The vegan myth we’re still falling for

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We take tastecard for a test drive and report back on the results.

Overhead shot of vegan starter at Park House tested with tastecard
Can you combine fine dining with good vegan food?

November. The month of dark nights, cold rain and the last glimmer of auburn-orange leaves. In the northern hemisphere, at least. 

It’s also World Vegan Month, an annual celebration of plant based food in all its guises. Founded in 1994 by The Vegan Society, each year brings new ways to slice and dice those vegetables and pulses across your plate.

A few decades ago, most vegans made their choice based on animal welfare grounds. And most made it absolute. No animal products. At all. Not ever. The end. 

These days, people are just as likely to cite climate change as the main factor driving them towards a plant based lifestyle, rather than as a protest against animal cruelty. Scientists are still grappling with just how our diets affect the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And it’s not yet clear whether a fully plant based diet consumed across the world would actually help – or whether it would introduce new problems and vitamin deficiencies. 

Close up of Thoreau water bottle at Park House - water good for health in Vegan Month

Still. In the meantime, it’s clear that most of us should try to eat a little less meat for our own individual health. And we should try to reduce our carbon footprints, at least until a better solution is found. 

On a personal level, I find vegan restaurants very helpful when I’m on the road. In my old age, and after one too many salmonella infections, my body can’t handle lactose and in a vegan restaurant, I know I’m safe. 

But let’s face it, even in hipster cities, these can be hard to come by. And what if you want to mix and match a little? What the kids call flexitarianism. Or veggie curious. Does that work these days?

Basically, the question is this.

Can you find decent vegan food in a fine dining restaurant?

When tastecard challenged me to do just that, I was delighted. tastecard is a paid membership site with a snazzy app which opens up great discounts on dining out. You can use it in such a wide range of places that it’s hard to know where to start. Pizza delivery? Yes. High street chain? Yes. Coffee shop? Indeedy.

But you can also explore quirkier eateries too. 

Having recently been away for my husband’s birthday, I thought that a treat was in order. And that I should check out one of Cardiff’s fanciest places to eat. 

Park House Restaurant exterior view

Park House Cardiff: Dining in a listed building

Park House is something of an institution in the capital of Wales. The restaurant itself lives in a Grade I listed building, just a short walk from the gorgeous white columns of the National Museum of Wales. It’s described as being built in Early French Gothic style, which translates to mean brooding pennant sandstone, with lighter Bath stone around the windows and the characteristic pink Peterhead granite from Aberdeenshire as the pillars. 

Cadw, the Welsh organisation that looks after stately homes, castles and other heritage sites, describes it as “the most influential 19th century house in Wales.”

So, a grand building. All good. How about the food?

Dining options at Park House Cardiff

While Park House is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, the rest of the time it offers a lunch and dinner service and you’re advised to book in advance. There are six and nine course lunch and dinner tasting menus, changed seasonally and paired with wine. Or, you can keep it simple and order a la carte. 

Scanning the tasting menus in advance, the Welsh beef tartare, Cornish turbot, boiled egg and salmon, didn’t really fit with the World Vegan Month challenge. 

But the a la carte options were much more flexible. 

While the Welsh beef tartare and Cornish turbot still appeared, the roast spiced squash with lime pickle and coconut curry hit the vegan bullseye. Plus, for those who flex a bit, the rich chestnut gnocchi only had a trace of egg. 

So, surrounded by oak panelled walls, rich ruby-violet velvet and a sense of history, we celebrated a birthday and busted a myth at the same time. 

It is possible to head to a gorgeous restaurant and keep carnivores and vegans happy over the same meal.

And the added bonus? The 25% discount through booking with tastecard.

About tastecard

tastecard is a fun discount card that offers amazing deals on meals out, pizza delivery, cinema tickets, days out, coffee shops and more. You can download the app through the Apple store or Google Play and get up to 50% off regular prices through your membership. Prices start at £3.99 a month for an annual subscription and £5.99 for a monthly pay as you go plan. You can sign up for a 30 day free trial here and get started in minutes.

It’s generally a good idea to mention that you plan on using tastecard when booking your restaurant or activity, just in case deals change. But tastecard itself has been going for 17 years, so it’s no new kid on the block.

What I like most about the app is that you can turn on geolocation so that it pops up with suggestions for places close to you with deals. Handy for coffee when out and about near home but even better when you’re travelling and on the road and don’t know where to start. 

How about giving it a try?