Monday, August 30, 2010

Paul McCartney and Beef Teriyaki

I spent most of my life as an ethical vegetarian and only returned to meat around the middle of last year. People often ask me what it felt like to eat my first steak after a 20 year hiatus, and the only parallel experience I can think of is that of a newly liberated gay man enjoying his first ever kiss with a bloke: a strange collection of unfamiliar and discomforting sensations followed by a rush of adrenalin, mild nausea and a guilty curiosity for more.

Since then, I've embraced 'nose-to-tail eating', an ethical stance apparently conceived by someone determined to invent a category of dinner party guest more sanctimonious than vegans. As you've probably worked out, nose-to-tail eating means enjoying every last part of the beast you've had killed for your enjoyment. If you want to give it a go, you don't have to dive into difficult organs like the gall bladder, spleen and brain straight away; you could, for example, start by purchasing a nice bit of cross cut blade from your butcher and slow cooking it instead of buying eye fillet: the Manchester United of meat cuts.

But I didn't write this blogpost in order to berate you about what you should and shouldn't eat. Well, I did actually, but on a slightly different matter. What I was going to say is that despite being a born-again meat enthusiast of the highest order, I do strongly believe in regularly eating vegetarian meals on a regular basis. So I wanted to quickly tell you about Meat Free Monday.

Meat Free Monday is a global movement which encourages people to devote one day of the week to eating without meat. There are many sound environmental reasons for cutting back on meat, and lots of health reasons too, and although many of these reasons are too boring to risk elaborating on here, that doesn't make them any less important.

The face of Meat Free Monday is Paul McCartney, a British singer best known for his 1983 duet “Say, Say, Say”, in which he collaborated with Michael Jackson to address the growing issue of multiracial conmen selling magic potions in barns. Having successfully won that battle, he's moved on to this one, and you can find out more at

In support of this campaign, I'm delighted to provide below a selection of vegetarian favourites from around the city:
  • The tofu wrap at Ripe on Richmond Road shows how good tofu can taste when it's surrounded and infused by tasty goodness; and their vego salad selection is unparalleled
  • Raw Power (Vulcan Lane) has an all-you-can-fit-in vegan salad bar which dares you to try and squeeze just one more peanut into your already groaning plastic container
  • Rasoi on K Road offers three vegetarian curries with rice for about ten bucks – great hangover food which makes a star of ingredients like chick peas, mung beans and eggplant. You can find more vegetarian Indian recommendations here
  • The Little Grocer (Richmond Road) does a tasty and well-priced black bean burrito on most days: cheese and jalapenos optional
  • The Food Room on Ponsonby Road has unfortunately yet to discover whole foods, but does a truly excellent vegetarian pie with beetroot and feta (as well as $3 coffees for facebook fans)
  • Salta at Three Lamps needs to change its menu more often, but at least you know what to expect: their mushroom and bok choy noodles is very good, recommended with extra chilli
  • Revive is a city-based food business working hard to provide healthy, meat-free meals to hard working Aucklanders in the area. The last time I visited, their food was mostly bland, but they seem to have a lot of followers and if you're working around Queen Street you'll welcome having them as a lunchtime option

I'm very often asked for vegetarian recommendations around Auckland so I hope you enjoy these ones. If you have any more, please email me at and I'll include them in a future post.