I would like to make an appeal to food outlets on behalf of vegetarians.

As a veggie of many years' standing I have enjoyed numerous excellent meat-free meals in restaurants, cafes and takeaways.

But I have had a run of bad experiences in the last few weeks that has undermined my confidence in the food I am served.

On four separate occasions recently I have ordered dishes from the vegetarian options in a restaurant, a café and two takeaways - and each time I’ve found pieces of meat in my meals. This has included finding a chicken bone, with meat still attached, floating in a bowl of vegetable soup and a meatball in a vegetarian stir fry.

On each occasion I have raised this with the establishment concerned and, with one exception (when they tried to imply I’d ‘planted’ the meat – for what reason they didn’t make clear) the response was apologetic and genuine. However, I certainly lost my appetite after my ‘discoveries’ and on each occasion didn’t complete my meal.

I’ve also been reluctant to return to these places because I now lack confidence in their kitchen practices - if they can accidentally drop a lump of meat in my veggie dish how do I know they are not cutting my vegetarian sandwich with a knife just used to cut a meat sandwich, or frying my egg in a pan that’s still swimming in bacon fat from a rasher they’ve just cooked?

My appeal is this – if you are serving vegetarian food and advertising it as a vegetarian option on your menu then please take care and show a bit of respect to us veggies.

I’d suggest that most places are very aware these days of the health risks posed by nut allergies and that great care is taken not to cross-contaminate or accidentally include nuts in a dish that’s marked as nut free.

Fair enough, I won’t suffer an extreme allergic reaction to discovering a meatball mixed with my tofu, but I don’t think that should excuse the sort of lack of care and attention to vegetarian dishes that I’ve had to put up with in recent weeks.

K. Smith