Conversations In English - What Does Eating Out In The UK Look Like In 2022?
Vegetarian or Vegan? Allergic to nuts or gluten? Whether you're eating in a British restaurant or ordering takeaway, it's NOT as easy to find something that suits your diet in 2022. In this podcast we discuss eating habits and trends in the UK and what’s on the menu at British restaurants. If you are food-sensitive, or if you don’t eat meat and/or are vegan, what are your kitchen options during your travels in the UK? Listen to this podcast about eating out in Britain for some helpful tips and for useful vocabulary.
This is where today’s podcast comes in. What are the options in a British restaurant if you don't eat meat or are vegan? And if you don’t know what the word vegan or vegetarian means, then listen on.
You can see the changes in the food industry as you walk through a British town. Lots of independent restaurants are gone, the big food chains seem to hang in there, but the
prices have really gone up a lot. You can see that corners are being cut. You will see less serving staff, longer wait times and the little extras you used to get for free are gone, all to squeeze out profits. Also, gone are the exotic food options on menus now you get the affordable and practical options.
With lock-downs, economic slowdowns and energy price melt downs, we talk about going out to eat in the UK in 2022.
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Most Unusual Words:
Vegetarian Vegan Restaurant Crops Inedible Mediocre Gluten Intolerance Organic Vegans Coeliac
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Transcript: Eating At A British Restaurant In 2022 Listening Practice
Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.
Hi there. Today let's talk about trends in eating in the UK and trends in restaurants and what they serve. So if you don't eat meat or if you're vegan, what are your options in a British restaurant? And if you don't know what the word 'vegan' means, then listen on. There's some really good vocabulary in this podcast. Words we haven't covered in any podcast before.
And if you have a diet that's different from the average British diet, what's it like going to a restaurant in the UK? So things you need to know if you're visiting the UK and things which are also part of British culture. Listen to this podcast a number of times so that new words and phrases stick in your mind.
What is a vegetarian?
I noticed an article recently in a UK newspaper, The Daily Telegraph by Rosa Silverman. And she wrote a piece entitled 'The Death of the Vegetarian'. What's this article about?
Some vocabulary first of all? You probably know the word 'death'. D E A T H, 'death' is the end. 'Death' means the end of a human being or an animal. The end of its life comes 'death'. D E A T H. And it's a noun therefore that describes the act of dying. So this article again? The title - 'Death of the Vegetarian'.
A Vegetarian, that's V E G E T A R I A N. A 'vegetarian' is someone who, by choice doesn't eat meat. So they don't eat animals of any kind. Probably they don't eat meat, and they don't eat fish. That's a 'vegetarian'.
And 'vegetarianism' - that's the noun for the belief, if you like, or the 'lifestyle choice'. People who follow 'vegetarianism', they do it for a number of reasons. Sometimes it's purely for health. Sometimes it's because they don't want to harm animals. They don't want animals to be reared and killed so that they can be eaten.
That is often the reason why people are vegetarians. Sometimes people do it for ecological reasons. They believe it's better for the planet. There are better ways of eating than eating meat.
So sometimes it's conscience. Sometimes it's people want to have a clear conscience and therefore don't eat meat.
I think there are some good arguments for vegetarianism. I don't know that it's necessarily healthier though. It depends what you eat instead of meat, I think. So given all of this, why would someone be writing about 'The Death of the Vegetarian' in a UK newspaper?
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Why 'The Death of the Vegetarian'?
Well, in part the answer is in the trend for what's known as 'plant-based eating'. 'Plant', P L A N T. A 'plant' is a thing that grows. It's usually green and it grows in the ground or in a pot - that's a 'plant'. ' Plant' in Southern English, rather than my accent, which makes it 'plant'! So basically, 'plant-based eating' means everything other than meat or fish, things which grow in the ground. So cereal crops, fruit, vegetables - they're all plants. We sometimes eat the leaves of plants as well.
So often plant-based eating gets the name 'veganism', so different from 'vegetarianism' - 'veganism', V E G A N I S M. And people who follow 'veganism' are known as 'vegans', V E G A N. So if you've not come across these terms before, a vegetarian doesn't eat meat or fish and a vegan doesn't eat anything other than foods that are plant- based.
So a vegan wouldn't eat eggs or milk or dairy products like butter or cheese or cream or yogurt. That's a vegan.
Vegetarians are fed up with vegan food
So apparently vegetarians are getting 'cheesed off'. That means 'not happy'. If you go out to a restaurant, there are of course, options on the menu for the vast majority of people who eat meat. And then there are traditionally some other options on the menu for people who don't eat meat.
But apparently, vegetarians are having a problem because those options on the menu now tend to reflect plant-based or vegan eating, not vegetarian eating. And there's an example in the article in the newspaper, one of the people quoted talks about how when she eats out - 'In the past, usually there's at least a mac and cheese available'.
No 'mac n cheese'!
So a 'mac and cheese' means 'macaroni cheese', originally Italian pasta with cheese. It's a very standard dish in the UK and children often enjoy it for their dinner. So she's saying that generally there would be a 'mac and cheese' available, at the very least. But more recently since vegetarian food is being replaced by vegan food, this is not available. Even 'mac and cheese' is off the menu and she's not very happy about this.
How many vegetarians and how many vegans?
Given the numbers quoted in the newspaper article, this complaint by vegetarians seems justified. The UK has 67 million people, of which 3.3 million are vegetarians, and it's estimated that 1.6 million are vegan. The article reckons that the number of people adopting these different diets grows each year. 'Last year, 130,000 people became vegetarian, compared with 52,000 people who became vegan', it says. So what seems to be happening in restaurants, they're aware that they need to continue to provide meat and fish options for the majority, but that there are people who need or choose to have a different diet and it's easier just to do vegan options as though also to satisfy vegetarians as well. The problem is vegetarians end up deprived of the things that they enjoy when they go for a meal out. It's easy enough to do a vegetarian pizza. You could still enjoy your pizza and have cheese on the top, but if the only option is a vegan pizza, that's not quite the same deal.
It's not that there's anything wrong with vegan eating or plant-based eating, it's just that cooking in a vegan way can be a bit more of a challenge. The diet is more restricted. If you're going to cook and eat vegan, you do have to be more inventive, cleverer, in order to get food that's still flavoursome, tasty, appealing.
Vegetarians are understandably complaining that when they go out to eat a restaurant meal, they want to have some of the things on the menu that they enjoy eating. Things that make food taste good to them, like eggs and cheese and butter and cream. They don't want to just be offered vegan food options. That's why the newspaper article was entitled 'The Death of the Vegetarian'.
A personal experience of a local café
I'm about to talk about a personal experience which might interest you, but first, let me just remind you that if you're enjoying this podcast, there are plenty other podcasts like this one available on our website at adeptenglish.com in the form of our podcast bundles. For a small charge, a small fee, you can download 50 podcasts at a time onto your phone, onto your tablet, your mobile device. It means you've got plenty of lovely, quality Adept English language listening at any time.
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So my partner in Adept English, Andrew and I went for lunch at a café recently. We noticed that the café was organic, so it specialized in organically produced food. 'Organic', O R G A N I C means 'food produced without harming nature', without artificial fertilizers to make the plants grow and without chemicals or hormones.
So we thought, 'Oh good. Organic is fine with us'. And there were meat options, but a number of vegan and vegetarian options too. So far, so good. Much of the menu was also gluten free. So 'gluten', G L U T E N is the part of the wheat or flour that certain people have an intolerance for, certain people can't eat it. So if something's 'gluten-free', it's made without flour, it's made with something else. And people who need 'gluten-free' are known as 'celiacs'. So they have a gluten intolerance, and that is C O E L I A C. That's one way of spelling it. Or C E L I A C is the other way of spelling 'celiac'.
We ordered. I had poached egg on toast and coffee, and Andrew had a chicken salad wrap and coffee. The food was not good. What came, and I can't emphasize this enough, what came in the cups and was supposed to be coffee was not even identifiable to me. Two cups of liquid, which could have been anything but coffee as far as I was concerned for its taste. It was unbelievable. My food wasn't that bad. There is a limit to what you can do to two poached eggs on toast. There's a limit to the number of ways in which that can go wrong!
But Andrew's chicken salad wrap, the chicken was barely there. There was a large quantity of salad and green leaves, and the wrap, which turned out to be gluten-free was blue-grey in colour, damp if not wet to the touch, and tasted very unpleasant.
And there wasn't the choice of a wrap that actually had gluten in it for people who didn't need gluten-free. We ended up paying quite a bit for a lunch, which was largely unenjoyable and partly inedible. And the coffee was undrinkable. ' Inedible', I N E D I B L E means 'you can't eat it'.
A photograph man welcoming you into his restaurant. Restaurants and takeaways in Britain need to start catering for vegetarians and vegans if they are to be successful.
Is bad food OK if it's organic?
I accept that sometimes when you eat out, it can be disappointing. The restaurant, the café, may not meet your expectation, and I'm not that fussy. I'm not that difficult to please. It doesn't need to be special or fancy for me to be happy with food.
But what astounded me about this café was not just how bad the coffee was and how mediocre the food was. ' Mediocre', M E D I O C R E means 'barely adequate', 'just below average'. It was the fact that the café seemed quite popular. It was full of people, and I got the impression that many of them were regulars in the café.
When I looked online afterwards, this place got fairly good reviews, four out of five stars, which I found very surprising. Is it that it's so difficult to find places that cater for gluten-free or vegan people or vegetarians even? Is that the problem?
Or is it that people who want to support organic food are prepared to put up with quite a lot and will support a café or a restaurant providing this, regardless of the food that it produces?
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I find it hard to believe that even if you're gluten-free, or you're vegan or even vegetarian, that you have to sacrifice food which tastes good. Or if you prefer organic, you have to have bad coffee. I don't think that's acceptable, is it?
Great to have freedom of choice, but let's have great food too!
So I sympathize with the vegetarians, who're complaining at being asked to eat vegan, at being given a choice of meals with meat them or vegan meals and nothing in between. And surely a café that serves organic food doesn't deserve loyal customers if its food is substandard.
I think it's great that different dietary requirements, different ways of eating are being catered for in restaurants and cafés. That's a good thing.
Compared to things I've spoken about recently in the podcast, especially the news podcast of last week, these things feel superficial. 'First world problems', we often call them in English. But I would be really interested to hear whether veganism, vegetarianism, gluten-free, organic eating are things in your country or whether they're just not considerations where you live. And what is your opinion of all of this? I'd be interested to hear!
Enough for now. Have lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
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