The Vegetarian Challenge
I was a vegetarian for a decade. All through my twenties, I spurned meat and then fish with all the ease of one genuinely off-put by the thought of eating something that had slapped into a boat just a few days previously; or rattled off to the abattoir. But then, something happened. Maybe I needed an extra boost of iron or what have you, but suddenly the restaurant I hankered to go to was L'Entrecôte: no frills, just steak.
I realised the other day just how far I’d come since my vegetarian days in a chance exchange at one of City Pantry’s PA networking breakfasts. The food was being set out and my nose caught the intensely savoury smell of cooked bacon. I remarked how delicious it was, when my interlocutor shook her head firmly and said not to her it wasn’t. She told me she was vegetarian and fed-up with the collective myth that she must secretly be yearning for a rasher. I remember the comments all too well, and I remember combatting them fiercely. “Everyone loves a bit of bacon.” Or sausage. Or chicken. Or whatever it was that happened to be on offer on the day in question.
I felt waves of empathy and not a little guilt that I’d become what I never thought I’d be: the exponent of meat. The pusher of products porcine. I wanted to justify my throwaway comment and explain that, though I now ate meat, my sympathies were still with her, that I understood.
We ended up chatting about the London restaurants where vegetarian food is done imaginatively, because that is something I still look for at when I glance over a menu for the first time. There are those who say you can judge a restaurant by their green salad. I would have to agree: if a kitchen takes time and trouble over a lowly vegetable, you can bet that they’ll be treating all their ingredients as reverently.
Here was a conversation that had made me want to interrogate where I am now, whether today I consume meat without thinking. No. I don’t think so. Once, maybe twice a week, my husband - a chef - will cook something meaty and make a stock to ensure that the cut we bought goes a little bit further. This week, National Vegetarian Week, we’ll be going meat-free. If it goes super well, who knows? Perhaps I could be persuaded back into the fold.
We’re challenging you to make your office go vegetarian for a day. Check out what our vendors are cooking up and order you and your team something that’ll do them the power of good this week.