February 1st, 2011
Eighteen years ago, when I first opened a bed and breakfast in downtown Vancouver and called it the Manor Guest House, I decided that since my family and I are vegetarians, we would serve only vegetarian breakfasts. However, though we implemented this decision, we never advertised it. We didn’t deny it either. We would often post recipes on our website, or sample breakfast menus, all of which indicated that we don’t serve meat (we do serve eggs, smoked salmon and cheese), but we never came right out and said it.
Truth to tell, we were concerned that it would turn people off. We needn’t have worried.
As it turned out, guests loved the variety of our buffet breakfasts and constantly ask us for recipes. And the odd thing was that in 18 years only one person commented to us on the absence of meat, and it was not in the nature of a complaint. So we quietly continued with our meatless ways.
In the course of time it became very natural for us to cater to vegans, or to people with special dietary needs, such as grain free, gluten free, dairy free or nut free food. We also discovered that once observant Jews and Moslems discovered we were vegetarian, they were more comfortable choosing us as a Vancouver bed and breakfast because they didn’t have to be concerned with meat that was unacceptable to them.
Another of our breakfast policies that I kept secret was that we offer low fat options. As a somewhat fanatic weight watcher myself, I felt that I couldn’t in good conscience offer people what I wouldn’t choose myself, namely dishes made with heavy cream sauces, such as Eggs Benedict, which are standard fare at many bed and breakfasts. I was afraid that if I made this policy public, people would avoid us because they might think our breakfasts might be skimpy and unappetizing.
I am also a food vigilante and I read labels, so that I stay away from foods that have additives and preservatives. What happens is that I end up making just about everything from scratch – which is exactly what we do at the Manor. So to please everyone, (including me) we offer a buffet with richer food choices as well as low fat choices such as fresh fruit salad, low fat, probiotic yogurts, and breads and muffins made with whole grains. And David, our very own Red Seal chef, dazzles with his creative brilliance.
How times have changed! We no longer have to keep our food policies secret. We are proud to say that we are the only vegetarian bed and breakfast in Vancouver! Always keen gardeners, as time went on it became “natural” for us to grow our own vegetables and herbs. Our produce is organic: we don’t use pesticides or chemical fertilizers. We can honestly say that we offer healthy choices.