Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Forcing it down your throat, or: Don't read the comments.

http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/restaurants-and-bars/making-a-case-for-veganism-20101004-163m6.html

I don't want to comment on the slightly bizarre and pointless article. 

However I will say this: why is it that any article about veg*ism is responded to immediately by a number of comments demanding that  veg*ns just shut up and stop telling the author of the comment to eat meat ... and why do these comments appear before a single pro-veg comment has appeared? 

It is an imaginary blast against an imaginary veg*n? Is it wishful thinking, in the way that one often has verbally violent arguments with people in one's head, coming up with a number of cutting and pithy remarks that utterly fail to spring to mind in real life? Or have the authors actually met some haranguing veg*n at some time? They do exist, but thankfully I have only ever seen them online and certainly not amonst my own friends. 

My experience is the opposite: I have had it demanded of me over the dinner table to explain myself. I recently had a chef tell me I had a mental illness, in a faux-but-not-really joking way. I have had friends introduce me - regularly - as "the vegan". I have had a million questions, all designed to find the tiniest flaw in logic as though the possibility that I would agree that if alone on a desert island having been shipwrecked without communciations devices with a newborn to feed and the absolute certainty that I will never escape then I might drink the milk of the cow stranded with me means that the entire agri-business structure is ethical. I've had countless "I could never ... I love cheese ...." and "Tasty tasty murder", usually while I'm eating. I've had "Well sorry, we're going to order pork anyway", without me having said a word. I've had "plants have feelings hahaha". 

And this in response to what I said, which was ... nothing. 

In my experience omnivores confronted with veganism are often aggressive, defensive, abusive and loud. Some aren't. A surprisingly sad number are. I will only discuss veganism with people who I think want to have a reasonable discussion with me. Otherwise I am silent. 

Who is forcing what down whose throat?

9 comments:

Theresa said...

I really shouldn't have read that article, or those comments. How infuriating! Ignorant people, whether omni, vegan, or whatever, should not be allowed to post on teh internets.

On a side note, I have the cookbook by the woman who the article is about. It's called "Wild Morsels" (maybe an earlier version?) and it's pretty good but not great.

K said...

Couldn't agree more, I think one of the hardest things about being vegan isn't the diet but the responses from family friends and strangers and being asked to constantly defend and explain your veganism. Particularly if you are non-confrontational, omnis and even some veg love to try attack veganism.

Jonathan said...

I dunno. As a chef (and a very omnivorous one) I have had the same experience from the other side ... as in, working in a French restaurant, having been requested to deliver a vegan plate of food to a customer, we did exactly that, and tried our best to make it as delicious as possible, had our vegan customer throw a fit in the middle of the dining room screaming and yelling telling us that we had absolutely put dairy in his meal, screaming that we were trying to "fuck him over" and calling us all kinds of nasty names, and we (me being sous and my friend being exec chef) just stood there baffled, trying to explain to him that there was nothing on his plate other than vegetables, grains that had only been cooked in water, white wine, and olive oil, but that we knew how to do some fun things that would make his meal more tasty and texturaly fun without using any animal products whatsoever, with him threatening physical violence and lawsuits .... well, let's just leave it at this: I'm glad he never came back to our restaurant. But his plate of food was fucking delicious. And he shouldn't be allowed to dine out.

Miss T said...

Hi Jonathan, Thanks for your comment, and your diner certainly sounds like a douche. It's good to hear that there are chefs who do make an effort to accomodate vegans and care about presenting something tasty - sadly, most of us have had experiences like this: http://www.postpunkkitchen.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=122729

(and yes, a chef really did come out of the kitchen, after serving me 'tomato and capsicum soup' that had - surprise! - bacon in it, to tell me he could cater for people with my mental illness. In front of everyone. Loudly).

If you happen to work in Melbourne I'm sure a few of us would appreciate going to a restaurant where the chefs do what you did for your customer!

Cheers,
Miss T

Mandee said...

I won't read the article but I have had similar experiences to you. Often at dinner with friends and friends of friends, I get questioned about why I'm vegan, I am told they they will be ordering this and that anyway and this is all before I've said a word. I usually point out that I have been asked to explain myself and that I am not choosing to discuss veganism while we eat. Halfway through the questioner usually says they don't want to know which defeats the point of asking me in the first place!

Kate said...

I know, I try hard to not be a judgemental person, and absolutely do not shove my ideas down people's throats, but it's hard sometimes when I might just want to discuss the ideas with friends but people get very defensive at even the mere mention of it. Maybe they feel like I am judging them or something, I dunno...

Kate said...

And yes I've had the tiresome "what if plants had feelings" and "if you were on a desert island" ones, as if they are logical or change anything...

Kate said...

"she's not convinced a vegan diet can meet the protein needs of children."

Sigh. This tired old argument. Only hundreds of doctors agree that a properly balanced vegan diet is suitable for all life stages, including pregnancy.

If she were merely talking about her own partly vegan diet it would be fine, that's up to her, but to actively discourage a full vegan diet with misinformation annoys me...

It's like when Angelina Jolie came out and said a "vegan diet almost killed me". WTF. Clearly you weren't doing it right, honey. She's now back to eating red meat. >_<

Must not read comments, only reduces tattered faith in humanity...

Louise said...

ack, i should know not to *ever* read *any* comments on the age website, but i read them too...i was bored at work, so i just did it. we live in a world of fools. the best way i navigate it is by leading by example.