The years were waiting for it, but in more ways than one, the cornish moorland drought has created something of a culinary fluke. A number of British restaurants have begun to offer dishes made with meat substitutes, principally from grass-fed and free-range animals. There are some examples of these dishes in Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as those mere mortals can enjoy: For an exceptional meal worth £300 or more, don’t miss the venison a la Bretagne and zeppole at Les Trouvailleurs d’Bourgogne in the Loire Valley. And it’s not just chefs from the region doing the the convincing. The Michelin guide publisher Paul Hinton reports that half of the restaurants on its Bib Gourmand list are vegetarian or vegan. “The pay-off for meat-eaters is that the quality is good, the dishes different and the hospitality jovial as well as sensitive,” he says.
While meat substitutes seem to increasingly appeal to the affluent, young and affluent – and more permissive ideas about what constitutes “good food” – the ecologically conscious can also point to a new-found interest in what’s in their plates. When you walk into one of the restaurants showing off their meat alternatives, you can be sure you’re not eating chicken or chicken-like substances of any kind. Packing them with nutrients, all of the meats are in a process of metabolising carbon dioxide. So, all your usual processed meats, such as bacon, ham and hot dogs, are too – for improved flavour, health or just the taste. The mix could hardly be more (re)inspired.