Today I will recount the painful tale of my worst experience being a vegan in public. This story is meant as a cautionary tale to vegans and non-vegans alike that there’s nothing wrong with having one eating habit or another and to emphasize the importance of being a good host and a good guest.
I went to a surprise 30th birthday party at a friend’s Mom’s house. I called the week before to RSVP and warned her mom that I’m vegan and gluten free, knowing that the cake was from Rachel’s (name changed to protect the innocent) favorite Cheesecake Factory and ice cream. Her Mom sort of hemmed and hawed until I offered, “I’ll eat beforehand and bring a snack.” She seemed enthused about this compromise so I proceeded as normal.
On the day of the party, I showed up, did the surprise and entertainment business and mingled with mutual friends. Finally it was cake time and I sat down with a plastic baggie of trail mix and a bottle of tea and began to contentedly munch away. Her mom made a bee line for me, locking onto my non-cheesecake, non-ice cream and non-soda snack and asked what I was doing and wasn’t I going to have any cake.
Me: (confused) I called you ahead and told you I’m vegan and gluten-intolerant.
Her: That’s just one of those weird fad diets. You’re not even fat. It’s okay just to cheat this once.
Me: No, I’m afraid it’s not.
Her: Don’t you know it’s bad luck if you don’t eat birthday cake?
Me: It’s bad luck for me to eat gluten, dairy, and eggs.
Her: Come on, it’s a special occasion.
Me: No, thank-you.
Her: Seriously, you’re not going to have any cheesecake.
Me: No, thank-you.
Her: Well, please put your junk food away. You’re making a scene.
The entire room was completely silent and everyone was looking at us. The birthday girl, sitting adjacent to me was bright red having heard the entire conversation. I put my snack in my bag and fought back tears. Rachel excused herself, grabbed her bag and LEFT the party. Her mother shot lightning bolts from her eyeballs at me once more, heaved and exasperated sigh, reminiscent of distant thunder and left to serve herself a generous slice of cookies n’ cream cheesecake. I started worrying that I had upset my good friend and ruined her very special day. Fellow uncomfortable party goers tried to smooth things over, asking me questions like, “Can’t you have the soda?”, “Why don’t you just eat the top part of the cheesecake?” “Ice cream isn’t dairy, is it?” and so forth.By this time my appetite was completely gone and I had actually begun to feel sick.
About 15 minutes later, the birthday girl reappeared. She dug into the depths of her handbag and handed me a pint of Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss ice cream. I gave her a huge hug and thanked her and apologized for making so much trouble. She apologized for her mother who openly admonished Rachel for apologizing, leaving the party and letting her guests [me] make a scene. I felt slightly less small but knew I would never forget that day.
I suspect most vegans will have a story like mine or this one. I hope that you can use your experience to strengthen your resolve and stick by your decision. If you’re depressed after reading this, feel free to check out defensive omnivore bingo . This is a game that can make just about any party or family gathering bearable.
This is Christie, signing off.