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Thursday 21 October 2010

Guest Post Day 4

By Soy Cheese Sucks  GUEST BLOGGER

{Guest blogger and self-confessed paranoid vegan Jess Jacob is the author of Soy Cheese Sucks, a vegan blog dedicated to “realistic vegan living, eating, and cooking with NO preaching.” Amen to that.}
- George from Why Vegetarian

A major portion of my blog is dedicated to the subject of Eating Out Vegan. To me it’s one of the hardest parts of adopting a vegan lifestyle: you want to avoid all animal products but you don’t want to be a complete shut-in and never go out to dinner with your friends/family again. Enter the vegan nightmare: FAST FOOD.

Being free of meat doesn’t make something vegetarian. Until I visited a restaurant in Asheville that proudly advertised that their tofu and tempeh were cooked on a separate grill from the meat, it never occurred to me that it had ever been done otherwise. Think of the most vegetarian-friendly non-vegetarian restaurant that you love to visit. Two of mine are what could be termed “upscale” bars. Both feature wonderful housemade veggie burgers. I’ve never asked – I need to ask – whether or not these veggie burgers are cooked on the same grill as the beef and elk burgers. The answer is probably, “Yes.”

Okay, you know about that. You’re a paranoid vegan. Good! Here’s a doozy from my recent road trip and example of why the safest vegan is a paranoid vegan:

I stopped at a Subway around Noon on a Monday afternoon. I don’t eat at Subway unless I have no other choice (as in not eat at all) because of the way they have no problem going from the meat sandwich in front of you to making a vegetable-only sandwich without changing gloves. That day I had almost 2 hours to go and I couldn’t make it all the way to Asheville on the bag of potato chips I’d just eaten.

The women in front of me got the standard lunchmeat subs. Then there was the guy directly in front of me… who ordered a meatball sub. Everything was fine, the worker’s gloves never touched the meatballs, I was in the clear. Then I realized a pattern. She cut every sandwich with the same knife. And there was a giant meatball sub in front of my sandwich on the board. I’m not going to lie: I freaked out a little.

My solution: have her not cut my sandwich. She was a little confused when I asked her not to but she went along with it. Problem solved, right? Oh yeah, they have to cram the stuff on the sandwich inside the bread to close it. Guess which knife she used to do it? Sure she wiped the knife between the meatballs and my pile of veggies but she didn’t CLEAN it. The scary thing is that it honestly wouldn’t occur to her why that subtle difference made the sandwich not even vegetarian let alone not vegan.

Two recommendations for eating out vegan:

1. BE PARANOID. Analyze what you’re thinking about eating. If it’s cooked or grilled, is it cooked separate from the meat? Did they use chicken stock to cook that rice? Is vegetable tempura vegan? (Answer: Delicious but no.) What’s in that seemingly-vegan sauce? If you don’t recognize a word, make a note to ask the waiter/waitress. I have saved myself from some regrettable meal situations by this kind of paranoia; I’ve also had some where it’s laughable how innocuous the unfamiliar term was. Your are NOT being a pain in the butt by asking the staff questions about a meal you’re interested in.

2. BE VOCAL ABOUT WHAT YOU NEED. It’s also not bad to tweak the heck out of a menu item so that it fits your needs. (Trust me, I’ve done it. Yes I feel like a royal pain sometimes. Then I remember to ask myself, “Who’s paying for this? Oh right, me.”) Examples: getting yellow mustard for your veggie burger instead of the mayo that comes with it, substituting hummus or a salad dressing for the tzatziki sauce on your falafel, no cheese on the pizza (make sure they don’t put butter on the crust!). If you feel like you’re making things particularly difficult for the waitress and cook staff, why not tip a little more on top of what you normally would?

Sometimes you will find yourself in a situation where you just can’t avoid eating Subway or a veggie burger at Burger King. When this happens, don’t panic! Do whatever you can to preserve the edibility of your food. If the worker touches your veggies with her turkey gloves and you don’t have the ability or guts (like me) to speak up and make them change their gloves, take a deep breath, let it out. It’s not the end of the world. Sure you’re a bad vegan in that moment, but that doesn’t mean you should beat yourself up. Breathe in, breathe out, move on. You made the best of a bad situation.

Remember: you don’t have to never eat out again, you just have to work harder at it.

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1 comment :

  1. Hello! I am your newest follower from a Thursday blog hop! I would love it if you would follow back at one or all four of my blogs!

    Thank you! Have a great TGIF!


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