Take a vegetarian voyage of discovery...

Ethical eating is big on the agenda. It's meteoric rise in recent years shows no signs of slowing down and we are fast becoming a nation more willing to be creative with diet and lifestyle than ever before.

Currently only around 3% of the population sticks to a vegetarian diet 100% of the time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all savour the delights and advantages of a meat-free regime. Vegetarians now have their pick of top restaurants and hotels in this rapidly growing sector of the hospitality industry.

For those in search of a meat-free staycation, look no further than the south west. This is a veggie destination that will leave your taste buds yearning for more, not least thanks to stunning views as you chow down.

Among the plethora of vegetarian menus on offer, try Bearz Bar in Salcombe, which is a must for vegans, veggies and those in search of delicious gluten-free food.

The Cove Café Bar, in Hope Cove also has a mouth-watering menu for vegans and vegetarians alike. The best thing about this place however is the range of homemade pizzas – including gluten-free options– which can be taken away and enjoyed on golden sands just a minute's walk away.

Being a vegetarian isn’t just about the eating however, sourcing premium ingredients and learning how to create wonderfully flavoursome dishes can be just as fun.

What could be better than a walk in the woods and discovering ‘fine dining’ foods along the way?vegetarian food

Wild Food UK is a company offering wild food and foraging courses throughout the country. They cater for small groups from countryside to coast as well as hosting private events including corporate and educational parties.

Participants will not only learn how to identify and cook wild mushrooms, they will also discover what’s hidden in the hedgerows too.

If you’d rather let someone else do the cooking then you can’t go wrong in the city. Most restaurants now cater for vegetarians but there are some that go the extra mile.

London boasts the likes of the exclusively vegetarian Farmacy, in Notting Hill, which serves imaginative, wholesome food - staying true to its motto “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. The plant based ‘nice-cream’ sums this mantra up perfectly.

Other notable restaurants include Ethos, near Oxford Circus, Elystan Street, in Chelsea and Vanilla Black, in Holborn, another entirely vegetarian restaurant dishing up exciting seasonal food and quirky desserts.

Glasgow has a great selection of vegetarian eateries too, adding entertainment to the mix with vegan music bars such as The 78, The Hug and Pint and Stereo to name but three.

For a quick coffee and cake, keep a lookout on the high street for chain store Pret’s dedicated vegetarian outlets which should be opening soon across the country.

As vegetarian and vegan food shuffles further into the spotlight, so does its place on the food festival circuit.

These increasingly prominent events are a big deal in the current climate of ‘clean’ eating. Some of the best include River Cottage Festival in August and Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival, in September. Although not exclusively vegetarian events, they have a packed programme of demonstrations, stalls and masterclasses for non-carnivorous attendees.

For vegans, from Maidstone to Manchester there are fairs, camp outs and cookery demonstrations galore.

In Malvern, you’ll find cookery school Our Lizzy, which promises to arm its participants with top tofu tips!

To enjoy the delights of the countryside while you cook, head to the Costwolds and Abbey Home Farm, where the ‘meat-free meals’ course will help you create a quick yet delicious vegetarian menu using home grown produce.

With such enlightening courses on offer plus dedicated meat-free hotels, restaurants and countrywide food festivals, there has never been a better time to travel veggie.

We’ve certainly come a long way since the days of endless mushroom risotto and pale pasta bake. The hospitality industry has picked up the veggie baton with gusto to cater for the ever-increasing meat-free population – as well as carnivores who simply can’t resist the riot of colour and flavour on the table today!