So, I survived it. Six months into la vida veggie, I journeyed to the UK for a three week trip. By European standards, a vegetarian haven, but compared with ultra-accommodating hippy Vancity, I was in for a bit of a challenge. I'm not going to say that it was that easy, nor was it that hard, but temptation did get the better of me - on three occasions.
First, Borough Market. A trip to this food mecca was not going to be complete without a couple of raw oysters.
Justification: hand-collected, sustainable, no central nervous system (or as my Mum puts it, "no face").
Second, with far less noble justification, Percy Pigs. These porcine-shaped, raspberry-flavoured candy delights are well known by everyone who has ever worked in an office in London. A Marks & Spencer product (some would argue their best one), Percy Pigs are made, as are a lot of gummy candies, with gelatine - in other words, with bits of REAL PIG. A highly unfair reality, especially when you're slavering to chomp down on one of the happy piggy faces. I bought four bags to bring back to Vancouver, the expat equivalent of bringing a carton of cigarettes to an inmate.
Justification: I awoke one morning in my third week with a screaming wine headache and a completely empty bag of percy pigs on the nightstand. Yes, dear reader, I drunk-ate bits of real pig. I'm not proud. (Note: I stress-ate another half pack when I got back to the office with the remainder of my purchase. Whew, confession really does make one feel better.)
Third, and definitely most satisfying, were the potato cake-encrusted scallops I enjoyed as my main course at The Gallery, Fortnum & Mason. By any standards a superlative dining experience, it was made all the better when the maître d’ gifted me three glasses of pink bubbles. The first course was a pea and broad bean risotto with a soft-poached (free-range) egg, followed by three huge scallop and potato globes and side salad. Dessert was a simple but glorious duo of sliced strawberries and clotted cream, and a pot of Earl Grey. Obligatory food porn at the bottom :)
Vegetarian options really are available, and restaurants are more than willing to make substitutions and alterations to suit dietary requirements. Methinks London service is improving - can't think of any major upcoming events that might have triggered that?
Indulgent eating is a part of any holiday. I never thought I'd see the day, but I am writing these words: I am breaking up with cheese. Not permanently, I hope, but for a while. I've eaten more beautiful, delicious, mouth-watering British and French cheese in three weeks than I had in the six months before I left London in 2010. So, gluten-free, dairy-free vegetarian. Pass the fava beans...
Wagamama: ubiquitous, delicious, several vegan & gluten-free options, and reasonably priced. Tourists to London, make this a must-do.
Imli: for being my go-to lunch and dinner place near the office. Super delicious Indian tapas!
Nikki & Duncan: for accommodating an entire veggie and gluten-free weekend in the Cotswolds (!!)