So, for those of you that don’t know, it’s National Vegetarian Week. Don’t feel bad
if you didn’t, I didn’t until someone I barely know popped up on my
twitter feed re-tweeting someone I don’t know…

That aside, I consider myself to be a good vegetarian. I don’t have leather
shoes or a belt (I make effort to find trousers that actually fit). I steer clear of
Haribo and check that my cheese is animal rennet free. I don’t even drink non-
vegetarian cider. The sad thing is, posh restaurants make it so damn hard to eat
out as a vegetarian without wanting to throttle the chef.

Take my mother’s birthday for example. We went to a very nice restaurant in
London that had an absolutely delectable menu, provided you were no stricter
than pescatarian. Even the soup had beef stock in it. There was one starter
that I could have: mushroom bruschetta. The ‘vegetarian’ main course was
mushroom risotto, only I had to put a special request for the whole thing not to
be adulterated with pecorino.

I understand that most people in this country eat meat and wish to continue
doing so, whilst I hope for the day when this is no longer a fact, this particular
rant is more about lazy chefs. These men and women are supposed to love food,
take an interest not just in their dishes but in their menus. I worked as a kitchen
hand in my teenage years and our menus were planned so that no one had to eat
a starter and main course focussed on the same thing. It’s not difficult. I mean
seriously, when did vegetarian mean ‘mushroom lover’ or for that matter, goats’
cheese guzzler or an acolyte of the church of stuffed peppers.

Chefs that can’t be bothered to whip out anything other than mushroom risotto
do not deserve their role. There are scores of underused vegetables out there
that we never see on menus. When was the last time I saw parsnips, fennel or
runner beans anywhere other than my own kitchen.

One very eye catching dish on the menu the other week was deep fried stuffed
courgette florets. Sadly they were stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies, but as
the restaurant was good enough, they were handmade and fresh so I was able to
get some fish-free (who likes anchovies anyway?). Annoyingly I was still stuck
with mushroom risotto, which I will be eating again this Friday as I head for a
society social at Pierre Victoire.

My colleague managed to sum up my current feelings towards haute cuisine in a
recent email ‘I resent paying £30 for what will inevitably be a slice of quiche’

For a list of vegetarian brands of beer, wine, cider visit: http://

And cheese:

Blog written by: Tobias Allen
In the Nineties, green issues were certainly apparent in the minds of the general population; logging in the Amazon was a major concern, and who can forget Captain Planet and the Planeteers? Even educational videos designed to teach good spelling were themed around pollution on planet Earth (I can't have been the only one to watch Earth Warp, surely?).

In the Noughties, however, green campaigning really took off. 'Global Warming' became 'climate change,' pollution and wastefulness became your 'carbon footprint' and the dangers of carbon dioxide were no longer limited to an overflowing soft drink. But are people now, in this new decade, getting a little tired?

I believe that now is the time to stop trying to convince the sceptics, and I began the OUSU Environment Handbook by saying that anyone who didn't believe in the existence of climate change is either misinformed or stubborn. Whilst this is wholly true, I worry about the effect this will have on green campaigning as a whole.

By relaxing our campaign efforts, people have begun to forget the message of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, and especially the order in which those words should come. I was appalled when I heard of an advert condoning leaving a light on all night because it was fitted with an energy efficient bulb; such a notion is wholly misleading. By reducing the amount of energy we use in our day-to-day lives, we should not therefore start engaging in more energy-wasting activities.

The government has now finally agreed to a target for reducing the country's carbon footprint by 80% before 2050, but there's only one way to do this. We have to throw out the strategy of showing people little changes they can make to reduce their carbon footprint, and start impressing the importance of the big changes. Line drying your clothes instead of using a tumble dryer will save much more energy than switching lights off when you leave the room, and I think everyone knows what to do when it comes to air travel. A renewal within the green campaign is necessary to provide the same effervescent campaign of the mid noughties if we are to convince those that have installed the right lightbulbs that the next step is to unplug their tumble dryer.

Blog post by Tobias Allen