Londoners vote for top vegetarian restaurant

London, UK, July 9, 2012 : Today the Riverside Vegetaria in Kingston-Upon-Thames was awarded the accolade of best ethical vegetarian restaurant in London. Soho favourite Mildreds, was highly commended and newcomer, Karma-Free Pizza, was highlighted as one to watch [1].

The competition was run by London’s longest running food magazine, The Jellied Eel,[2] together with the Ethical Eats[3] caterers network. The results are based on a public vote covering 32 of the capital’s meat-free eateries, and restaurants with the highest number of votes were then judged by an expert panel. This included celebrity chef and author of ‘Eat Your Veg’ Arthur Potts Dawson, Editor of The Vegetarian Magazine Jane Hughes, and George Clark of the Sustainable Restaurant Association[4].

Ritchie Sakthivel, managing director of Riverside Vegetaria, said of the philosophy behind his restaurant: “I believe to be completely ethical, you must be vegetarian. Living as a vegetarian improves the life of an individual in both a physical and moral sense.”

Judges based their final decision on the restaurant’s commitment to vegetarianism as well as sustainability, taking into account issues such as the provenance of ingredients, the sustainability of water and waste practices and engagement with the local community.

Judge Arthur Potts-Dawson praised the winning restaurant: “Riverside edged it over the other entrants with excellent ethical credentials, in terms of its community activity. Food enterprises have to be supported by the community. That’s the future for food outlets in big cities. Without that they won’t survive.” He added: “His practices in the restaurant are obviously based on a strong lifestyle belief system, which is probably the only way to get your business to ring true in terms of ethics. What Riverside is doing culturally makes a big statement.”

Ben Reynolds, editor of The Jellied Eel, explained the thinking behind the competition, “There’s a lot of talk about ethical eating at the moment, and one of the best things that people can do for their health, our planet, and their pockets, is to eat less but better quality meat. What better way of eating less meat than to choose vegetarian more often when eating out. This competition has been a fabulous way to give credit to the best veggie restaurants in London, whatever their cuisine is. We hope this process has got more customers through their doors.”

[1] Winner - The Riverside Vegetaria

The Riverside Vegetaria has been serving delicious vegetarian and vegan fare since 1989 and as Managing Director, Ritchie Sakthivel insists, the restaurant has always followed an “eat local, buy local and be local” policy. Wherever possible, food is organic and Fairtrade; it even buys some fruit and vegetables from long-term customers with local farming plots. The judges were particularly impressed with the restaurant’s commitment to its community. For example, it offers discounts for local hospital workers, it is sponsoring the building of a library, and staff work with a local school. It has an enviable position along the river and a varied menu offering dishes like masala dosai, Caribbean casserole and organic baked figs with orange and brandy.

Highly Commended - Mildreds

Mildreds’ menu is inspired by international cuisine and surprisingly, for a central London restaurant, its elegant dishes remain affordable. Judges noted its dedication to organic produce and recycling, as well as its use of local suppliers where possible.

One to Watch - Karma-Free Pizza

In an alternate universe, all stodgy pizza chains would be replaced by ethical pizza restaurants on the high street. Karma-Free Pizza uses high quality ingredients. Its dough is made daily on site using organic flour and mozzarella is made using milk from a slaughter-free farm, with vegan cheese being offered at no extra cost.

[2] The Jellied Eel

The Jellied Eel is a quarterly London magazine about ethical eating. It is produced by BIG Media and London Food Link, part of the charity Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming. Some 20,000 copies of the free magazine are distributed via 150 outlets across London. and Twitter @jelliedeelmag.

[3] Ethical Eats

Ethical Eats is a network for restaurants and caterers across the capital interested in sustainability. It is part of London Food Link – Twitter - @ethicaleats.

[4] Judges

The judging panel included celebrity chef and author of ‘Eat Your Veg’ Arthur Potts Dawson, Editor of The Vegetarian Magazine Jane Hughes, George Clark of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, Jellied Eel Magazine editor, Ben Reynolds and Kelly Parsons of Ethical Eats.

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