Chowhound Presents: Table Talk with Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh of Sweet: Desserts from London's Ottolenghi | Ask Your Questions Now ›

Not About Food


Shouldn't food service professionals "get" vegetarian?


Not About Food 191

Shouldn't food service professionals "get" vegetarian?

im_nomad | Oct 26, 2008 10:37 AM

Ok, I realize this is likely to spur some anti-veg backlash, but having just returned from a week long, food included conference, am for the umpteenth time wondering why so many professional cooks just don’t seem to “get” what vegetarian means. I’m talking in relation to the food guide, not simply “meatless”.

I’m one of those “meat free” people who doesn’t typically make a fuss, am more than happy to eat a slice of bread for a meal at someone’s home, and enjoy many meals in restaurants that are meat free, but not necessarily balanced. This is ok for occasionals, and I can make up for it. I’ll even very occasionally eat fish, and I am , by no means, a picky eater. I realize it's a pain in the butt to a lot of people, and I regularly apologize for it. Really, i'm not trying to be difficult !!

I understand that it is difficult to feed a couple of hundred people and keep everyone happy. I also understand that the resulting food is quite often, not great. But this is a location where people go on conferences and training for weeks on end. Is it too much to ask for some protein?

The kitchen was advised well ahead of time that there would be vegetarians in the group (I was one of a few). While the carnivores in the group enjoyed a wide selection of dishes and various proteins in the buffet line, there were no vegetarian mains, only once a meat-free pasta option, and only once fish which I didn’t eat (it looked repulsive, but I was at least happy to see it there, for some variety).

Twice during the week, there were asian dishes, typically dishes that can quite easily be and often are by their own right, vegetarian. Once, there were burgers, but no veggie burger substitute. That one, I thought, seemed rather obvious to me, wouldn’t have even required an entire stand-alone dish.

I was quite excited to see a tofu hot and sour soup…..which was swimming in beef. I spent the week living off of rice, potatoes, cheese (which many veg’s won’t eat), salads/veg sides and the ever present chick pea in the salad bar. I ate eggs every morning for breakfast just to make sure I had at least some protein (you have to eat a lot of beans, eggs and cheese to get the daily requirement so easily gotten from eg. Tofu). I love chickpeas, but not for two meals a day, every day.

This might also be ok, if you’re in the “eat to live” category, which I’m not. I could regale you with other such occasions, and the interpretations of “vegetarian” which ended up on my plate (one example was the canned baked beans over pasta meal….WTH)

Needless to say, I felt ill and bloated by the end of the week, tired of eating the same thing day in day out, and couldn’t wait to get back to my own cooking. I wasn’t the only one. And no we did not have the option to go elsewhere.

I understand that not every person understands or wants to know how to feed a vegetarian, but shouldn’t a food service professional know how to do this, and provide balanced meals? And God forbid, with some variety?

This post is locked.Have something new to say?

Create a New Post

Recommended From Chowhound