Stop Apologizing to Your Vegan Friends Because They “Can’t” Eat Your Food
I get it. You’ve offered everyone in the room your home-baked cookies and, knowing full well they have eggs and milk in them, feel somewhat guilty that I, the vegan, will not be partaking. But let it be know across the land, vocalizing to the room “Sorry, Caitlin, you cannot eat these,” is not the solution to assuaging said guilt.
In fact, you’ve now made me feel guilty myself. Or, rather, a little embarrassed. Not to mention, I very well can eat them; I’m just choosing not to do so.
You’re likely already aware of the decisions that led me to veganism, or perhaps you’re not. Regardless, I will not die if I consume your cookies. It’s an informed choice of my own, and telling me “you can’t” turns it into an ostracization you’ve imposed upon me.
I’m also now the object of criticism to our fellow company, which requires me to defend myself, when I very well could have just proceeded to sit (truly) unaffected by my lack of cookie.
Maybe you’re trying to snip any assumptions in the bud that might come of being cookie-less with no widely-known explanation:
- Caitlin ate these cookies on another occasion and fell ill (tasters beware).
- Caitlin doesn’t eat sweets (snob).
- Caitlin is (the much less savory) gluten-free-but-not-sure-why type.
- Caitlin has cookie-sensitive cibophobia (gasp!).
But alas, no, Caitlin is a vegan, which, for no reason I’ve yet to ascertain, implies that I am harshly criticizing anyone in the room who has a mouthful of chocolate chips.
Either to redeem my graces or to soil them, the masses flock to my side.
Caitlin, good for you. I could never be vegan. I just love cheese too much.
Caitlin, what made you do it? …Makes sense. I just couldn’t live without cheese.
Caitlin, so can you eat _____? What about _____? Don’t you miss cheese?
(Cue the collective high-five for CHEESE!)
That’s great, guys, that’s really great. I don’t disagree with you — cheese is quite tasty. I just choose to abstain for, you know, all of the reasons you just asked about.
(Enter: the most PC of all of your friends)
Caitlin, are you, like, offended by us eating these cookies around you? Like, are you suuuuuper uncomfortable right now?
(NO, Beatrice, I am not offended by you enjoying a cookie that I made the personal choice not to consume. But yes, you are making me incredibly uncomfortable with your mass interrogation tactics.)
Of course not! :) Munch on!
But, sincerely, munch on. It’s 2021. The myriad reasons for going vegan are widely known and available for you to research. If those reasons don’t already appeal to you, it’s not my responsibility to make you feel bad about it, nor to try to change your mind.
If you want to have a discussion about partaking in a vegan lifestyle, I’m happy to elaborate, or even offer tips if you’re looking to give it a go. But trust me, neither me nor your “other friend who just went vegan” are looking down on you for your dietary choices. All we ask is that you kindly return the same courtesy.
So, dearest host/baker/snack-supplying friend, I know you mean absolutely no harm in it, really. If anything, you’re trying to be considerate so I don’t accidentally eat something that, at this point, would likely upset my stomach.
Just next time you have goods to share, please, for the love of tofu and all things good, simply skip me on your rounds, address me directly, or tell the group that they have eggs, milk, whatever in them. Nobody will question my abstinence, and they’ll all be saved of the mysterious instinct to justify their indulgence.
If I’m being heckled to partake by a guest unbeknownst of my veganism, I’ll deal with that situation on my own, however I see fit.
I’m not hiding the fact that I’m vegan. It’s nothing for which I should be ashamed. There’s just no need to voice a preemptive apology to the room about it.
I’m privy to the financial and cultural sacrifices veganism requires, as well as the privilege I was afforded in partaking for seven-plus years. For these reasons amongst others, I would never judge you for not bastardizing your grandmother’s recipe with organic oat milk and a flaxseed egg.
Sure, it would be nice to have a comparable option available, but again, I’m not going to be profoundly upset about going without. As you might assume, I’m well-accustomed to socializing cookie-less. If I were truly starving or emotionally distraught, I would just eat them.
I can eat your cookie, I will not be eating your cookie, and that is of no offense to you, me, or anyone else who will be eating your cookie.
While we’re on the topic, this mantra applies as well to dishes at restaurants that weren’t explicit about their cheese garnish. You don’t owe them an apology on my behalf. The audible sigh and dramatic proclamation that “she’s vegan!” is unnecessary. I’ll happily excuse the dish, politely, myself.
Bottom line, common allergen ingredients should be listed on the menu. That isn’t a vegan-specific annoyance. It’s the folly of the restaurant, not mine, nor the waiter’s, nor yours.
More often than not, I’ll request clarifications for vague items in advance with the waiter. But if a Midwestern chef thinks it’s not worth mentioning that he bakes mozzarella onto his “roasted vegetables” side-dish and serves them on a bed of ranch dressing, it’s nothing we, the consumer, need to apologize for.