THINK nut roasts, not beef roasts, lentils not lamb and veggie sizzlers instead of square sausage: Scotland is becoming a hotbed of vegetarianism, according to enthusiasts.

News that the first-ever Vegfest is coming to Glasgow has also sparked speculation that carrot juice could eventually replace Irn-Bru as our other national drink.

Around 10,000 visitors are expected at the celebration of veganism and vegetarianism in December at the SECC – possible proof that there is a switch away from meat-eating in Scotland.

Other evidence of the change is a growing number of vegan restaurants and cafes not just in the cities but in traditional market towns like Falkirk.

New vegan businesses are also springing up, such as a cashew nut cheese maker in Cathcart and a Paisley manufacturer of products made from seitan, an ancient East Asian ingredient made from wheat gluten.

Once – probably – the only vegan in Fife, vegan cafe bar owner Craig Tannock says he has seen a dramatic change in Scotland over the last 10 years, particularly in the last five. Now running five vegan food and entertainment venues in Glasgow, he believes what is happening in Scotland is part of a global trend.

“I have been vegan since the early 80s and it is completely different to how it was then,” said Tannock. “I went vegan in 1982 and it was five years before I met another vegan. The only resource was the Vegan Society based down south so you were on your own in an alien landscape. Now it is really quickly becoming more mainstream.”

There are no specific figures of the number of vegetarians and vegans in Scotland – something that Tannock believes should be addressed by the Scottish Government to help new businesses – but the UK figure hovers around 11 per cent, as it does in Italy. In Germany which, next to the US, was one of the world’s biggest meat-eating countries, nine per cent are now vegan or vegetarian. Even in the burger-munching US the figure has risen from one per cent to five per cent, with half of these vegan. In France where there were virtually no vegetarians or vegans, the figure has crept up to around three per cent.

“We need some research sponsored by the Scottish Government to find out exactly what is happening,” said Tannock, one of the co-ordinators of The Only Way Is Ethics, a special eight-day festival of ethics in Glasgow beginning on November 29, with the final two days running in tandem with Vegfest Scotland.

“It would be very interesting to see how it compares with the rest of the UK and the rest of Europe.

“There are a lot of new vegan businesses starting up in

Scotland and it would be useful for these businesses to get the demographics.

“People are more aware of the ethical issues surrounding eating animal products and there is also a greater range of quality vegetarian and vegan products which makes it easier to make the change. I think that is all leading to this momentum we are seeing.

“The fact that the organisers of Vegfest are confident enough to bring such a large-scale event up to Glasgow says a lot.”

He said it was encouraging that many of the exhibitors at the event were Scottish – many of them new in the last two years.

“A lot were not even around a year ago,” he said.

Asked if Scotland was a hotbed of vegetarianism, Karin Ridgers, whose Veggievision TV is the media partner of Vegfest Scotland, said: “I think it is. Scotland just seems to be the place to be. There is definitely a market. It is growing at such a rapid rate. Every day you see something about the benefits of reducing meat consumption or meat products and I think Scots are open-minded and want to try different things.”

One of the exhibitors at Vegfest is non-dairy cheesemaking company Bute Island Foods.

“The fact that there are so many wonderful vegan events being held all over the country shows how much the demand is growing,” said a spokesperson. “It is a very exciting time and the choice, range and quality of vegan products is rapidly expanding.”

Vegfest Scotland organiser Tim Barford added: “It’s a privilege to bring Vegfest to Scotland. To be able to bring the vegan message to the people of Scotland in such a fun, lively, colourful, passionate and inspiring way is a true honour.

“We have a lot of support from many people in Glasgow who have made it easy for us and helped massively. The council, the authorities, the venue and many local business organisations and individuals have made us very welcome so far.”