Of all the vegan cafes in Glasgow, Picnic has got to be one of my favourites. It’s a lovely bright friendly wee place with a smashing menu of simple tasty dishes. Unlike a lot of the other vegan restaurants in Glasgow, it places an emphasis on healthy plant-based organic foods, so if you fancy a smoothie and a raw vegan salad for lunch with a delicious raw cake for desert, then Picnic is for you.
Fairly new to the Glasgow vegan scene, Picnic was established in 2016 by owner Michelle Morrow, and already has an army of dedicated fans who give it rave reviews on Trip Advisor.
Curious to know more about how Picnic came to be, I asked Michelle if I could interview her and she very kindly agreed.
10 Questions for Michelle Morrow, Picnic Vegan Café Glasgow
1. To begin, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be running a vegan cafe in Glasgow?
MM: My husband, Nick and I went vegan about 5 years ago. We were very frustrated there weren’t any fully vegan places in the city centre offering healthy, freshly made food. Realising there was a bit of gap in the market, we began planning and researching opening our own place and Picnic was born!
2. Opening a fully-vegan cafe is quite a bold move, considering that most cafes tend to go down the safe route of offering vegan and vegetarian options. What motivated you to open a completely vegan cafe?
MM: Being anything less than fully vegan wasn’t something we considered. It wouldn’t have sat at all well with us to serve any animal derived products because Nick and I feel strongly there’s no such thing as an ethical or healthy animal product.
3. Glasgow is usually more well-known for its deep-fried Mars Bars and Irn Bru, rather than with healthy or vegan food – what made you choose this city in particular for your location?
MM: First of all, we are very settled in Glasgow, so it made sense to open here. Also, the fact Glasgow has so many other vegan places means it’s a popular destination for travelling vegans! Glaswegians also love to eat out generally, so we try to attract as many people – both vegan and non vegan alike – as possible.
4. Where do you get your inspiration for the delicious plant-based dishes that you serve in Picnic? Do you have any particular favourite vegan chefs that you follow, or do you prefer to veganise conventional recipes?
MM: Inspiration comes from all kinds of places. I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen with various ideas and if I think they’re good enough, we serve them in Picnic. I like to travel, so some inspiration comes from things I’ve tried elsewhere. I also like to look at different recipes and tweak them to add my own twist.
5. Veganism is really exploding in the UK lately – have you noticed that trend reflected at Picnic? Are you currently inundated with newbie vegans doing Veganuary?
MM: We have seen quite a few customers in January who are doing Veganuary, which is great. We also have a real mix of regular customers plus new people coming all the time. Veganism and interest in it is noticeably on the up, which is a great thing. We also have a lot of customers who are not vegan but have drastically cut down their intake of animal products. It’s always pleasing when people try vegan food, plant milk or cakes for the first time and love them!
6. What is your most popular raw food (or drink!) in the cafe?
MM: The Raw Pad Thai salad we offer is very popular – it’s also one of my favourites. It’s a nice combination of healthy fresh salad with a lime and cashew dressing. There’s also a few fresh chillies in there, which I love. The smoothies are also very popular with the Glasgow Green being a particular favourite.
7. What would you say people prefer – healthy plant based food or the decadent vegan cakes you offer?
MM: I think people welcome the fact there’s somewhere they can get a healthy lunch or breakfast, which isn’t that easy in the City Centre. Of course, everybody loves the cakes which is why we offer a choice of healthier, raw options.
8. Do you ever get famous vegan celebs paying you a visit?
MM: There’s been quite a few musicians and DJs who’ve dropped in, whilst on tour. My husband was particularly excited when we had the bass player from The Who in for lunch one day because he’s a big fan.
9. What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened in Picnic? Any funny stories?
MM: Yes, funny things happen on a regular basis but that would be telling!
10. Where do you see Picnic in the future? Do you have any exciting plans coming up?
MM: Being a relatively new venture, our first goal is keep developing our existing outlet to ensure the business continues to grow. We’re happy with the way things have gone, so far and don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.
Many thanks to Michelle for kindly spending the time to answer my questions. Be sure to pay Picnic a visit if you haven’t done so already – you won’t be disappointed!
You can find them at 103 Ingram Street Glasgow G1 1DX.