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Assessing a dedicated veggie restaurant

I never read 'Mona's Meals' because I am not interested in restaurants, especially those that are not vegetarian. But a friend of mine brought to my attention Mona's contribution "Oh you little mean machine" (The Sunday Times, July 22).

I don't believe in self-proclaimed critics of any kind, and if there were a reason for this, this article is the best example. It did not take me long to find out, actually a hotchpotch article that starts with drowsy drooling about kitchen appliances, that somehow vaguely lands the discussion into vegetarianism.

As a vegetarian - actually a vegan - I also consider animals to be my friends, therefore I don't harm them in any way so I don't eat them, like G.B. Shaw, the famous dramatist, to whom the long-standing motto is credited. Before I knew how horrendously cruel it is for animals that are born just to be eaten, I too used to enjoy eating chicken.

If people knew how battery chickens are raised, or if slaughter houses had glass walls, most people would shun eating meat. You cannot be a friend of the animal that you are going to eat the next day! It would be a most queer friendship.

Imagine you eat your beloved dog or cat. It would be most unnatural because in nature, prey and predator are enemies. You don't need to hold a conversation with a hen to make friends, most animals have their own particular ways to show emotions, intentions, imagination, play, likes and dislikes and many other attributes that in the past were considered particular to humans alone.

Mona is right in saying that for the vegetarian looking for a place to eat out, the Tate restaurant is a god-send as I found out about a week ago when I had dinner there. You do not have to explain to the waiter over and over again that fish do not grow on trees or are not found in one's garden.

I had been urged to try the newly opened veggie restaurant by my vegetarian friends over the Internet, even by people from the US who had been here on holiday. At first I could not believe it! Until some time ago, a dedicated vegetarian restaurant was taboo! But I could not resist the temptation to try the menu and I did.

I chose "Istanbul delight" from the bakery section of the menu because it was vegan. It consisted of about four or five balls of deep fried crusty falafel and a falafel dip, a selection of greens and pita bread, etc. It was delicious. It was about 10 p.m. and so I naturally did not select from the breakfast menu as Mona and Co seemed to have done.

Who is Mona anyway? It takes a vegetarian to assess a dedicated veggie restaurant, because only a vegetarian would know what to look for and what to expect, and whether the food served is really up to vegetarian ethics and standards. Mona's declared bias against vegetarians in the first part of the article seems to turn into spite after the night breakfast incident, as she tries to pick on even the slightest things of the waitresses. The comment "...dumpy waitressing job" gives away the guise of a fair professional critic.

Even a non-vegetarian trying a veggie restaurant for the first time knows that he will not find meat served and this may sound restricting because with other restaurants that use meat, the sky is the limit or better said, not even hell is the limit, because there seems no limit of creating suffering to animals that are brought into this world just for the pleasure of eating their flesh.

I am not the only vegetarian who visited the Tate restaurant and was very satisfied with the food, the atmosphere and the staff and would surely recommend it to other vegetarians. But the restaurant is also attractive to non-veggies as every time I have been around the place, it was really full.

For those who would like to know more about vegetarianism and veggie recipes in Maltese I recommend our Website www.vegmalta.org.

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