Yesterday, I attended the Baptism of my first and only nephew. He was looking good up there and never cried for one moment although my mother did. I was proud of him. The priest even carried him down the aisle at the end and fed him his bottle. It was so sweet I nearly got a toothache.
The not so sweet part came after. I had been diligent to contact the reception hall for the party my brother was having cater the after-event. The hostess that had answered at first was rude when I explained I had “severe food allergies” and wanted to make sure I could eat something otherwise I would bring something myself. She got angry told me she didn’t know what vegan was and said the banquet manager was busy but would call me back. The banquet manager called me a few hours later and was very kind. Assuring that his staff did in fact know what vegan was and I could order anything I wanted when the meal was served without question. This made me confident. Until I arrived.
I arrived at The Continental restaurant in Saugus Massachusetts and was instantly confronted with a buffet. So I was confused because I thought I would order something and so now I am definitely going to stick out. I grabbed some fruit and sat down. My husband started getting nervous for me because he understood that so far this was not what was discussed. As people began to go to the buffet of pancakes, pastas, bacon, and other brunch foods I realize quickly I am going to need to find a staff member. I see a woman handing out popovers hot in a basket and think perfect! So I walk over and say excuse me but I have a question. She snapped at me that I would have to wait a minute as she was doing something. She addressed another staff member about needing more popovers and then came back a few seconds later. I explained I had called and what the banquet manager had said and she became increasingly more irritated. She yelled back at me that she didn’t know what “vegan” was and that they had a vegetarian plate. I said no I am not vegetarian I can’t have eggs or milk. I only eat fruits, vegetables, grains, oils, and seasonings. She said I can get you plain chicken or fish I said that i don’t eat meat. She said how about pasta bolognese, I said “That has meat in it. I’m sorry but I must not be explaining myself well. ” She started to yell “Well what do you want why can’t you just tell me what you want?” I said “I am trying to”. She said “fine I will get you pasta with butter”. I said “No I can’t eat dairy”. So she finally broke me and snapped, “I’ll get you a bowl of plain pasta and you can just eat that”. I wanted to explain it may have eggs in it but I had finally had enough and I stated that this was ridiculous and condescending and I would just like to talk to whomever prepares the food so perhaps I can articulate to him my needs since she was finding such difficulty. She said I couldn’t and then maybe that I could see the chef but she was the one who was supposed to and as she rambled on and embarrassed me to nearly tears, my sister-in-law was prompted over by my brother to step in. She went with the staffer down to the chef and came up stating they would give me veggies and potatoes sautéed in olive oil and seasoning.
I went down to the bathroom and cried for about 15minutes then outside and screamed at the top of my lungs (into my hands) in the parking lot about 3 times. I ended up returning after being prompted back in with my mother. The food resting before me was steamed veggies and a plain potato. No salt, no seasoning, no oil. Blah.
This brings me back to my rant the other day. Just because it is vegan doesn’t mean I want to eat it or I will like it. Why am I being treated like a leper for a food allergy? My brother is allergic to coconut and none of the vegan chefs found it a problem to not use coconut milk or products in my cake or in my foods at my wedding. However, this comes down to other people’s preconceived ideas of vegans and their own inadequacies involving food. They think that because you are a vegan or a vegetarian you are trying to be better than them or that you are lying in some cases. You aren’t actually allergic or you aren’t really vegan you just say that to be cool or hip or whatever, This reminds me of the gay rights argument. That people choose to be gay. Nope, born that way. I in this case am born this way.There is nothing to judge or be mean about. I am asking for you to make me a dish with ingredients you already have that are far less costly than the food that everyone else is already eating. Restaurants should rejoice. Instead them and people in general snare at us and call us mean things. They feel that we are trying to be healthier just to say we are better or preach or force them to feel bad. We aren’t. I was just trying to eat lunch and blend in. Instead I was publicly embarrassed and humiliated. Part of the humiliation is that my brother and sister-in-law are already pretty unaccepting of my eating issues. They don’t like it and they think I am too descriptive about it. It makes them uncomfortable and apparently it makes others like them uncomfortable for me to make a fuss at a restaurant if I am not being heard. I however do not want to spend the evening ill in the restroom facilities. I think we have all been there as vegans. When a rogue chef tosses butter in any way or we grab a piece of bread that changed its recipe. It just sucks.
So for everyone out there that is omnivore, carnivore, etc. I am a vegan and I don’t judge you. I actually wish I was like you in that I was mainstream. I wouldn’t be bullied and treated like a sub-par customer simply because a part of my body can’t digest something that yours can. I hope that you can put aside your assumptions and fears and realize that we are just people wanting to have a nice family meal and we don’t want to talk about getting sick we would rather enjoy the company and conversation of others but you force us in a corner to explain how serious are situation is to prove that we are indeed what we say we are and you could harm us. Restaurants and others need to realize food can nourish or it can kill. I am lucky not to have an allergy that will kill me instantly although the shredding of one organ and potential for more could definitely do damage over time. So just understand that we are not trying to be difficult we just want to be able to participate.
Food is love.
The Hippie Gypsy
Examples of people who rant about hating vegans: