When is Vegetarian food not Vegetarian?

…the answer is most likely to be when you haven’t prepared it yourself.

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.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. dogprints13 says:

    I totally agree I was a vegetarian for 3 years (yes i am no longer) and I found the same thing annoyed me. The bakery advertised there vegetable pies as vegetarian I tried to explain that the cheese they were using wasn’t vegetarian but they didn’t care. It was annoying that they didn’t take the terminology seriously I mean just say ‘vegetable pies’

    1. loveonice says:

      They won’t get away with it soon! It’s really really bad though if you point it out and they don’t care enough to change it. Would they care if it was allergy based and could actually kill someone? Probably. So why not take dietary preferences seriously? Bad news as well if you don’t eat certain things for religious reasons.

      1. dogprints13 says:

        I think the issue they can’t get past is that it is a choice, people don’t get why someone would choose to not eat meat, religious reasons included. I think people are scared to accept something they don’t understand. I was vegetarian for my own personal reasons, it’s not like I was demanding others joined me (although cooking dinner for the family would’ve been easier). We all have the right to know what we are putting in our bodies and if you ask me, we all need to pay more attention to what we eat, vegetarian or not.

  2. Mrs. U. says:

    Ok, wow. I did not know that. I am not a vegetarian, but eat meatless meals regularly and often cook for the vegetarians in my life. I completely didn’t get that some cheeses are off limits, and no one has ever corrected me before. Is there somewhere I can get a list or cheat-sheet?

    1. loveonice says:

      Very much enjoyed your blog on the subject – that sweet potato pie story…poor guy! Hope he put her straight. ps: can I come for dinner please 🙂

  3. Thanks for liking my blog. I know what you mean about the cheese – I only found out about Parmesan when I started cooking from the Meat Free Monday book. I’m not vegetarian but I do love my veggies. 🙂

  4. Thanks for liking my blog. I know what you mean about Parmesan – I only found out about it when I began cooking from the Meat Free Monday Book. I’m not vegetarian but I do love my veggies. 🙂

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