Since declaring my choice of going vegan, I’ve discovered that it isn’t always easy to stick to my plan.
While some places offer “vegetarian” options, they mess up when the veggie tacos come with a cream chipotle sauce, which obviously has some dairy in it to make it “creamy.” This would be off my selection options regardless of being vegan because I’m lactose intolerant and while it might taste good going in, believe me, my dining companions and those seated around me will not like the consequences of me digesting dairy. I don’t either.
This reminded me of an experience I had almost 20 years ago when planning the rehearsal dinner for my wedding. The restaurant we chose served Italian food, so I thought it would be no problem to have a vegetarian offering for those in the group who were vegetarian. At the time, I wasn’t on one band wagon or the other, but I still wanted to cover all the bases.
When discussing the menu with the coordinator, I asked for a vegetarian selection. She offered a fish dish. I laughed and said, “no, I need a vegetarian dish.” She replied, “but fish isn’t meat.”
Um, well, yes, it is. I explained to her that anything that had eyes or a mom and a dad is considered “meat”.
So she offered me a chicken dish.
I then asked her what high school she had attended, so that I wouldn’t send my future children there. And we finally settled on a pasta dish with marinara sauce.
Of course, this was 20 years ago and our world has seen a progressive movement towards vegetarianism as well as veganism. (I did see an interesting post on Facebook recently, where a list of items was being distributed as “Satan Worship” and Vegetarianism was on the list. So was Yoga. Funny thing though, Adultery wasn’t mentioned.)
But even with all this enlightenment and education, why is it still so hard to order something that covers all the bases when it comes to dietary choices and/or restrictions? Statistics show that 1 in 133 people suffer from Celiac Disease. 40 million Americans are lactose intolerant. Another 20 million are sensitive to gluten.
And yet, try to order an item off a breakfast menu and it can be challenging. Gluten free exists – in the form of eggs, potatoes and bacon. Omelets qualify. But what about a vegan? I ordered tried to order a “bowl” of potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach and I confused the waitress. “Don’t you want eggs with that? She asked. No, I do not want eggs with that. She made her notes on her little pad, but in the end, the cook added scrambled eggs to my bowl. And yes, I picked out the egg pieces and explained to the waitress when she came back to ask how our breakfast was that when I said I didn’t want eggs, I did so because I eat a vegan diet.
Her answer? “But eggs aren’t meat.”
Instead of confusing her more, or even continuing the conversation, I just smiled and repeated myself; I just didn’t want the eggs. I wasn’t going to eat them and didn’t want them wasted in my meal. That she seemed to understand and apologized for the mix up.
I have found an interesting app (I’m an app lover) to help in finding places that do understand my “special” needs diet. Although it’s more of a want than a need in my case. The app is named “Locate Special Diet.” Pretty simple.
Using the location service of your smart phone, you can use their filter that lets you choose from Gluten-Free, Organic/Local, Paleo, Vegan or Vegetarian friendly menus. It will bring up restaurants, drinks or grocery stores that offer such selections. Pretty cool. It helped me during a trip to San Francisco, and it works very well here in Scottsdale, so I’m assuming it will work in your area too. (Please let me know what you think about it or if you have another app you’re using. I’d like to give it a try.)
What’s surprising is that the list on Locate Special Diet includes places I’ve been eating at since moving to the valley. So you see, it is possible to live a ‘normal’ life and still be vegan.
But keep your sense of humor with you when you ask for a vegan item and someone says, “do you want eggs with that?”