Vegans are often put on the spot when joining non-vegans for social meals
City vegans are very lucky – there are so many vegan restaurants out there these days. Even the more enlightened small towns have beautifully rustic vegan eateries to tantalise our taste buds.
When you live in a veganly-challenged city like Peterborough, all veggie restaurants seem like heaven on earth and you just want to stuff everything on the menu down your throat.
It’s a real shame that more non-vegan friends and family members won’t try vegan food in establishments such as these, as many of us do find the presence of dead flesh on the next plate rather offensive.
Family and work meals can make your average vegan cringe and stutter out excuses as to why they have to was their neighbour’s hair on that particular evening two months away. If we are able to stomach being surrounded by meat-eaters then we have to put up with their comments. Several of the more common ones are listed below – and, yes, every vegan ever has heard them all a hundred times:
“Why is your food always the last to come?” Trust us, we ask that every single time too.
“Don’t you ever get tempted?” No, don’t you? To try veganism I mean.
“It must be really hard…” What, to avoid eating dead things?
“You need a bit of meat inside you.” Is that an offer you pervert?
“Ooh that looks nice” – why is everyone surprised that vegans eat nice food? Seriously, do carnists know nothing about tastes and textures?
“I could never do it.” Really? Because if I say “I can’t do it,” in the office tomorrow, I guess that the boss will be none too pleased. Veganism isn’t a chore or a big sacrifice, it’s a compassionate pleasure and an entirely natural thing to do. However, although it can be frustrating, such comments and, indeed, occassions in general, offer vegans the chance to teach people about the diet and deliver a few home truths about the meat and dairy industries.
To be fair, restaurants don’t help to make things harmonious between vegans and non-vegans. For the less enlightened dietary choices are a chore. Eatery managers and chefs need to remember that you’re paying their wages and you are paying them for their service, so if they have a problem with your lifestyle you’ll simply go elsewhere! But the difficulties in making the person at the end of the phone realise this can provoke tensions and this flashpoint inevitably gets blamed on the vegan.
But it does make you feel like a little bit of a freak among your colleagues or family.
They also think that if you don’t like something it’s because it isn’t vegan. My mother will often use the phrase “but it’s vegan” when I turn something ‘away, as if I should automatically like every vegan-friendly dish in the world. I’m sorry, but carrot cake simply doesn’t do it for me!
I think that being fussed over too much can make a vegan feel as awkward as they do when seeing a menu whose “vegetarian options” are all cheese-based. Our diet is normal to us, we don’t want to stick out from the crowd, however good people’s intentions actually are.
Although, menus that offer no vegan options can mean we have to ask if a dish can be “veganised” ie “can you please leave the cheese out of the mushroom and cheese risotto?” or, just as awkward “can you please tell me what exactly is in the vegetable curry?” Both problems that could be solved with a simple “vegan options” menu.
Things have moved on. About 20 years ago, a pub landlady offered me a plate of vegetables as the vegetarian option, I hope to God that such tardiness is met by a one star review on Trip Advisor in the age of fibre optics. These days it’s out dining companions we need to convince that we’re not freaks and that we really have heard all of their sarcastic comments before.