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“Vegetarians are no longer the black sheep of restaurants they once were.” never even set foot on a farm. Their vision is what I would call romantic. I agree that we have to eat less meat, and prefer good quality meat, but I would rather fight against intensive farming and educate people on the way that the food they eat is produced. That includes meat substitutes… I hate fake cheese and fake pâté. That’s not what being a vegetarian means to me.” One place where vegetarianism is slow to develop is at the gastronomical heights of the Michelin world. Loïc Lecoin (left), who heads the Michelin-starred restaurant ‘Dyades’, in Massignac’s ‘Le Domaine des Étangs’ (16), mirrors Anne’s cautious approach. “Vegetarianism is a bit of a trend in my opinion, and people follow trends, in fashion as in food,” says the chef: “I am not especially in favour of vegetarianism, but rather more in favour of eating less, and better quality, meat. The same laws of nature apply to vegetables; a carrot with pesticides won’t taste as good as a carrot from the organic garden we have at our disposal here. Similarly, meat from a cow that has been humanely reared and slaughtered will automatically taste better.” The restaurant has a charter for local farmers to follow, and will only use providers with the best, most sustainable, organic produce. While Loïc can create entire eight-course meat-free meals for his vegetarian guests on request, there will never be a permanent vegetarian option on the menu. “It’s part of France to eat meat... it’s our roots”, says the chef: “Our national dishes are things like blanquette de veau or pot-au-feu – it’s our culture.” That said, he’s meat-free

himself at home for two or three days a week, favouring vegetarian classics like bulgur and risotto, but he argues that when you go to a Michelin-starred restaurant you want to experience the best of the local cuisine, of what that particular area has to offer, and in many cases, that means the choicest local cuts and freshest local fish. “What’s important is the balance,” he concludes: “I am all for reducing meat, but not for cutting it out completely.” In this, it seems, he is not alone. Most of France is on the same page. But although the actual number of vegetarians in France today only represents a tiny portion of the population, attitudes have come a long way. Vegetarians are no longer the black sheep of restaurants they once were, and people are more and more conscious of what they are eating, and of the impact that their choices can have on their environment. ‘Flexitarianism’ seems to have a beautiful future ahead of it, and that does mean more meat-free options for everyone.

“Tell me what you eat, I'll tell you what you are...”

“I eat no meat at all, and that includes fish, by the way...” You’re a vegetarian. “I don’t eat any animals, and nor do I eat anything that originates from an animal, like stock, milk, eggs, honey or cheese. I also try not to wear leather or wool...” You’re a vegan. “I don’t eat meat, but I do like the occasional fish, prawn or oyster...” You’re a pescetarian. “I’m trying to reduce my meat consumption, so I often go without, but I’ll have the odd meat-based meal...” You’re a flexitarian.

Cookery Courses In The Charente

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Profile for Living Magazine

Living Magazine April/May 19