Haggis is a savoury pudding.
When one speaks of a "pudding" one does not speak of cream-based sweet desserts such as custard, mousse, rice or Jell-O. In the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth a pudding could be sweet or savoury. For example black pudding or a Yorkshire pudding are savoury puddings whereas rice pudding, Christmas pudding or a treacle sponge pudding are sweet puddings. There is a Canadian connection to sweet puddings - the sticky toffee pudding may have origins from two Royal Canadian Air Force Officers billeted in England during the Second World War.
Depending on the type of fat used, a sweet pudding could be a castle pudding (where butter is used) or a college pudding (where suet is used). This comes from the days when impoverished students could only afford suet fat and the rich ate butter. For example, the infamous spotted dick is a type of college pudding as it is made with suet as is Clootie dumpling or plum duff. A Victoria sponge uses butter and is therefore a type of castle pudding - so is sticky toffee pudding.
Many ridicule haggis. Simply put it is a savoury pudding containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs), minced onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt and stock, all mixed together and encased in a sheep's stomach or artificial casing. It was known in northern England in the 15th century. Similar dishes exist in other countries. And while the traditional casing may sound unappetizing, one should think about the casing on sausages. As for the contents, the sheep's pluck is simply a form of offal or organ meats. Liver and onions, pâté, tripe, tongue, steak and kidney pie, blood etc. - all of these are forms of offal and represent the efficient use of animals - from snout to tail. In Canada's North, this approach is perfectly fine for hunters and especially Indigenous hunters where the efficient use of the animal is not only economical but also respectful to the animal and the land.
There are vegetarian and vegan options for haggis. These are of course non-traditional.
The haggis is the focus of a Burn's Supper as is the Address to the Haggis, a poem written by Robert Burns:
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Is there that o're his French ragout
Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
The idea behind a haggis on Burns Night is that the haggis, neaps and tatties, is a fairly wholesome meal but also a humble one - "hamely fare". It celebrates the austerity and frugality inherent in the Scots' culture. This is a recurring theme in the poetry of Robert Burns and his pre-occupation with the human condition - some might call him socialist. Nowhere is this theme clearer than in a commonly recited poem at Burns suppers (and words to a piping tune): A Man's A Man for A'That . This was revolutionary "stuff" for 1795 and cutting-edge for the time.
It is telling that for the Scots, like their cousins in Ireland and Wales, their national heroes are William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, a flurry of scientists and engineers and poets.
- https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/vegan-haggis (Vegan haggis)
- https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/vegetarian_haggis_12104 (Vegetarian haggis)