Inside the decadent but still ethical world of vegan fine dining


Fancy a posh meal without the climate hangover? Work out what luxury really means and you can create gourmet, guilt-free dining


14 December 2022

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Plant-based “seafood” platter from Holy Carrot in London

Holy Carrot

IT IS Saturday night and I am cooking for friends. I pour three glasses of red and carefully lay the fillet steaks in the pan. A crust begins to form as the carbohydrates caramelise. A few minutes on each side and they are ready. I bite through the crunchy exterior into a juicy centre that fills my mouth with a delicious hint of umami. I smile at my friends. I have managed to cook the steaks perfectly – and I have a clear conscience. No cow died for our enjoyment and the greenhouse gas emissions were minimal. Our fillet steaks were entirely made from plants.

Vegan food is having a moment. McDonald’s, Subway and Burger King have all launched vegan products in recent years, Impossible’s “chicken” nuggets and “sausage” patties are sold in UK pubs, and the plant-based section of my supermarket has become an aisle. But something is missing. The processed food and fast food markets are well catered for, but what about those of us who would prefer to tuck into a filet mignon than a Filet-O-Fish?

I’m talking about fine dining. For me it is a real treat, a licence to eat beautiful ingredients or experience extraordinary meals that I could never cook myself. Increasingly, though, this indulgent pursuit is starting to feel, well, overindulgent.

Historically, fine dining involves a lot of planet-destroying meat and dairy, and livestock are collectively responsible for about 15 per cent of greenhouse gas …


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