Recently I posted about finding a large chunk of chicken in my “vegan” Sofritas bowl at Chipotle.
Vegans and vegetarians were, of course, sympathetic.
So were most of my omnivore friends.
Yet I was still asked this question, several times, by most likely well-meaning people …
“So, what’s the big deal?”
“Aren’t you overreacting a little?”
I’m sure most of my readers have encountered those questions before, too, when a restaurant screws up our orders. Or cross-contaminates them.
And if you’re like me, your first instinct is probably to explain yourself, either to the servers or your dining companions …
“I’m an ethical vegan”
“I’m allergic to dairy”
“I’ve been vegetarian since birth”
“My religion forbids me to eat meat”
“I acquired an allergy to meat after e-coli (or a tick bite)”
“I don’t eat any dairy after my heart attack”
and so on and so forth.
THIS IS WHAT THE BIG DEAL IS.
As consumers, with money to spend, vegans and vegetarians can’t buy what we want.
We should be able to order a meat-free, dairy-free, or completely vegan meal at appropriate restaurants, WITHOUT giving any justifications (allergies, ethics, religion, health, or anything else).
Imagine this, omnivore friends. Time-travel back 20 years ago to Anderson’s Restaurant in Charlotte – Home of the World’s Best Pecan Pie.
(For those of you not familiar with Charlotte, NC – Anderson’s was a small diner near Presbyterian Hospital, famous for their moussaka and yes – their pecan pie probably WAS the world’s best.)
Mmmm. Pecan Piiie. You love pecan pie. But you are watching your waistline. So you order a salad without croutons, dressing on the side, for your dinner and a slice of pecan pie for dessert.
Your salad arrives, soaked in salad dressing, with croutons.
“Excuse me, I ordered my salad without croutons.”
The waitress sighs. “Can’t you just pick them off?”
“But I don’t want to. I specifically ordered my salad without croutons. And I wanted my salad dressing on the side, not already poured on the lettuce.”
She gives you a look that says you are wasting far too much of her time.
Your dining companion pipes up, “Just take your napkin and blot most of the salad dressing off.”
This is insane. You send your salad back to the kitchen and ask for your pie.
You get a slice of apple pie.
“Excuse me,” you say. “I didn’t order this pie. I ordered PECAN pie.”
Your dining companion rolls their eyes. “Oh, c’mon, is it that big a deal?”
“Yes, because I ordered pecan pie.”
“What’s wrong? Why can’t you eat apple pie? Are you allergic to apples?”
“No, but …”
“Are apples against your religion or something?”
“No, but …”
“You always OVERREACT. You are always making such a BIG DEAL about everything.”
“But this isn’t what I ordered! They have pecan pie on the menu, I ordered pecan pie and I am only paying for pecan pie, NOT apple pie! I want what I ordered!”
Your companions mutters, “You are SUCH a drama queen.” (Somehow, the restaurant got everything in your companion’s order right.)
Yes, dear omnivore friends, THIS is what it’s like for vegans when we go out to dine. We order something (often straight off the menu), we may make a change (usually requesting a condiment be left off, not added on) … and if the order is wrong or contaminated and we complain … we’re just being drama queens.
Yet WE are the consumer. WE are paying for the meal. It’s not being a diva to ask for what we want … ESPECIALLY if the restaurant already has it on their menu or is actively promoting it. (Chipotle is heavily promoting their Sofritas as vegan – which means I had every right not to expect large chunks of chicken.)
It really doesn’t matter what our reasons are or what our justifications are.
Some of us might be able to slap serious lawsuits if the restaurant gets it wrong; some of us can’t. (Chipotle is just d*mn lucky the chicken wound up in my bowl and not my friend Amarjit’s, a vegetarian since birth who doesn’t eat meat because of her religion.)
But, vegans and vegetarians should be able to eat out without having to list reasons that could lead to lawsuits.
We should get what we order and pay for.
Our money should be worth the same as omnivores. And quite honestly, it makes me FREAKING FURIOUS that I am constantly being told I should accept something other than what I paid for.
It doesn’t matter my motivations for wanting what I want … I can pay for it, I want it. Don’t anyone tell me I should accept less or different than exactly what I ordered and paid for, just because I am a vegan.
And I’m getting off my soapbox, now. Peace out, friends.
Comments are welcome and appreciated
UPDATE 11/11/14 – A reader comment that I think is particularly appropriate: “I, nor ANYONE, should have to justify WHY I choose to eat a certain way, vegan or not, to anyone or any establishment I am putting my hard earned money into.”
Says it all. We are consumers. We can pay. Respect our money.