Getting down in Donegal

When you’re getting used to driving on the opposite side on smaller roads and while raining, add a little leeway time. The running joke as we headed out of Dublin became ‘if it feels wrong, it’s right.’

We ended up at our destination in Donegal after 11 our first night. After chatting with our kind host and hostess until the turn of the day, we headed off to bed. As I went to sleep, wondering about the what they day would bring, I pretty clearly saw a Clif bar in my future.

To my pleasant (ok, really happy) surprise, I woke up to a gorgeous mountain view dotted by grazing sheep and got to eat fries for breakfast. Maybe “chips” for breakfast sounds a little junk-food-vegan-esque, but what about hash browns or home fries? Still a potato. It was really that I was thought of that I greatly appreciated. (Apparently I was supposed to put the beans on the toast. Not jam. LOL!)

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After we were fed and dressed (seriously, you’d think it would take four grown-ups less time to rally), we finally headed into town…but not before having to stop and have the headlight bulb on our rental car fixed, which was surprisingly cheap (10 euros), so NBD. (My mother playing mini golf in a car dealership…priceless.) Off we went to The Diamond…where I kind of hit the motherload. Yeah, yeah, we got to see Donegal Castle, all old as it was, (no disrespect; my dad loved it) but my vegan radar (can we say vadar? ) was up and I was excited to spot Simple Simon’s. The shop wasn’t all vegan, but they had a great selection, including non-dairy milks, cheeses (Cheezly and Tofutti), and yoghurts (Wot no dairy?)…as well as chocolate!

I’m really curious about what it’s like, what’s available and the reception to those who choose not to consume animal products, in other areas of the world. In some areas, I’m sure similar products are available, but I know certainly not all. I found some eats and treats in Ireland I wish we had in the U.S. (maybe not considering how I splurged…whamp, whamp). Alternatively, some things I may be used to here may not even be wanted in other areas, so going there looking for them, and judging them negatively for not having them, would fail to participate in the culture. Um, but chocolate’s universal, right?

I’ve always wanted to try the brand Moo-Free and I couldn’t resist the white buttons, both of which were yum (I approve Hammy, I approve). Nakd bars, ‘gleefully made in Britain,’ were also a really good find. I ended up seeing them again in Dublin and at roughly the same price as in Donegal (between 1.20 and 1.40 euro). They’re not very large compared to a Clif bar or even a Larabar, but I thought they tastes better; well worth it. I even grabbed some tofu dogs for a (not our) family gathering we were attending. I never ate them, though.

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We drove down some really tiny roads through the countryside to the party. My sister did most of the driving. I’m not even sure I could have driven on some of the roads she drove on. Seriously, roads where barely two cars fit or ones where only one car fits and if you come upon someone you might have to back up kilometers. Um, and they do that. From our experiences with “roundabouts” and such, the Irish have a courtesy that kind of blew our minds.

We talked late into the night with our hosts’ family at their yearly family reunion, including fifty people…and that was a small gathering by their standards! It was a mix of overwhelming and refreshing to be around so many people. My sister chatted a lot about Gaelic football and I chatted about races in Ireland. Yay for not being the only vegan! With plenty of beans, corn on the cob, and watermelon, my tofu dogs weren’t needed (I ended up eating them for breakfast. Ha!)

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I had such a good time in Donegal, I was more than ready to root them on in the quarterfinals of the All Ireland. (Final score with which we’ll just forget about…massacre…ugh…better luck next year guys.)

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