History’s first ecologist and writer, Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), said at the time that he had no doubt that stopping eating animals was part of the human race’s evolutional destiny. And who would we be to contradict him? The truth is that more and more chefs are adding dishes to their menus with no trace of animal products. According to vegetarian cuisine media chef Celia Brooks Brown, “vegetarian cuisine is much more complex than traditional cuisine. It requires more reflection and more preparation. When you manage to create a balance of textures, flavours and colours -Brooks says- nobody notices the absence of meat.
Nouvelle cuisine, the movement that began in 1970, advocated a return to honest cooking and tried to achieve lighter meals with respect to traditional cooking. Now, the budding vegetarian outbreak is emphasising this concept even more. Vegetarian haute cuisine is fast taking hold in the top restaurants. Even the most demanding food critics who have spent decades revelling in fois gras and kobe beef are now welcoming in this vegetarian revolution.
However, its introduction is a gradual process. There are still those who believe that eating vegetarian is a form of self-punishment; they couldn’t be more wrong. In Europe, the best restaurants with Michelin stars offer vegetarian -and even vegan- dishes and set menus, alongside the more conventional set menus. The “green revolution” has reached restaurants like Mesa (Zurich) with Antonio Colaianni at the head of its kitchen. Samhoud Places (Amsterdam), with the creative touch of Israeli Moshik Roth -owner of two Michelin stars- offers a top quality seasonal vegetarian set menu. If you want to do a vegetarian tasting in the city of Paris, make sure you visit the Lasserre, one of the city’s most elegant restaurants where vegetarians can feel like royalty.
Italy is also at the forefront of vegetarian cuisine. Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana) says he doesn’t differentiate between vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. At Bottura’s house, when his wife cooks, she always prepares vegetarian food.