In a break from the normal weekly blog as written by Lynsey, for a change this week, we have a guest blogger, Sophie Norman from Glasgow who has spent the week visiting with Lynsey and Antonia in Sudbury. 13 years ago I spent a year vegetarian. As anyone who knows me can attest, I love my food; and that year was a challenge that tested my love of food to its breaking point. At the time I was a student living in Edinburgh with flatmates, one of whom had been vegetarian for years and the other two avowed carnivores. I became vegetarian when I first moved into the flat thinking that it would be easy to survive eating similar things to the vegetarian flatmate. However, I soon discovered that my flatmate seemed to subsist purely on a meal of pancakes with spinach and cheddar which she cooked seemingly every day. While delicious this quickly became very repetative so I quickly started making meals for myself. My meals were a disaster. I love to cook but had no idea what vegetarians ate. Also being a student I was very poor and I soon found out that vegetarian cooking on the cheap is a lot more expensive than its more meaty counterpart. I found restaurants a challenge. At the time in Edinburgh there were a splattering of vegetarian restaurants, mainly pretty poor fare, and trying to convince non-vegetarian friends and family to come to a vegetarian restaurant was a non-starter; so I would be forced to go to restaurants whose idea of a vegetarian option would be macaroni cheese (a dish I detest) or a dish of mushrooms in a cream sauce (ditto) or that most ubiquitous of vegetarian options, the salad. This was very disheartening, and after a year I had enough. The straw that broke the camel’s back however was getting a new flatmate who cooked almost exclusively steak and the smell drove me wild until I finally gave into temptation. Jump forward 13 years to this week. I have been looking forward to coming to Sudbury since I heard that Lyns and Antonia were moving down all those months ago, but knowing that they are vegan, and not knowing much about the area I mentally prepared myself for a week of restaurants serving rabbit food salad. How wrong I was. Lynsey and Antonia eat well. They eat very well. Sudbury itself has no vegetarian restaurants, however just a short drive away you have the rustic Veggie Red Lion restaurant in Great Brickett. This restaurant completely annihilated my expectations of what a country pub vegetarian restaurant might be like. The food was simply amazing even though I ended up eating pancakes with spinach and cheese, the very same meal I became so sick of all those years ago. The following day Lynsey and I went to Colchester. There we found the Viet Kitchen; a restaurant serving half carnivourous – half vegan food. Changing the habbit of a lifetime I went for the vegan option of a tofu noodle soup, and well the smile never left my face. Leaving Sudbury to go to Brighton the standard of food jumped from merely brilliant to out of this World, super-duper, orgasmic food. Restaurants such as the Infinity Food Café, VBites and Food With Friends were enough to convert even the strictest carnivore, however the crème de la crème was Terre A Terre. The standard of food in this restaurant blew way even the very best non-vegetarian restaurants I have ever eaten in. The night we arrived in Brighton we ate in there and new previously undiscovered emotions were felt; but even this was trounced by the afternoon tea we savoured the following afternoon. Who would ever have imagined that the pinacle of culinary art would be achieved in a vegetarian restaurant?
So, after all this, will I be returning to vegetarianism? Well no, probably not, but I will definitely be exploring more veggie and vegan restaurants and meals at home will be far less meat dominated and have a lot more tofu.