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How a tasting menu helps explain sustainable eating

How a tasting menu helps explain sustainable eating

Ian Chaddock

BY Ian Chaddock

1st Dec 2023 Food & Drink

4 min read

We all know that organic vegetarian food is great for you but there’s a tantalising tasting menu experience that connects sustainable, delicious vegetarian food and eating with learning how we can co-exist with the environment
We’re all short on time these days. Eating organic food rather than relying on ultra-processed food is one way to eat better—perhaps as a New Year’s Resolution—that helps not only our own health but that of the planet as well, but it doesn’t address the whole issue of sustainable eating. Simply going vegetarian or vegan alone isn’t the solution either, unless you are aware of what you’re eating instead and its impact on yourself and the environment.
"There’s innovation at the exciting, modern vegetarian restaurant Oliveira Kitchen in Shoreditch, London"
Innovation is key to progress and there’s no shortage of that either at the exciting, modern vegetarian and vegan restaurant Oliveira Kitchen in Shoreditch, East London. Chef-owner Emerson Amélio de Oliveira believes in three key principles of food—“nutrition, flavour and environment”. All of these are central to Oliveira Kitchen’s sublime and fascinating nine-course tasting menu, available for both vegetarians and vegans (also available with an optional wine pairing of natural wines).
As they explain on their website, “our aim is to simply show how much nature has to offer by creating amazing vegetarian dishes using the best of local fresh produce.”
Here's a few reasons why the Oliveira Kitchen experience is so unique and exciting, and how it made me think about, as a vegetarian, what I was eating—both in the restaurant itself and every day.

1. Local, fresh produce

Oliveira Kitchen's Norfolk quail egg, smoked potato mousse and truffle dish
Key to Oliveira Kitchen’s approach and attitude to making healthy culinary decisions is the consumption of local, fresh produce. Visiting local markets and eating locally grown vegetables and foods seems so simple but is something we can easily overlook in this busy modern world.
If you don’t have time one weekend, then visiting a restaurant as innovative as Oliveira Kitchen would be a wise decision. Dishes on their tasting menu like Norfolk quail egg, smoked potato mousse and truffle (my favourite dish of the tasting menu), or the artisanal British cheese selection are delicious examples of how eating British sourced food can be both delicious and good for the environment. Where possible, eat local. If you want to have something from further afield, make sure it’s responsibly sourced and doesn’t damage the environment.

2. No fake meats or ultra-processed foods for health reasons

As Oliveira Kitchen explains, “for the same reason we don’t do beef, we don’t do soy. For the same reason we don’t cook chicken, we also avoid processed foods. And sure enough we abhor ultra-processed foods.”
"Ultra-processed foods have been linked to an increased risk of dementia and a wide range of other health issues "
Emerson stresses that artificial foods are not the answer; meat substitutes and fake meats are not helping the planet and could result in long-term health problems as well. Ultra-processed foods have been linked to an increased risk of dementia and a wide range of other health issues as we age.

3. No fake meats or ultra-processed foods for environmental reasons

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As well as health concerns from ultra-processed foods, there are huge environmental impacts. Friendly, talented and informative chef-owner Emerson was born and raised in the southern plains of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. He has personally witnessed the irreversible damage our eating habits have on the environment and Oliveira Kitchen was based on living a different way.
Ultra-processed foods, such as fake meats and soy products, contribute heavily to greenhouse gases, are the main cause of deforestation in places like the Amazon and Borneo, and severely impair biodiversity. Despite its impact, the damage on the environment from ultra-processed foods is being largely ignored, and this needs to change.
"A trio of Amazonian fruit sorbets offer diverse, delicious flavours and are sustainably grown"
In the tasting menu, the diverse and delicious flavours from a trio of Amazonian fruit sorbets show that there is a sustainably grown food—in the same parts of the world being damaged by overfarming—that is unharnessed and provides a different option to processed foods. Acai berries, for example, are not only delicious but also have a high level of anti-oxidants. The “forest floor calamari” curry also highlights that mushrooms are a natural meat substitute that is too often underused and overlooked.

4. Vegetarian food can be fun, tasty, creative and thoughtful

Oliveira Kitchen's bistecca di sedano dish
Fresh vegetable and fruit-based foods that are both vegetarian (or vegan, Oliveira Kitchen offers menus for either preference) are not only full of flavour but are so much fun visually and as part of a tasting menu. Enjoying and learning about such delicious food is an absolute joy and provides a genuinely unique dining experience.
"For me, eating ethically and sustainably has never been this enjoyable or offered this many flavours!"
Dishes such as the sea buckthorn caviar and ceviche of acai hearts, and the bistecca di sedano are beautifully arranged on the dish and are as playful in presentation as they are in flavour. For me, eating ethically and sustainably has never been this enjoyable or offered this many flavours!

5. Don’t eat junk!

Oliveira Kitchen restaurant
Nature has so much to offer and being flexible with your diet, even by eating meat-free (and preferably processed food-free) a couple of times a week can have a huge impact.
“Organic food is considered by many a new trend when in fact your grandparents ate organic food before the industrial farming revolution took over. Organic farming is simply correcting a societal mistake with food production going back to a time when food was just better.”
As Emerson explained, “just don’t eat junk!” It’s as simple as that and will lead to many exciting and amazing flavours that are good for your health and the environment.
The vegetarian tasting menu at Oliveira Kitchen costs £85 per person, with an option wine pairing of £65 per person—read more about it here. 
Banner photo: The polonaise opus dish at Oliveira Kitchen (Oliveira Kitchen)

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