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Vegan or allergic?

June 3, 2011

ice creamI felt like somewhat of a coward yesterday when I went into a gelato shop and asked if any of the offered sorbets had dairy in them. I was tired of explaining what “vegan” means and was worried that I wouldn’t be taken seriously, so I told them that I was “allergic to milk”. I got quite an emotional response from the ice cream employees there who insisted that they check the ingredients lists for all sorbets and double-check with the owner of the shop before giving me a definitive answer. Apparently, all of the flavours of sorbet were happily milk-free except the raspberry flavour (something to do with the seeds). Of course, to “cover his ass” the owner said that he could not guarantee that the sorbets did not come into contact with any of their milk products (especially since they use the same machine for making both the dairy and non-dairy iced treats). He didn’t want a “lawsuit”. I was fine with that of course (as my allergies aren’t exactly life threatening!!) and proceeded to order a delicious passion fruit sorbet cone (not quite sure the cone was vegan, but I opted for the regular cone which seemed to be the least likely). I wish I had been a bit more forthright with respect to my veganism. If not for me, then at least for all those vegans out there in order to help normalize veganism one ice cream cone at a time.

Is it just me or have others tried this ploy before at restaurants or bakeries or ice cream shops? Instead of asking, “Is it vegan?” you can ask “Does it contain milk products or eggs?… You see,’cuz I’m allergic,” and you get a much more concerned response. It is more accepted behaviour to inquire about particular ingredients if you are allergic (or maybe religious), but I think to inquire about certain ingredients because you’re vegan could lead to mockery or confusion. The good news is, the more we talk about it and inquire on vegan grounds, the more it will be accepted and understood. It’s this kind of passive activism that I surely should be able to accomplish. Yet, call it cowardly, lazy, or even dishonest, sometimes I just want my dessert hassle-free, please.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael permalink
    June 3, 2011 11:38 am

    You should definitely not feel uncomfortable about saying you’re vegan. Anyone who is weird about that, it’s their own problem.

  2. June 3, 2011 12:02 pm

    I can understand you not wanting to explain – once again – your eating habits.

  3. June 4, 2011 8:37 pm

    there was a time when allergies, too, were not well understood nor respected in the public eateries…

  4. June 5, 2011 3:00 pm

    I was just reading another blog this week about the very same topic, and it was quite a heated discussion. Many people feel it’s wrong to say you’re allergic when really you’re vegan, as it doesn’t bring veganism into the mainstream and lets us ‘hide’ behind an excuse, keeping vegans weird and misunderstood. I can understand that but I also think sometimes the easy way out is, well, easier, and sometimes you just want your sorbet without an explanation.

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