EATING OUT: TOP TIPS FOR HUNGRY VEGANS
It's hard to keep up with food trends. These days it seems that every second person is on a gluten-free or paleo regimen. Veganism - no meat, dairy, fish, eggs and, some would add, no fun - has been around for a long time, but it's not a diet for the faint-hearted.
With the promise of better skin, improved energy and weight loss, and health benefits in terms of reductions in blood pressure, risk of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer, though, it's no surprise to find it embraced by A-list types such as Bill Clinton and Alicia Silverstone. Vegan-cleanses are also fashionable with celebs.
But eating out as a vegan can be difficult, in terms of menu choices. Since the closure of SSeduced in Temple Bar, Dublin doesn't have a permanent vegan restaurant, but gourmet vegans should watch out for Fiona Hallinan and Katie Sanderson's The Hare pop-up (find them on Facebook), which serves a mainly vegan menu and appeared at IMMA last month. It will soon be making an appearance at Le Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris. Sanderson's popular Living Dinners (www.livingdinners.com) are also plant-based.
When Gabriel Byrne was on honeymoon here earlier this month, he was snapped eating outside Blazing Salads on Dublin's Drury St (inset), one of the few places in the city to cater well for vegans. Cornucopia on Wicklow St is another establishment where vegans will not go hungry, and Denis Cotter's vegetarian Cafe Paradiso in Cork always has several vegan dishes on the menu.
"I had a fantastic meal at Home in Belfast, which has a specific vegan menu," says Áine, "and also - bizarrely - at Stix and Stones, a steak and seafood restaurant, which gave me an outrageously good vegan salad."
It's always a good idea to phone ahead to a restaurant if you have specific dietary requirements. Most chefs will happily make a bit of extra effort if they have some warning.