It seems almost every week there’s a new food scare – be it how much we eat, or what we’re eating – making us question what we put in our shopping baskets. But what’s it like if you’re a vegetarian?
As a vegetarian, food shopping and eating out can often be a bit of a hassle. But there are certain products vegetarians can always fall back on: cheese is a classic example for me.
So for a long time, I’d never question the innocence of my cheese toastie – I always thought I knew exactly what was in such a simple pleasure. But did I?
Every day, more and more British consumers are taking the dive and becoming vegetarian.
There are countless reasons people are choosing this change in lifestyle – from being a strong advocate for animal rights to trying to reduce their impact on global warming.
Consequently, supermarket shelves have seen an increase in vegetarian friendly products, meaning we no longer need to stick to the bare essentials of vegetarian cooking (no more mushroom burgers for me!).
But up to this point, there have been – and still are – certain products we may have thought we could trust that actually contain meat.
I am speaking for many vegetarians when I say cheese is a staple of my diet – often forming a large part of my meals, it adds an extra dimension of flavour in the absence of meat.
But some cheeses aren’t vegetarian – many contain rennet, which is taken from the stomach of calves, as a thickening agent.
The ones to avoid are Parmesan (watch out for it in pesto) and Gorgonzola – so if you’re thinking of that perfect Christmas cheese board make sure it’s suitable for your vegetarian guests.
Would you question whether your glass of wine at dinner is suitable for vegetarians? You should – some types of wine and beer contain animal products (such as fish bladders) that can be used for clarification.
Before adding a glug of wine to your risotto or having a pint at the pub make sure you check to see if it’s suitable for you, or your guests.
Sweets and desserts with a gummy or jelly-like texture often contain the enemy of most vegetarians: gelatine.
This may be an obvious one for seasoned vegetarians, but it can sneak into your snacks, such as marshmallows, some chocolate bars and even ice cream!
I know that going full time veggie can appear a large commitment for many who might be tempted to make the change – but there are some small steps you can take to not only help the environment but both your body and your wallet.
For example, taking part in Meat-Free Monday or going meat-free for National Vegetarian Week in May can have a positive impact on you and your family’s well-being.
It’s also a chance to have some fun in the kitchen, trying out some brand new recipes.
Do you know veggie friend from veggie foe when it comes to food products? And are you thinking of going vegetarian, or does the idea not appeal?