Our local pub re-opened late last year. It was purchased by a resident of the village who has put a great deal of time, effort and money into the establishment. The decor is clean, the staff pleasant, the beer well kept and I'm happy to report that business appears to be booming in the old place. As I perused lunch menu on my first visit to the newly re-opened hostelry, it appeared that veggie lasagne was my only option. Not a problem, but I thought I'd double check with a member of staff. 'Is there just the one vegetarian option on the menu today?' I asked. 'Oh no sir, we have fish and chips or salmon as well' came the very polite reply. 'But I'm a vegetarian' I said. 'Oh, but some vegetarians eat fish' she said. I sighed inwardly. A very deep sigh. I thanked her and left it at that.
The veggie option
About a month later, I dropped into the pub again, intending to grab some lunch. The staff on duty on this visit were different, though just as polite and helpful, but the conversation was virtually identical. 'Some vegetarians eat fish' said the lady. 'They're not vegetarians then,' I replied with a smile. 'Oh yes,' she continued, 'I've got a friend who's a vegetarian and she eats fish...' I sighed inwardly. A very deep sigh. I thanked her and left it at that.
I'm reluctant to make a fuss. I worked in catering for over 10 years and know what a demanding job it is and just how demoralizing a seemingly awkward customer can be. Also, I don't want to be perceived as one of those vegetarians. I did, however, feel that I ought to give a little feedback, so I emailed the Manager of the pub, congratulating him on the staff, service and quality of the beer and, rather than complaining, merely enquired if there were any plans to expand their selection of vegetarian offerings, explaining that there was only one such item available on each of my previous visits. A couple of days later I received a very pleasant reply from the manager thanking me for my comments and pointing out that the pub also offers a range of fish dishes that are suitable for vegetarians! This, I have to say, floored me and I immediately drafted a terse response, explaining the definition of vegetarianism at great length and how it differs from pescetarianism. But, as I said, I hate to make a fuss. So, after a few minutes, when I'd calmed down, I decided not to send the email. Instead, I sighed inwardly. A very deep sigh and left it at that.
As if that wasn't bad enough...... A couple of weeks ago I paid a return visit to our local Medical Centre, to get the results of some recent tests. Previously, my blood pressure was a shade high, but this time it seemed normal. The nurse expressed some concern, however, at my cholesterol levels. My 'bad' cholesterol is a bit high apparently and she urged me to cut down on red meat and fatty foods. I explained that I've been a vegetarian for 25 years and although I used to consume mountains of cheese sandwiches and veggie pasties, these days I virtually live on salad and fruit, with any variance from this diet (such as on chip night) being regarded as a bit of a treat. My 'good' cholesterol, however, appears to be a bit on the low side. I asked the nurse what steps I could take to improve the situation. 'Eat more fish' she said. I reminded her that I've been a vegetarian for 25 years. 'Oh,' she said, 'don't you eat fish? Some vegetarians do you know'. I sighed inwardly. An extremely deep sigh. I thanked her and left it at that.
Here's Dean Torrence (Dean from Jan and Dean) trading as Laughing Gravy (vegetarian gravy, natch), with an interpretation of 'Vegetables', released just one month after The Beach Boys original, in October 1967.