Could you go veggie? St Albans-based food writer Becky Alexander tells us how she got on

So, what’s the number one food trend in the UK at the moment? I’ve been a food writer in St Albans for 10 years and the most dramatic change I have seen has been the shift away from eating meat.

Go in to any cafe, restaurant, pub or coffee shop (we love coffee shops!) and you will find vegetarian and vegan food – this just wasn’t the case two years ago. Even people who eat meat, are eating less.


This week’s blog is written by Becky Alexander, food columnist for The Herts Advertiser.


Until 18 months ago, I ate meat – not loads, but usually a roast on a Sunday with the family (we have two teenage daughters) and the occasional midweek chicken curry or pork chop or sausages. And then that changed. I am now vegetarian (well, I eat fish occasionally), and I often get asked about how that is going, especially by friends when we are reading menus and deciding what to order.

A lightbulb moment?

cows.png

So, what changed? What was the lightbulb moment for me? Climate change was one – raising cows to eat is really bad for greenhouse gases, compared to other food sources.

The vegan and vegetarian movement was impossible to ignore – everywhere I went to review had interesting veggie options on the menu and magazines and newspapers were full of recipes. Images of factory farming – you have to have a tough stomach to be happy with those.

I also work in food book publishing and every new book was about vegan and plant-based food. Joe Wicks, The Hairy Bikers and Jamie Oliver have written them – veggie food is now mainstream. If you need some easy ideas, head to Waterstones and you will be spoilt for choice!

 

3 books

Cooking veggie food is cheaper, more interesting, and for me, healthier. As a family we now eat a much broader range of ingredients and far more vegetables, which has to be a good thing.

My new way of thinking is that if you don’t have to eat meat, then why would you? Government NHS guidelines say we don’t need meat very often, and red meat rarely. If you are worried about not getting enough iron and protein in your diet then have a chat with a nutritionist – and bear in mind that eating processed meat isn’t great for you either.

So, how can you cut back on eating meat?

Maybe start with lunchtime – next time you are buying your work lunch in Pret or M&S or wherever, choose something new. I really like the avo, olive and pine nut baguette in Pret. Hummus, falafel and cheese are easy choices too.

Eating out is a good way to try a new ingredient. We have great Turkish restaurants in St Albans for example, the natural home of delicious aubergine dips and falafel. I think I first tried roast cauliflower in Tabure, and now love it.

I had an excellent veggie burger in The Meating Room with the kids the other day. The Courtyard Cafe is a great place for good veggie food (they are making a special Sumptuous Soup throughout SustFest).

multi 157 courtyard cafe

Sumptuous Soup made with local ingredients including herbs from the cafe garden and organic veg from Earthworks at The Courtyard Cafe #SustFest19

Indian restaurants are ace at vegetarian food – dahls and chickpea curries are what people in India have eaten forever. Try tofu in a Chinese or Japanese restaurant and you will see how it is meant to taste – delicious, I promise! And more authentic than over-sweetened chicken in a sauce of some kind.

I’ve eaten fantastic veggie food in Loft, the Abbey and The Ivy – great chefs can be very creative so you don’t need to feel you are missing out when you go out for dinner. (It’s cheaper too.)

And it’s great for the planet!

Vegetarian food is officially better for the planet. In the Guardian a while back, there was a report[1] by research scientists at Oxford University that claimed:

Avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth.’

 Wow! That’s quite a claim.

According to the scientists, not eating meat has more impact than not flying or driving! That’s a pretty painless way to do your bit for the planet.

Why not try one of the events at SustFest for more ideas? Maybe a vegan brunch at Charlie’s or a cooking class? And then just take it a meal, a day or a week at a time – if everyone does that, we can make a real difference.


[1] (J Poore and T Nemecek, Science, June 2018) and Damian Carrington, Guardian, May 2018.


See individual SustFest Climate Actions here

Sustainable Food #SustFest19 Events here and see below

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SUNDAY 12TH MAY

SIMPLE LUNCH

12noon – 2pm

FOOD / CHILD FRIENDLY / DONATIONS / BOOK
Bread and cheese lunch to support Christian Aid using delicious locally sourced, organic and vegetarian ingredients.
Where St Stephen’s Church Hall, Watling St, St Albans AL1 2PT
Info rajohnston2@googlemail.com 01727 862598
PARISH OF ST STEPHEN WITH ST JULIAN, ST ALBANS

EAT VEGAN! – AN INTRODUCTION TO VEGAN COOKERY
4pm – 6pm

FOOD / £5 INC A HOT DRINK + TAKE HOME CAKE / BOOK
Sample some delicious dairy and egg-free dishes. Chat about vegan foods, try different plant milks and learn how to make your cooking animal free.
Where The Green Kitchen Cafe, Hatfield Rd, St Albans AL4 0XP
Info www.the-green-kitchen.co.uk 01727 753661
THE GREEN KITCHEN VEGAN CAFE

13TH – 30TH MAY

SUSTAINABLE LOCAL PRODUCE BOX

13TH – 30TH MAY
FOOD / £16

A box of locally sourced produce delivered to you. 6 different types of fruit and veg, 100g of Wobbly Bottom goat’s cheese, 6 free range eggs and a jar of honey.
Where http://www.boxlocalfood.co.uk
Info Order by Mon 13th for delivery Thur 16th, Mon 20th for Thur 23rd, Mon 27th for Thur 30th
BOX LOCAL

TUESDAY 14TH MAY

DINING WITH A CONSCIENCE
7pm for 7.30pm sit down

FOOD / ADULTS ONLY / £35pp 4 COURSES; GLASS OF ENGLISH SPARKLING WINE / BOOK
Lussmanns flagship sustainable St Albans restaurant teams up with ‘war on waste’ ambassador Rubies in the Rubble for a stunning 4-course vegetarian dinner.
Where Lussmanns Waxhouse Gate, High St, St Albans AL3 4EW
Info Booking essential www.lussmanns.com
LUSSMANNS

WEDNESDAY 15TH MAY

SUSTAINABLE COOKING FOR OUR PLANET AND HEALTH
12noon – 2.15pm

FOOD / FREE / BOOK
Part 1: Come and cook with me and pick up tips on sourcing local produce, saving energy and reducing waste while making delicious vegetarian food to take home. For part 2 see Friday 17th May.
Where The Cobbled Kitchen, 69 Harpenden Rd, St Albans AL3 6BY
Info Book via www.thecobbledkitchen.co.uk 
THE COBBLED KITCHEN

THURSDAY 16TH MAY

EAT YOUR GREENS LUNCH AT LONDON COLNEY
12noon – 2pm

FOOD / CHILD FRIENDLY / £5 / BOOK
At our regular lunch club, held on Tuesday and Thursday, we will be eating our greens by offering a vegetarian menu. 3 courses are £5; free tea and coffee.
Where Caledon Community Centre, Caledon Rd, London Colney AL2 1PU
Info www.londoncolney-pc.gov.uk 01727 821314
LONDON COLNEY PARISH COUNCIL

ENVIRONMENTAL FILM AFTERNOON
2pm – 3pm

FILM / CHILD FRIENDLY / FREE
Come along to Café on the Corner to watch a short film created by people we support at Camphill St Albans. It will show what they do to contribute to being environmentally sustainable in St Albans.
Where Café on the Corner, 39 Catherine St, St Albans AL3 5BJ
Info www.cvt.org.uk 
CAMPHILL VILLAGE TRUST-ST ALBANS COMMUNITY: ‘CAFÉ ON THE CORNER’

BREAD MAKING FOR BEGINNERS
7pm – 9.30pm

FOOD / DONATION / BOOK
Bread making is easy, come and try it for yourself. No experience necessary. Bring a bowl, 1-pint jug, 1lb metal bread tin, apron.
Where Church Hall, SS Alban and Stephen RC Church, 14 Beaconsfield Rd, St Albans AL1 3RB
Info Book via email grabecki@hotmail.com
SS ALBAN AND STEPHEN RC CHURCH

FRIDAY 17TH MAY

SUSTAINABLE COOKING FOR OUR PLANET AND HEALTH
12noon – 2.15pm

FOOD / FREE / BOOK
Part 2: Come and cook with me! Learn how to increase the veg content of your diet and use leftovers imaginatively. Take home lots of delicious veggie food too!
Where The Cobbled Kitchen, 69 Harpenden Rd, St Albans AL3 6BY
Info Book via www.thecobbledkitchen.co.uk
THE COBBLED KITCHEN

SUNDAY 19TH MAY

VEGAN BRUNCH AT CHARLIE’S
Two sittings 9am or 11am

FOOD / £29pp / BOOK
3-course vegan brunch to start your Suday. From team Charlie’s and chefs from Chappell and Caldwell. Thoughtfully sourced food; sustainable focus; plenty of coffee!
Where Charlie’s Coffee and Company, 87 London Rd, St Albans AL1 1LN
Info Book at www.chappellandcaldwell.com/brunch
CHARLIE’S COFFEE AND COMPANY

ST ALBANS MARKET TAKE OVER
11am – 5pm

DAY OUT / CHILD FRIENDLY / FREE
Over 60 stalls from businesses and charities showcasing: holidays without flying, home energy, eco friendly food, looking after our town, low carbon shopping, live bands, street food, electric cars, bikes and bike repair, e-bikes for you to ride and more!
Where St Albans Market, St Peters St, St Albans
Info Click here for more information about Market Takeover
SUSTAINABLE ST ALBANS AND ST ALBANS FRIENDS OF THE EARTH

RESTORATIVE ECONOMY TALK AND LUNCH
10.30am – 1.30pm

TALK / FOOD / CHILD FRIENDLY / FREE
Talk by a Tearfund representative about how to live sustainably followed by vegetarian lunch in the large hall. Part of regular morning worship at St Pauls.
Where St Paul’s Church, Blandford Rd, St Albans AL1 4JP
Info www.stpauls-stalbans.org 
ST PAULS CHURCH

THURSDAY 23RD MAY

BUSINESS ANGEL INVESTING IN THE GREEN ECONOMY – BE PART OF THE SOLUTION!
7pm – 9pm

INVESTMENT / ADULTS ONLY / £40 INC DINNER AND WINE / BOOK
Enjoy dinner at Lussmanns and discover the potential value to you of angel investments in the Green Economy, from the UK’s leading specialists.
Where Lussmanns, Waxhouse Gate, High St, St Albans AL3 4EW
Info www.greenangelsyndicate.com/events
GREEN ANGEL SYNDICATE

FRIDAY 24TH MAY

PLASTIC FREE PICNIC
3.30pm – 5.30pm

PICNIC / CHILD FRIENDLY / FREE
Can you pack a picnic without using any single use plastic – or even no plastic? Bring your picnic along with the family. Glean new ideas about going plastic free!
Where Nr the play park, Batford Springs, Harpenden
Info Facebook.com/groups/296871424156643
PLASTIC FREE HARPENDEN

SATURDAY 25TH MAY

TABLE TOP GAMES NIGHT AND VEGAN BUFFET 7.30pm – 11pm

PLAY / ADULTS ONLY / £8pp / BOOK
Have fun playing those nostalgic, traditional games from way back including; dominoes, chess, battleships, Guess Who and Jenga! Vegan buffet included. BYOB.
Where United Reform Church, Homewood Rd, St Albans AL1 4BH
Info 01727 753661
THE GREEN KITCHEN

SATURDAY 1ST JUNE 2019

FAMILY SUSTAINABLE PICNIC
12noon – 2pm

PICNIC / AIMED AT CHILDREN / FREE
Sustainable picnic. Bring along your crudités in bamboo snack boxes, your beeswax wrapped delights and your home-made bites and join us for a picnic in the park.
Where Verulamium Park, St Albans, by kids play park.
Info www.mamabamboo.com 07966 406993. Cancelled in bad weather.
MAMA BAMBOO

INCLUSIVE 11th May to 1st June

COMMUNITY CAFE
11TH MAY – 1ST JUNE (EXCEPT SUNDAYS) 10am – 2pm

FOOD / CHILD FRIENDLY / REASONABLY PRICED
Our community cafe will have daily specials promoting healthy eating!
Where Cross Street Centre Cafe, 1 Cross St, St Albans AL3 5EE
Info Facebook: @crossstreetcentre
CROSS STREET CENTRE CAFE

SUMPTUOUS SUSTAINABLE SOUP
11TH MAY – 1ST JUNE During Opening Hours

FOOD / OFFER / CHILD FRIENDLY
For SustFest the cafe will serve Sumptuous Sustainable Soup, made with local ingredients including herbs from the cafe garden and organic veg from Earthworks.
Where The Courtyard Cafe, 11 Hatfield Rd, St Albans AL1 3RR
Info www.courtyardcafestalbans.co.uk
THE COURTYARD CAFÉ


 

 

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