Vegetarians pick a bone with MasterChef’s meat-heavy menu – The Guardian

December 15, 2021 by No Comments

Vegetarians and vegans are sharpening their knives for MasterChef: The Professionals after analysis showed it featured meat and fish savoury dishes nine times more than vegetarian alternatives.

The BBC One show reaches its climax on Thursday after six weeks of searing, stuffing and sauteeing, and its makers say the recipes reflect “what is happening in professional kitchens up and down the country”.

But the Vegetarian Society has said the focus on meat and seafood risks turning the show into “a dinosaur” and fails to reflect growing enthusiasm for non-meat and “flexitarian” diets.

And the Vegan Society, which believes close to a million people in the UK may now be vegan, has called for the programme to change direction to cast more vegan chefs and challenge the contestants to produce Michelin-standard food from vegetables.

MasterChef remains a bastion of butchery, its opening montage featuring a chef lugging a side of pork and another blow-torching a chicken. By the end of the semi-final stage, 10 out of 100 savoury dishes presented by the contestants were vegetarian, and only two of those were vegan, according to Guardian analysis, while 37% featured red meat, 40% fish and seafood and 13% poultry.

Richard McIlwain, the chief executive of the Vegetarian Society, said he was “endlessly frustrated” at the amount of meat and fish dishes. “We have been brought up since Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White on the whole machismo of the kitchen; that there is something about cooking a good steak that is an extension of being a good chef,” he said.

“Are these programmes turning into dinosaurs, not because more people are turning vegetarian and vegan but because many people are cutting out meat, particularly in terms of climate change? Where is that being reflected in the cookery shows?”

In a semi-final challenge last week, all four chefs chose red meat for their street food dishes, with pork, beef, lamb and mutton served up. Early in the series, one chef, Gina, who works in a vegan restaurant, prepared a vegan menu including a mushroom Thai curry and a cashew milk parfait. She hoped the judges “won’t even notice that it’s vegan”. Her parfait didn’t set and her dishes were deemed too “grainy”, and she was sent home.

In another of last week’s semi-finals, another contestant, John, told the judges: “I have got a lot of things I am passionate about and reducing our meat consumption is part of that.” He made a mushroom dish that included …….



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