Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vegetarian Vilification

It is an interesting experience going to a restaurant or Hotel with a Vegetarian.

In recent times a number of my Family Members have chosen this path and I must say with a great deal of Passion. I for one, and those who know me, have never had an issue with food. So having been brought up on the principal of eat what is put in front of you has really been where my Plate is set.

Having said that for many years flying around Australia I used to request Vegetarian Breakfasts on Aeroplanes because the alternative was pretty horrible. For quite a while this was great and the experience and quality of food was absolutely fantastic. Then it changed and all you could expect was a bucket of lukewarm mushrooms.

Anyway where am I going with this little yarn? I am absolutely amazed at the number of Hotels that simply do not cater for a Vegetarian. I am also appalled at the treatment vegetarians receive when a simple request is posed as to maybe the Kitchen could prepare a simple vege dish. Shock, horror, terror creeps across the face of the waiter/waitress and reluctantly they slink off to the Kitchen to present the request to an equally defiant Chef/Cook

How often does this happen, very often. My case in point. On Saturday I went on a trip through the Adelaide Hills with a number of people (10) farewelling a good friend as she ventures overseas for an extended trip and holiday.

We arrived dutifully at the appointed hour at the German Arms Hotel in Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, a very pleasant spot and one of our most popular tourist destinations.

Great, there was at least a vegetarian option on the menu; I had to agree an attempt at tokenism to the Vegetarians of the world. So the request went in, maybe the Chef could prepare a Pizza without the meat included. Usual response shock, terror my God I have to approach the Chef with the devastating request.

After a short while the young lady returned with a rather abrupt, bordering on rude, no we are far too busy. So my vegetarian friends slunk back into the menu and proceeded to toss the coin on the meager offering that was available.

Well my point is this, is this not Vegetarian Vilification, my friends really felt as though they were now very much second rate citizens in the establishment. Where is the principles of Equal Opportunity, Social Inclusion (we even have State Department for each of these)

All I can say is it does not take much imagination to actually create some really good vegetarian food. It is even inexpensive quite quick and can be created from most common vegetables found in half reasonable kitchens. As we consider our health more and more the concept of humongous steaks and veal dishes that hang over both ends of the plate are really becoming less and less inviting. Good food does not need to be measured in the stupid oversupply that we tend to carry on with in this country and we do need to cater for people who actually do need an alternative (and I do not mean tokenism). So to the Restaurants and Eateries of the world get with the program – think healthy. I am sure most Chef’s would actually welcome the opportunity to explore their creativity.


Anonymous said...

Any "chef" who can't make a vego pizza to order should not be allowed in a kitchen.

And I am not a vegetarian, although I admire people who are, and I often have a vegetarian option simply because I don't always feel like meat. What's hard or weird about that?

Charlie said...

Classic. I spent many a year as a vegetarian and then as one who only ate fish, then chicken and now I'm back to meat as well. Pure tokenism really...but I have full empathy (ans sympathy) for those who enjoy a meatless meal.

I agree with the airline food comments - they did get it right for quite a while and I used to select vegetarian for that exact reason too (and also because you got fed first and it was hot). **Note though - don't use this theory on asian type airlines... eeek

Anyway, I admire your rant about basic customer service. Where was it? I love that we can share these stories so readily now - across the net in full broadcast to all and sundry across the globe. I hope the tourists are reading this and the German Arms (in Harndorf) is shamed into fixing their ways. Until I hear they have - I'll give them a miss... sounds a bit too carbby for me. xc

Monnie said...

I think its ridiculous that they said they were "too busy". You are all paying customers and the kitchen is busy to make your food. If they refuse to make you a simple vegetarian dish (which honestly just requires omitting meat! It's not hard!) then they should not be working as a chef.

I have thought in recent weeks about become a vegetarian but I think that I really just need to eat more salad and vegetables. :P

Anonymous said...

Wait, it takes MORE time to NOT put an item on a pizza? That's gotta be some kind of time-warp.

My step-mother is on a special diet that I never quite understand (I think it stems back from the day when the Pritikan Diet that was all the rage 20years ago) that means she brings her own RICE with her to restaurants. Sometimes she has it in a handbag, other times she has to go eat out the car.
Any restaurant that relies on word-of-mouth should jump at the chance to give speciality customer service.
Hehe, I'd love to ask for an all-meat pizza without the meat ... and take a photo of the face that comes next!