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ravenousveggie

Thoughts on veggie food, work, play and life in general

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Vegan

Monthly Loves – October

October was a busy month for me as I was concentrating on setting up a new business offering.  This has taken a lot of time and didn’t leave much time for going out and finding new things. Hopefully I will have more to report on next month!

  • I did attend The Ethical Consumer conference which was very good.  I came away with loads of ideas on how to make my company more ethical and sustainable.  Not sure I will be able to convince my directors to take any actions, but I’m working on it.   
Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash
  • Now the days are drawing in we are revisiting the roast dinner on a Sunday.  I’d forgotten how much I miss roasted beetroot!
  • Had a lovely family meal at The Wheatsheaf, Esher.  Good veggie options, including a roast.  A very popular pub so if you go do book in advance.  The low points are the lack of parking and it gets quite hot and stuffy so wear layers!  The food is definitely worth going for though!
  • A client meeting that didn’t last as long as I thought it would meant that I could visit Seasons, Forest row.  Probably my favourite organic supermarket, which I have been visiting since the late 1990s.
  • If you are looking for another great  place to eat out tryThe Horse Inn, Hurst.  This pub has recently been refurbished and offers a great selection of food, from tapas and bar  meals to lovely dinners. The Vegetarian and Vegan menus are well worth a look at. The christmas menu also looked really inviting.

Monthly Loves – September

Another busy September, however this year I managed a  week away and came across some lovely things:

  • Bel and the Dragon.  This is one of my favourite boutique hotel and restaurant chains.  On a recent visit to the Windsor branch I was pleasantly surprised by their veggie/vegan range of food.  In the past it has always been a bit lacking but now the choice is really good. Not the cheapest place to eat or stay, however for a treat it is definitely work seeking out.

  • Windsor Castle – we went here to do the tour.  I admit I baulked at the entry price, however once in it was well worth it.  A great look at the history of the monarchy. My only slight quibble is that there is not much on our current Royal family.
  • I love curry and whilst visiting the NEC we found this great Indian restaurant not far away.  Jilabi had the most amazing range of food.  The waiter asked us our likes and challenged us to try new things.  The food was fresh and tasty, and just kept coming. On top of this it is very reasonably priced.  Well worth a visit. Only thing to bear in mind is that when we went they didn’t have an alcohol licence.  Not to worry though – there is a Tesco in walking distance!
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
  • Sainsbury’s Avocado Sandwich – In our week off we inevitably ended up buying  a quick lunch from a petrol station. The one we went to had a Sainsburys supermarket at it, and I found the most wonderful avocado sandwich.  It was such a relief in the endless sea of cheese and egg mayonnaise offerings!  
  • Beefeater have got a new menu out and I was really impressed by the vegetarian chilli.  I am a bit of a purest with my chili and prefer it with kidney beans, however this offering with lentils and beans stood up well.

Monthly Loves – August

For the first time in many years I managed a short break in August. Normally I have been the one who is happy to work whilst others have holiday with their families. Its less crowded and cheaper out of season! But this year was different and it was good!

On our trip to Dorchester we went to Vivo Lounge.  One of a chain of ‘Lounges’ they have a very good vegetarian and vegan menu and fabulous cocktails.  Definitely worth finding your nearest one for a good night out.

The King and Thai – an excellent family run Thai restaurant which caters really well for vegetarians and vegans.

The Hendover Cafe – another family run business offering breakfasts, lunches and tapas evenings.  Great friendly service and good quality food. 

We finished off August with a visit to The Woking Food Festival.  This was well run and had a multitude of stalls selling lovely vegetarian and vegan food.  From sauces to pies there was so much choice! Although being surrounded by so much food made me loose my appetite, I can recommend the dosa, sauces and pickles from Ollo Foods.  

Woking also has a lovely food walk in between the two parts of the Peacock shopping centre (Market Walk).  A great range of food stalls and a lovely fruit and veg stall selling everything from broccoli to kohlrabi and mooli.  A real treat and a good reason to go back to Woking!

Featured post

Halloumi Burgers – Just a Posh Grilled Cheese Sandwich?

Readers of my previous blogs will know that I am not a massive fan of cheese and halloumi and feta are at the bottom of my list of cheeses I do like.  I simply don’t like the taste of them. Sorry.  

Strong flavoured cheese can also trigger my migraines and I know that if I avoid it, I don’t get them.

My problem with cheese is that,  having been a vegetarian for so long, and knowing that there is a vast array of foods I can eat, when you eat out every veggie meal seems to have cheese with it. 

And yes I have been offered the halloumi burger without the halloumi in it by a new waitress who had very little understanding of the menu.

If you look through The Vegetarian Society Magazine the majority of recipes contain cheese of some sort.  And if you are vegan well vegan cheese is rife.

One of my other bugbears is the price of vegetarian food when eating out.  Last week I paid £12 for a bowl of pasta with a mushroom sauce. No salad. No bread.  Just a bowl of pasta. It was delicious, but when it comes to portion size I wasn’t that impressed.  It didn’t feel like £12 of food and skill to cook it. Especially when compared to the meat and fish main courses which were £2 more but had a third more food on the plate.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

So imagine my joy at the halloumi Burger.  A frequent menu item where restaurants want to cater for vegetarians, and dished out at a pound or two below the price of a meat burger.  There is not much that goes into a halloumi burger. It is a bit of grilled cheese in a bun with some dressing and salad.. Meat burgers can have a much more complicated preparation, especially if they are made on site.  They can contain different flavourings and different types of meat (which we know is expensive). 

It is a glorified grilled cheese sandwich.

And why charge so much for a slab of cheese in a bun?  I can go to my local cafe and have a toasted cheese sandwich with garnish and chips for less than half the price of a halloumi burger (in fact their halloumi burger is generally half the price you pay elsewhere).

I like eating out with friends and realise that it is difficult to put together a menu to please everyone.  I am just hopeful that the current trend for halloumi and feta (all those salads!), changes soon. Or that the people compiling the menus step back and look at their menu and go ‘is that value for money, and is there enough variety?’

Monthly Loves – June

June was a busy month at work, but I also managed a cheeky weekend away.  It was good to get some warm, dry weather at last, and so I managed some time out in the garden.  I can definitely feel my energy returning with the warmer weather. In June I loved the following:

  • Earth Kind – In my effort to cut down my plastic use I am always on the look out for hints and tips.  Earth Kind provide a consultancy service to help you reduce your plastic use.  Definitely worth getting in touch if you would like a helping hand in moving towards a zero waste lifestyle.
Jason Leung – Unsplash
  • We managed a few days away in Cornwall and were taken to The Coddy Shack in Looe.  This is a fish and chip shop which also has a fully licensed restaurant.  It sells more than just fish and chips and has a really good vegetarian menu.  The cakes are good too!
  • Brewers Fayre – On our few days away we ended up staying at a Premier Inn with very little food choices nearby.  However I was pleasantly surprised by the Veggie/Vegan offering from Brewers Fayre. The price and portion size were good, and there were even starters I could eat (one for Beefeater to take note of!)
  • Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll – another reflection on time spent out and about!  I finally succumbed at a motorway service station and tried the vegan sausage roll.  I have to say I was not expecting to like it, but now if I am hungry, and in a hurry, it will probably be my go to ‘on the run’ snack.  The first time ever I have liked something in Greggs!

Portion Size

Do you ever go out to eat but feel let down by the portion size?  Now I don’t want you to think I am a greedy person with ‘eyes bigger than my stomach’ (as my mother would say).  Its just that sometimes the portion size of veggie food is so much less than that of the meat and fish options. It just leaves you feeling short changed. And hungry.

One of the first things you get asked by non vegetarians is ‘where do you get your protein from?’  Sometimes I sit in restaurants and ask myself the same question.

On a recent visit to Champneys one of the evening meal options was teryaki braised tofu.  I thought this sounded wonderful as I love tofu. So I ordered it. The portion of tofu that turned up was miniscule.  There was one small two inch strip of tofu on the top of some noodles. By contrast those that ordered the meat equivalent had 4-5 similar sized pieces of meat.  They looked at my meal and all commented on the lack of main ingredient.

This isn’t the first time I have noticed this.  Wagamama has done the same in the past. The tofu portion size has always been small in comparison to the meat equivalent.    I am glad to report that this has improved with the latest menu.


More tofu in the latest portions from Wagamama

A local Michelin starred restaurant I went to served up one duck egg in a jus with a baby leek as a vegetarian main. The meat eaters had two slices of meat, plus veg and potato.

But it isn’t necessarily about protein.  Eating out one Sunday at a local gastro pub I ordered a main of pasta.  My other half ordered their famous roast dinner, which cost £15 – only £3 more than pasta dish.  The extra £3 made all the difference – the roast dinner had 3 times the amount of food. My pasta dish consisted literally of a plate of pasta.  No side salad, or bread. And it wasn’t a big plate. I finished my dish quite quickly and watched my other half continue to wade through his pile of food.  My pasta dish was about the size of the side of veg he had. And, apart from feeling hungry, I was left feeling slightly ripped off. £12 for a plate of pasta that probably cost £5 to make.

I don’t know why some restaurants seem to think that vegetarians have smaller appetites. I have not met one yet. Vegetarian food is much cheaper to buy so why charge the same for smaller portions size, and often less complex dishes.   Is it a lack of understanding and thought or is it greed – of the money kind?

Monthly Loves – January

January – the month of setting resolutions and getting back into work after the the Christmas break.  The days have been dark, and although the daylight hours are increasing, the temperature is dropping. It’s not my favourite month – the dark days do sap my energy, but there are the signs of longer,warmer days to come.  However I have come across a few lovely things this month…..

  • Beautiful lace like jewellery from Ruth Mary Jewellery.  Stunning pieces made by a very talented lady
  • Naughty but nice – my local corner store has started stocking a Mexican Mix by Silver Palm Foods.  I love the dried corn snacks you get and this has a mix of corn, dried beans and crisps in a spicy covering.  Naughty and very moorish!
  • The veggie/vegan options at Las Iguanas.  Great choice of food which made my meat eating friends a little envious!
  • Graze Veggie Protein Power Snack –  a much healthier option than the Mexican Mix with a great flavour.  A good go to elevenses pick me up.
  • Taking time out to have some quiet time.  A recent trip to a spa made me realise that there is too much noise and too many distractions in my life, which stop me concentrating.  But more of that in an upcoming blog…..
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

A Fair Price

As a vegetarian its fair to say a number of people have commented on how much cheaper it is to eat out than a meat eating diet.

Most of the time I agree – vegetarian meals tend to be cheaper.  They have cheaper ingredients and tend to be quicker to make. However sometimes I think vegetarians pay over the odds for what they get.  

Today I went to a pub for lunch with friends.  They fancied a proper Sunday Roast and I knew that the chosen place did good roasts and also usually has a good choice of vegetarian meals.The selection was good, however the meals are on the pricier side – roasts stat from £15 and the vegetarian mains from £12.

But what do you get for your money?  For the roast you get three veg, the most enormous Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, gravy and of course the meat.   For the veggie meal I had a bowl of pasta with mushrooms and a a sauce. Not the most exotic or expensive ingredients. I declined the parmesan that came with it on the  grounds that A) parmesan is not vegetarian and B) I can’t stand the taste of it. And that was it. No side salad or veg. No bread nothing. My friends thought I was starving as the food disappeared so quickly, but the truth of the matter is that it was really difficult to eat a bowl of pasta slowly without it going cold. And the size of the roast dinner portion meant that you needed a good twenty minutes to eat it.  I admit finishing my main and feeling hungry – longing for the desserts (if only I could be sure which ones were veggie friendly from the menu).



Photo by Adam Jaime on Unsplash

I have been to some similarly priced establishments where the size of the salad justifies the price and you do feel that you have eaten a satisfying amount, had more than three ingredients. and still paid less.

I pointed this out to my friends and you could see the penny drop and general agreement around the table.  When it came to puddings the vegetarian friendly options were the same size as the other. So why the discrepancy for the main meal?  People don’t mind paying more when they feel that they are getting quality and value for their money.

More and more as a vegetarian I feel I am loosing out in restaurants, and that the price I pay does not reflect the portions I receive when compared to the carnivores.

 Just because I am vegetarian doesn’t mean I am not hungry!

Weighty Issue

When people find out that I am vegetarian 95% of the time they remark” really? You don’t look like one”. Apart from asking “what does a vegetarian look like?” I never really know how to react to this.

Society today is obsessed with the  ‘perfect body’. We know that magazines  are full of photoshopped images and that most people now have a distorted idea of what a healthy body should look like – at any age.  Even though I am aware of all of this it does make me slightly uneasy with my own figure.

I mostly eat healthily  – veg, salad, pulses, nuts, fruit – however I have a very real love affair with sugar.  I don’t do artificial sweeteners and haven’t found a stevia product I like the after taste of.  



Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

This sugar issue means that I am slightly more ‘cuddly’ in the middle than society would like.  I am still a healthy weight though.

Various changes in myth life  over the last few years have meant that  I am not getting to the gym as much (or ever) as I used to.  I pretty much work 6 days a week. This means that on my free days catching up on housework and relaxing tend to get top priority.  Getting out to exercise has dropped off the priority list.

I am very aware that this is within my control (to a great extent).  I have chosen to re-prioritise exercise in my life. It is something I am reviewing.

My busy life means that I tend to have less time to prepare food than I used to.  The ‘on the go’ food options for veggies predominantly focus on cheese and bread options, or over chilled sandwiches of egg or tomato that leave them tasteless.  Or chips. Love chips!

Although the range of veggie food is slowly changing, for me interesting, tasty, easy to eat veggie food on the go still mostly doesn’t exist.

With a bit of extra effort I can remedy this situation, and I am making changes.  However wouldn’t it be nice to have a larger, more widely available choice of healthy , vegetarian fast food?  All those shelves of chicken salad – could we not have the option of buying a salad and then a ‘protein’ to go with it?  A flexible meal deal to appeal to everyone? Or am I the only one who is bored with the current offerings?

For now I am putting extra effort into making my own lunches and tking healthy snacks with me. It still doesn’t stop the lure of a good doughnut, but it is a start.

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