In most restaurants and pubs, there will most likely be one or two vegetarian options for those who don’t fancy the abundance of carnivorous choice on offer. The key word here is “option”. Vegetarian food is given a rather lacklustre status in the world of food, with many establishments serving up veggie dishes just because they have to, that are as tasteless as they are devoid of imagination. However, London has been at the forefront of a meat-free culinary evolution, with lots of exciting places popping up specialising in vegetarian fare. So, why has this happened and how can we get a slice of the action? You have the questions, we have the answers.
You always hear people say that they probably would eat more vegetarian food if more was on offer. But then it emerges that they actually don’t know of any good places to get vegetarian food, and if they did those places would probably not be as conveniently located as the local pub. The ironic thing is most people have healthy restaurants right under their noses, or more accurately, at their fingertips. Wherever you are, you can get vegetarian food delivered to you by services like Deliveroo, which means you don’t need to travel far to have your next veggie meal. So those who complain about convenience – think again.
So, how come the sudden change of heart in a land so whole-heartedly devoted to meat? Well, one fairly straightforward answer is that more people have adopted a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle. More resources have been put towards researching and educating the public about health and nutrition, which has naturally affected the way people choose to live. A study from January 2018 shows that 1 in 4 Britons eats vegetarian or vegan meals for dinner, something that also explains the rise and popularity of lifestyle movements like Veganuary. If people start to eat more like this at home, chances are the restaurant industry won’t like to be left outside in the cold.
Let’s turn then to London. The city has definitely had their teeth buried in a meat-loving past for a long time, probably due to the ingrained cultural notion of having meat as your main source of protein with some over-boiled vegetables on the side. However, the amazing multicultural society that has flourished in London means the food scene reflects other culinary cultures: cultures where vegetarian food is more of a staple. These have in turn influenced British chefs to focus more on seasonal plant-based produce, to cater for the growing demand for veggie food.
This evolution has come about due to a combination of factors, involving better knowledge about health and nutrition, more convenient ways to get the food you want, and the multicultural London scene. Together they have formed a movement that has sprung up in forms of exciting food trucks, supper clubs, as well as changes to traditional restaurant menus. It’s about time we bite the carrot-shaped bullet and eat our greens.