January 25 is Robert Burns Day So Let’s Eat Vegetarian Haggis

Robert Burns

Robert Burns

The great Scottish poet Robert Burns was born January 25, 1759. In celebration of his birthday, Burns Suppers range from formal gatherings of esthetes and scholars to very informal dinners throughout Scotland and in restaurants and the homes of Scottish descendants worldwide. Most Burns Suppers adhere, more or less, to some sort of time honored form which includes the eating of a traditional Scottish meal, the drinking of Scotch whisky, and the recitation of works by, about, and in the spirit of the Bard.

NOTE: American and Irish liquor producers usually spell it as WHISKEY, while Canadian, Scottish, and Japanese producers usually spell it WHISKY.

Almost anyone can enjoy a Burns Night celebration. All that’s needed is a place to gather, plenty of haggis and neeps to go around, a master of ceremonies, friendly celebrants, and good Scotch drink to keep you warm.

I’ll leave it to you to find the place to gather, the master of ceremonies, the friendly celebrants, and good Scotch drink. However, for the haggis, I will refer you to an article I wrote about two and a half years ago at http://goo.gl/ECXCu0. In If You Leave Out the Legally Inedible Parts, Haggis is Edible, I described traditional haggis and a place where Americans can order non-traditional haggis online.

A few weeks after that article was published, I took my first trip to Scotland and, of course, I had to try the haggis. However, I am a vegan so that presented a bit of a challenge. After all, traditional haggis has MEAT in it!

I soon discovered that many Scottish restaurants serve vegetarian haggis. That seemed strange to me, but I tried it and found it tasted rather good. In fact, I ate vegetarian haggis several times during my twelve-day stay. The flavor varied a bit from one restaurant to the next but was always good.



In conversations with some of the locals, I found several who said they had eaten haggis often when they were growing up; but now, as adults, they prefer the vegetarian haggis. MacSweens, (http://www.haggisuk.co.uk) a company in Edinburgh, Scotland, manufactures 1,000 tons of haggis every year. The company reports that one in four orders for haggis it sells is vegetarian, indicting the one company alone produces about 250 tons of vegetarian haggis per year.

I guess I am not alone.

Haggis, neeps and tatties

Haggis, neeps and tatties

You can read my earlier article about haggis and where Americans can buy it online at http://goo.gl/ECXCu0. To learn more about Burns Dinners, go to http://www.robertburns.org/suppers. You can find a recipe to make your own Vegetarian Haggis at http://allrecipes.com/recipe/vegetarian-haggis and the list of ingredients does sound much more appealing than that of the original haggis. Who wants to eat sheep’s lung anyway?

You can have vegetarian haggis delivered to your door by ordering online at https://www.haggisuk.co.uk/haggis/vegetarian-haggis. I notice that web page says the company will deliver to the UK, the European Union, USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

If you live in the US, you also can have traditional or vegetarian haggis delivered to your door by ordering online at http://goo.gl/0AoXJ2 for traditional, meat-filled haggis (although it only uses meats approved by the US government) or at http://goo.gl/vkXJcD for vegetarian haggis. You can find still other Scottish items for sale in the US at: http://www.scottishgourmetusa.com.

Sounds delicious! Please pass the neeps and tatties.


Neeps Before they are cooked

Footnote: Neeps and tatties are traditionally served with haggis. Neeps is the traditional Scottish word for swedes, a vegetable that is closely related to the turnip. For a hilarious description of neeps as spoken in Scotland, look at http://sco.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neep.

A tattie is a word used in Scotland for potato, as explained at http://sco.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattie.


Of course, wild-caught haggis is the best http://youtu.be/Vc9iSHcMkQE

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If you are interested, BBC Scotland will be broadcasting some special radio programs tomorrow celebrating the life and times of Robert Burns. Even on foreign shores, people can listen in on these broadcast via the internet
See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radioscotland/programmes/schedules/mw
(just mind the time difference between the UK and wherever you may be located).


The Haggis goes back before Mankind, when they existed in a larger form, Dinohaggissaurus. They were always rotund, but were feathered and had webbed feet, the better to swim with in the tropical swamps of their native habitant. They were carnivorous and ate whatever they could find, mostly bits and pieces of small furry mammals.
When the End of the Dinosaurs happened, the smallest Haggis survived by hiding in the burrows of the same small furry animals they used to eat. This is when the mutated gene for Vegetarian Haggis evolved. All these small Haggis learned to coexist, and still thrive in the hills and valleys of Scotland.
When a Haggis perches upon your dinner plate, treat it with courtesy and respect as the Haggis is a noble beast.


Long before the Internet and on-line resources there were other ways of doing things. January 1963 I was in grade 8. Small town, mostly Italians, not a Scotsman that I knew of. Socials teacher said to write a paragraph about Robbie Burns and hand it in tomorrow. Phone numbers in that Town were only 3 digits and when you lifted the receiver the local Operator would asked “number please” and you told her the number and she connected you. So I picked up the receiver and asked the Operator what was a Haggis and she asked the Operator sitting next to her, both very helpful and I wrote down the recipe. She must have known my Dad because not long after my Dad had ‘a talking to me’. And every Burns Day since then I think about this.


Must have cranachan — an absolutely delicious Scottish dessert made with raspberries and cream, honey, oats (naturally) and good Scotch whisky (yum).


The recipe is indeed for a vegetarian Haggis but not a vegan Haggis. Do you have a recipe reference for a vegan Haggis?


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