Vegetarianism with VegeTARAian

If you haven’t heard of her yet, you’re about to! We’re interviewing Tara Mathews of vegeTARAian, a Sydney food and travel blog sharing the adventures of a veg-loving life. She’s a writer, friend of animals and lover of food. Who cant relate to that? 🙂

You Chews CEO and co-founder, Liz Kaelin, poses some questions to the affable and knowledgable Tara about vegetarianism and how it fits into the world of catering, particularly in an office setting.

Tara Matthews of

Tara Matthews of

  • LK: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how your blog came about?
  • TM: Vegetarianism has a reputation of being a tad boring and difficult (and that was certainly the thoughts of those around me) so I created vegeTARAian in 2012 in the hope of breaking down barriers and showing how easy and accessible a veg life can be.
  • LK: What is considered to be a true vegetarian diet?
  • TM: I’m not sure there is a ‘true’ vegetarian diet as it appears to be a broad term with many variations. Predominantly, most vegetarians don’t eat meat, poultry or fish. There are those who consume dairy and eggs, others make an exception for seafood (pescatarian) and some eat a mostly veg diet and occasionally eat meat (flexitarian).
  • LK: What is the most important thing to keep in mind when ordering in food for a vegetarian in the office?
  • TM: From my experiences of being at catered meetings or events, it’s hugely appreciated when vegetarian options are offered separately. No one wants to dig around for a salad sandwich amongst the roast beef and chicken sandwiches. Some may not mind but if it were me, I’d rather go without.
  • TM: Cheese is a big one as it is often made with animal rennet – the stomach lining of calves (there are many suitable cheeses that use vegetable rennet). Fish or oyster sauce can often present in Asian dishes. Many lollies, jellies and marshmallows contain gelatin which is derived the skin, bones and tissues of animals. When eating out some veg dishes can be made with chicken or beef stock so it always pays to ask about the ingredients.
  • LK: Are there some ‘hidden’ animal products found in common foods that we should be aware of when ordering catering? 

vegeTARAian recipe ideas

  • LK: For vegetarians being catered for in the office, what advice can you offer for them to make sure they are happy and fed, hassle free?
  • TM: Be upfront and specific about what you do and don’t eat – don’t expect others to be mind readers! For example I would say ‘Vegetarian: no meat, poultry or seafood. No dairy – cheese is ok’.
  • LK: Any final advice for catering for vegetarians?
  • TM: Vegetarians don’t only want a healthy green salad – we like hot food too! It can be a downer when everyone else is digging into a hot platter and you’re stuck with a cheese and lettuce sub. If everyone else is having a hot meal, the vegetarians should also have one too.

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