My Week of Meats


The 29th of March this year marked 15 years of a vegetarian lifestyle for me. Within that time, I’ve been relatively lucky in terms of not inadvertently consuming meat on too many occasions. 2011 was an exception to this, a year that saw me bite into a ham instead of cheese panini, chicken masala instead of paneer masala and beef foo yung instead of mushroom foo yung. All horrific experiences which I can only attribute to incompetent and irresponsible chefs and/or waiters. Since this time, I’ve tried to be extra cautious and highly specific when placing orders and receiving food in restaurants. However, a few weeks ago I found myself coming into contact with meat on several occasions within a few days of each other…

The first near miss occurred whilst visiting a friend in Kent. We decided to go for a pub roast, only to discover that they didn’t actually provide a vegetarian roast option. Unless I wanted just a plate of vegetables, of course. However there was one option on the menu which advertised itself as being suitable for vegetarians; a spinach and ricotta tortellini in a cream sauce. That sounded pleasant enough but as I was about to tuck in, I discovered a generous scattering of Parmesan cheese all over this supposed vegetarian dish. Now I’m not going to sit here and rant about the lack of vegetarian awareness with regards to hard cheeses as it’s a topic I’ve vented about before (read here). The waiter appeared somewhat perplexed when I explained that my dietary requirements did not permit me to eat Parmesan and seemed surprised when I explained that it contains animal fats. He did eventually bring me out another portion sans parmesan but by this point, my friends had long finished their meals.

A few days later, whilst wandering around Soho, my friend and I decided to try the Vietnamese street food chain, Pho. I ordered the Vietnamese tofu curry and all was going well until I was about to nibble into a piece of tofu, only to discover that it was, in fact, chicken. I immediately informed a passing waitress who was genuinely appalled by this, being a vegetarian herself. She took the plate away and went to investigate the situation. A short while later, the manager brought me out the correct dish and gave me his sincere apologies, explaining that it was an error on the part of a brand new waitress. The meal was deducted from the bill and the manager continued to apologise and check that everything was ok throughout the evening, a service I hadn’t come across before after being served meat in a restaurant. So thank you, Pho.

The final incident in my week of meats was another parmesan polava. I was at Guerrilla Eats Street Food Day at the Camden Brewery and ordered a margarita pizza from the Drum and Baste food stand. Upon opening the pizza box it became clear that the margarita was topped with Parmesan and pesto which, alas, contains Parmesan! A double blow. I returned it to the stand and they did whip me up a new pizza, although somewhat begrudgingly…

Hopefully there will be no further incidents this year or in the future. Or maybe this is just a sign that I should stop dining out so much!