Andy Crawford | Reborn in PHP

Room 101 | The Vegetarian Option

Published December 2014 | By Andy Crawford

What is so wrong with the vegetarian option

Room 101

The one thing I would put into my own Room 101 would be the 'Vegetarian Option'. As a vegetarian for most of my adult life, I have found that the 'Vegetarian Option' is both a misnomer and an oxymoron. Whenever I hear the words vegetarian and option it makes me cringe, it makes me want to scream. I AM EVEN GETTING STRESSED WRITING THIS ARTICLE. ARRRRGHHH!

Lets start with the misnaming. Vegetarian 'option' seems to imply a choice. But if there is only one 'Vegetarian Option' available there is no choice so it is not an option at all! (unless you consider 'take it or leave it' as options). Perhaps if it were called a vegetarian alternative, a vegetarian afterthought, or 'something we've cobbled together for those awkward sods who don't eat meat', I might accept it. But it is not an option.

When there is a 'Vegetarian Option' it is invariably of poor standard, poor quality and poor value compared to the meat based alternatives. Time and time again I have seen dinner menus listing exotic and fancy fayre designed to tempt and then tagged at the bottom it says 'A vegetarian option will available'. We know what that means. It will be second rate pasta dish or something bland and strange which no normal person eats which makes it even less of an option than it already was.

But what I particularly despise (despise is not really a strong enough word for it), is the way in which anyone who chooses the 'Vegetarian Option' is singled out and made to feel as if some kind of special treatment has been given to them. They are often asked 'so how was your Vegetarian Option?', and if the reply is 'Crap' (like it often is) it is considered ungrateful and rude after others have gone to so much trouble to make a 'special' meal, just for you.

So whenever I see or hear the words 'Vegetarian Option', I know exactly what it means. Don't go there. Don't eat there. Why? Because if they really wanted to cater for vegetarians, they would just provide an alternative, without mention of it being a 'Vegetarian Option'.

We vegetarians are usually bright enough to work out for ourselves whether a dish can be expected to be vegetarian or not without telling us that it is a 'Vegetarian Option'.