There are some immense resources online for vegetarians, these days; hardly surprising when almost two million Brits consider themselves to be ‘strictly vegetarian‘. But the ideology behind going meat-free is so out-dated for us carnivorous dinosaurs that we really are in the dark ages when it comes to our own conception of what makes up a vegetarian diet. Personally, I blame Neil the Hippy and his constant badgering of Rik, Mike and Viv to eat lentils – I surmise that for anyone whose life has begun again, we’re in the same boat.
And that is really the crux of this week’s National Vegetarian Week – not only trying to change our appreciation of a meat-free diet but also teaching vegetarians that the carnivores are not the enemy. As such, we look today at the strides made by the myriad vegetarian enterprises, as well as those on our own cookery courses page, making a difference online today, starting with an offline event (hey-ho): VegFest running, Friday 25th-Sunday 27th May inclusive.
If you’re able to get along to Bristol this weekend, the culmination of this week’s proceedings concludes at the tenth annual VegFest in a program that not only exhibits live cookery classes and demonstrations but also has three comedians (Andrew O’Neill Friday, Sarah Pascoe Saturday and Chris Stokes on Sunday) to remind us that there is a lighter side to vegetarianism and it’s not all about hangovers from the Summer of Love and proclamations that if we don’t stop eating meat, the world will come to an end, despite what Einstein predicted that survival on Earth will be directly benefited by the evolution of vegetarianism. Another good reason to go is that it’s free to the general public, opening Friday at 2pm, then 11am on the weekend days, concluding in all cases at 11pm.
If that’s not enough for you, or you can’t get along, let’s get one thing totally clear: the vegetarian diet is no longer a bowl of lentil soup with a few herbs dashed in; it has gone Gourmet. The Cordon Vert Cookery School, for one, has taken the art of sourcing and preparing ingredients and even developing their own stock of vegetarian chefs through in-house cookery courses, to new levels. Indeed, as National Vegetarian Week builds up to its climax, they have announced the winner of their Chef of the Future award, which we’ll run through in more detail, tomorrow.
There are plenty of other fine dining experiences to be had sans la viande up and down the country, but the real jewel in the UK vegetarian crown is Edinburgh, at least according to Alex Bourke, author of such tomes as Vegetarian Scotland and other travel-related ventures for veggies.
Vegetarian dining is well catered for in the Scottish capital; it even has its own meat-free bed and breakfast, Claymore Vegetarian Guesthouse, based in the heart of the city, just a hop skip and a jump from Princes Street. You can also find up to thirteen bespoke vegetarian restaurants and cafés, all of which sit nicely in and around Edinburgh’s many historical attractions and plentiful pubs and bars (well, it is Scotland).
So join me tomorrow when we take a look at what really is en-vogue veggie as we review the three-course recipe that carried off Cordon Vert Cookery School’s Chef of the Future title and all of the trimmings and prestige that the award entitles the winning chef to.