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to become vegetarian


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Before we launch into this please note that being vegetarian is in no way mandatory for members of the Theosophical Society.



Thirty years ago you stood a good chance getting thrown out an eating establishment if you enquired about a vegetarian alternative. Exclusively vegetarian restaurants were a “hard to find” item outside London ( Manchester had just one in 1977).


Not just that; vegetarianism was seen by many as an extreme position associated with religion rather than health or ethics. A few vegetarians could be found evangelizing in Youth Hostels and there were also a few Hip-Groovy types left over from the 1960s attracting some ridicule. In this atmosphere some vegetarians preferred to work undercover and keep quiet about it.


Shopping for vegetarian food wasn’t much better than eating out. You usually had to pay through the nose at health shops but if you lived in an area with some Asian shops (e.g. Bolton in Lancashire) you could get ingredients for some interesting vegetarian dishes at reasonable prices. If you are a social historian may want to make a name for yourself by writing about the contribution of Asian immigration to the rise of vegetarianism in the UK.


You may have picked up a book or two on the technicalities of a vegetarian diet on the “pay thro’ the nose” basis at the health shop and perhaps a recipe book. You might get tips from established vegetarians but for many, vegetarianism meant meat and two veg without the meat.


Not everyone agrees but in an era of information when nobody stands out any more, it’s all a lot better now.


Rising concerns about fat in the diet coupled with greater concern about animal welfare have made the food industry take notice of demands for vegetarian alternatives. Not just alternatives but vegetarian products that go beyond impersonating meat dishes.


It seems though that impersonating dishes that would normally have meat in them is still the name of the game. You can now invite non-vegetarian friends round and give them a vegetarian meal and often they won’t realize that they’ve eaten vegetarian.


If you eat out you will nearly always find a vegetarian alternative unless you go to a greasy spoon. But if you eat at greasy spoons, you probably aren’t vegetarian anyway and it is indicative of the democratic nature of the catering industry that a few still do an all day breakfast fry-up.


Greasy Spoons do however seem to be in serious decline but this has been counterbalanced by the move towards low carb-high protein diets like the Atkins, which relies almost exclusively on animal protein. The jury is still out on the long term effects of the Atkins Diet.


Vegetarians have gained considerable ground over the last 30 years but their argument is far from won. More people are be turning to vegetarianism and do not feel marginalized by the decision but vegetarians are still very much in the minority.


If you decide to join the ranks of the vegetarians, you will find the transition easier now that the food industry sees you as an important and increasing target market.



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