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What do we want?

Interesting veggie meals!


One of the things I miss most, on returning to London after living in Brighton, is the lack of choice for vegetarians in most restaurants and pubs. I find myself kicking my feet under the table, checking out the decor and updating my Twitter feed, whilst the meat eaters ponder a wide variety of options. My decision will only take a few seconds because the vegetarian ‘choice’, as it is euphemistically called, is often either pasta (yawn), mushroom risotto or something with goat’s cheese.

I expressed much frustration about this in a Facebook post  and was surprised at the number of comments from people who felt the same way.  The fact that many meat-eaters have partners who are vegetarians seems to completely pass some restaurant owners by. Poor veggie options means we will probably just go somewhere else – surely it would be better business sense to offer us exciting food too?  We have put up with mediocre, unimaginative fare for too long and it’s time for change.

The aim of this blog is to persuade restaurants and pubs to offer interesting veggie meals. When I go out, I want to be served a dish that I can’t or won’t cook for myself – because it has unusual ingredients or requires real talent to create; I want a choice of wholesome meals with a variety of vegetables, pulses and grains. I want to be excited by what’s on offer and enjoy the anticipation of  being served a culinary delight. I don’t want to pay over the odds for something I can tip out of a packet and frankly tastes better when I cook it myself.

I was spoiled for choice in Brighton, with the Iydea cafe, Wai Kika Moo Kau, Food for Friends and terre à terre offering wholly veggie menus and many of the pubs offering a vegetarian Sunday roast as standard. They lead the way and I see no reason why eateries throughout the land shouldn’t celebrate the veggie pound by serving us similarly tempting treats.

It’s time for action! I am going to start cataloguing the offerings and attitudes to vegetarians in restaurants and pubs, asking for contributions, recipes and ideas from vegetarians and campaigning for interesting choices for veggies.

As well as developing a campaigning blog, I love the idea of sharing recipes and offering a resource for people who have got a veggie or a vegan coming to dinner and want to give them a delicious meal too.

So, if you’re tired of soggy pasta, can’t face another mushroom risotto and think goat’s cheese is the food of the devil – you have found some friends!

  1. Helen permalink

    Great blog! Will look at in more detail when I have a bit more time but agree wholeheartedly with comparison between London and Brighton. I am doing a special trip to Brighton in the New Year just to go to Terre a Terre – I sometimes feel even in London that we’re treated as what used to be known as ‘cranks’ and a return to the treatment I got when I stopped eating meat in 1985!

  2. Lynn Burns - Registered Public Health Nutritionist permalink

    Fantastic blog and mission. I am married to a vegetarian (I have lost count the number of times the veggie dish has been put in front of me and the steak been put in front of my husband!) so completely am signed up to your campaign. So often My husband chooses the wine so that he gets to choose something, he is so often disappointed and also gets annoyed when the veggie option comes with salad and if you want veg and potatoes you have to buy them as sides. His comment is not all veggies are trying to lose weight, if we have been on a bike ride with him towing small children in a trailer he can be really hungry.

    I am a also a registered public health nutritionist and there are a lot of people who want to eat less meat and would be swayed toward the veggie option if it were appealing and given equal focus and imagination. Encouraging restaurants to do more veggie food and showcasing high quality dishes with fibre containing pulses that everyone could benefit from eating more off and interesting ways to eat more veg could be a brilliant thing. THere are lots of dishes that could be veggie and the grilled chicken or salmon be an optional extra – a way to expand the number of veggie dishes on the menu but because they are open to the meat eaters too is a way to make the meal more viable. Veggie meals can also be cheaper (compared to an meat eqivalent dish) and with money being a little tighter all round that can be used as an advantage.

    Please can restaurants skip the meat replacer such as Quorn – my husband opted not to eat meat and finds anything that tries to taste like or feel like meat is very unappealing indeed.

  3. jemimaroberts permalink

    Oooh… I like it! Great blog and mission – I shall be back to visit and no doubt, subscribing.

    Keep up the good work. Incidentally, some quick suggestions of places to try off the top of my head:

    Saf (not yet tried)
    Manna (not yet tried – oldest veggie restaurant in the UK)
    Mildred’s (tried and liked, but only once so would like to go back – can send full report)

    Oh and the famous Rootmaster ‘bustaurant’ (on an old Routemaster bus). Not tried yet but on my list. Can’t find a direct weblink.

    All the best,


    (writer – food-related and otherwise) and poet. Outlet for writerly, rather than solely culinary, whimsy here:

  4. Nancy Platts permalink

    Thanks to Helen, Lynn and Jemima for your comments, wise words and links.

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