Last Friday, 1 October, was World Vegetarian Day, a day showcasing the benefits of vegetarianism. It also gave rise to October being observed as Vegetarian Awareness Month.
There was a time when the likes of Mushroom risotto, stuffed peppers, nut roast or portobello mushroom burger were considered fancy vegetarian options. While we're sure these can be extremely tasty, thankfully the world of vegetarian cuisine is now far more exciting.
Fortunately, we're blessed with some of the finest places to eat in the UK, including some amazing vegetarian restaurants and cafés in the Lake District.
We'll start close to our Windermere cottages, before heading north to Penrith and a couple of fantastic options for guests staying in our Ullswater cottages.
Mention vegetarian to anyone in Windermere and the chances are they will recommend Zeffirellis in Ambleside. Zeffirellis has been a firm favourite for over 40 years and is great for family, friends and couples alike. It also houses an award-winning cinema.
The menu offers Italian-themed pizza and pasta dishes, with daily specials freshly prepared by a team of passionate chefs. What's more, there's enviable wine list to match.
For the complete evening out, why not book a 2-course dinner with a reserved cinema seat?
Fellinis is a new, modern Vegeterranean restaurant which caters for the most discerning vegetarian palette. The food is inspired by the warmth of Mediterranean, with a frequently changing menu to reflect the seasons and the availability of local ingredients.
After dinner, why not head upstairs for a unique cinema experience, where you can see the latest art house and niche film productions, as well as live satellite links to world class opera, ballet and theatre events.
Gandhi's Café, Ambleside
Staying in Ambleside, Gandhi's has gained a reputation for producing high quality, home cooked vegetarian and vegan food. From relaxed breakfasts to an afternoon pick-me-up, wholesome burgers to tasty pad-Thais, this quirky little café is packed with big flavours.
Chesters by the River
Chesters by the River at Skelwith Bridge is the perfect spot to stop for a bite to eat before, after or during a good walk. Situated on the banks of the River Brathay, the food is wonderfully crafted with plenty of choice. There is some parking, but as it's 'out of town' you may need to plan ahead a little. One option is to park at Elterwater and follow the path alongside the River Brathay, past Skelwith Force, enjoy a good lunch followed by a leisurely walk back to the car.
Upfront Gallery Restaurant, Penrith
For our next stop we're heading to Penrith, just a short drive from Glenridding and Patterdale. Perfect for our Ullswater guests.
There's more to Upfront Gallery than just food. It's a gallery, puppet theatre, music venue and restaurant located in beautifully converted 17th century farm buildings near Penrith.
The licensed café serves a delicious range of vegetarian options throughout the day, beginning with breakfast. Pop in for a range of delicious meals, snacks, cakes, puddings and coffees.
The Yard Kitchen
Our final choice is also in Penrith. The Yard Kitchen is a popular café with a wide range of vegetarian and vegan choices.
The café is located in Brunswick Court, alongside an eclectic mix of specialist sellers, including a bookshop, a wine merchant and a grocers. In fact, the yard is now home to more than 20 independent dealers. So browse to your heart's content and then enjoy some delicious vegetarian fayre.
That's it. Our round up of our favourite vegetarian and vegan restaurants and cafés in the Lake District. If you happen to visit one of them, please do let us know what you think. And if you would like more information about dining in the Lake District, please get in touch.
Photo credit: Photo by Farhad Ibrahimzade on Unsplash