Calling all vegetarians!

(Wendy Wise) #1

I’m writing an article on what it’s like being a vegetarian in France and would love to hear your experiences in restaurants, school, shopping or just the reaction of your French friends and neighbours.

Thanks in advance,


(Karen Goddard) #2


I was a veggie when I moved here but it is just impossible to be if you want to eat out or dine with the French …we live in a hunters paradise and there is just no getting away with it …so, I eat meat in company and do my best to eat healthly when at home - c’est la vie!


(Wendy Wise) #3

Hi Andrea,

I hope your project gets off the ground, I’m not a vegetarian any more but we don’t eat much meat and would be delighted to eat in a vegetarian restaurant. I don’t know what’s so difficult to understand about vegetarianism for restaurant owners, perhaps the catering colleges need to include something in their curriculum, particularly as it’s a growing market. Perhaps we should start a campaign!
I did get my article published in N4 Normandy this month there’ll be a slightly different version of it in Etcetera next month. What you’re saying echoes things said by the people I spoke to. Thanks for your thoughts, Wendy

(andrea louise humphreys) #4

Hi Wendy
we have been running a vegetarian bed and breakfast for 2 years now in La Creuse and have been pleasantly surprised by the reactions of our French friends and all of our non veggie guests. I used to apologise for the fact that our meals were vegetarian, but soon stopped and everyone who eats with us is more than happy. We have joined the fete committee here and always ensure that there is a vegetarian meal on offer and this is often chosen by non veggies. The first dish I offered was a vegetarian paella and a few French people said that they couldn’t eat it as they were not vegetarian, which made us laugh. What I don’t find amusing is people’s experiences of eating out and finding bacon on their vegetables. We explain clearly to people what we don’t eat and it usually works, but here it means that we can only ever eat pizza or fondue creusois if we go out, needless to say we eat out very rarely and have to say that it is the biggest thing that we miss living here. We are thinking of opening a restaurant, though that is a long term plan and so far discussions with the Mairie here are encouraging. I think it is something that could work really well as many British vegetarians have contacted us and asked if they can dine at our place, French people are interested in healthier eating ie lots of women on diets, people are increasingly interested in organic food and of course, French people love good food.

(Wendy Wise) #5

Did you say anything to the staff and if so, how did they react? When I was vegetarian, I would have refused to eat the vegetables if they’d been in contact with meat.

(Suzanne Fitzgerald) #6

I have 2 friends who are vegetarian & we arranged a vegetarian meal for them at our local restaurant. We were amused to find the meal was basically the main course without any meat or fish & that one of the vegetable dishes had a lovely slice of crispy bacon on top as a garnish!

We did laugh!

At another restaurant we were offered salad - which came with lardons (apparently not meat). So 2 out of 2 meals didn’t quite meet the vegetarian mark!

UK Stores Delivering Overseas

(Wendy Wise) #7

Hi Sarah,

It suddenly struck me that I hadn’t got back to you. Thank-you so much for taking the time to reply…the notification slipped down the list of e mails and you know what it’s like.

There’s obviously a lot of work to be done in getting the message across, without trying to convert people, but so that vegetarians can get better service in restaurants and schools. I don’t know where the ‘causing cancer’ idea came from…! David Tomlinson who has a vegetarian cookery school, near La Rochelle says they get lots of French people on their openly veggie courses, particularly the one day ones for locals. The French students are not necessarily veggies but like learning about food from different parts of the world, eg he does Indian, Italian and Middle Eastern cookery. His wife said they had to go to their daughter’s school and explain what being a veggie means, because they tried to give her carrots cooked with a beef stew and even the headmaster thought jambon blanc was OK, because it’s not red meat.

Bon dimanche,


(Sarah Beattie) #8

Hello Wendy

I am a vegetarian who is a food writer - the French find this baffling and don’t believe I can be both. Eating out can be miserable especially if you can’t make a reservation ahead of time. However I remember a time when Yorkshire was like this. And I have eaten at Alain Passard’s L’Arpege in Paris. (the Michelin starred chef who is more interested in veg than meat)There is even a veggie restaurant now in the heart of Gascony in Auch and apparently it is doing well. Change will come. It will a long time coming but…

I run cooking classes. I never describe them as vegetarian because I would put off more people than I’d attract (I do make it clear what we will be cooking in each class though). I have always shied away from using the “V” word on my books for the same reason. I’ve had a good cross section of people to the classes and all have seemed very enthusiastic (however the only French woman so far emailed to tell me that although she enjoyed the class, she could never be a veggie as you got more cancer, (!?!) directly contradicting the EPIC study at The John Radcliffe but that’s prejudice for you). I’m not an evangelist and would never try to persuade people to be vegetarian. Restaurateurs seem to think it’s ok to sprinkle magret on your chevre chaud even when you’ve told them you don’t want it, or decorate your salad with anchovies or hide the mince stuffed aubergine under the tomato sauce. Hmmmmm - a very long time coming…

(Wendy Wise) #9

Thanks Catharine…I will seek them out!

(Catharine Higginson) #10

There was also some responses to my requests for veggie recipes on SF a while ago in the food group. x

(Wendy Wise) #11

Thanks so much Victoria! Buerk sausages - how funny… How do you manage cooking meat for the rest of your family?