World Vegetarian Month - Your vegetarian itinerary

While most of the year seems like a celebration of animal suffering – from Pak’n Save’s ‘meat week’ to the mass extermination of duck-hunting season to schools having parties around the hunting of possums – there’s one month every year that vegetarians can relish.

And while the whole month is a time plant eaters can rejoice, celebrate and eat well without guilt, there’s also more to it than meets the eye. For instance, 1 October is World Vegetarian Day, while World Vegan Day is 1 November, followed by World Animal Day on 4 November.

It’s a great opportunity for vegetarians and vegans to organise dinner parties and expeditions to support eateries that bother to show their interest in non-animal diets. It’s also the one time of the year that various events take place that are tailor made to appeal to our palates, so I would urge vegetarian and vegan readers to participate, along with those who still partake of meat but are curious in the ways of the meat-free.

On 1 October, the Vegetarian Society is hosting the Taste The World vegan dinner, and as the name suggests, the flavours will be truly international. Check out their website for more info. Then there’s a Vegan Vault Market at 171 Victoria Street, from 6pm on 7 October. The Heritage Hotel’s annual vegan feast takes place on 27 October, and this year it’s an eight-course degustation, to which we can only ad: Yum! Bookings essential.

For those who fancy a bit of culinary travel, Christchurch is having its first Vegan Expo on 8 October, and Whangarei its second Vegan Expo on 25 November.

Then again, it might simply be an opportunity to renew your acquaintance with the best vegetarian food in Auckland, most of which can be found within walking distance between Ponsonby and Grey Lynn. How about starting with a hearty breakfast at the rightly acclaimed Kokako Café, followed by a unique and rewarding lunch at Little Bird Unbakery. And to cap it all off, you can buy a bag full of vegan pies, pastries and delicious coconut cream donuts and other sweeties at Tart. And if you want to make it a week of eats, there are plenty of other local cafes and restaurants branching out into vegetarian cuisine, including the all-vegetarian Big Sur: that’s right, rumours that they were going meaty have proved untrue!

To top it all off, SAFE has launched its Eat Kind Challenge and alongside that, a new website called Animal Squad.

The Eat Kind Challenge is a way for those who want to show compassion to animals to set themselves a goal, but also get support along the way. Those who sign up get free recipes and a free guide. The Animal Squad ( is an initiative to connect kids who have a passion for animals, and to teach them positive values like respect, compassion, empathy and fairness for all animals. The website officially launches with a competition on 16 October. (GARY STEEL)