For me being a vegetarian is truly exciting, full of amazing pulses, grains, an abundance of colourful fruit and vegetables, and exciting flavours and textures. Whilst I have a library full of cookbooks, I find it a tad difficult to completely follow a recipe and always have an urge to add my own twist! So I enjoy nothing more than experimenting!
Growing up I was lucky to have a diet was full of lots of fruit and vegetables and I enjoyed nothing more than helping my Grandmother in her vegetable plot or perhaps helping myself to lots of the pickings, especially delicious ripe fruit! My Mum always cooked everything from scratch, with many wonderful vegetarian dishes, especially lots of curries. So as kids she had no difficulty in getting me and my sisters to eat a diet full of fruit and vegetables. Although we also had our fair share of naughty things!
I have been a vegetarian for almost 30 years, since my early teens and never enjoyed the flavour or texture of meat, poultry or smell of fish, so i was destined to be a vegetarian. What an exciting journey and venture it has been and I must say over the years attitudes have changed towards a vegetarian diet, with numbers on the increase. Also the variety on offer has moved away from stodgy, heavy dishes and towards a fresher and healthier approach.
Been a vegetarian forces one to be much more creative in order to pack a punch and get the most out of each and every ingredient. There is a whole new wave or style of vegetarian food, much more exciting, with an emphasis on spices, flavours and textures, and the wide use of pulses and grains, drawing inspiration from all over the world.
Many chefs are now championing vegetables and making them centre stage rather than second fiddle or the underdog! I say about time, especially with such an amazing variety and array of colours on offer, making them perfect in a whole host of dishes.
For me one of my most inspirational chefs is Yotam Ottolenghi, known for his best selling vegetarian cookbooks, ‘Plenty’ and most recent ‘Plenty More’. I absolutely adore his usual flavour combinations, providing an exciting fusion style of cooking for the more adventurous vegetarian. He has most definitely become known for his exquisite range of salads, colourful, fresh and full of exciting flavours. What more can you ask for!
There are also an increasing number of chefs and cooks focusing on the vegetarian, all with a slightly different twist. Another of my favourites is Anna Jones, previously a trainee at Jamie Olivers Fifteen restaurant in London. After gaining an amazing seven years experience in various restaurants, she now works independently as a stylist and food writer, with two books under her belt – ‘A Modern Way To Eat’ and ‘A Modern Way To Cook’, well worth a purchase. I love Anna’s modern approach to vegetarianism, healthy but definitely realistic. Ultimately eating should be joyful not restricting.
One of my favourite vegetarian restaurants is Acorn in Bath , previously known as Demuths, which still runs a cookery school. They create exciting, modern style food, with excellent use of spices, not forgetting their organic credentials and sourcing all their ingredients from local artisan producers. They never fail to disappoint me, totally delicious!
You most definitely don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy vegetarian food, with many choosing to eat meat free meals a couple of times a week, adapting a more healthier approach to there diet.
With such a multitude of ingredients available, a vegetarian diet has never been more enticing. I say get experimenting and see were it takes you. The world is your oyster mushroom so enjoy!