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Entries in vegetarian (6)


They don't breed vegetarians in Switzerland

As seen in Saas Fee


Travelling as a vegetarian

So, inspired by my recent trip to Chile, I thought I would make a map of where it is easy/hard to be a vegetarian. It ranges from:

Amazing: India, Italy and Thailand, oh my!

Good: you don't need to check the menu, every place will have a couple of decent vegetarian options

Okay: you might need to search a bit, but you are not going to go hungry and there are occasional gems

Poor: waiters will look at you funny, but the cook will try to make you an omlet or something

Bad: yeah, expect to have a few meals based around fries and beer. Waiters are just going to say "no".

Food desert: desperately looking for a Subway or pizza place, you'll end up appreciating airline food at the end

Note: a lot of these places can flip dramatically if you eat fish, most notably Spain, Indonesia and Japan


No vegetarians please

We were trapped in the small town of Brugelette for several hours over lunch, so we tried out the town's sole restuarant. The owner was very straight-forward when I asked for a vegetarian meal: "no". Nothing on his menu was vegetarian. "Oh, you have a salmon pasta, could you just leave the salmon out?". Answer: "the pasta has salmon". "You have vegetables and so forth, could you just put them on a plate without meat?". Answer: "that is not on the menu". "Could you just cook me an omlet?". Answer: "that is not on the menu".

We thought we finally had a breakthrough when he grumpily agreed to do a vegetarian goat's cheese salad. This is what he brought out:

Yes, he deliberately wrapped the goat's cheese in bacon, and said I should give it a try since I would like it.

Afterwards he didn't want to serve me dessert, since I hadn't eaten my main.


A Swiss culinary attempt to horrify the entire world

I was just minding my own business at a conference in the Swiss ski resort of Davos when the lunch staff hit the world with a culinary monstrosity. Walking down the lunch buffet, there were seven different non-vegetarian options. "Ah", I thought, "the token vegetarian meal will be final option". Sadly no, the final option was tofu wrapped in bacon.

Tofu wrapped in bacon? There may not be two other foods on the planet that have such mutually exclusive fans. Plenty of people love bacon, but it is safe to say that these people tend not to be tofu nuts. Likewise, a lot of people enjoy well cooked tofu, but these are not the same group who will fry up a plate of bacon for breakfast. While the other meals got gobbled up, the tray of bacon-wrapped tofu remained high, and bacon-lover and vegetarians alike shuddered with horror at the spectacle of two foods intertwined that should never have met.

On the plus side of Swiss hospitality, the pub we went to last night had a large (and lazy) St Bernard sleeping peacefully on the floor. Once or twice it heaved a long sigh, stood up, walked a couple of paces and then collapsed in exhaustion in its new location, but apart from that the St Bernard could have passed as an adorable welcome mat.


A helpful graph for caterers

I've noticed that caterers almost invariably get the proportion of vegetarian to non-vegetarian food wrong. They tend to assume that every non-vegetarian will only eat non-vegetarian food, so for a group of 10% vegetarians they will cater 10% vegetarian food. This has always mystified me. If they are told that 1% of a group is allergic to peanuts, would they then make sure that 99% of food has peanuts in it? Or is it possible that some peanut eaters occasionally eat food without peanuts? Of course non-vegetarians will eat vegetarian food. I'd guess that a non-vegetarian would take, on average, around 25% of their sandwiches as vegetarian sandwiches. This puts the vegetarian in the undesirable positions of either: a) going hungry, as the non-vegetarians eat up the (delicious) vegetarian sandwiches; or b) guarding the vegetarian sandwiches with an eagle eye, demanding that any one who is not vegetarian eat meat (an odd position, ideologically, for a vegetarian to make).

I propose to caterers that they use a new formula, where they assume that the proportion of vegetarian food they provide is equal to 25% x % meat eaters + 100% x % vegetarians. In case that is difficult to calculate on the run, I've provided a handy graphy they can consult. As a plus, vegetarian sandwiches are cheaper to make, so you'll save money. All I ask of in return is that you label the vegetarian sandwiches as vegetarian, so I don't need to poke my way through an unlabelled pile of sandwiches, hunting for the one which (from the outside) looks most vegetarian.



Vegetarian Gent

This is interesting news from Gent:

The Belgian city of Ghent is about to become the first in the world to go vegetarian at least once a week.

Starting this week there will be a regular weekly meatless day, in which civil servants and elected councillors will opt for vegetarian meals.

Ghent means to recognise the impact of livestock on the environment.

The UN says livestock is responsible for nearly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, hence Ghent's declaration of a weekly "veggie day".

Public officials and politicians will be the first to give up meat for a day.

Schoolchildren will follow suit with their own veggiedag in September.

It is hoped the move will cut Ghent's environmental footprint and help tackle obesity.

Around 90,000 so-called "veggie street maps" are now being printed to help people find the city's vegetarian eateries.