Hugh’s Sweet Potato Gratin with Millennium Cashew Cream

To celebrate my seven-year blogging anniversary I am revisiting some of my early posts, and reflecting on how the world has changed in that time. This post (below) was written for my first ever blog, EllenCooksMillennium, on the 8th of September 2011. My plan was to cook everything in the two cookbooks from the Millennium restaurant in San Francisco: the first, and possibly still the most fabulous, 100% vegan restaurant I have ever been to…

I may have been a little unfair to vegetarians here, but it remains the case if you do the sums that the whole population having a ‘Meat-free Monday’ every week would cut the overall consumption of meat by one seventh, whereas even 10% of the population going completely vegetarian or vegan would only cut it by only one tenth.

Of course it is not an either/or situation in reality: since this post was written there has literally been an explosion in the number of people who are beginning to reduce their animal product consumption or even going completely vegetarian or vegan. And that is thanks in no small part to the many existing vegetarians and vegans who have worked so hard to get the message out there, though the classification (here) by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2015 of processed red meat as a Grade 1 carcinogen, and of red meat more generally as a Grade 2A (probable) carcinogen, may have had quite a lot to do with it too…



Hugh’s Sweet Potato Gratin with Millennium Cashew Cream (8th September 2011)

“I was curious to read Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s article in the Guardian recently (Hold the Steak, 27/08/11), in which he extolls the virtues of eating less meat. I quote:

“Let me be clear: I have not become vegetarian, nor do I think I ever will. So the dialogue I’m keen to begin with other meat-eaters is not about vegetarianism, it’s about vegetables. I would love to persuade you to eat more vegetables. And thereby eat less meat -and maybe a bit less fish too. Why? To summarise, we need to eat more vegetables and less flesh because vegetables are the foods that do us the most good and our planet the least harm. Do I need to spell out the arguments to support that assertion? Is there anyone who seriously doubts it to be true?”

Interesting. Some people might suggest Hugh is in transition from an omnivorous diet to a vegetarian one, but he hasn’t quite got there yet and he’s trying to “soften the blow”. I’m not so sure. I have some respect for “selective omnivores” as he calls them. People who do not exclude anything but do consider the provenance and environmental and health impacts of the food they eat. It isn’t my choice as an individual (partly because I’m just not very good at moderation!), but I do think there is an important debate to be had around the relative merits of reduction vs. exclusion, moderation vs. absolutism and radical individual choices vs. overall population change.

Undoubtedly a small reduction in the amount of meat and dairy eaten by everyone in the population would have a far greater effect on the total number of animals raised and slaughtered each year than a very small number of individuals refusing to eat animal products at all. That’s not to say eating an animal-free diet isn’t a good thing to do – one can live with a clear concience and reap the health benefits too – but unless other people are inspired to do the same (more or less) it isn’t going to have much of an impact in real terms.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall may do more to promote the cause of vegetarianism than most vegetarians ever do.”

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