Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

Now I'm a lady who veg-lunches

How had this dreadful thing happened? I owed one of them a favour, and the plan was to take him to the organic snack bar of my choice - the delicious Bamford canteen, in Sloane Square. But somehow his girlfriend got in on the act, plus a friend of hers, a ferociously fluffy PR lady who, it was felt, could help me in some vaguely useful way. The Bamford snackerie was deemed no good for these smarties and, when I foolishly asked where they would prefer, the Cipriani was mooted (they saw me coming).

As each tasteless and tiny course was presented, there were gasps of shock and awe but, like the boy in The Emperor's New Clothes, I couldn't understand what everyone was raving about.

As it was Lent, I decided to add "doing" lunch to the things to give up, along with dinner parties (boring), opera (screechy) and the theatre (interminable). So when Donnachadh, my eco coach, suggested we meet for lunch, my heart sank. It was only because he caught me at a weak moment - just before the delivery of my weekly farm box, and we desperately needed to brainstorm about my soon-to-be-erected wind turbine - that I agreed. He didn't want to come to the Bamford snackerie but suggested Govinda's vegetarian restaurant, in Soho Square.

It's good news that so many people are cutting down on their meat consumption. I've been re-reading Juliet Gellatley's book The Silent Ark, which is enough to turn the stomach of the stoutest carnivore. She explains that our meat dependency is at the heart of almost every environmental catastrophe confronting the Earth. Animals go through agony and indignity because of our willingness to eat cheap meat. Take artificial insemination. Juliet writes: "The ewe is spread-eagled upside-down on a rack while the ram's semen is injected directly into her womb. It requires the forced ejaculation of that semen by hand or by inserting an electrical probe into the anus of the ram, a procedure which can afterwards leave the ram writing in agony."

Thank heaven for restaurants like Govinda's. We tucked into bowls of scrumptious veggie curries, salads and a mouthwatering pistachio cake with bright green icing.

Lunch! Bring it on! I've decided to give up giving up. That was why last night my squeeze tempted me back to the theatre (first time since 1999) to see the non-eco-friendly but excellent Pete and Dud: Come Again, at the Venue, in Leicester Square. Tomorrow we're trying a Hare Krishna restaurant in Camden; apparently, you get bells and tambourines as well as food. As it's on the way, I plan to loiter outside the Cipriani and tempt the clientele with some Govinda's "all you can eat for £5.99!" leaflets. These Russian oligarchs don't know what they're missing. I'm sure once they have the information, they'll be flocking to Soho Square. See you there, Abramovich!

NB Money-saving eco-tip from Donnachadh: don't throw away your paper napkins after your meal - take them home to use as lavatory paper.

j.stephenson@independent.co.uk

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