Anna Rose brings news of National Vegetarian Week and some thoughts on how easy it is to explore epicurian serendipity.
Environmental consciousness, increases in meat cost, horse-meat scandals, to name a few, are all factors why people are looking for alternatives.
One such alternative is vegetarianism or the half-way compromise of flexitarianism (where meat-eaters reduce their meat intake without giving it up entirely). Although vegetarian support is available all year round, one week a year is dedicated to show non-vegetarians and, indeed, remind vegetarians how you can enjoy meat-free food with just a little bit of know-how.
This year National Vegetarian Week (NVW) 20-26 May, which is promoted by The Vegetarian Society, has the theme of ‘Surprising Simple’ denoting that it isn’t hard to use vegetarian ingredients or to create vegetarian meals.
Some might interpret that NVW is a recruitment drive for vegetarianism but that isn’t necessarily so. Taking away any of the ethics or the politics connected with vegetarianism, my view is that NVW should be used as a catalyst for trying something different and meat-free in a non-committal way. In addition, by trying something new, you are exposing your tastebuds to new experiences and widening your food repertoire.
The Vegetarian Society website has a whole host of recipe ideas, information about regional NVW events as well as tips how to create meat-free meals by using meat substitutes and even how to have a veggie-friendly take-away! Vegetable chow mein or aloo gobi anyone?
As well as preparing meals at home, your meat-free ventures could extend into eating out. Typically, Indo-Asian, Oriental and Italian restaurants already have a good ratio of vegetarian meals on their menus but other types of restaurant are also following suit.
Taking into account Birmingham and its environs, there are so many restaurants that have good vegetarian choices on offer that surely they’re worth a try? Outside the city’s renown Balti Triangle or Chinese Quarter other restaurants to sample range from Austrian to Polish, from Greek to Moroccan and from Persian to South American – all of which have vegetarian options. To find out about them and others, have a browse on Dine Birmingham’s website which showcases Birmingham’s dining scene and will help you find the perfect eatery.
However, if you want the full vegetarian experience, places such as Manic Organic in Kings Heath can offer a full spectrum from snacks to main courses to desserts and cheeseboards which with variety and taste combinations which will dispel the myth of vegetarian food being bland.
It’s all about trying. Having something that you wouldn’t normally have, perhaps coupled with seasonal produce will definitely widen your culinary horizon. So extend the Meat-Free Monday ritual to Tuesday, Wednesday and the remainder of National Vegetarian Week and who knows, you may enjoy vegetarian feasting all year round as opposed to just squeezing it into one week.
Anna Rose blogs at www.wordinvegways.blogspot.com