Here at Regional Food and Drink, as you can probably guess, we love to eat out! Having a meal, drinking, and being merry is an important philosophy, and while this can sometimes mean indulgence, it isn’t always at odds with a healthy lifestyle.
Many people these days are getting their health status checked out and want to ensure they are looking after their body well. Perhaps you’re one of them and have recently had a cholesterol test, blood sugar exam, or your BMI calculated. Did that cholesterol test make you want to change your lifestyle? Did your BMI give you a bit of a shock? It happens to a lot of us, but making healthy lifestyle changes doesn’t mean avoiding tasty, wholesome and regional British food.
For some, going vegetarian is a good way to deal with this health challenge. Vegetarian meals by default often include more vegetables and fewer foods that are high in saturated fat, like meat. And most importantly, the UK has an amazing range of vegetarian food, with a wide variety of fantastic restaurants across the country. To help you get started, we’ve highlighted some veggie-friendly places and regional specialties here.
When you’re starting out, one big challenge may be where to eat out. Luckily, there are a lot of regional centres that offer great vegetarian dining.
If you’re in Scotland, Edinburgh has an array of brilliant vegetarian and vegan food. Thanks to restaurants like David Bann, Indian favourite Kalpna, and community-owned Forest Café, the capital has recently taken the PETA title for ‘Most Vegan-Friendly City in the UK’.
Still going strong is the previous winner Glasgow, where restaurants like Mono (which has its own microbrewery and a range of brilliant gigs and workshops) and laid-back student favourite The 78 have helped bolster the city’s reputation as a haven for those avoiding meat.
For those further down south, London of course has a plethora of options. Mildred’s is practically a Soho institution by now, but it’s no longer the only option for the discerning vegetarian foodie. There’s the Michelin recommended Vanilla Black if you’re feeling flush, and the Wild Food Café has an affordable array of obscenely healthy-sounding options.
You don’t have to venture into the capital to get great vegetarian food, though: Brighton is notoriously good on this front too. From veteran restaurant Food for Friends to the cheeky Terre à Terre, there’s always a tasty option here whatever the occasion. Brighton is particularly good for local, independent cafes with a homely kettle boiling in the corner and piles of tasty, veg-friendly snacks to try, so it’s well worth a visit even in the winter months.
As we all know, regional food in the UK is second to none, and there are lots of good non-meat based products from many different areas: think cheddar cheese, Bakewell tarts, Yorkshire puddings or a Devonshire cream tea. Unfortunately, these are not such great option if you’re going vegetarian for health reasons.
However, chefs increasingly offer veggie versions of traditional dishes, with less of the naturally saturated fatty content of actual meat. Scottish restaurants for example now usually offer vegetarian haggis. Cornish pasties come in vegetable based varieties (just try not to fill up on cheese instead) and a Lancashire vegetable hotpot can sometimes be better than the original.
Whatever the results of your cholesterol test or weight check, there’s no need to cut out wholesome and tasty regional food. Looking for slightly better alternatives is a great start, and often that means swapping meat for veg. Whatever you do, opt for tasty local food with fresh healthy ingredients, and you can’t go too far wrong.