I was reading this article today in the Guardian regarding how by 2015 “Vegetarian” and “Vegan” are set to be legally enforced terms that if used incorrectly on restaurant menus the establishment can be penalised. I see Parmesan on a lot of “vegetarian” options whilst out and about and it still doesn’t seem to be common knowledge that some cheeses are made with animal rennet (the lining from a calf’s stomach, nice) and are therefore unsuitable for us to eat. Heck, I’ve even seen Parmesan listed as an ingredient in so called vegetarian cookbooks!
As a chef, you should be knowledgable about the ingredients in your recipe, be informed where they come from and also be aware of basic dietary requirements. It’s surely a sign of a bad chef if you aren’t? In 2012 I would consider being a vegetarian a basic dietary requirement, it’s not 1847 any more!
Most recently I have seen an example of this at my place of work, Thai Green Curry was implied as the vegetarian option on the menu. When I queried the Catering Manager she confirmed the presence of fish sauce in the green curry paste. This to me, is not vegetarian – especially as these days you can get the curry paste without very easily, with no more expense and it tastes just as good. (To make things worse, since I raised the issue the dish has been repeated on the menu. STOP IT.)
People probably see being a vegetarian as a choice or that we are just “being fussy” but to me, having not eaten meat for 26 years of my 29 year life, it is a big part of who I am. I believe I was born vegetarian but just didn’t have the knowledge or the form of expression to make my preference felt (this is a whole other blog post so i’ll stop there) and if I’m being perfectly honest I find the misuse of the term quite offensive. I think what I’m trying to say is that people in the catering industry should have better knowledge of their craft.
Ok, enough ranting. I’ve not had a lot of sleep as you can probably tell.