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National Vegetarian Week: Time to stop and think about food choices

National Vegetarian Week 2014 starts today, so what better time is there to venture into veg? Ami Tadaa has the details

Lifelong vegan, Ami Tadaa is on a search for the best veggie and vegan food in the North East
Lifelong vegan, Ami Tadaa is on a search for the best veggie and vegan food in the North East

Leonardo Da Vinci once said: “The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.”

Mohandas Gandhi put his name to the veggie cause when he said: “I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.”

We’re mentioning this because it’s National Vegetarian Week this week, so there will be many of us who stop and think about their food choices in the coming days.

More and more people are moving towards a meat free diet and Lynne Elliot, chief executive of the Vegetarian Society reckons “it’s never been easier”.

National Vegetarian Week 2014, will take place from today (Monday May 19) until Sunday (May 25) and will see businesses all over the UK sharing and promoting their delicious vegetarian produce to everyone.

Vegetarian food in health shop Holland and Barratt
Vegetarian food in health shop Holland and Barratt

Anyone can visit the www.nationalvegetarianweek.org to take up the going veggie challenge - there will be fresh recipe and meal ideas, tips and hints, shopping advice and support up there all week long.

You can even challenge your friends to see if they dare to go veggie for seven days.

In order to help all those trying to go meat-free for the week - and maybe longer - we have enlisted the help of 23-year-old life-long vegan, Ami Tadaa who recently returned to her native North East and is busy exploring the region for the best vegetarian and vegan cafes, restaurants and shopping hot spots.

She’s going to be reporting back throughout the week and sharing what she has found... meanwhile she is also very open to suggestions.

So, if you’d like to suggest somewhere for Ami to pay a veggie visit to or would like to tell her all about your favourite veggie/vegan haunts, you can contact her on ami.tadaa@gmail.com . She is also happy to answer any questions you may have about being a vegan... she’s used to it!

To find out more about vegetarian week 2014 visit www.nationalvegetarianweek.org and sign up for the free newsletter. You can also follow updates on twitter @NVW2014 on Twitter or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nationalveggieweek

Right, now let’s get down to some of the best veggie food and events on our doorstep in the North East.

Ami Tadaa's little sister Amaaya
Ami Tadaa's little sister Amaaya

Special events this week include the launching of Meatless Mondays at Cafe 21 in Newcastle’s Trinity Gardens. From today, the popular Newcastle restaurant will be running a specially created, fixed priced, five course menu full of delicious meat free dishes. Fixed price is £28.00 per person.

For more information, call 0191 222 0755 or visit www.cafetwentyone.co.uk/21-journal/meatless-mondays/

On Sunday, a Vegan Food Tasting Event will be taking place at the Newcastle Vegan Store, in Arrow Close, Killingworth, from 11am to 4pm. As well as a list of tasty treats to try, there will also be a tombola, raffle, recipes and a melting pot of vegetarian information. For more information 0191 603 0577 or visit www.alternativestores.com

If you’re a hungry veggie or vegan in need of a quick meal fix, I always think you can do a lot worse than find your nearest Wagamama, For Newcastle, that would be in Eldon Square Shopping Centre where me and my little sister Amaaya - who is also a lifelong vegan - visited yesterday during our girlie day out.

If you haven’t yet had the Wagamama experience, you should. The menu is all about fresh Japanese cuisine which is all served to the customers as soon as it’s ready via a network of communal tables.

Wok-fried greens at Wagamama
Wok-fried greens at Wagamama

The Wagamama restaurants are modelled on the ramen bars which have been popular in Japan for many years. The pan-asian style menu consists of side dishes, main meals, desserts and fantastic fresh juices. The food is cooked fresh to order and has excellent (labelled) variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes. Particularly special are the yasai gyoza (veggie dumplings) and the saien soba (noodle soup). There’s a great kids menu too, so it’s not surprising that it’s a very family friendly place to go for food.

For more information, call the Newcastle restaurant on 0191 233 0663 or visit www.wagamama.com

Finally for today, I couldn’t walk by Holland and Barrett and not give them a mention. This shop’s name may have been among my first words!

As the UK’s largest health food retailer, H&B offer an unparalleled range of natural health products including many vegetarian and vegan substitutes such as mock duck, sausages, pies, mince etc.

Meanwhile they also stock an amazing range of snacks, which is always good to know when you have a snacky seven year old out for the day! You can find a Newcastle branch in the Bigg Market. www.hollandandbarrett.com

:: We’re going to be adding more and more top veggie places as the week goes, on so please don’t forget to send me your recommendations at ami.tadaa@gmail.com .


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