Is meat safe to eat? BBC Horizon

People become vegetarian for many reasons. But have you considered whether meat is actually safe to eat?

If so, there is an interesting programme being shown tonight (Monday 18th August) on BBC2.

BBC Horizon – Is meat safe to eat?

Horizon – is meat safe to eat?

Horison Michael Mosley BBC

Dr Michael Mosley has been investigating the truth behind the headlines for BBC Horizon.

He will try eating a high meat diet to see what impact is has on his health. Sounds great, a must watch for any veggies or any concerned meat eaters.

 

The programme will then be available on BBC iPlayer for seven days if you miss the show.

 

Vegetarian New Year Resolutions – five reasons to stick with it!

Have you vowed to eat less meat in 2014? Many people think about becoming vegetarian at this time of year, but quickly fail for various reasons. If you’re trying to eat less meat or become veggie, here are some tips on how to become a veggie for life!

1 –Remember why you decided to give up meat

Whether it is because you want to live a healthier lifestyle or because you have a moral objection to eating meat, always keep this at the top of your thoughts when you’re wavering in the supermarket and can’t

New year resolution

decide whether to buy that packet of bacon or not! Remember how you felt when you decided your new year’s resolution and hopefully that will help you make a vegetarian choice.

2 – Vegetarians help save the planet!

Raising animals for the food industry means that many thousands of acres of land worldwide have to put aside for grazing. It also uses up much more water and energy to feed someone on meat by grazing cattle than it does growing crops for food. For more information on how becoming a veggie helps saves the planet go to the PETA website. There is also an interesting Wikipedia entry on the environmental impact of meat production.

3 – A vegetarian life is a healthier life

I have read various studies from around the world documenting the fact that leading a vegetarian lifestyle means you lead a healthier lifestyle.

The vegetarian symbol

The vegetarian symbol

There is an interesting piece on the NHS website about a study of over 70,000 adults which points to reduced rates of early death in non-meat eaters.

Veggies typically eat lower levels of saturated fats and higher levels of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  There is an interesting section on the NHS Choices website about vegetarian and vegan diets.

4 – Vegetarians save money

Have you ever thought you were spending too much money on meat? When I ask friends of mine who eat meat how much they spend on food, I’m always surprised how much more it is than I spend. The cost of meat, particularly red meat, seems to form a large part of a carnivore’s weekly shopping budget. Give up meat and think how much money you’d save!

5 – Vegetarians sleep happy!

According to PETA, more than 27 billion animals are slaughtered for food every year in the USA alone! Just think how guilt free you can sleep when you know you’re making a difference to the numbers of animals who are cruelly slaughtered just for your sake! Human beings do not need meat to survive, so why not make a conscious decision to give up meat. You don’t need it, so don’t eat it.

Unless you have been a vegetarian since birth, most vegetarians have gone through a transition to giving up meat and some people struggle more than others. If you’re struggling to stay veggie, the Vegetarian Society in the UK has some good resources on their website on how to stay motivated.

Check them out and good luck – you won’t regret it.

Vegetarian and vegan wine

Non-vegetarian friends are frequently surprised when I tell them that wine can be vegetarian. At first sight it does seem strange that any animal products could be found in wine. I can also put my hand up and say that I don’t always remember that wine can contain animal products and don’t always buy veggie wine. But I am trying!

Wine glasses

Vegetarian wine

What makes wine non-vegetarian?

Wine is made from grapes. Nothing wrong with that from a veggie point of view. However, the list of ingredients doesn’t stop there.

Winemakers use a process called fining. This removes organic matter, such as sulfides and proteins. This fining process usually happens near the end of the winemaking process.

However, there are a number of quite frankly bizarre substances used in the process. Historically these included:

  • egg whites
  • blood
  • fish swim bladder.

Modern day fining substances include:

  • Isinglass ( a dried substance derived from fish swim bladders)
  • Casein (derived from cheese)
  • Gelatin (animal bones).

Vegetarian alternatives

It is obviously possible for winemakers to make vegetarian wine. They can use alternative substances such as bentonite, a clay mineral and kaolin. I have never drunk a bottle of vegetarian wine and thought, ‘Hmm, that really doesn’t taste as good!’

So why can’t wine makers make all their wine veggie? It would expand their market and would mean more people could enjoy their wine.

How do I know which wine is vegetarian?

In the UK (and undoubtedly in many other countries), the food and drink labelling system should help you. When you’re in the off-licence or supermarket, just take a look at the label on the rear of the bottle. If it is vegetarian it should either display the ‘V’ symbol or clearly state that the wine is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

It is always worth looking at the labelling to see if there is mention of the ingredients in the wine. This could include keywords such as isinglass and casein.

The Vegetarian Society run a very useful website called Vegsoc approved where you can find out more about Vegetarian Society approved food and drinks. Take a look if you’re interested in finding out which brands are veggie.

The world of veggie wine

So now I know what makes a veggie wine, I’m going to make more of an effort to check before I buy! Support vegetarian wine and hopefully more and more winemakers will think veggie first.

A vegetarian abroad – the ramblings of a travelling vegetarian

Have guide book, will travel.

Travelling has always been a way of life for me. This year alone I have travelled to South Africa, Portugal, Spain, Canada and the USA. I recently returned from a trip to Toronto, Montreal and New York and had some pretty good vegetarian travel experiences, which was also pretty surprising!

Vegetarian Toronto

In my mind, Canadians are not known for their love of vegetarianism! So a trip to Canada always needs a bit of research in my veggie opinion! I did try a few veggie places in Toronto; they are there is you look around.

Woodlot

Woodlot is not strictly a vegetarian restaurant, but it does have an entirely separate veggie menu. I think this is a great idea and only wish more meat-centric restaurants and cafes would do the same. It makes ordering so much easier plus it gives me more confidence that they have thought about meatfree dishes and are probably more likely to be strict in the kitchen keeping meat and veggie dishes separate.

Woodlot has great reviews online, especially on Tripadvisor. I went there as a group of three on a Friday night and we only got in because of a cancellation, so if you want to go, book.

Woodlot in Toronto

Woodlot in Toronto

I had a polenta dish for mains, which was about $26, and shared a starter, which was a kind of tempura vegetables. On the whole I did not think the restaurant was good value for money. The service was so-so too; we had to wave frantically to get anyone’s attention. The worst point was that it was boiling hot and had no aircon.

I think Woodlot is an interesting concept but there are more interesting fully vegetarian restaurants in Toronto.

Commensal

One of these is actually the chain Commensal. It is pretty straight forward, it is a veggie buffet. We went late night and it was very quiet though I imagine it is really busy in the day.

Food was all fresh, tasty and good value too, more of a good place to grab lunch but I was impressed and wish the chain was in the UK as I would definitely go.

Vegetarian Montreal

Again, Montreal might not be the first place you think of as being a veggie destination. However, we ate at some really nice places there.

Crudessence

One in particular I liked was a vegan restaurant called Crudessence. It is nicely decorated and the staff were really helpful and friendly. I think all of their food is raw which is a really interesting, if not scary, concept. However, the food was great. We had sprouted bread and pate for starters and then for mains I had a great big salad with lots of interesting vegetables, seeds and some tofu too.

Crudessence in Montreal

Crudessence in Montreal

Wine was about $7 a glass.  We also shared some vegan ice-cream for desserts. If you want to eat somewhere that serves very unique vegan food, go to Crudessence.

Vegetarian New York

I wasn’t sure what to expect from NYC. However, I think due to the ethnic diversity of the city I think I was pretty well catered for. Due to the busy schedule I had, I did not eat at many veggie places, and mostly grabbed food on the go. A fast food chain called Chipotle does a really good veggie burrito plus veggie taco’s etc.

Angelica Kitchen

Angelica Kitchen is a really nice welcoming veggie restaurant in New York. We did have to wait about thirty minutes to get a table as they do not accept reservations.

Angelica Kitchen in New York

Angelica Kitchen in New York

Worth the wait though. The menu was varied and I had miso soup and sushi and my partner had a tofu bake and salad. They do not serve alcohol but I think you can BYO. Had some really good fresh juice. Was not pricey either and is in a nice location in the East Village. Check it out if you are visiting New York

Take the plunge

I always encourage anyone to travel, but if you are veggie, it can seem daunting. However, if you do your research before you go, you’ll find those allusive havens of meatfree cooking if you look hard enough!

Happy veggie dining J

Vegetarian restaurants in Canada

I’m off to explore beautiful Canada this Summer and I can’t wait! I’ve been to Canada few times on holiday before and this year I am heading to Toronto and Montreal.

Vegetarians on vacation

Whenever I travel abroad I always have to put some thought into what I am going to eat. If you aren’t vegetarian then this is not something you probably have to think about too much.

However, after having spent too many hours of my life meandering round various towns and cities across the world hopefully searching for a beacon of vegetarian friendliness, I have learned the a vegetarian’s motto should always be – ‘be prepared’.

Vegetarian restaurants in Toronto

I have never really found travelling in North America that easy a culinary task. However, I have always found that if you dig deep enough, there is usually a few good veggie options to be had.

Toronto skyline

Toronto skyline

A few places I have found online for Toronto include:

  • Cafe 668 – had a look at their website which didn’t offer up much information – anyone been here and recommend it?
  • Woodlot – menu looks really good, so this is going on my list. Anyone been here?
  • Live Food Bar – Now this place looks quite hardcore veggie but I must say my kinda place too! Looking forward to going…

Vegetarian restaurants in Montreal

Now travelling to French Quebec is never something a veggie takes on lightly – have you ever tried to find good veggie food in France?!

Montreal skyline

Montreal skyline

However, having a quick look online it seems like there may be a few vegetarian surprises in Montreal.

  • Aux Vivres – a vegan place (yes, vegan) in Montreal. Looks like it is a lunch place, though they are open in the evening, and they have a juice bar too.
  • Bonny’s vegetarian restaurant – offers dine in and take out options. Menu looks interesting and quite global. Definitely going to check this place out!

Veggie places to eat in Canada

If anyone reading this has any good veggie tips to share for either Toronto or Montreal, please let me know. I’d love to try out as many vegetarian places to eat in Toronto and Montreal as possible.

Vegetarian places to eat at in Brighton & Hove

Is Brighton & Hove the best place to be a vegetarian? Quite possibly, and luckily for me I live here!

Brighton has always been a very tolerant, liberal kind of city and this alternative culture has spawned a large vegetarian community which I’m proud to be a part of. There are loads of places worth checking out if you’re vegetarian and want to explore Brighton.

Brighton

Terre a Terre

Terre a Terre is a mainstay of veggie dining in Brighton and is often voted one of the best vegetarian restaurants to eat at in the UK. It has recently undergone a renovation and looks even better than ever. The staff are always very welcoming and knowledgeable about the dishes on offer. Some of the ingredients can be a bit baffling, but staff are always on hand to explain. Prices are on the £££ side but believe me, it’s well worth it, especially if you are celebrating something like a birthday or anniversary. You won’t regret going!

Wai Kiki Moo Kau

Wai Kiki Moo Kau has been around for what seems like years and has always been a reliable veggie place to eat in Brighton. Located in the North Laines, it’s a great choice if you’re browsing the Brighton Laines and are looking for somewhere to go for lunch. Lots of healthy options, including some great freshly squeezed juices, they also do a great mezze platter for two. Prices are ££.

Iydea

Iydea has been around for a couple of years and is on the same street in the Brighton North Laines, on Kensington Gardens. I love it, and is another great choice for a quick lunch.Food is served buffet style and you can eat in, though space is limited and you may have to share a table. Prices are £. Update! A new branch of Iydea has now opened on the Brighton/Hove border on Western road, near the junction of Montpelier Road, so why not check it out!

Iydea

Ethels

Ethels cafe in Hove is not strictly vegetarian but has some great veggie options. Located on Blatchington Road, it offers a great breakfast and lunch. Staff are always friendly and there are tables out front if the weather is nice. Food is always very fresh and pretty healthy. Prices are ££. Open daytime only.

Yet more vegetarian options in Brighton

The great thing about looking for veggie food in Brighton is that virtually everywhere has a great choice of veggie options, so you don’t necessarily have to seek out a specifically vegetarian restaurant (though I would recommend you do if you can!). So if you are looking for a great veggie culinary experience, you couldn’t do better than coming to vegetarian central – Brighton & Hove!

‘Meet Me At Hendersons’ – a history of vegetarian food in Britain

I am always fascinated when discovering the history of vegetarians in the UK.

Although living a meat-free life might seem like a relatively recent phenomenon in the UK, the history of vegetarians goes back many generations.

I spotted this interesting article in ‘The Independent’ about a restaurant called Henderson’s in Edinburgh.

cropped-veg.jpg

The oldest veggie restaurant in the UK

Did you know Henderson’s is the oldest veggie restaurant in the UK?

Take a look and find out more about this fascinating place. I want to go there!

The Independent – When Henderson’s first opened, meat-free meals were as radical as mini skirts. Fifty years on, the UK’s oldest veggie restaurant is an Edinburgh institution.

Cook Vegetarian

I’ve been cooking veggie food for over twenty years but sometimes I run out of inspiration.

I often turn to the internet for vegetarian recipe ideas. However, I do also recommend subscribing to a vegetarian cooking magazine if you’re also looking for some non-meaty culinary ideas.

Cook Vegetarian

I have subscribed to two different vegetarian magazines, ‘Cook Vegetarian‘ and ‘Vegetarian Living‘.

I prefer ‘Cook Vegetarian’ as it has more recipes. I also really like the colour photos and I find the recipes easy to follow. It’s not one of those magazines with loads of really bizarre ingredients your struggle to get hold of.

Cook Vegetarian magazine

Cook Vegetarian magazine

It costs £17.25 for six issues and I just discovered you can buy a digital edition from the Apple newsstand.

I have no affiliation with this magazine. I just wanted to recommend it as I always find something I want to make in it and often their recipes are very seasonal too.

Vegetarians and travelling – a match made in hell?

I love to travel but always have in the back of my mind one question that often determines my choice of destination.

How easy will it be to find vegetarian food?

It is all too easy to be put off travelling abroad if you think every day is going to be a struggle to find some decent veggie food. However, I have found that is you invest some time before you go doing your research, the results can make your trip away well worth it!

Top veggie destinations

I have travelled around the world twice and visited many countries. Some countries that are vegetarian friendly have often surprised me. My top destinations for veggies are:

  1. Thailand
  2. Malaysia
  3. Portugal
  4. California

Portugal for vegetarians

Porto in Portugal

Porto in Portugal

I recently visited Porto in Portugal and was pleasantly surprised by the range and quality of food I had. I had been wary of going but in fact had some great culinary experiences. I visited Casa Da Horta which is a vegetarian food coop. Basic but welcoming I sampled some traditional Portuguese food at really low prices.

I also visited Essencia which was a wonderful example of how to cook innovative veggie food. I had a caramelised walnut and goats cheese salad to start, then a seitan curry for main and a delicious raspberry sorbet with fresh kiwi fruit for dessert. They also have a fantastic range of cocktails.

Raspberry sorbet with fresh kiwi

Raspberry sorbet with fresh kiwi

Very different restaurants but equally as good.

I would definitely recommend Portugal if you are veggie as from what I have seen, vegetarianism is a growing movement in Portugal and with their love of fresh vegetables and fruit, the Portuguese are very open to the idea.

Vegetarian travel tips

I would encourage any vegetarians to embrace the idea of travel, even if it is to a country that you might think you would struggle in. Paris for instance challenged my preconceptions that France is a veggie nightmare and I visited some great places to eat. The key message is – Do Your Research!

There are always cafes and restaurants out there that are veggie or veggie-friendly. You’ve just got to know where to look….

Google is always a good place to start. There is also a website called happycow.net which is very useful. Happy veggie surfing!

V is for Vegetarian

I often wonder what criteria food manufacturers and supermarkets use when applying the ‘V’ symbol to vegetarian products.

I was searching for some balsamic vinegar on the Sainsburys website yesterday and the one I wanted did not have the V symbol on it. Is this because it is truly not vegetarian or is it because they simply did not use the symbol on it?

The vegetarian symbol

The vegetarian symbol

There is a degree of trust implied when you see the symbol that you trust the manufacturer agress with what your definition of a vegatariaqn is.

My definition of a vegetarian

My definition of a vegetarian food is something that contains no meat, fish or poultry and no  ingredients of the animal slaughter industry. This includes:

  • Gelatine
  • Animal fat
  • Artificial ingredients derived from animals, such as cochineal.

Veggie approved products

If you are looking for vegetarian foods, I suggest you always double check the ingredients do not have any animal ingredients. A good place to start when looking for veggie foods in the Vegetarian Socity website list of approved products.

When you then learn to know what constitutes a veggie-friendly ingredient you’ll be better informed when looking at ingredients lists.

The ‘V’ sysmbol is a great way of knowing what is veggie but my advice is to always look beyond it for 100% certainty.