain, peppermint and orange flavoured fondant. I liked peppermint the best but didn’t manage to find the orange variety. They’re great and cheap, about €1.00 Euro ($1.22 USD).
We found the Celtic Chocolates in the allergy / natural food section of SuperValue, selling for €7.95 Euros ($9.70 USD). I was really excited to see these in Dingle, especially considering we didn’t find them for sale anywhere else in Ireland (expect the Dublin airport). The box contained some really classic chocolates, like strawberry and orange cream. But, sadly, the chocolate tasted a bit dull and some of the fillings were hard and dry. I later noticed the best before date was one day after we purchased the box. I wish we could have tried a freshly made package, I bet they’d taste better.
If you’re paying really close attention, you may have noticed I skipped one stop in between Cork and Dingle. That would be Kinsale. We spent one beautiful day there but didn’t eat much or find enough noteworthy vegan offerings to write an entire post.
There is a health food store, The Kinsale Health Food Store (19 Market Street), selling vegan products. At a small food co-op (unfortunately I didn’t note the name) we saw some interesting dark chocolate bars by Cocoa Bean Chocolate Co, with cool flavours like chili & pink peppercorn, lime zest & black pepper, and gin & tonic.
Kinsale has a very posh restaurant scene, that’s renowned throughout Ireland. I’m sure there are at least a few talented chefs who would be willing to make vegan dishes but we didn’t have enough time to explore this option. Also, eating out in Kinsale isn’t cheap, so we gave our budget a break and skipped it.