Aicha and her life in Scotland

Living in another country. A dream for some and a reality for others. What is it like to emigrate and live as a vegetarian or vegan in a country other than the Netherlands? We go in search of the stories of entrepreneurs and women who eat vega(n) and decided to take the plunge and live abroad. What is their story?

Vegan Aicha in Scotland

Today the 26-year-old originally from Brabant Aicha from Zeeland. She exchanged the Netherlands for Scotland.

Who are you and how did you end up in Paisley, Scotland?

I am Aicha, 26 years old and born in North Brabant. At 15, I moved (very reluctantly) to Zeeland with my Dutch mother. In the spring of 2014, I met my Scottish friend in downtown Middelburg. Afterwards, we turned out to live on the same street, and for the last few months before we left, we lived together right in the middle of that street.

So why go to Scotland?

My friend was homesick and I always had a thing for Scotland. When the English-speaking company he worked for went bankrupt, we decided headlong to move.


When the English-speaking company he worked for went bankrupt, we decided headlong to move.


We (that is, me) had a month to sell/dispose of everything and in the meantime I just kept working until a few days before departure. Pretty tough because of course you also want to “say goodbye” . I had to plan everything down to the minute. Really crazy in retrospect, haha. So I was completely wrecked when we arrived in Scotland. The first few weeks we were in Scotland, I really had to recover.

Where are you living now?

Currently we live in Paisley, a town just outside Glasgow. In the beginning, I sometimes had trouble with the Scottish tongue. I found this especially difficult on the phone, but I quickly got the hang of it! I work in a coffee shop, which is part of Bluestone Giftshops, in a town down the road. We have many vegetarian and vegan dishes and pastries and we are only going to expand that.

True meat eater

My friend Chris is a real meat eater, but he is okay with not eating meat once a week. I’m lucky though; he is not a difficult eater by any means. And he loves to eat and I love to cook. A while back, he even suggested we eat at a vegan restaurant :-).

Why did you start eating vegetarian or vegan?

Initially I changed my diet and lifestyle only because of my health (extreme fatigue, hair loss etc etc). But now I also really do it to reduce my footstep and be as little part of suffering, in whatever form, as possible.


You really won’t make me happy with plastic vegan cheese and over-processed meat and dairy substitutes.

In my adolescence, I was a vegetarian for four years and then ate meat for several more. Over the years, I started eating more and more consciously; I only wanted organic meat, and since it is a lot more expensive, I automatically started eating a lot less meat. From up to two pieces of meat a month to now nothing. Still, answering the questions in this interview got me thinking again.

Nature has so much beauty!

I like real, unprocessed and fresh food; lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Nature has so much beauty and deliciousness to offer, then you don’t need all that processed food, do you? You really won’t make me happy with plastic vegan cheese and over-processed meat and dairy substitutes.

What is it like to live in Paisley as a vegan?

Personally, I find it difficult to eat out because I easily feel burdened with all my dietary requirements (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free). I don’t want to be a burden to another person. My boyfriend eats at his parents’ house almost every Sunday and since they cook a lot with packets and sachets (brrrr, e-numbers, too much salt and sugar!) and do just eat everything, I bring my own food and they are fine with that too. No need for anyone to worry 🙂

Eating out with my boyfriend and his family (incl. 2 young children and 1 adolescent) is also difficult, as it often comes down to a family-friendly, affordable food court anyway where the options for me are minimal. Alone with my friend or with friends is doable, then you go to other kinds of eateries anyway.

What I miss is the gluten-free Yam Desem bread, which is also free of animal products and not packed with ingredients. I hope to find something like this here someday!

How do people react when you tell them you’re vegan?

I never find it necessary to tell. It only comes up at parties and when we eat out. No one further asked or commented.


What does it cost to eat healthy and varied food as a vegan in Scotland?

In terms of groceries, I am currently spending about the same amount as in the Netherlands. I intend to buy more in bulk (nuts, seeds, dried beans, lentils etc), but I have yet to figure that all out.

What tips do you have for other vegetarians and/or vegans to when they come to Paisley or Scotland?

I have lived here for almost a year now and can tell you that the choice is vast! In Paisley itself, I have only had lunch at Mad Hatters – 39 Gauze Street. They may not have vegan options on the menu, but they will lovingly make you a a vega(n) dish. They also bake the most beautiful cakes themselves, including vegan ones regularly. I have never felt so welcome anywhere.

Scotland, especially Glasgow, is teeming with vega(n) joints and it is usually amazingly cheap. A top 3 is really terribly difficult, because I’m always so happy and grateful when I can eat somewhere and it’s more than a salad or fries.

Pumpkin brown Pumpkin brown16 Grassmarket, Edinburgh
Small but nice! Everything here is vegan, gluten-free and free of refined sugars, which means I can eat anything! Everything is fresh, looks beautiful and is incredibly delicious!


Eve Andersson Website:

Hendersons of Edinburgh various locations; 25 Thistle Street, 92 & 94 Hanover street, 67 Holyrood Road
The choice here is vast! Vega(n) breakfast, lunch, pastries, a salad bar. I’ve only been there once and must have missed a lot, but I definitely recommend it and I’m really going back myself!


Tchai-Ovna 42 Otago Lane – is a tea house in Glasgow West End that sells an awful lot of different kinds of tea and delicious vega(n) snacks. The furniture and crockery are mostly second-hand and the atmosphere is really incredibly relaxed. The first time I was there, a friend had a teacup from…. Twente! Oh and there are 2 cats walking around 🙂


My favorite and also most expensive supermarket is WholeFoods in Giffnock. That really is food heaven, you can find (almost) anything there! On that same street is a gluten-free bakery, Wild Flours, which has regular vegan options and I think they really do bake everything on demand with love for you! You can also enjoy sitting on the terrace.

My favorites at the moment are Hippeas, Booja Booja ice cream and jackfruit taco! I ate that last one at The Flying Duck in Glasgow where everything is vegan. At the Flying Duck they have a foodfest, but I’ve never been there myself. The vega(n) community here is quite large so I can imagine there really is a lot to do, but unfortunately haven’t visited or done anything myself yet.

Other world women


Emigrating abroad is not something you do lightly. There is often a story behind this. A dream, love, work or other reasons. Do you enjoy telling your story and inspiring other people with it? Or do you know someone who should tell her story? I’d love to hear about it! Send an email to: