aOf all the food I put to my lips in 2022, the high-street chain wagamama fed me something that was perhaps the most controversial. Have you tried their fake vegan egg, donburi without the duck? The one with a replica egg made with coconut milk and Sriracha mayonnaise? Does the mere mention of this “egg” cause a vein in your neck to throb? Like Piers Morgan’s glow in Greggs’ vegan sausage roll, which was free of pig cruelty, but still hurt him?
If you’re trying videoware for the first time this year, you’ve come to an interesting time. British hospitality’s approach to vegetarians and vegans has pivoted 180 degrees since the bad old days of the pub’s microwaved vegetable lasagne made with a bag of Batchelors Beanfeast that tastes like yeast grits. The change has been seismic: Meat-free diets are offered these days everywhere I go, from elegant fine dining to Kentucky Fried Chicken’s vegan Corn Pie “topped with eleven of our famous herbs and spices.”
One of the best openings in 2022 was Chantelle Nicholson’s Apricity, which features a veggie-heavy menu featuring tempura kraut with cashew cheese, Knepp radish salad and jalapeños alongside Brambletye celeriac with chestnuts and beans. That’s a long way from the days when, in the mid-’80s, my dad apologized for my teenage vegetarian presence at the entrance of every café or pub dining room we entered. He would say “table for three”. “And that person who doesn’t eat meat. I know! A bloody silly idea from some pop star.” (He meant Morrissey, who is to blame for most things.) The waitstaff would gather around, miserable, and wonder if the scampi was quite an animal, then serve potato wedges with lettuce.
I added meat back into my diet in the ’90s, but I’m perfectly happy subsisting mainly on things that didn’t have a face or family, so this new wave of food is welcome. What has changed, I believe, is that restaurants have seen that there is money in tofu eaters. Not only among Walkerati who read The Guardian, but also in those who avoid dairy products because of nutritional issues, pork because of religious belief, or beef because of concerns about carbon monoxide.2 levels. And all of this means that, at Wagamama, your server will now ask, “Do you need a vegetarian menu?” , before introducing the menu of yasai gyoza, bang bang cauliflower, sticky veggie ribs, panko aubergine bao, and of course, that aforementioned egg dish, which is probably irritating some readers right now. Because, if vegans don’t want to eat eggs, why would they buy a replica? And if they love chickens so much, why do they make their rotten friends superfluous for earthly needs? And what if everyone who ate real eggs got confused by the term “vegetarian egg” and bought the wrong kind? Surely the egg industry should copyright the word “egg,” and hunt down all protestors and lock them up on an artichoke-only diet.
All of these sane comments – not to mention the rest – are typical whenever I write that I love Temple of Seitan’s glazed buffalo burger or Kinda.co’s “cheese” farm. In fact, it sometimes seems like the hospitality move of making every diner happy has already been made no one Really content. Because, now, health experts wallow in vegan-processed fake meats, nut milks laced with seed oils and reliance on pea protein powder, or claims that leaky gut, eczema or depression can be cured with crunchy cauliflower and turmeric. Meanwhile, the “real” vegans despise the flexing, corrupt people for “owning their belief system” in Hungry Horse by eating cinnamon bread while still tormenting the bees by eating their honey.
Moreover, while British smallholder farmers are being bombarded with abuse along the lines of Alan Partridge – “You smoke pigs, you feed beef burgers to swans” – a reported increase in carnivorous diets is reported in 2022. This has created a TikTok sensation The global king of the liver. Kilograms of raw cow spleen slapped in his face as he pretended to have pierced his way to eternal life. So forgive me for straying from further discussions of that fake egg, because things in vegetable land can get a little tense, even if it’s duck seitan in cherry sauce. he Tasty.
However, I can enjoy the pleasures offered by the vegetarian revolution, like Lake District restaurant Lingholm Kitchen the other day, where the meat menu also features croque monsieur with glazed pork, stuffed turkey breast and a 12-hour beef hash. a very good vegetarian pakora roll stuffed with chickpeas, mango-spinach chutney; There is also a piece of pastry squash and grilled chestnuts with cranberry gravy.
Even the caterers at my father’s funeral in Carlisle at Christmas served a vegetarian afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, soup and scones to suit all whims, needs and whims. I could hear him asking, “Do you have anything for my daughter? This one says she doesn’t like meat!”