HERE is the news: someone at Marks and Spencer has gone off their onion and created a “cauliflower steak”. News moves fast and, at the time of going to press, it has been confirmed that, after the steak made shoppers see red, it has been withdrawn from sale amid great acrimony and ridicule.

And no wonder. We’ve heard of mutton dressed as lamb, but cauliflower dressed as steak was a new one on the lieges, who recoiled not so much at the idea itself as at the ripping off that appeared to accompany it.

For the product consisted of a lump of cauliflower wrapped in plastic and sitting on an environmentally-hateful tray, the whole package having a price tag of £2.50 or, latterly, £2.00 “reduced from £2.50” – bargain!

Top mathematicians on Twitter said that worked out at £10 a kilogram, and the nation reeled back in shock as the reputation of a once decent and sensible store took a nosedive.

Punters and other experts said M&S should be “ashamed”, and a spokeswoman for the increasingly peculiar company was forced to ululate a sincere-style apology: “We work hard to create quick and convenient meals for customers. However, on this occasion we didn’t get it right.

“We have launched many other vegetarian dishes that are already proving popular with customers.”

Is that right, aye? One top complainer told Ladbible website that the cauliflower steak caper “might put people off trying a vegan or vegetarian diet if that’s on offer”. In my view, anything involving cauliflower would put people off going vegetarian.

I am mostly vegetarian myself. That is to say, I am a vegetarian who binges on steak pies when I have had a few sherries. It’s a bit like being a pescatarian – a vegetarian who also eats fish – except I am a pietarian.

As such, I believe cauliflower comes from Satan’s allotment and will only eat it when it is covered in curry, broon sauce and a vat of salt, all served up by a man of the tablecloth qualified to carry out exorcisms.

But the cauliflower steak fiasco serves to highlight how the big supermarkets have latched on to the fact that there is money to be made from vegetarians and vegans. Most stores now devote vast acres of shelves and freezers to Quorn or soy products, many of these emulating meaty comestibles such as bacon and sausages, which would taste real if pigs were made of cardboard.

It is the triumph of capitalism that it offers you a vast choice of exactly the same stuff everywhere, and this is particularly the case with vegetarian products. They’re kind of titillating, as an alternative to making your own oven chips with deep-fried carrot, but you can only eat so much Quorn – which is a kind of fungus – while soy turns men into women and is best avoided if your moobs are already drawing wolf-whistles from building sites.

Markies tends to go its own way with comestibles, and its fruit and veg section has long been ridiculously overpriced. But the cauliflower incident may erode trust in the store, which thinks it can charge its petit-bourgeois clientele anything, while blissfully unaware that this demographic is shrinking.

Waitrose is the same, only worse, and when it goes to the wall I’ll be standing there with my Lidl executive-style pitchfork cheering along with the rest of those in our society who lack silk knee-breeches. That is to say, the sans-culottes.

I mention Lidl advisedly as I’ve recently abandoned Sainsbury’s for it and the other German store, which you may remember I dismissed so authoritatively in earlier articles. They now have quite a lot of healthy foods, such as juicing packs and fruit energy bars, as well as all the same Quorn and soy products as everyone else. And they’re much cheaper. No £2.50 cauliflower portions here.

I’d thought the German stores would be full of paupers and other freelance journalists, but you see a lot of young, trendy persons, who sometimes ask for specialised comestibles. The other evening, I heard a young, aesthetic-looking cove say to a shelf-stacker: “I say, do you have onion rings?”

And the shelf-stacker looked up briefly and said: “Naw.”

I thought his Scandinavian-style brevity and directness magnificent and was about to tell him this but feared he would just say: “Shut up.”

As a libertarian Stalinist, I’m not going to over-praise these German capitalist running dogs, and am well aware they keep costs down by having few staff. All the same, their harsh cheapness and no-frills presentation is triumphing over the old, petit-bourgeois emporia with their prettily packaged detritus.

Meanwhile, a last couple of words to Markies about their cauliflower steaks: well done.