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Curry was created by the arrival of the British in India in the seventeenth century, beginning as bowls of spicy sauce used, Lizzie Collingham writes, to add "bite to the rather bland flavours of boiled and roasted meats." The 1758 edition of Hannah Glasse's The Art of Cookery contains what Clarissa Dickson Wright calls a "famous recipe" which describes how "To make a currey the Indian way"; it flavours chicken with onions fried in butter, the chicken being fried with turmeric, ginger and ground pepper, and stewed in its own stock with cream and lemon juice. Dickson Wright comments that she was "a bit sceptical" of this recipe, as it had few of the expected spices, but was "pleasantly surprised by the end result" which had "a very good and interesting flavour". The process of adapting Indian cooking continued for centuries. Anglo-Indian recipes could completely ignore Indian rules of diet, such as by using pork or beef. Some dishes, such as "liver curry, with bacon" were simply ordinary recipes spiced up with ingredients such as curry powder. In other cases like kedgeree, Indian dishes were adapted to British tastes; khichari was originally a simple dish of lentils and rice. Curry was accepted in almost all Victorian era cookery books, such as Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery for Private Families (1845): she offered recipes for curried sweetbreads and curried macaroni, merging Indian and European foods into standard English cooking. By 1895, curry was included in Dainty Dishes for Slender Incomes, aimed at the poorer classes. Foreign influence was by no means limited to specific dishes. James Walvin, in his book Fruits of Empire, argues that potatoes, sugar (entirely imported until around 1900 and the growing of sugar beet), tea, and coffee as well as increasing quantities of spices were "Fruits of Empire" that became established in Britain between 1660 and 1800, so that by the nineteenth century "their exotic origins had been lost in the mists of time" and had become "part of the unquestioned fabric of local life".

Modern western vegetarianism was founded in the United Kingdom in 1847 with the world's first Vegetarian Society. It has increased markedly since the end of World War II, when there were around 100,000 vegetarians in the country. By 2003 there were between 3 and 4 million vegetarians in the UK, one of the highest percentages in the Western world, while around 7 million people claim to eat no red meat. By 2015, 11 of 22 restaurant chains studied by the Vegan Society had at least one vegan main course on their menu, though only 6 of these explicitly labelled them as vegan dishes. Top-end vegetarian restaurants remain relatively few, though they are increasing rapidly: there were some 20 in Britain in 2007, rising to 30 in 2010.

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