food & drink

Why attitudes on vegetarianism need to change

‘I have never tasted meat.’ This sole statement causes quite a few raised eyebrows and shocked expressions whenever it comes up in conversation, and if I am lucky maybe a bit of admirat

‘I have never tasted meat.’ This sole statement causes quite a few raised eyebrows and shocked expressions whenever it comes up in conversation, and if I am lucky maybe a bit of admiration too.

Vegetarianism is not a new concept, in fact it originates from ancient Greece! However, recently it is becoming more and more common especially with the rise of environmental and ethical concerns.

Clearly though the idea still seems alien to some, but how has the food world accommodated for the increasing numbers?

Born and bred

With vegetarian parents I have been raised never tasting meat, and even though they wouldn’t mind it if I decide to try, I plan to never eat meat for the rest of my life.

Part of the reason why I am vegetarian is the fact that it is the lifestyle I have grown up in and is how I am used to living my life. But also it comes with health benefits, is cheaper and also the idea of eating dead animals makes me feel sick being a supporter of animal welfare, but I take no issue with those who do eat meat.

Over the twenty years of being vegetarian I have seen the world change to accommodate us more, but of course there is still a lot of work to be done.

When I was a child there was always a struggle to find somewhere to eat out that would suit my whole family. Kids are renowned fussy eaters, so imagine the difficulty you would have with a vegetarian child! If the place didn’t do pizza or pasta then the option would always be a side order of chips, not exactly the most filling or healthy option but often it was the only one that existed.

As an adult, of course, our taste buds have matured and are therefore less fussy, but also more options exist when it comes to eating out. But still, why do I find myself often restricted to either an Indian, Italian or good old-fashioned chips?

Progress in the modern day

There are signs that the world has become more accommodating to vegetarians, and not just vegetarians. Veganism is also increasingly popular leading to the existence of vegan cafes, something which wouldn’t have been thought of a decade ago.

On the bookshelves there are more vegetarian cookbooks, including ones even for students. Today it is also highly unlikely that there won’t be a vegetarian option on the menu, even if it is something you have to ring up and request for before.

The problem is though, often the vegetarian options are boring, bland and the same thing over and over again. Come on chefs, use your imagination!

Vegetarians are people too

Vegetarians enjoy food as much as any other person, so why should we suffer simply because we have a different lifestyle choice? Often when eating out vegetarians are limited to a veggie burger, pizza or pasta cooked in a tomato based sauce, tasty choices but it does get boring.

If you can afford to go to fancier restaurants then the choice is sometimes wider and more interesting, but for a student on a budget the choices are restricted.

The diet of vegetarians is much wider than people may think. Rather than putting meat in our meals we instead put in pulses and more vegetables making our food just as filling and tasty. However, this is a fact that restaurants often forget.

Whenever I eat out the vegetarian option seems to always involve cheese, which causes two problems. Firstly, this really limits the choice for vegans as that practice involves not eating dairy and secondly not all vegetarians like or eat cheese!

A lot of cheese contains rennet which is made from animal so vegetarians have to be careful around it anyway, but I am sure chefs can think of yummy options that does not involve the awful substance!

The world is becoming more accommodating to vegetarians, but for the majority of restaurants imagination and creativity is still needed to improve vegetarian options.

For more information on vegetarianism visit The Vegetarian Society’s website, and have your say on vegeterianism in the comments section below.

Image: United States Department of Agriculture (public domain)