Jamie ‘the future is plant-based’ Oliver needs to put his money where his mouth is otherwise his concern for health, animals and the environment is all coming across as a load of old bull! It’s just not pukka mate!
In a recent interview with vegan free-runner Timothy ‘Livewire’ Shieff, Jamie said “the future is about a plant-based diet” (11 mins 45 seconds). Much of the interview was about how Jamie is moving towards veggie and vegan cooking and how he hopes to encourage people to eat less meat. This is to be applauded, but only if it is implemented across his food empire!
In March 2015 I wrote about my visit to Jamie’s Italian in Bristol. It was disappointing to see how little provision was made for vegans – nothing really on the menu! They didn’t even have soya milk, unlike every other establishment that sells coffee on this busy road in Bristol (Café Nero, Costa, Starbucks, The Boston Tea Party, Woods… etc etc). The chef did come up with some great food us, but many people are too shy to ask off-menu.
I’ve been in correspondence with Jamie’s since, asking them to be more inclusive and introduce soya milk. I’ve pointed how environmentally damaging cow’s milk is in comparison to soya milk. Jamie says he supports a more plant-based approach to eating and providing soya milk is a really basic change that can help considerably towards lowering the impact food production has on the environment. Cornell University scientist, David Pimentel found it takes about 14kcal of fossil-fuel energy to produce 1kcal of dairy milk but it only take 0.3kcal to make 1kcal of soya beans. So cow’s milk production uses nearly 50 times more energy than soya. A 2010 “current and possible futures” study into greenhouse gas emissions across the top 45 foods in the UK recommended cow’s milk and dairy products be replaced by soya-based products.
There was a glimmer of hope; Jamie’s Italian Bristol said the new menu, with more vegan options, was on the way… Well I’ve just been sent the new menu and been told they will not be serving soya milk in the restaurant. Bad news indeed. The only vegan options on the new menu are bread, olives, chips and salad leaves… that’s one expensive chip butty then!
It gets worse… Two weeks ago I went to Italy for a family holiday. I took an early bus from Bristol to Gatwick and had some time to wait at the airport before my sister and niece arrived so I went for coffee to the only café (landside) which was Jamie’s Coffee Lounge. Sadly no soya milk there either! Unbelievable in a coffee shop in an international airport in 2015…
I emailed them and the reception manager said “We offer soya and almond milk in all of our businesses” so I emailed back explaining how soya milk was not available in all of their businesses. My query was passed on to the area manager (30th July) who I am still waiting to hear from…
It gets worse… on my way back from Italy the British Airways stewardess offered me an egg sandwich and when I explained how vegans don’t eat eggs she bared her teeth at me (I think she thought she was smiling). Anyway, I was pretty damn peckish by the time we landed and had an hour and a half to wait for my bus so went in search of food back to Jamie’s Coffee Lounge – as it’s the only café landside at Gatwick North.
The fridge contained a range of sandwiches and salads: Cheddar, spiced chutney & celery, Sensational superfood salad (contains milk), Superfood salad wrap (milk), Oak-smoked salmon, Big fat Greek salad (feta cheese), Wiltshire ham blah blah blah…nothing suitable for a vegan. I queued up and asked if there was anything I could eat; there was a sign up on the wall saying I should tell the staff if I had any special dietary requirements. Does starving vegan count? The person who served me was very apologetic and said there wasn’t anything for a vegan. I spotted some plain bread rolls and asked if I could have one. She apologised again and said they weren’t allowed to sell them. I then spotted a banana which I bought for 70p.
It gets better… On the off-chance I then went wandering about (as I said I had some time) and stumbled on a WH Smith Food to Go where I hit lucky finding a falafel sandwich. Who would have thought it? It seemed popular as the person behind me said “Oh falafel” and grabbed one too!
Jamie clearly talks the talk but has some work to do if he is going to walk the walk! Basically Jamie – it’s just not pukka!