For those that don’t know, I’m a vegetarian. I’ve been a vegetarian for 10 years and was initially moved to cut meat out of my life after learning about what life is like for the many animals who form part of the food industry. Battery chickens, intensive farming, inhumane conditions – all of it made me sick and I couldn’t be a part of it any more. I couldn’t stop associating the cute animals in the field with what was on my plate & kept picturing Bambi, the adorable pig from Babe, the rabbits from Watership Down & felt guilty. I appreciate that there are plenty of alternatives to mass produced meat and that lots of animals have very lovely lives before they are slaughtered. But I’m not prepared to raise, kill & prepare meat or fish for me to eat it so I wouldn’t expect anyone else to either and so I said goodbye to meat, poultry, fish & any food that contained an animal by-product such as gelatine. And personally, I don’t agree that there is such a thing as ‘humane slaughter’. Not long after I became a vegetarian, I moved to a flat what was in front of a small abattoir which dealt with a small number of animals on a daily basis (The rent was cheap!) so I understand the process. I also know that a lot of the animals used in the food industry wouldn’t live at all if they weren’t bred for food but for me it’s not enough. As a vegetarian, I don’t eat fish either. I don’t see them any differently to chickens, cows, pigs or horse. If only the food industry understood this.

M&S

I’ve seen restaurants label fish as vegetarian, parmesan as vegetarian and this week, prawns, salmon & tuna even made it in the veggie section of Marks and Spencers sandwich selection. Hey M&S! I don’t care how luxurious your prawns are, veggies don’t eat fish! I don’t expect Joe Bloggs on the street to understand the difference between vegetarian and pescetarian, but the food industry should. It’s their business. I’m no Alan Sugar, but surely it makes good business sense to be able to cater for as many people as possible!

Pescetarian: someone who eats fish but not meat

The Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as: “Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or by-products of slaughter.”

So often I go to restaurants to find that the veggie options were clearly an afterthought or they haven’t been thought about at all. And god help you if you’re vegan*! By not understanding their customers makes me think that they don’t want my business. They are not worthy of my money. Lots of people are vegetarian for many different reasons. It’s a choice they’ve made. By ignoring them or not putting much thought into them makes me want to take my business elsewhere. So if a restaurant incorrectly labels food as veggie when it isn’t or doesn’t offer veggie options at all, it won’t be receiving my custom at all. Am I a second class citizen because I made a choice to exclude certain food groups from my diet? Is my money less valuable? Oh well, fortunately for me there are still plenty of great options. That’s why I always try to review places I’ve eaten so that other vegetarians in the area know who does good vegetarian food. Plus, even meat-eaters enjoy meat free food sometimes! Be more adventurous than mushroom risotto or, for goodness sake, Broccoli & Cauliflower bake! Use vegetarian ingredients, label your puddings & don’t just give us cheese and pasta! You’re the chefs – be creative!

Being vegetarian is my decision. I don’t force it on anyone else, and no, Poppydog does not follow a vegetarian diet. She enjoys meat &  some of the by-products of the meat industry, including, as of this week, pig trotters from the local butcher. I don’t feel guilt about it – they didn’t die for me, but waste not, want not!

I eat meat

Forgive me if I’ve not explained myself very well – it’s quite an emotional issue. Have a look at what Luiz Antonio views eating meat – He explains my view very well! Out of the mouths of babes…

*I tried to be a vegan, as there are lots of ethical issues surrounding the production of leather, wool and dairy products, but for me, being veggie is enough. Having said that, I avoid leather as much as possible and buy ethical wool & dairy products as much as possible.

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