A Day At Donegal Donkey Sanctuary

I first heard about the Donegal Donkey Sanctuary about 6 months ago. I constantly made plans to visit, but these plans didn’t materialise until last weekend. A few friends and I (plus two of the cutest kids you’ll ever see) went on Sunday and had a really great time. We just wanted to see some cute donkeys, but we learnt a lot about their plight and the amazing work the volunteers at the Sanctuary do every day to keep the donkeys safe and happy.

We arrived at around 2pm and walked over to the donkeys, who came up to us straight away. They’re such lovely gentle creatures with the softest hair and they’re so badly treated in so many countries. Many of the donkeys taken in by founders Danny and Sandra Curran have suffered years of abuse and neglect and were abandoned at the sides of roads or woods, and some have been taken in from people who no longer have the money to care for them.

The fantastic, kind-hearted Currans took in their first donkey after a phone call from a family friend informed them of a starving, dehydrated donkey tied to a scrapped car in a bog. After that, many more donkeys came into their care from a number of different places.

The sanctuary has gone from strength to strength over the past few years and now has a new stable block, large barn, tea room and gift shop. However, these additions have cost a lot of money. As Danny himself has said, they get very little money from the government to help ease the massive financial burden. They rely almost entirely on the generosity of others.

The sanctuary is a fantastic place for kids to see animals they wouldn’t normally see and get them used to interacting with animals. Sanctuaries are a much better option than places like zoos where animals are kept behind bars in tiny enclosures for the rest of their lives, or worse, circuses that use and abuse animals for entertainment. A sanctuary is the ideal place for kids to see animals living their lives in peace.

It’s great for animal-loving adults too though! I loved walking around at my leisure seeing the donkeys and petting them. They’re complete sweetie pies, though one of the donkeys tried to take a nibble at my jacket while I was petting him. I had no idea my clothes were so delicious!

Donegal Donkey Sanctuary

If you love animals, please support this wonderful sanctuary in any way you can. Go up and visit, drop a euro or two into the donations boxes, take a few pictures, bring a thermos of soup and have a lovely Sunday to yourself. Top tip: bring a coat as the days are getting colder and you’ll be outside quite a bit!

How can you help? 

There are a few different ways you can help the sanctuary house and feed the donkeys, particularly during the winter months:

Have a birthday party at the sanctuary 

A really great way you could help the donkeys while saving a lot of money is to have your child’s birthday party at the sanctuary. There are four or five tables in the gift shop that would be ideal for party food and parents of the kids can donate money in lieu of presents for your little one. Or they can buy some of the donkey themed gifts from the gift shop as all the money goes towards caring for the donkeys. Admission to the sanctuary is FREE so you’re saving way more money than you would if you went anywhere else AND you’d be doing good.

Donegal Donkey Sanctuary

Volunteer

The sancutary is always in need of volunteers for several duties like working with the donkeys, mucking out stables, brushing and grooming, helping in the gift/coffee shop, administrative duties, website maintenance, grass cutting, fencing etc. Give the sanctuary a call or an email if interested!  

Donate money

You can do this in a few ways: Give money directly to the sanctuary, organise your own fundraising event in aid of the sanctuary, or buy bales of hay in lieu of traditional presents. For example, you can buy 1 bale of hay for €5, 2 for €10 and so on. You’ll also get a voucher to give to your loved one so they know you’ve donated money to the donkeys in lieu of their gift.

Donegal Donkey Sanctuary

Adopt a donkey 

You can “adopt” a donkey at the sanctuary for €25 per year. You will receive an adoption pack which contains an adoption certificate, a photograph of your donkey, a fridge magnet and a letter outlining the donkey’s life story to date. You can visit your adopted donkey or donkeys as often as you like at the sanctuary.

These make a fantastic gift for an animal loving friend or a birthday or Christmas present!

Make a purchase on their online shop 

There are plenty of lovely gifts on the sanctuary’s online shop, including coasters, mugs and magnets with the faces of the very donkeys you’d be supporting.

Donegal Donkey Sanctuary

It hurts my heart to know that donkeys just like the ones I spent time with are hit and starved and over-worked to the point of exhaustion and death in places all over the world. They are trusting, docile, beautiful creatures who deserve to live peaceful lives. Do yourself a favour and head up to the sanctuary some day and spend some time with them. It’ll do your soul good!

If you’re trying to find the sanctuary, it’s located halfway between Letterkenny and Lifford, and if you aren’t paying attention you’ll definitely miss the little brown sign indicating the turn-off, so keep your eyes peeled!

Have you been to the sanctuary? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

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Where To Get Vegan Dinner In Dublin

As you’ll probably know if you follow me on Instagram, I’m a huge fan of Dublin. I love it. It’s my favourite place to be, and not just because of the growing number of vegan options. And there are plenty!

vegan dinner Dublin

When I first started looking for vegan options, I either tried my luck and asked in different restaurants and cafés (if you don’t ask, you don’t get!) or I went to Cornucopia. There really weren’t very many options in Dublin when I transitioned back last year. Now, however, we’re spoiled for choice!

I’ve put together a list of places I myself have been (or others I know have been) where there are definitely vegan friendly options. I know there are a few more note-worthy places in the city as well, but I’ll mention the ones I have direct experiences with! I will do an ultimate list of vegan places in Dublin at some point though.

Sova

I was dead excited the first time I went to Sova. An ENTIRELY vegan menu? Yes, please! I’m happy to announce it’s just as delicious as you’d hope.

vegan dinner Dublin

The only item I tried that I didn’t like were the schnitzels. But everything else was fab! Read my full review here.

What to order: the seafood chowder

Koh

Like most restaurants, Koh serves meat and all manner of animal products, but they also have quite an extensive vegetarian menu and even some vegan options as well (yummy ones!)

vegan dinner Dublin

This place is what I call a “special occasion restaurant” as it’s VERY expensive, but it’s well worth the price. Get the vegetarian starter platter, which is suitable for vegans! The vietnamese rolls are to die for.

What to order: the yellow curry with tofu

Cornucopia

Cornucopia is one of Ireland’s oldest vegetarian restaurants -if not the oldest – but it is slowly making its way to becoming totally 100% vegan! It’s not there yet, but you’re always guaranteed to have a huge range of vegan choices, both for dinners and for treats!

Boojum

Burritos are the holy grail of foods for vegans. It’s also super easy to make it vegan and often doesn’t prompt a lot of questions, which is a plus for the shy vegans among us! There’s nothing tastier than a big dollop of re-fried beans and rice wrapped in a doughy pocket and filled with onions and peppers. Mmm.

Umi Falafel

One of my favourite restaurants ever, Umi is a staple for me every time I visit Dublin.

vegan dinner Dublin

It has loads of vegan options (including a semolina cake that I haven’t tried yet actually!) including plenty of ways to have your falafel as well as spinach filo rolls and wrapped vine leaves, as well as a hearty lentil soup.

What to order: Lebanese falafel with batata hara

Aperitivo

If you’re hankering after a pizza, look no further than Aperitivo! It even does vegan cheese AND vegan bacon! This restaurant is quite small (think Harry Potter’s cupboard) so it fills up fast, but if you get it on a quiet day, you’ll be in luck!

What to order: Vegan Meat Feast

Blazing Salads

Although I haven’t been here personally, I’ve heard great things. I’ve passed it plenty of times and I always seem to already have a full belly. They have lots of vegan options including a moroccan style chickpeas casserole and a tofu miso soup.

What to order: red lentil soup

Happy Food

This is a little off the beaten track, but the trek is worth it. It’s at the end of Camden Street down a side alley (so you might miss it if you’re not looking carefully!)

vegan dinner Dublin

They sell all manner of vegan food and there’s even a yoga studio attached.

What to order: the Happy burger

Diwali

You can’t go wrong with Indian food! Most Indians have a vast range of vegetarian options and, in my experience, they’re always happy to cater for vegans. Just make sure you let them know your needs and they’ll handle it for you! Namaste is another restaurant that’s good for options if you’re not close to the city.

Brasserie 66

I tried this place out with my boyfriend as a treat just to see what vegan options were available! I ended up getting seriously big portions of lovely grub. I got the organic leaf salad with black pepper croutons, roasted cherry tomatoes and olives with lemon dressing, as well as a vegetable tagine and sorbet for dessert.

The chef even offered to make me pea soup (the soup of the day had dairy in it) but I didn’t want to put him out.

What to order: vegetable tagine

Token

Dublin’s newest (and probably only) gaming bar and restaurant, this is heaven for all you geeky vegans out there. Although the menu is very expensive, the food is great and there’s huge variety!

vegan dinner Dublin

What to order: hotdogs and chips

Hearty Vegan Food at Nancy’s of Ardara – Restaurant Review

I often find myself lazing around my house at weekends, and as someone with mental health issues and a habit of hibernating out of season, I felt I needed to get out of the house last weekend. I’m so glad I made a plan and saw it through – that in itself is good for mental health – as I had a wonderful time with my family exploring Donegal.

nancys restaurant review

Naturally, explorers get peckish after a while and I was absolutely ravenous after we got to Ardara. We had driven through Ramelton, Glenties and we had yet to go to Donegal Town, so it was time for food! nancys restaurant review

I was a bit dubious at the prospect of finding a place that offered some hearty vegan food options for me, but after seeing a menu option for a ‘veggie burger’ at none other than a SEAFOOD BAR, I realised Ardara was not quite like other places! It was way ahead!

We decided to pop in to ask if the veggie burger was vegan-friendly and thank God it was because otherwise I might have turned my back and not experienced the delish food on offer at Nancy’s!

nancys restaurant review

The bar/restaurant is like a labyrinth inside; there are so many little hidden hallways and doorways and staircases and it’s so ‘old Irish’ charming. The staff as well are very friendly and they engage you with you at the table, which is always nice.

nancys restaurant review

They had a whole section of vegetarian food available and all of it could be modified for vegans. Their menu also specifically stated that their soup was dairy free (the menu was LAMINATED, so it’s here to stay 😉 ) and it was so refreshing not to have to ask. They also had a vegan carrot cake on offer for the troopers who managed to get through their portions!

I also had a soup to start, which was so thick it was more like a stew than anything else. It was delish! Though it came with Dairygold butter, so obviously I avoided that and just enjoyed the soup on its own.

nancys restaurant review

I had a veggie burger with – wait for it – chilli on the side! I thought this was a bit strange (chips weren’t available), but although I could’ve gotten baby potatoes as a side instead, I really wanted to try the chilli because it’s a main option on the menu as well. Two birds with one stone! Not that I’d excuse violence towards birds, but you get the idea!

I didn’t opt for the carrot cake because I was absolutely STUFFED but I imagine it would’ve have been fab as well. The moral of this review is that you shouldn’t judge a restaurant or café by its name or by the food it specialises in; you CAN be surprised!

Vegan Pampering at Skinfull Affairs in Dublin

As vegans, we often deal with stressful situations in our daily lives; omnis giving us hassle, tummy grumbles while picking over a pitiful lettuce salad, militant vegans calling for death to all humans on Facebook groups. Basically, a lot of the time we need to take a chill pill. We need a mojito and a spa day.

Well, the mojito should be fairly easy to get, but a spa day seems impossible right? Many spas and salons offer relaxing treatments, but how many of them offer vegan products and treatments? How many are even cruelty free??

Worry no more, because a salon offering vegan friendly treatments recently opened in Ireland. Yes, Ireland. You read that right. Called Skinfull Affairs, it’s based just off South William Street in Dublin and not only offers vegan eyelash and eyebrow tints, vegan friendly massages and facials, but also vegan manicures so you can walk around with beautiful nails knowing full well that they’re cruelty free.

I was really excited when I found out the salon, so when my birthday came around I decided to treat myself. I booked an appointment for an express facial, a back, neck and shoulder massage, and a file and polish. All for €70! As someone who has paid that much in the past for just a massage, I think it was a brilliant deal, especially because it was all vegan friendly. Just make sure to tell the girl at the desk when you arrive!

skinfull affairs

When I arrived for my appointment, the lady at the desk got me to fill out a form on the salon’s tablet to make sure they knew about any conditions / allergies I had etc. I was offered some cucumber water while I filled it out, and although I was a little worried bout dropping and breaking the iPad, it was nice that the salon was particular about knowing about any issues I had.

The decor in the salon is so unique. There’s lots of plants and wood and a big neon green sign that says ‘Skinfull Affairs’ above the nail area. There’s also a huge wall of products of all kinds (even lubricants!) and a comfy looking chair that’s exclusively for things like threading. Also, all the products that are suitable for vegans have an ‘I’M VEGAN’ sticker on them. Woo!

Anyway, after I filled out the form I was taken downstairs to the treatment area, which was clean and modern and nicely heated. I was left to undress and wrap myself in a towel before letting the lady know I was ready and set up on the table. The massage was lovely (it’s been a while since I had one!) and you couldn’t hear anything of what was happening upstairs on the shop floor, which was great. The music, too, was very calming, though there is a slight pause between tracks that’s a little distracting, but it’s not a big thing.

The facial began basically as soon as the massage finished. I was asked to turn over and I was made comfortable with a rolled towel under my feet and one under my head as well. Overall it was very relaxing and lasted a lot longer than I thought it would for an “express” facial.

skinfull affairs

Afterwards, I was told to take my time getting dressed and ready, so I did, and I took a few pictures of the treatment room for this post while I was at it. There is a sign in the room encouraging this anyway! When I came upstairs, the nail station was laid out and I was told to pick a colour from the nail polishes lined up on the wall. There was a HUGE range of polishes in every colour from Ella + Mila. After a lot of deliberation, I went for a green teal colour, which was so shiny and just gorgeous. I wanted to buy it but it’s €15 per bottle which is very expensive, so I left it (though I believe there’s a deal on at the moment where if you buy a manicure you get 10% off nail polish purchases).

While getting my nails done, I spoke to the lady who works there about the products lining the walls. There was so much there, I could’ve stayed an hour just looking through it all. In the end, I chose a moisturiser and hand cream from Dr Konopka, a little known vegan skincare brand from Estonia I believe. It’s been a month since I first tried the products and I can officially say that they are very high quality (full review coming soon!) and I actually bought more products from the brand when I was in Dublin again recently.

As for the staff, they were so lovely. The girl who took care of me was very pleasant and helpful and answered any questions I had about any product. She was really knowledgeable and was able to recommend products from Skinfull’s shelves to match my skin type. I was so happy with my experience, I just can’t praise it enough.

Overall, if you’re looking to treat yourself or the vegan in your life, choose Skinfull. This isn’t an ad or anything, I’m just so happy that vegan-friendly products and experiences are becoming mainstream and easier to find, plus my whole experience was wonderful and really made my birthday.

Have you been to Skinfull Affairs before? What did you think? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

Sova Vegan Butchers | Restaurant Review

As a vegan, nothing is more inviting than the thought of sitting down with a menu at a restaurant and not having to direct a barrage of questions at the waiter. As someone who loves going out to dinner, it can be a bit of an ordeal these days unless I’ve called ahead to ensure there’ll be something for me to eat. Since hearing of Sova Vegan Butchers, a 100% vegan restaurant off Camden St, I’ve wanted to go. The food in the pictures I’d seen looked fabulous and I’d heard nothing but good things.

sova vegan butchers review

This weekend I FINALLY got to go. It was my birthday and my boyfriend was treating me, so why not go to the one restaurant in Dublin where I can relax and not have to worry about what I’m eating? I booked a table a month in advance (not that you have to, but I was so excited I wanted to sort it straight away!) for me, a friend and my boyfriend. We got there in plenty of time so that there’d be no issues with our table and I wasn’t at all shocked to see the place was packed. It isn’t exactly a large venue, but there’s a ground floor and first floor with just enough floor space to shimmy around.

sova vegan butchers review

After walking up the curvy staircase, we were seated next to the stairs, where we were given menus straight away. The decor is very minimal but there are some great art pieces on the wall featuring abstract animals, plus you’re so excited to just be there that it doesn’t even matter. The atmosphere is bopping anyway because of the number of people, but surprisingly it didn’t feel overly crowded despite being quite close to other diners.

We ordered quickly and all of the food reached our table quite fast, which was impressive given the number of people being served. That’s part of the beauty of eating out vegan – you don’t have the same wait times that you’d expect when ordering steak for instance.

sova vegan butchers review

I ordered king scallops on a bed of dill potato cakes with marinated cauliflower and black pudding and the other two ordered seafood chowder. Both starters were gorgeous. I’d never had seafood chowder before so I don’t have anything to compare it with, but it was fabulous. Similarly, I’d never had scallops before but the whole starter was delicious, particularly the dill potato cakes and black pudding. Surprisingly, I loved the cauliflower bites even though cauliflower wouldn’t usually be my cup of tea, as it were.

sova vegan butchers review

We soon moved on to the main event! I ordered seitan steak with pepper sauce and a big dollop of potatoes with toasted kale. Although the texture isn’t steak-y, the meal itself tasted lovely and when I smothered the steak in sauce it definitely brought back memories of that meaty taste. The potatoes, too, were perfect.

sova vegan butchers review

Unfortunately, the soya schnitzels that my boyfriend ordered were not very nice. It was such a pity because the rest of the meal was so tasty and really high quality, plus it was all beautifully presented. I really couldn’t say anything good about the taste of the schnitzels, if I’m honest; I don’t know if it was a bad batch or if that’s really what they’re meant to be like, but I’d recommend avoiding them as the rest of the menu offers much tastier alternatives.

sova vegan butchers review

For dessert we had lime cheesecake. Full disclosure: I HATE lime. Like, I hate it. It’s the beetroot of fruits! However, I really wanted to check out the texture of the cheesecake on offer at Sova so I decided to give it a go. Although the lime taste was awful (not Sova’s fault, just my tastebuds), the texture was great and it was well presented just like the rest of the meal. So next time when they have a different flavour on offer, I’ll happily get the cheesecake again! The other dessert offered was a chocolate avocado mousse, but I’ve had that a hundred times so I took the chance to try the cheesecake texture. No regrets!

sova vegan butchers review

My two guests had a great time and we all plan on coming back again soon. The only problem they brought up was a €6 corkage charge for wine and €1 for beers, as it’s BYOB. To be honest, I didn’t think this was a problem because so many restaurants in Dublin do this and you can actually end up better off. For example, you could pick up a cheap bottle in Lidl/Aldi and bring that instead of having to opt for a very expensive bottle in-house. Look at the glass half full!

Overall, Sova gets a solid 4 stars from me. It has friendly staff, a varied menu, reasonable prices for the quality of the food, and a 100% vegan menu. Although the experience wasn’t perfect, I really enjoyed my night and I loved the food. Do yourself a favour and visit Sova. Your tummy will thank you! If tummies could talk, which they shouldn’t. If yours does, get that checked out.

Have you been to Sova? What did you think? Do you agree? Let me know in the comments! 

Address: 51 Pleasants St, Dublin 8

Tel: 085 727 7509