The company that so charmingly calls itself 'Masterfoods' has announced that it is to return to making vegetarian-friendly chocolate bars, following outcries from British vegetarians and, I kid you not, forty MPs that signed a petition calling on Mars bars to be reunited with the UK's lettuce munchers.
I was, for eight years in my youth, a vegetarian, until I copped on in my mid-twenties and with a renewed sense of adventure started trying anything that was put in front of me. So I know all about rennet, gelatine, finings and all those other hidden animal by-products that provide pitfalls for the diligent vegetarian (though I think many of them relish the challenge of examining the small-print on the packaging every time they shop, just as the more puritanical of religious folk rejoice in the existence of the world's carnal pleasures for giving them something to rail against). It is this culinary puritanism that is the most unpleasant and depressing thing about vegetarianism, people who avoid eating meat are depriving themselves of culture, while at the same time giving themselves a nice, uncostly, consumer-driven political cause to espouse. Vegetarians who claim to love food are like those people that call themselves film buffs but can't bring themselves to watch a black and white film.
I know that there are many vegetarians that do qualify, at least in a partial sense, as gourmands, and my own years of vegetarianism introduced me to a range of fruit and vegetables that, as an Irish male, I would probably have otherwise avoided with a forty-foot pole, but such vegetarians are very much in the minority. Why else is there a thriving trade in frozen and processed food that comes emblazoned with the imprimatur of the Vegetarian Society? Veggies getting hot and bothered about not being able to eat Mars bars or Snickers is further proof of this; if you can cut meat, fish and poultry out of your diet with an unstintingly pedantic application of your 'ideals' should it not be too difficult to avoid eating industrially-produced chocolate, that given the scant amount of cocoa solids contained therein, barely merits the word 'chocolate' anyway? Real foodies eat meat and vegetables. Live a little folks. The only good reasons for abstaining from any type of food or drink are ones of health. Vegetarianism is not one of them.