"A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacea, or the by-products of slaughter"
Vegetarian Society

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Postcards from the veg: check out these gourmet destinations

National Vegetarian Week is the perfect time to take a break, says Rhiannon Batten 

What's the attraction? 

If your idea of meat-free food is lentil casserole it's time for an update – vegetarian cooking has gone gourmet. National Vegetarian Week (nationalvegetarianweek. org) culminates with Bristol's VegFest this weekend (vegfest.co.uk), teaming cookery demos and comedy with live music

To steer clear of steak while you're on holiday, vegetarianguides.co.uk, vegetarianvisitor.co.uk and organicholidays.co.uk are useful sources, with vegetarian-vacations. com, vegetarian-holiday.com and vegiventures.com offering tips for trips further afield.

Romantic breaks
Lancrigg (01539 435317; lancrigg.co.uk) is a vegetarian country house hotel near Ambleside that was once a haunt of Charles Dickens and William Wordsworth. Though its bedrooms are straightforwardly traditional, the grand Lake District setting, excellent on-site restaurant and 30 picture-perfect acres of grounds set a romantic tone. Doubles start at £110, B&B. Or try Twitham Court Farmhouse (01227 720265; twitham.com), a luxury B&B in Kent where more contemporary doubles start at £80, including a choice of vegetarian and vegan breakfasts.

Cottages for non-carnivores
Llwyn-Dryssi (0844 500 5101; underthethatch.co.uk/llwyndryssi) is a cosy cottage in Carmarthenshire that promotes itself as "meat-free"; guests are asked not to eat meat or fish when staying. Walking and mountain biking are available on the doorstep and there's a beach 25 minutes away. Two nights' rental starts at £172 for up to four guests. Trericket Mill (01982 560312; trericket. co.uk), a veggie B&B near Hay on Wye, also has a self-catering cabin. You can book in for evening meals (£18.75 for three courses). Two nights' rental starts at £99 for two.

Active escapes
Work up an appetite on one of Bicycle Beano's guided vegetarian cycling holidays. Among them is a seven-day tour of Snowdonia and the Llyn peninsula, from 7 to 14 July for £640pp (01982 560471; bicycle-beano.co.uk). Or book into Rockfield House (01246 591620; rockfieldhousebandb.co.uk), a vegetarian B&B in Derbyshire offering outdoor activities; B&B starts at £80. In Faralya, Turkey, Yuva Eco Holiday Centre (01760 755888; yuvaholidays.com) offers anything from yoga breaks to walking itineraries, with vegetarian cuisine. Prices start at £450 per week, excluding flights.

Hands-on holidays
The Cordon Vert Cookery School in Cheshire (0161 925 2014; cordonvert.co.uk) has a two-day Introduction to Vegetarian Cookery workshop from £249 per person (9 June), without accommodation. At Bath's Vegetarian Cookery School (01225 427938; vegetariancookeryschool.com) possibilities include an Indian Street Food workshop (£45; 27 June), and at Ashburton Cookery School in Devon (0843 289 5555; ashburtoncookeryschool.co.uk) there's a one-day Modern Vegetarian cookery class (£165; 23 August). Accommodation can be added on here, from £59 per person, B&B.
On Food Safari's Wild Food in a Day courses (01728 621380; foodsafari.co.uk; £160 per person) in Suffolk, after a foraging trip, you can turn your stash of berries, nuts and wild herbs into simple, vegetarian dishes. B&B at the nearby Bell Hotel starts at £145 (01728 602331; bellhousehotelsax.co.uk).

Fine dining
Swinton Park's restaurant, in North Yorkshire (01765 680900; swintonpark.com), offers a sophisticated three-course vegetarian Garden Produce Menu for £52 per person, made from ingredients sourced from the hotel's walled garden and estate. Double rooms start at £100, including breakfast. Shropshire's Fishmore Hall (01584 875148; fishmorehall.co.uk) offers a choice of three different vegetarian menus in its restaurant (from £39 for two courses). Double rooms start at £75, B&B. Or, for a real treat, head to Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, near Oxford (01844 278881; manoir.com). Double rooms start at £515, including breakfast, and guests can either sign up to a one-day vegetarian cookery course (£350 per person) or book in for a nine-course vegetarian tasting menu (£150 per person).

Who said that?
"I am oppressed with a dread of living for ever. That is the only disadvantage of vegetarianism." – George Bernard Shaw, playwright
"Vegetarianism is harmless enough, though it is apt to fill a man with wind and self-righteousness." – Sir Robert Hutchison, physician
"Life's too short to stuff a mushroom." – Shirley Conran, writer
"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet" – Albert Einstein, physicist

European holidays
At Terre et Toi (00 33 5 53 80 14 13; terre-et-toi.com), a chic B&B in France's Dordogne, guests can book in for three-course organic vegetarian dinners made almost wholly with produce grown in the property's garden. B&B starts at €70, with dinners €20pp. In Italy, Fattoria San Martino is a stylish, organic agriturismo near Montepulciano. Doubles start at €140 and four-course vegetarian dinners €35pp (00 39 057 871 7463; fattoriasanmartino.it). At the Aurora Retreat guesthouse, in Swedish Lapland (00 46 978 30061; auroraretreat.se), visitors pay Skr795 (£70) per night for full-board vegetarian accommodation. Hiking, cycling, yoga and other activities are also offered. Or book a VeggieCruise with MacroCruise (00 385 1 336 6417; macrocruise.com) and you can enjoy a week of sailing along the Croatian coast. Rates, excluding flights, start at €3,200 for up to four people, including a skipper and full-board vegetarian or vegan accommodation.

Insider information
"If you're looking for a meat-free city break in the UK, Edinburgh is the place. The Scottish capital has everything from a great veggie B&B, Claymore Vegetarian Guesthouse, and 13 vegetarian- and vegan-friendly restaurants and cafés, as well as loads of history, great bars and culture." Alex Bourke, author of vegetarian travel guides, including Vegetarian Scotland (vegetarianguides.co.uk).

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