Veggies - an endangered species ??

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Veggies - an endangered species ??

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1nickhoonaloon
Ago 22, 2006, 9:55am

Here in the UK, us veggies are beginning to feel as if we`re being phased out.

Supermarket vegetarian sections are dwindling (in some cases disappearing) and often eating out means having the one veggie option available while meat-eaters get 22 variations on a theme of dead animal.

My wife and I find the best thing to do is frequent Indian shops/restaurants - but we like Indian food and have the relevant outlets nearby. How do others fare ? Do you have the same problem in the USA ? Our local supermarket is Asda - owned by Wal-Mart - so I`m guessing you do.

2Eumenides
Ago 22, 2006, 11:25pm

It's not so bad for me, even though I'm in Texas. I'm sure the east and west coasts have more fun options in general, but I'm in Houston. This means I have block after block of Indian cuisine on one side of town, innumerable Vietnamese restaurants, good Thai, etc. Most of the supermarkets I've seen have been expanding their vegetarian options. Even the ones in my little hometown have started carrying at least a freezer section or two.

I have noticed a decline in my vegetarian friends--one after another, the majority of them have gone back to eating meat, although most could probably be called "conscience omnivores" or some such, since they tend to the organically fed, free range etc. I don't know if it's just not cool anymore or what, but I don't see a lot of people choosing a veggie lifestyle anymore.

3nickhoonaloon
Ago 23, 2006, 4:53am

If I let my wife see your reply, she`ll want to move to Texas ! That sounds great -what`s Vietnamese food like ?

Inclined to agree with your more general comment.

I suppose it depends on your motivation. I used to have a flat behind a slaughterhouse which had a night shift. That was enough for me.

My wife was a vegetarian, then lapsed then unlapsed after we spent a holiday on a farm in Wales and she bonded with the animals.

Maybe people need that `trigger point` that makes them become veggie.

4dodger
Ago 23, 2006, 10:37pm

Well nickhoonaloon, I hate to rub it in, but I would have to say that the U.S. is just the opposite. I suppose it depends where in the States one lives, but most supermarkets seem to be carrying more vegetarian items all the time; and natural and health food stores are springing up everywhere. If you live in (or at least near) a large city there is almost always a Whole Foods or a Wild Oats store that stocks tons of vegetarian items. I have even noticed several small natural foods stores opening in small towns too. Granted, I live in Colorado where there is a good market for such things, but I notice it when I travel too.

As far as eating out, an upside to Corporate America’s domination is that most of the big chain restaurants have a several veggie-friendly items available, or at least items that you can have the meat left off of, and most have something like a Gardenburger as well. Some of the smaller, locally owned restaurants do make it a bit harder for meatless options though. There also seems to be more and more veggie-friendly Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Thai restaurants opening all the time throughout the country.

5dodger
Ago 23, 2006, 10:39pm

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6dodger
Ago 23, 2006, 10:39pm

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7dodger
Ago 23, 2006, 10:39pm

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8nickhoonaloon
Ago 24, 2006, 6:40am

Not what I expected.

Sounds great though. A good tip - if you can find a good quality Caribbean restaurant with veggie options, that`s great food.

Unfortunately, a lot tend to cater for the "bring me half a goat now !" tendency.

9dodger
Ago 24, 2006, 4:29pm

LOL.

Speaking of eating half a goat, the closest thing to a Caribbean restaurant I know of near me is a Brazilian steakhouse; and I definitely wouldn’t classify it as having many vegetarian options—they server flesh by the skewer on an all-you-can-eat basis. The waiters walk around bringing grilled pig, cow, chicken, turkey, etc., on a skewer to every table. Ironically, they have a salad bar too.

10jlparisi
Ago 26, 2006, 3:31pm

I lived in the San Francisco bay area almost my whole life, and although I agree that grocery stores are getting more veg options, I constantly find myself having a very difficult time eating out. In Davis, CA, I fared very well; there were tons of independent ethnic restaurants with a great variety of veggie options. Similarly, in the bay, independent or small burger joints tend to have good veggie burgers. However, I find that corporate restaurants don't offer much in the way of veg options. Italian places tend to have only one sauce (a red one, rarely a white sauce) that hasn't had meat stock added, and other places tend to carry Boca Burgers, not veggie burgers- although providing an option for us, I don't care for foods meant to taste like meat. Now I am in Las Vegas, and I have found that there is a disappointingly small number of restaurants that have veg options. A larger problem is the lack of knowledge many servers have. As a server, I have informed a number of vegetarians that the plain Alfred they have been eating for years is not in fact vegetarian.
As far as turning into “conscientious omnivores” I have to admit, I'm one of those who is close to turning. I have been veg for almost half my life, since I was 13. At age 13, I felt that I had no more a right to live than the animal, and it should not be sacrificed for my sustenance, especially because i could live quite healthily with out it. However, over the last few years I have begun to crave some kinds of meat- and no longer hold true my previous beliefs. I feel that free-range, organic meat is an acceptable source of nutrients. However, until I can afford to eat it, I will remain a vegetarian...

11bilbette
Sep 14, 2006, 8:36pm

I'm in Minnesota where even several smaller rural towns have "co-ops" that have largely natural and organic foods. A friend from Detroit once described Minneapolis/St. Paul "where the streets are paved with gold and there's a co-op on every corner."

10 or 15 years ago, my co-op went from selling no meat to having a meat counter. They focus on free range and natural meats and seafood. It was a big deal for me, since the co-op used to be one of the only places I could go where being a vegetarian was virtually 100% supported. The day I tried a free sample and was reading through the ingredient list and found shrimp almost at the bottom of the list was the shattering of my "innocence".

Now I have to read every label on every can of soup in the store, but I'd still say that less than half of the packaged goods contain meat.

I'm usually able to find at least 1 or 2 items that are vegetarian (but not necessarily vegan) at almost all restaurants around here. Even if they don't have something on the menu, I can usually ask for them to make me something. I can't say that there is never any beef or chicken stock or lard, but I know they are trying.

I used to travel to the bay area for business and usually had terrible problems finding a place that had vegetarian items on the menu. Going out to dinner with business colleagues in S.F. was a constant disappointment that I never face in Minnesota. The attitudes that I usually noticed were that chicken or seafood options were plentiful and that's what "vegetarians" were supposed to eat.

I try hard to be polite about my needs and sometimes people are just plain rude. They'll keep asking "Well do you eat chicken? What about fish? or shrimp? or clams? and what about eggs or cheese?" and finally I tell them very bluntly that I don't eat anything that was killed (or dead animals, depending on which I think will be the most shocking to them). Their discomfort in talking about animals dying usually shuts them up right there.

There are very few people besides vegetarians (maybe except for those who keep kosher or hallal) who find they are asked to discuss their ethics and very personal beliefs every time they eat with new people.

12turbosaab
Sep 14, 2006, 9:23pm

Great thread. I am 23, grew up in rural Maine, and was raised vegetarian from birth. No chicken or fish, my dad and I eat eggs, my mom doesn't.

To me, vegetarianism has become more and more accepted and mainstream. Bilbette, your point about having to explain your ethics and very personal beliefs every time you eat really hits home for me. As a kid it was especially hard to explain to other kids (and even many adults) who had never encountered a vegetarian before. I certainly never had any desire to be a non-vegetarian (I imagine at some point there was a converstion along the lines of "why don't we eat meat?" "because we don't feel it's right to unnecessarily kill animals for food" and it made perfect sense to me).

Here in the Portland Maine area there are certainly lots of vegetarians, but not all restaurants have decent vegetarian options. I wish more restaurants would clearly label vegetarian options on the menus - to me it seems like it would be so simple, but I guess there is always the question of how exactly to define vegetarian. For me, I ask about and avoid things made with any type of meat stock, meat flavoring, fish sauce, etc, but reluctantly accept rennett in cheese gelatin in all kinds of junk that I eat, carmine in red grapefruit juice, and probably many other trace animal products.

13deargreenplace
Sep 15, 2006, 8:40am

I've had a very different veggie experience in the UK from the original poster.

I became vegetarian in 1991 because I no longer wanted to eat things that had been killed for no other reason than to feed an already overweight and unhealthy population. I don't eat gelatine or fish and have plenty of cheeses to choose from that are made with vegetarian rennet. At that time, there was no such thing as vegetarian convenience food like Quorn, and about all you could get to eat in restaurants was a cheese salad, particularly outside the cities.

Now though, I have very few complaints about how vegetarians are catered for. In Glasgow there are loads of good places I can go for food, including loads who cater for my carnivorous family and friends as well as me. The majority of restaurants and supermarkets use the 'V' sign to show that their meals are veggie-friendly, and if they don't I just take my custom elsewhere.

At first, I did have to contend with comments about my reasons for choosing not to eat meat or fish, but I have plenty of other friends and family who are also vegetarian and I've never actually had to defend myself against hostile questioning about it.

If I ever have children, they'd be brought up as vegetarians until they were old enough to make up their own minds about it. Mainly because I'd have no idea about how to cook anything with meat in it (!) but also because I believe we are entitled to make these choices without having to justify ourselves to anyone.

14deargreenplace
Sep 15, 2006, 8:48am

PS nickhoonaloon

Asda is also my local supermarket, and their veggie selection is awful. I end up having to get what I want from a variety of places which is a real pain for someone without a car.

15nickhoonaloon
Sep 15, 2006, 3:48pm

Asda are pretty shocking when it comes to veggie food aren`t they. Let`s keep mentioning it gratuitously to embarass them !

Still pretty mixed fortunes on the veggie front here - one new veggie shop has opened in the last 18 months, then again, two restaurants and a cafe have closed. Like you, we go to Asda for some things, then go elsewhere in the same area for other stuff.

Talking of Asda, their veggie selection`s pretty terrible isn`t it ?

16bilbette
Sep 15, 2006, 9:10pm

In spite of being a very vegie friendly town, Minneapolis/St. Paul lost it's oldest vegie only restaurant (The Mud Pie) several years ago. There's a small raw only place, but nothing that comes close to replacing the Mud Pie. Unless you count Cafe Brenda (www.cafebrenda.com) that serves seafood in addition to vegetarian.

I really like being able to go to a place where I have no doubts about what goes into my food. My personal opinion is that I trust Indian restaurants more than any others since there's more cultural awareness of vegetarian choices. But having even limited choices at a large majority of restaurants is preferable to having no options.

17librarylapin
Sep 16, 2006, 12:42am

I am trying to get back on the vegetarian wagon. I feel like many of you do that there are many options for vegetarians now. I live in South Florida and although the food is not difficult to find in Supermarkets, finding it in restaurants that don't cost a lot of money is a different story.

I do think we still need to promote vegetarianism even though it has become more mainstream. I believe that the ethics behind it is disappearing and it is becoming more of a niche market kind of thing.

Frankly people react with more shock when they find out I am a vegetarian then when they find out I am a lesbian. I am not sure what this means exactly but it really surprised me at first. At work I get many negative reactions for not eating meat.

18bilbette
Sep 16, 2006, 2:19am

I found that if people realize I’m not going to proselytize them and make them feel guilty about eating meat they won’t be nearly as obsessive about being offended that I'm a vegetarian. Also if I am more willing to point out where I’m a hypocrite (most of us are at some level) or where I draw a limit (for instance, I’m okay with killing bugs or eating yeast and other organisms that are at that level) people don’t keep pestering me as much.

19librarylapin
Sep 17, 2006, 8:42pm

It seems that I don't really have to get on the topic very much. If I say I don't eat meat that is all it takes to get the comments. I don't even attempt to explain. I have the same issues when I say I don't drive. People think the I don't statements are kind of an attack in and of themselves.

I don't mind so much because it starts interesting discussions. I also do a lot of the I understand I am a hypocrite because....

20deargreenplace
Sep 18, 2006, 10:16am

I realise that there are anomalies in what I practise with regards to vegetarianism, but I think I would only call it hypocrisy if I were preaching to other people and criticising them for their choices.

I feel 100% entitled to eat dairy, but not meat for instance, even though there are plenty of arguments for being completely vegan and evidence to show that intensive dairy farming is not good for cattle. Same with wearing leather shoes (you can't wear hemp shoes in a Scottish climate, believe me!).

I do what I can to make a difference when it comes to the environment, and that's more than some people. I don't lose any sleep over people who cross-examine me about my choices - it's a lack of understanding that some people are just different that makes people hostile in my humble opinion.

Vegetarianism is my choice, and I'd never suggest that anyone else's choice was invalid, even if I didn't agree with it. More often than not, people I've just met are genuinely curious about what I eat and I try not to get into my reasons because they're my own business. I'm veggie - end of.

But if my vegetarianism makes someone think a little about their Big Mac then hurray. Then when they've thought a little, give them Fast Food Nation to read and grin wickedly ;D

21nickhoonaloon
Sep 18, 2006, 7:22pm

Librarylapin,

I have come across people who have the rather odd response you describe when meeting someone whose view of the world is clearly different from theirs. It is a strange response to vegetarianism !

Of course, a lot of people are what my wife calls `bubble people` - they may be supremely confident in their own world, but they never stray far from their comfort zone, hence can be rather insecure.

I must remember to check out that publisher you mentioned (lateral thinking).

deargreenplace - I agree about the `hypocrisy` thing, which I have no patience with. I`m a veggie but not a vegan, though I accept the strong arguments for being a vegan, principally because life`s too short and I have other things to do. I can absolutely guarantee if you became a non-leather wearing vegan who was a paid up member of an animal rights group, then the next time you went into a pub, someone would go "what about human rights then ?". Presumably no-one can embrace every cause they feel supportive towards fully (unless their outlook is very narrow), so we all do what we can according to where we are in life.
Anyway, I`ve rambled on more than I meant to, so time to go.

By the way, regarding Asda/Wal-Mart - their veggie selection`s terrible !

22nickhoonaloon
Sep 22, 2006, 3:44am

deargreenplace

Good tidings, my Glaswegian veggie accomplice !

We went to Asda yesterday and found they had upgraded the veggie section - i.e. they`ve improved it from `pitiful` to `negligible` - no only joking it was a bit better. They also had re-instated the Shana range freeezer, which was sorely missed.

There`s still no comparison between mass-produced samosas and the home-made ones we buy for a pittance from a shop over the road where they make them on the premises though.

23alicebook
Sep 22, 2006, 9:30am

I find veggie food more available here in the UK that in most other countries I've been to and I also find it alot easier to find in supermarkets and restaurants. I do like it when I go to a restaurant that has more options for me than I'm used to.

Re. supermarkets, I get the feeling that their veggie food is often spread out through the whole shop rather than in one particular place. I like it at Christmas time when supermarkets suddenly sell lots of interesting vegetarian food for meateaters to give their vegetarian guests. I just wish they'd sell them throughout the whole year!

I can't find the post that mentions it, but I feel sorry for those of you who have to check the ingredients on all the food you buy. I love being able to rely on 'V' labels.

24dodger
Editado: Oct 7, 2006, 4:46am

alicebook, I would love it if the U.S. used the “V” labels; I am one of those who can be found in the supermarket assiduously reading every ingredient on the package. A few restaurants here have markings like that on their vegetarian menu items, but you can never be too sure what that particular establishment’s definition of vegetarian is, so you still have to ask a lot of questions.

I think eating out in the States has become a littler harder as of late, since the E. coli problem and subsequent spinach ban. It has been a week now since the FDA stated that spinach could be sold again (unless it’s from specific counties in California) but it has yet to return. You cannot find it in supermarkets, and as I say, dining out has changed a lot. I have found that several restaurants’ veggie friendly items are no longer available because they contained spinach--mixed green salads, many Asian dishes, vegetarian lasagnas and pizzas, etc. I miss spinach!

Oh, and I figured it has been a while since anyone has stated just how much they hate Asda. I think I’ve only been in an Asda once or twice, and I do not remember what their veggie selections were like, but I thought I’d give those of you in the U.K. a chance to vent some more. ;-)

25nickhoonaloon
Oct 7, 2006, 4:35am

Funny you should mention Asda. Their veggie selection`s not too hot is it ?

26nickhoonaloon
Oct 16, 2006, 8:49am

Este mensaje fue borrado por su autor.

27nickhoonaloon
Oct 16, 2006, 8:53am

Actually, there is more than one Asda. there`s also the Australian Sports Drug Agency, the American Student Dental Association and the Agency for the Study of Dicephalous Aardvarks (note : one of these is not real).

There is, however, only one Asda related to Wal-Mart, and their veggie selection`s not too good.

28nickhoonaloon
Oct 16, 2006, 8:53am

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29Ianigsy
Oct 28, 2006, 3:09pm

As a veggie of nearly a year's standing, barring occasional accidents and blips with unlabelled food at buffet lunches, I'd say my experience was mixed. My local supermarket is a Waitrose and their vegetarian range is limited- they tend not to have their own brand meals, but some of the stuff I've had has been divine (gorgeous mascarpone and caramelised onion pizza!). Morrisons is better and cheaper- and seemingly more reflective of some of the ethnic cuisines. That said, a lot of prepared vegetarian food is expensive for what it is, and if I have the time I'd rather make it myself. When I was a student, I learned how to make a basic tomato sauce for pasta and I've made it with variations for about the last 15 years.

In the UK, I think one of the changes has been the growth in farmers' markets and cruelty free meat and animal products, which have to an extent tried to address the animal welfare and quality issues. It's our local farmers' market tomorrow, and I'll be getting my usual free range eggs, Wensleydale cheese and spinach pies and a few scones, but gone are the days when I'd buy several pounds of different kinds of sausage!

30Winternighttraveller
Oct 28, 2006, 5:02pm

I have lived in Sydney, Australia, and Oxford, Cambridge and London in the UK. I have always found the UK to be better than most countries. About 6 or 7 years ago, Sydney became, rapidly, to get a lot better. While the exclusively vegetarian restaurants seemed to be closing down, most generally omnivorous restaurants began to introduce a wider range of vegetarian dishes and at the top end of the market began introducing whole vegetarian menus. The very best restaurants like Tetsuya's will do a full 8-course degustation menu for vegetarians, which is just brilliant.

In the UK, things are a bit mixed. Oxford and Cambridge are OK but London is excellent, to be frank. Then again, I went to Brighton the other week and was in absolute heaven. It is a town of pubs, vegetarian cafes, second-hand bookshops and vintage clothes stores. If I could figure out a way to get between there and London more easily I might well move there permanently.

31Winternighttraveller
Oct 28, 2006, 5:03pm

As for supermarkets, I find Waitrose to be very good, Sainsbury's and M&S to be good and Tesco to be OK. I don't have an ASDA or Morrison's near me.

32ebi17
Nov 2, 2006, 1:04am

I became a vegetarian, I'm trying to go vegan (I haven't already because of my Grandma. She's eighty and has cooked with milk, butter and eggs since she was sixteen and she's not changing anytime soon. She doesn't eat meat, poultry or fish anymore though!), when I read a book called Skinny Bitch (the touchstone isn't working, if you don't know about the book it's in my library.). That was over three months ago. I'm new to vegetarianism, but I'm not going anywhere soon.
Wal-Mart hasn't provided me with much of anything really. I have gotten soy cheese and soy and rice milk but they really don't carry many "vegan" products. Most of the "meatless" products contain egg whites or milk.
I live in a small town outside of a college town that has a wonderful locally owned health food store. I was elated when I went in! It had every possible type of vegan product you can imagine.

33deargreenplace
Nov 3, 2006, 8:20am

re message 30:

I was in Sydney a few years ago, and was really shocked when I went into one of the supermarkets - no ingredients on the packages!!! How do you know what you're eating? The restaurants were okay I think, even with the glut of seafood places. Surry Hills had some good restaurants.

In spite of my complaints, I do agree with Winternighttraveller that the UK is pretty good in terms of catering for vegetarians. Long live the V sign!

34Yiggy
Nov 25, 2006, 7:07pm

Austin, TX is pretty good for vegetarianism. I switched to a lacto-ovo vegetarian lifestyle shortly after I moved here for college about 3+ years back. This town has made that a much easier choice; every time I go back home to West Texas I can't find anything to eat. Most areas of Texas are barbeque, steaks, more barbeque, and lots of beef. Back home I get strange looks (from my family no less!) when I say I don't eat meat. I guess it all just depends on the people who live in your area, as Austin has a bit of a hippy climate to it. Or at least it did about thirty years ago, and a lot of their lifestyle aspects persist to this day.

35southpaw
Nov 26, 2006, 9:43am

Hi to everyone from a new group member!

I shop at Sainsburys (UK) and find the choice there pretty good. There again, I don't really eat 'veggie convenience' food much - tofu is about the only prepacked item I buy.

What really does annoy me at the moment in the UK is the way that more and more restaurants are seemingly reclassifying 'vegetarian' as meaning 'eats fish'. It's shocking the number of (high quality) restaurants I go into where they put a 'v' sign next to fish dishes. You'd think that those in the catering trade would eat least have a basic grasp on what is, after all a simple concept. I blame people who go around saying 'yes, I'm a vegetarian, but I eat fish.' Well, you're not a vegetarian, then, are you? It's making it more and more difficult for the rest of us.

36Hera
Nov 26, 2006, 3:34pm

I've been vegetarian for twenty years. I will cook meat for my family, as long as I don't have to touch it. I've employed a subtle campaign of cooking them delicious things without meat, without comment, that has decreased their consumption with no speeches or soapboxes.

I don't object to people eating fish and calling themselves vegetarian. What someone else eats is their business, after all - it's your colon, not mine. I've never liked meat, hate the taste, texture and smell. The moral issues are a sideline for me, though of course The Smiths' 'Meat Is Murder' was the initial impetus. My favourite cookbook is Cranks but I've been cooking veggie for so long that I can chop onions and garlic in my sleep, the recipes are burned into my brain.

I rarely eat out (I'm poor) but Indian / Pakistani / Kashmiri food is my favourite by a long chalk. My ideal man would be one who cooks his mother's recipes and has dual Indian / Italian heritage - !

37southpaw
Nov 28, 2006, 10:17am

Hera - I have issues with people calling themselves 'vegetarian' when they eat fish for a couple of reasons, which is wholly to do with the way restaurants perceive vegetarianism.

Firstly, it now seems that restaurants are happy to fill up their 'vegetarian quota' of dishes on the menu with 'v' marked dishes which actually contain fish - meaning that there is actually much less choice for those true veggies than before.

Secondly, I've had the unhappy experience, several times, of being served a 'v' marked meal which turns out to contain fish (this not being evident from the menu). When bringing this to the attention of the restaurant, their response has been, 'Well, vegetarians eat fish, don't they?'

I do honestly think that if people choose to eat fish but not meat (and good for them!) it would be much easier if they said so, rather than muddying the definition of vegetarianism and creating issues for those who don't choose to eat fish.

Off my soapbox now :)

38Hera
Nov 28, 2006, 8:28pm

Bella, I can't get too worked up about people eating fish because it's preferable to people eating meat (especially if I'm at a table with them). I do see your point about restaurants, though. Miracle, I actually ate out this week (*faints) and did notice several dishes marked 'V' that were, on closer inspection, fish. Like, huh? However, this is a VAST improvement on my first few years as a veggie (oh so long ago) surrounded by carnivores. I was routinely served potatoes cooked with the roast chicken / lamb / beef tin, routinely fed gravy that had meat stock and routinely given meals that had had the meat 'fished out' to 'make it vegetarian'. Oh and the classic (from my Irish boyfriend's mother) 'but chicken isn't meat, is it?' It will come as no surprise that I lost two stone in the first six months and learned to cook for myself really fast.

I think coming from such a hair-raising veggie start, plus horrendous starvation holidays abroad, things are so much better I rarely perceive a problem. :)

39southpaw
Dic 1, 2006, 10:05am

Hera - oh, the joys of other people's conceptions of vegetarianism! I've also had the fun of my boyfriend's mother cooking for me (she's French and really has no idea about what it entails). I dread the visits to their house; if I'm lucky I'll get served a very small portion of potato and beans, which amounts to what everyone else is eating bar the 'main' element; if I'm not so lucky, I get some kind of all in one dish which I'll be told, half way through, to 'just pick the meat out'. Grrr.

Travelling abroad can be hazardous, too, as you say, particularly coastal holidays where fish and seafood is naturally going to be a speciality. I'm also reminded with horror about a very mainstream hotel in Croatia, whose restaurant (more of a canteen, really) had nothing for me bar a few overcooked vegetables. They'd even sneaked gravy into the mashed potatoes. So yes, starvation holidays, I understand :)

40byzanne
Feb 22, 2007, 2:58am

Hi, I've just joined - went from carnivore to vegan last September - and have found myself using supermarkets less and less (apart from Co-op) and health food and ethnic shops more and more.
I chose to go vegan because of wider environmental reasons than simply animal rights so it has made me question where my food comes from - I try to buy locally-produced food as well as animal-free. I haven't found it as difficult as I had thought and I seem to be managing quite well. But I do live in Edinburgh and rarely eat out. It would be more difficult in smaller places or in the country.
I am more relaxed when I do eat out - just making sure there isn't anything obviously non-vegan without freaking about it - or at other people's homes. I have found most people curious and I am happy to talk to them about it but I have not found the sort of negative reactions I used to get when I was vegetarian in the 80s.
As for starving - never! I haven't lost much weight since I went vegan - but I have discovered dark chocolate and flapjacks!

41charbutton
Feb 22, 2007, 3:21am

Once when I told someone I was vegetarian, she looked me up and down and said "But I thought vegetarians were skinny"!!!!!

I live in London and getting veggie food isn't a problem. There are a few excellent veggie restaurants and the range of curry houses, Thai restaurants etc means I get a good choice.

But I have had some horrible experiences outside of the capital. Try getting a veggie roast dinner in deepest Wales.

42Gwenhwyfach
Abr 6, 2007, 1:04am

The difference in the midwest (at least in my area of the United States) since even five years ago has been extreme. The option have increased ten-fold, we now have a Whole Foods, more farmers markets, local groceries carry veggie selections plus wider variety of vegetables, and best of all I don't have to explain what a vegetarian is at every resteraunt I go to and some even know what vegan is. So large improvements all around.

43ForrestFamily
Jul 12, 2007, 2:02am

I found it much easier being a veggie in the UK than Australia - you have Quorn for a start! And things are labelled much better, and frankly you have a lot more vegetarian products available in the UK than in Australia. That said, I was last in the UK in 2003 so perhaps it has changed since then? But I didn't find it hard to be a veggie in the UK at all (and that included living in Glasgow).
Continental Europe on the other hand, that was hard.

44wonderlake
Jul 12, 2007, 5:05am

What do posters mean by "vegetarian section" in supermarkets ? The fresh fruits & vegetables aisle ? ;)

Animal Free Shopper is a great reference for anyone wanting to easily track down what is vegan, and therefore veggie friendly in UK supermarkets.

45dodger
Jul 12, 2007, 5:15am

lol, wonderlake. I guess we are overlooking the obvious, eh? ;-)

Animal Free Shopper sounds great. Animal Ingredients A to Z is excellent, too!

46sussabmax
Jul 15, 2007, 12:02pm

Interesting thread, glad to see some discussion here!

As to veg food in grocery stores in the US, I think a lot of the reason these things are more available is that the manufacturers began marketing meat subs and other veg convenience foods as a freat supplement to a carnivorous diet. So, instead of saying look, we have great products for vegetarians, they say try our lighter products occasionally to cut down on fat and calories without making your diet seem unrecognizable. A lot more carnivores eat meat subs and tofu occasionally than they ever used to.

Another big impact is the environmental issues. When I point out the environmental advantages of not eating meat, most hostility to me being vegetarian melts away. People nod there heads and say, good point. Also, I don't really try to convince people to stop eating meat. I want them to leave me alone about what I eat, so I leave them alone about what they eat. I do cook a lot of delicious food though, so they don't see me suffering for my choices.

As for vegetarians who eat fish--I hate that, too. A LOT of people think that vegetarians eat fish, which I don't get at all. Even worse, I once had someone tell me, with great enthusiasm, "I'm a vegetarian, too! All I ever eat is chicken!" I just stared at her, not knowing what to say. I mean, cutting out red meat is great, but last time I checked, chickens were animals, not plants.

And, wonderlake, when I go shopping, the vast majority of items in my cart are fresh fruits and vegetables, rice, beans, and other real plant foods, you are right. It is nice to be able to pick up some convenience foods or meat subs sometimes, too, though. I am loving that there are some good, completely dairy-free cheese substitutes, too. Maybe it would be healthier to do without, but they are so good!

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