One of the few disappointments in relocating to Dublin is the lack of decent vegetarian restaurants. That’s possibly because living in London has spoiled me. In London, it seems that vegetarians and vegans cook for vegetarians and vegans. In Dublin, there are just a couple of such places, Cornucopia the best known. Let’s not name many names but once you get out into the suburbs, the vegetarian still needs to select several vegetable dishes in order to eat with their carnivorous friends.
I’ve not been vegetarian long. And I’d like to be vegan but I really can’t do without cheese and honey. My conversion came by way of a treadmill test that exposed a rattle in my heart. Statins were the answer, like everyone else. Then my GP thought I’d be unlikely to maintain favourable cholesterol levels if I ditched statins. They had radically reduced my LDL in just two months. Success. Problem was the side effects from each of two different courses of statins: I simply couldn’t live with them. Statins gave me some insight into my future difficulties with arthritis coupled with sleeping disorder, lassitude (if not depression) and as if that wasn’t enough, I also had muscle aches and pains. I’m a geophysicist so I know correlation isn’t causation. What I can say is that I didn’t have these symptoms before statins. And three days after I stopped taking them, all of the symptoms had diminished and were finally gone within a week.
How Not to Die was my answer to the GP. Great recipes with a consistent and sustainable selection that keeps the food interesting. Worked brilliantly. Three and six-monthly blood tests confirmed it.
Then we relocated back to Dublin where it got harder to be a vegetarian. Harder to find the ingredients on a consistent basis. Harder to dine out with friends. Harder to avoid compromises when visiting places in Longford or Offaly for example. To be clear, vegans can eat Pringles all day long but I want control for salt, fat, starch and sugar if I’m going to maintain low LDL.
The World Resources Institute indicates that eating less meat could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15-35 percent, and adopting a vegetarian diet would lower it more. That’s not my driver yet it’s a very good reason to be vegetarian.
A terrifying thought for Irish farmers. And yet, surely there’s opportunity too. There are brilliant recipes for turnips, celeriac. beets and such things as thrive here. Just before Xmas, the Irish Times had a brilliant recipe for cauliflower by Paul Flynn of The Tannery in Waterford. So good was it that we used for Xmas Day and quite a few times more besides. And we fed it to carnivores who loved it equally. If it’s time to invest in a few books, let me say that Nigel Slater published two excellent books last year. We regularly use the Mildred’s book too.