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The Trials and Tribulations of a Vegcentric Flexitarian or dining out in the English countryside

We had a guest at the weekend who told us that she stopped breathing if she came in to contact with dairy products. Luckily we had some dairy free Flora left over from the vegan catering for the retreat weekend so were able to fulfil her order for scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. We were a bit nervous though.

We have 3 kinds of guests at Dale Farm: those with food allergies, those who are fussy eaters (a very broad spectrum) and the other 99% who just want a pot of Yorkshire tea and a full English.

Reluctantly I place myself in the fussy eater category. I prefer real food (i.e. natural, whole, not too processed) and mostly plant based which isn’t to say that I don’t eat dairy, eggs, meat and fish if I fancy it. I’m basically a vegcentric flexitarian…yes, that is a thing. I haven’t gone full veggie as I think elimination diets can take some of the joy and spontaneity out of eating… and I don’t want people to not invite me to their house because they think I’m hard to please.

The other reason is that it is not easy being a vegetarian if you live in the country and vegans can just forget it. Farmers like to eat meat. The first meal we ever had in this area was at a local pub in the Wolds – full of farmers eating Sunday lunches comprising excellent local beef, massive home made Yorkshire puddings and lashings of rich gravy but the only vegetable in sight was a potato.

Our local pub offers 3 curries, a chicken madras and 2 variations on beef.  The other one once had a single item on its midweek menu in winter; pork chop. And the thing is the meat round here is good.  Paul’s failsafe order is gammon, egg and chips and the gammon is always great but if like me you’re not big on meat, eating out can be a challenge. I do have a list of favourite places which I share in the welcome pack but otherwise it will probably be a vegetable lasagne if you are lucky.

Basically I like to stay in and have Paul cook. That way I know what I am eating. Fresh, flavoursome eggs from Richard’s hens, fruit and vegetables from our own garden, locally caught fish from Lovitt’s of Filey (if anyone read the Guardian article about fish farming at the weekend you will understand)  and local meat direct from the farms which produce them.

The truth is I hardly ever cook myself as my family and friends are all brilliant so I am that worst thing – a fussy eater who doesn’t cook. If I do have to self-cater I’ll probably have beans on toast or a tin of tuna (pole and line caught Albacore in organic extra virgin olive oil of course.) Maybe I should take the advice of some South African friends, a nation known for its extreme toughness … ‘oh for god’s sake just eat it.’