Many KQF customers will be familiar with the scenario: you’re attending a works function, a birthday party or perhaps a friend’s anniversary celebration. Everyone is having a good time and there’s a tasty-looking buffet all laid out. The problem is, no one is sure whether any of it is halal.
For most British Muslims, there’s an obvious and relatively safe answer: go for the veggie option. There are roughly equal numbers of Muslims and vegetarians in Britain today – around 2.9 million and 3 million respectively – but while halal foods are often not labelled at public events, no self-respecting party organiser would dream of providing catering without including at least one vegetarian dish.
Vegetarianism is well established in the UK and it’s a growing group. As a result, many professional caterers are now well aware that there’s an important difference between, say, vegetarian cheese and cheese made with animal rennet. The vegetarian lobby has gained a powerful voice and, as a result, it’s generally safe to assume that if it’s labelled as vegetarian, it’s also free from ingredients that would be considered haraam.
Since the halal market is another important growth sector, many good caterers are also beginning to recognise the needs of Muslim consumers by providing clearly-labelled, halal-certified menu items. This is certainly true of many schools, colleges and universities, but there are still plenty of situations in which consumers are left to guess. Over time, we might hope that accurately labelled halal foods become as normal as clearly branded veggie options but, in the meantime, we can console ourselves with the fact that the vegetarian dish does at least give people an option.
However, on the 16th to 22nd May, the organisers of National Vegetarian Week (the Vegetarian Society) will be showing the people of Britain that veggie foods are more than just a second choice. They’ll be promoting the message that vegetarian dishes can be satisfying, healthy and absolutely delicious.
With over 800,000 Hindus living in the UK and more than 150,000 Buddhists, it’s a message that many have already taken to heart. It’s an everyday diet for many – and that’s to say nothing of the millions of vegetarians and vegans who go meat-free for non-religious reasons. Worldwide, it’s a diet that sustains countless millions and even amongst those who routinely eat meat, enjoying the occasional veggie dish can be a great way to make a diet more varied, balanced and interesting.
So, this May, why not check out some of the many Vegetarian Society recipes that will undoubtedly be posted across the internet?