For the last six weeks I've been running a bit of an experiment, involving animals and not eating them.

I've become a vegetarian. My wife has been one for longer than I've known her (forever) and after years of ribbing her (both in a teasing sense and literally eating spare ribs in front of her) I started to think that she might be onto something.

I decided to take part in National Vegetarian Week back in May and I haven't had so much as a pork scratching since.

It's not that I don't like meat. I do. Nor am I going to get preachy about it. Honest. But we do eat a lot of meat in this country.

An average UK resident eats more than their own body weight in meat every year – just over 80kg. That's a lot of meat and if you times that by 65 million it's pretty clear that this is going to have some kind of impact on the environment.

In fact, a study by Oxford Martin School found that a global switch to a veggie diet would cut greenhouse gas emissions, from agriculture and food production, by around 63 per cent. It would also stop five million premature deaths by 2050.

Hang on. I am getting preachy so I'll pause here for some avocado...



....That's better.

As well as saving the world and making mealtimes considerably easier in the Eley household, I was also keen to see how easy it would be like to be a vegetarian in the pub trade.

Not very, it turns out.

Actually, that's not entirely true. Ordering food becomes easy as pie (hold the steak & kidney) because, frankly, the choice is generally not that great.

I was in a pub recently with a double-sided menu and could find no more than three options to choose from, all with chips. To be fair they did do a decent veggie chilli though.

Another pub I visited literally had zero meat-free options. To their credit they rustled up a very nice mango salad.



It does show that while pubs will go out of their way to please punters, veggies and vegans are still an afterthought in pub kitchens.

That said, only two per cent of the UK population shuns all meat (including fish) – a total of around 1.2m people, according to the NHS. It isn't a huge chunk of your customer base but it features lots of young people who could be important to you in the future.

Interestingly, veganism is growing at a mighty rate. There might have only been 500,000 of them in the UK the last time The Vegan Society counted, but that figure is up 360 per cent in 10 years.

More and more people are looking at alternative diets, some for welfare reasons and others for health and lifestyle. I've done very little exercise lately but without particularly trying I've lost a stone.

Get me.

The trend for healthy eating is growing and pubs need to be all over it.

So when you next review your menu and the options on it, spare a thought for the veggies among us and try to think beyond veggie chilli and mushroom risotto.