I live in the semi-rural town of Merstham. Despite its (usually) excellent rail links to London, the local establishments are rarely vegan-friendly. On Sunday, I went for a lovely walk through the Surrey Hills with my boyfriend, mum, sister, and sister’s boyfriend, and we ended up in my local, The Feathers. We’d been there several times before and the food was surprisingly lovely for what seems like a standard drinking hole. I’d had the sweet potato and mozzarella burger, the roasted courgette bake, and the green vegetable risotto on previous visits, and all had been pretty great.
However, my luck with The Feathers ran out this Veganuary. Looking down the menu, I saw the familiar “V” without its “Vn” companion, a common sight outside of London. I was pretty hungry after my hearty stroll through the hills, and my disappointment when I couldn’t immediately see that there was anything I could eat was palpable. I was being grumpy, and I knew it. I’d already had to frantically google the beers they had whilst ordering, and the first one that I found was vegan just happened to be the most expensive one. Not a great start – but I’m very happy to know that Corona is vegan.
Then things got worse.
Then briefly better, then worse again.
When I sent my sister to ask if the nut roast was vegan, the chef apparently didn’t know what that meant. But, when she asked if it contained any cheese or eggs, he said no. At this point I was borderline ecstatic. Something I could eat, in this tiny semi-rural pub! Huzzah!
To be fair, the actual nut roast was lovely. It was some sort of spicy tomato one, and it didn’t seem to have any animal products in it. But it was served with creamy potato mash. The kind of mash you know is definitely made with lashings of butter. And, I’m ashamed to say, I ate it. My logic was “well, I was told it was vegan…” And also “mashed potato is fucking great.”
So, yes, I technically broke my Veganuary resolution – again. But I did (pretty much) the best I could, and is it really my fault if the chef is uneducated on his ingredients? The truth is, being vegan is hard. It takes a lot of pre-planning and a lot of knowledge about what might have animal product in it. It also takes a lot of balls. You have to ask every waiter, chef, and barman questions when you know they think you’re a prick. And I hate that. All I can say is hats off to the people who have been doing this for years, who know how to ask the right questions and order the right thing, and who have convinced all their friends to change their plans many times over to suit their needs.
Hats off to you, but I don’t think I’ll be joining you.