18663 Ventura Blvd, Suite 202, Tarzana CA 91356

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Selling Out?

As of late, I've been less strict about the vegan thing outside the home.

When I go to a restaurant, I'll eat the bread. If something is probably vegan, I assume it is. I had Chinese food a couple nights ago at a buffet place, including miso soup, white rice, stir-fried veggies, and veggie lo mein, along with some cucumber sushi.

The obvious questions: Does the miso soup have bonito flake in it (possibly)? Are the stir-fried veggies prepared in broth (probably not)? Does the lo mein have oyster sauce in it (very possibly)?

I didn't ask. The way I now think about things is, if I pepper these people with my annoying questions, I make my vegan lifestyle look exceedingly difficult. And, what is the incremental amount of animal life that I'm saving by choosing not to eat these items, which may have a trace of animal product in them? Probably not even one thousandth of an animal.

I may be the only vegan that these people have ever met, and as such, I am an ambassador for all those who choose a compassionate lifestyle. I don't want myself or those who make the same choices as I do to be seen as being a big pain in the ass.

Thoughts? Have I sold out?


KleoPatra said...

I'm pretty anal about my eating out, so i always ask. And i don't care that i may be looked upon as a pain in the arse. It's my body, so i'm gonna take control of what i put into it! And my love for animals is pretty deeply seeded, and if someone needs to be schooled about why i don't want any part of an animal in my food, i have no problem telling them so.

That said, i respect your viewpoint and understand what you explain about being more lax out. I absolutely don't judge others, because no one knows what's best for another, only YOU know what's best for YOU!

herself75 said...

IMO, you are lucky to have that option. When we go out, I assume that some dairy has made contact with out meal along the way and pass out the Zyrtec and prepare for a rough night! (TG none of us a anaphalactic)Actually, we've become friendly with the owners of a local Fish-n-chip place (everything is wild game caught, usually locally - and I'm not vegan..)and they are aware of our DA and are very careful about keeping any adn all dairy products away from our food. doen't hurth that everything is made to order - from scratch! If you could find a place like that, you could eat out in good consious w/o beind a pain in th arse..

edgeofnormal said...

I don't think so. I do ask about dairy because it makes me feel horrible, but I otherwise just go based on what I think is the case. Part of it is that many staff members just have no idea, even if you ask.

I think you have to do what you feel comfortable with. Besides which, I'm married to an omnivore, and I have bigger concerns (like gradually shrinking the portion sizes of his meat intake.)

Mary Ruth said...

Are you looking forward to some vegan 1st birthday cake?

funwithyourfood said...

I feel like I wax and wain with the moon on my strict-ness
I think it's better than most so I'm not going to beat myself up about it


Starla said...

Sorry, I have to disagree with you here. I feel that making my food preferences known to a restaurant is important in the hopes that they will then begin preparing food for ALL of their patrons. If no one asks for it then the old ways will persist.

It's not fun and it would be easier not to say anything. But they are there to provide a service and we deserve to eat the way we want to.

I have to say that if I ever have to ask about what's in my food or request something else, I MAKE SURE I do it with a smile and ask in a very polite manner. I'm never self-righteous about it or give them a lecture on why I eat this way.

trac said...

I don't think of it as selling out. It is almost impossible to maintain a 100% vegan lifestyle - I think it is important to do what we can do and what we are comfortable with. I am about 50-50 on this issue. I find I am more picky at certain restaurants than others. It seems that ethnic asian and middle eastern restaurants are more adaptable and understanding, perhaps because of their culture? If we head out to an Italian or American restaurant, the ingredient questioning can be a total nightmare, in my experience. Needless to say, asian and mediterrean are our favs :-)

Harmonia said...

It's hard when you are out and about...I know that is my toughest time! All you can do - is do your best, ya know? Chin up, my friend, I think you ROCK!

thesundaybaker said...

I am a vegetarian so I have a little more flexibility when I go out for dinner. But I made up my mind along time ago that I wouldn't sweat over the "little stuff" If it isn't visible or as long it isn't swimming with meat then I will eat it. My only exception is gelatin when I supect, I will ask.

Part of my decision is based on the fact I am Chinese Canadian. Many family gatherings are at Chinese restaurants. Where yes, the vegetables will swim in meat broth, the noodles will have oyster sauce mix in and pastries will likely have lard in them. So my meal is only 98 to 99 % meat free that is still a very high percentage. I'm happy and my family is happy that I am there to share the moment and fun. Instead, of me at home eating my 100 % vegetarian meal and being a killjoy.

So if you okay with your flexibility and the rest of the time you are 100% vegan well that's great. There is nothing wrong with it as the majority of the comments have said.

Brenda W. said...

I like your point about presenting veganism in a positive form, rather than burdensome.

I choose to be 100% vegan at all times, even eating out, but make sure to put others I'm eating with at ease. ("Of course I don't mind if you order steak." "A plain baked potato and salad will be more than sufficient for me.")

But like Starla said, I lay the onus on the restaurant ... they are in a service business, and it should not be unreasonable to expect accomodation to vegan wishes.

And, like other folks mentioned, once you are 100% away from any dairy or animal based foods (like animal based broth), once you get even a little into your system, you feel horrible, and it's just not worth it.

kaivegan said...

I totally understand your side. I would normally choose a restaurant that could prepare a meal exactly how I want it, and who understands what "vegan" means, though I'm usually lenient when I'm at other people's home. But this is probably why our family is able to influence others into taking positive steps (not necessarily vegan).
Double standard, maybe, coz I would otherwise feel like a poor animal grave site...

Btw, lo (or chow) mein is usually made from chinese egg noodles.

Danielle said...

I always ask about fish/chicken/cow products in the broths and sauces, but I'm not always careful about bread ingredients. I consider myself an imperfect vegan. I do my best, but as some people have pointed out, it's impossible to be 100-percent perfectly vegan. You do what you can to avoid consumption of animal products, and that's doing better than the vast majority of the population.

Ferocious Killer Kat said...

hmmmm I will refrain from commenting.. coz I'm wayyyyy toooo militant... in past 2 years I've only eaten at all veg*n restaurants.. most friends, relatives etc who visit have to eat with me at vegan restaurants.. and most of them actually don't care.. the only issue is when going out.. but I dont care.. I would rather starve or live off cliff bars.. or some fruits.. anyways thats how i think :-D

Anonymous said...

I figure life's too short to stress about every single non-vegan item I may come across. I avoid the obvious and ask about the hidden ingredients like oyster and fish sauce. But, I also don't want my veganism to marginalize me let a few slip by. Heck, I walk on cement sidewalks and I have a few photographs in my house. If that means I'm not vegan then we need another name in an already overly sliced and diced vegatarian lingo.

herself75 said...

For give my ignorance, but what is wrong with concrete (that is what sidewalks are made out of -cement is only 1 ingredient in it)? and it isn't just sidewalks, it is a component of every building's foundation and many roads and almost all bridges.

orangina said...

I just finished a wonderful novel (Popco) with several vegan characters and there's a great line in there: "You do the best you can." And, as you get more familiar with the area, I bet you'll get a better sense of what restaurants can offer/accommodate & it'll be easier to avoid dishes that you don't feel 100% comfortable about eating.

Bolder said...

i'm all about the coinage.

i like 'compassionate vegan'.

my assistant is vegan, and she is a 'compassionate vegan'. she makes me think about my food choices, and is an ambassador for compassion towards animals, and making healthy vegan choices.

it would take a miracle for me to stop eating meat, but someone in my face about an issue will not further the cause either.

i hate to say it, but, vegan or not, you want the wait staff at a restaurant ON YOUR SIDE. or, you have no idea what will end up in your miso.

Eric said...

I've tried to ease up on the waiters and co-diners, while at the same time being firm about my own dietary preferences when ordering, though making it less about veganism and more about not wanting to consume certain foods.

Jody from VegChic said...

You need to do what works for you. Sometimes I will ask about broth in a soup or dairy/eggs in a bread.

Othertimes, I may not feel like bothering. That usually means I go for a salad or something that I know is ok.

On rare occasions, I will be trusting and assume that the bread is ok or that the lo mein doesn't have oyster sauce. Most of the time I assume they the worst and go for Buddha's delight or something that is ok.

It is a fine line to walk. You want to stand up for your beliefs, but you also want to refrain from alientating your friends and the waitstaff with tons of questions.