The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
May 9, 2010

New Vegetarian Eats Ham. Asks, What Kind of Vegetarian Am I?

I’m sitting here on this drizzly afternoon eating leftover injera, from last night’s Ethiopian dinner, covered with melted butter and maple syrup.  It’s yummy.  And I’m savoring every bite because when this butter is gone, I don’t plan on buying more.  At the moment, the only animal foods I’m eating are cheese and eggs.  And yeah, I know the troublesome aspects of both of those foods, but I’m not ready to go all the way vegan.

Anyway, yesterday was an interesting day for discovering just what kind of vegetarian I am.

Tully’s Feeds Me Ham

It started around 4pm in downtown Berkeley.  I was just about to get on BART to meet friends in El Cerrito, when I suddenly realized I hadn’t eaten anything at all that day.  Not good.  But not as alarming as it sounds.  I hadn’t gotten out of bed until after 2pm.

So there I am starving near the BART station, and I duck into Tully’s Coffee to grab some iced herbal tea (in my own mug, of course) and something quick to eat.  I see what looks like a cheesy something in the case and ask the barrista what it is.

Me: What’s that?

She:  (from across the room) I don’t know.  I can’t see it from here.

Me: (“Duh.  Why don’t you come over and look at what I’m pointing at?” I don’t say that. Just wait.)

She: It’s, you know, it’s a… it’s a…

Me: Is it sweet? (Trying to help her out.)

She:  No no!  It’s hearty.

Me: (“I don’t think that word means what you think it means.”)  Hearty?  But what is it?

She:  You know, it’s like a biscuit.

Me: Just a biscuit? What’s in it?

She: You know, like cheese.

Me: It’s a biscuit with cheese? (“And just how stoned are you? And will this so-called “biscuit” get me as high as you are?”)

She: Yes, a biscuit with cheese.

So, I order the biscuit with cheese. Pay for it. Walk out.  Start eating. And halfway down the BART escalator, I realize it’s full of ham chunks.  Oh, holy hell!

So, my choices are to either throw the thing away or eat it.  And I realize that by throwing it away, I’ve not only contributed to the suffering and death of that pig by buying the thing, but I’ve also wasted the meat for which it died in the first place.  So I eat it.  And I think about the pig the whole time I eat it.  And feel a lump in my throat at the same time I try to swallow that pig.  I guess if you’re a vegetarian eating a pig, that’s the way to do it.

So, my question to any vegetarians out there reading this: Is avoiding meat going to be as hard as avoiding plastic?  Or was that a rare incident with a stoned out of her mind barrista? And more importantly, should I let Tully’s know their staff are smoking doobies in the back room?

Your Meat Touched My Lentils

The second moment of realization happened last night during dinner with friends at Cafe Colucci Ethiopian Restaurant on Telegraph Avenue.  We ordered one veggie combo platter and one meat combo.  As is the custom in Ethiopian restaurants, all of the food was served on top of one huge piece of injera bread on one big platter.  The meat was on one side, the veggies on the other.

Now, I’ve met vegetarians or vegans who wouldn’t eat food that had touched meat.  I’ve even met those who wouldn’t use a pan that had contained meat.  I don’t think I’m that kind of vegetarian.  Avoiding meat, for me, is not about never letting meat touch my lips, as evidenced by the ham incident above, but about not contributing to the suffering of animals by consciously choosing to eat meat myself.

If someone else is eating meat, and their meat happens to touch my food, I’m not going to freak.   At least, I didn’t freak about it last night.  And I didn’t freak out about it a week ago when we ordered pizza, one side chicken and the other side all veggie.  Some of Michael’s chicken was on my side, so I just picked it off and put it back on his side.  No big deal.

Did I feel sad that there was meat on 1/2 of the platter and on 1/2 of the pizza? Yeah, I felt sad.  But I can’t stop other people from eating it, and my going nuts about their meat touching my veggie is not going to do anything but get me, and probably them, upset.  The idea is to bring less suffering into the world, not more!

In Conclusion

I really have no conclusions.  I just like having a space to record the thoughts and feelings that arise as I start this journey. We’ll see how they develop and change as time passes.

30 comments
Nicole Z
Nicole Z

Sorry this is 3 years after your post, but I just figured I would respond. I have encountered several situations like yours, where I was "accidentally" served meat. When that happens, I don't eat it after I discover the meat. I do feel bad about wasting the animal, but I have been a vegetarian for over 8 years and I honestly can't stand the thought of having an animal in my mouth. I also can't stand the taste or texture of meat anymore. I'm kind of like you as far as when meat touches my food. I don't like it, but I'm not going to freak out about it. 

I also have kind of an opposite situation from you, as I have been a vegetarian for many years, but have just recently begun my plastic reduction journey this year! It's not an easy path, but I think it's one that definitely needs to be taken. Thanks for all the work you do!

Nicole Z
Nicole Z

Sorry this is 3 years after your post, but I just figured I would respond. I have encountered several situations like yours, where I was "accidentally" served meat. When that happens, I don't eat it after I discover the meat. I do feel bad about wasting the animal, but I have been a vegetarian for over 8 years and I honestly can't stand the thought of having an animal in my mouth. I also can't stand the taste or texture of meat anymore. I'm kind of like you as far as when meat touches my food. I don't like it, but I'm not going to freak out about it. 

I also have kind of an opposite situation from you, as I have been a vegetarian for many years, but have just recently begun my plastic reduction journey this year! It's not an easy path, but I think it's one that definitely needs to be taken. Thanks for all the work you do!

rob
rob

You have to ask yourself *why* you're a vegetarian (or vegan in my case). If it's for health and happiness and social responsibility that's one thing. If you've turned it into a fanatical religion that's another. Life is too short for the latter. You tried with your biscuit thingy and got some ham. The whole point of buying it was to eat something, and next time you'll know not to get that. Meanwhile it's a tiny bit of meat in a mostly meatless diet. No biggie. I actually think vegan is easier than vegetarian. Here (Boulder, CO) and in northern CA restaurants understand vegan - but lots of people call themselves "vegetarian" and still eat fish/chicken/etc. and then say "mostly vegetarian". So vegetarian doesn't mean anything in a restaurant, but vegan does. Add to it by saying "and dairy makes me sick" and they'll be sure to be careful.

Daxle
Daxle

In my 11 years of vegetarianism, I've almost never accidentally gotten served meat, so I don't think you have to worry about it too much. I was surprised about Cafe Colucci (the very best Ethiopian restaurant in the east bay, IMO). They usually ask if we want our plates separate if I'm with someone who orders meat and I always say yes. So maybe just ask for that next time?

peggy
peggy

im glad that u try to not freak when u have to eat out with friends and order veggie stuff along with their meat. makes it easier for your meat eating friends to enjoy time with u. i used to be mostly vegetarian but it was hurting my health so i had to start eating some meat. i rarely eat meat at resturants and I buy organic humanely raised meat to eat at home. encouraging your meat eating friends to eat this kind of meat would be one way to help alleviate suffereing of animals. the chicken i buy is killed using a chill technology that is kinder to the animal. i also think meat eaters should be careful not to waste food or overindulge too much. the idea that native americans had of thanking the animal spirit and appreciation for the animal giving its life should be the attitude of modern meat eaters.

TS
TS

RE: stoned barrista, that NEVER happens to me. If I can't get a good confirmation of what's in an item, I get something else. I'd rather starve than take a chance. Just, ew. My other option: I just pass it along to someone else. Before I gave up eggs, I wanted a pie, and discovered beef fat in it after I purchased it from a vending machine. I just gave it to another student at the time (it was un-opened, I read the label). RE: touching. If you tell the waiter that you're vegetarian ahead of time and have issues with meat touching your food, they will tell the kitchen so they don't touch. How will they know unless you tell them? If I eat at a restaurant, told them I'm vegetarian, but due to uncleanliness meat entered my food, the situation varies. Sometimes I'll pick it out and keep eating or sometimes I'll return the food (it depends on the food). But you have to give the restaurant a fighting shot to keep things acceptably veg.

Kirsten
Kirsten

I agree with you about not sending food back if it has meat in it by accident- if we're vegetarian for moral reasons, it's worse to me if we throw it in the garbage because of a mistake. I haven't come across this situation more than a couple of times in the decade I've been veg, but here's my solution which may be just as good yours I hope!: if I got food with meat in it when I asked for something meat-free, I think I would ask for them to get me the proper meat-free dish but also ask to keep the dish that did have meat in it, so I could give it to a meat-eating friend later on!! This obviously isn't always possible but my family and my boyfriend and half of my friends it meat and I doubt they would mind free leftovers! If the restaurant says "We can't let you keep it AND give you a free veggie one, we have to throw out the dish with meat in it" (as they sometimes may do, they don't want people pretending to be vegetarian and trying to get free food out of them, fair enough), tell them it's very important to you not to waste the meat now that it's on the table and that you will give it to someone who's not vegetarian so that it doesn't go to waste. And if they keep fighting you ask to talk to the manager, raise a big stink, really communicate how important it is to you, generally it'll all work out in the end :) Of course your way is good, too! I personally can't eat meat anymore, it's been so long I couldn't bring myself to do it (it doesn't taste right anymore!) so I'd rather give it to a friend but if you'd rather eat it yourself than carry it around then that's good too, the point is not to have made that animal die just to go in the trash! I'd rather someone eat meat than throw it in the garbage because they don't eat meat!

Sharonus
Sharonus

Hi Beth, I would say that's a lot harder to be plastic free than vegetarian. Especially where you live. I'm from the Bay Area originally, and I didn't have much trouble finding vegetarian options once I knew the right questions to ask. If a server doesn't seem to know if something is vegetarian or not, I don't have a problem with saying "Are you sure?" or "Can you ask?" If you don't see something you can eat on the menu, ask. A lot of restaurants are very willing to prepare something vegetarian if you request it. You have mentioned that your parents live in Hawaii, and I have to say, that is one of the places that I've found it most difficult to find vegetarian food. It really surprises me because I would expect Hawaii to have a lot of vegetarian options, but that hasn't been my experience. (We were on Maui.) One of my favorite vegetarian restaurant moments was when I went to dim sum with some co-workers. I asked "Does this have any meat?" and the woman said "Oh, no, no meat. Just a little bit of chicken." Needless to say, I excused myself and went to eat somewhere else. :) I work in the international district of our city. It's unfortunate that I feel like I can't try new places because things like fish sauce and chicken broths aren't considered "meat" by some restaurant workers. But I have seen more and more places popping up that specifically advertise vegetarian menus, so I patronize those businesses. I've also found that Greek, Indian, and Italian restaurants tend to be safer choices than Asian for us vegetarians. If it were me, I wouldn't have eaten the biscuit with ham. There is enough other waste in my life that I don't feel like I need to eat meat accidentally served to me. If you were at a dinner party and there were a bunch of leftover meat dishes that were being disposed of, you wouldn't feel compelled to eat those. And for Laurel who said the Parfait at McDonald's is vegetarian, unfortunately, it's not. It contains gelatin. The french fries and hash browns are seasoned with beef fat. It's pretty easy to order an egg and cheese muffin (Egg McMuffin minus the Canadian bacon) but outside of breakfast time, I don't know of anything at McDonald's that's vegetarian. If we're in a pinch, we'll go to Taco Bell or Burger King. Not really the healthiest, but it happens. Sharon

Aussie Elv
Aussie Elv

I'm sort of in between when it comes to the meat thing. I wouldn't have eaten the ham, but mostly because it totally grosses me out. I wouldn't want to waste it though, so I would have brought it home and given it to my son or dog instead. I am not overly keen about eating around meat in a meal, but if there was really nothing else, I would do it (especially if a friend or family member made it). However, I'm not wigged out by eating out of a pan someone else has cooked meat in, as long as it has been washed between times. I'm so new to vegan (from vegetarian) that occasionally my mother forgets and makes me a cake with egg or milk, and I just eat it... then a little while I casually mention it (otherwise it will keep happening). It's a fine line to walk though, ensuring your not hurting other people's feelings, especially when they are genuinely trying to be supportive. If I have to eat another batch of Mum's vegan hot pot..! But I just eat it and tell her it's great cos she is trying so hard. lol. The first transition from one thing to another is always a bit tough and a definite learning experience, whether it's omni to vegetarian, vego to vegan or plastic-using to plastic-free. If you're committed though, you'll do fine. Keep your eye out for those doobie-smoking waitstaff though - you can't trust 'em! ;)

Ruthie
Ruthie

I totally agree with H, avoiding plastic is much harder for me! I think it's a personal thing. I think a lot of vegetarians and vegans learn to adjust. We know what places serve veggie foods. We know what foods are almost always "safe". We call in advance. I know, it's the dorkiest sounding thing of all time, but when we're planning on hanging out with friends or family, and they say we want to try *restaurant we've never been to* we call and ask if they have vegetarian options. If we end up at a place with no obvious options, we ask the waitstaff and have them ask the chef/manager. Also, a lot of times, if the waiter is a complete idiot or doesn't speak English, I go somewhere else, or just don't eat. .-= Ruthie´s last blog ..Every day is jeans day in May! =-.

H
H

I agree with the others about asking and returning so that the server or restaurant understand your concerns and maybe it will be less of a problem for them and customers in the future. My switch to vegetarianism was quite abrupt -- found some things out I didn't want to support anymore -- so at first I felt like I was starving myself. I also felt like the whole world was working against me, like I was somehow inferior if I asked for that wrap MINUS the chicken, or inquired about a veggie burger even if it wasn't on the menu. When I went out with friends, I would get strange looks if I couldn't find anything on the menu I could eat. Or if I went over to someone's house and asked basically for only the side dishes... well, it's awkward sometimes. But you get used to it, and start to realize that more people than you think are vegetarian or completely understand the decision. There are some restaurants you just learn to avoid completely (mostly chain ones, such as Applebees, Fridays, etc... but we all know local stores are better anyway!), and a lot of times it's better to say "Is there any meat in that" versus "I am a vegetarian, can I eat that?" And for me, avoiding plastic is MUCH harder than avoiding meat! Maybe it's because more people understand the vegetarian thing.

Laurel
Laurel

I agree with the pizza treatment...I did that with my hubby before he got serious about going vegetarian. Having said that we've both eaten meat since then. As it's been less than a year not everyone knows yet and there are times that there was no meat free option(a wedding rehearsal dinner). I'm not spoiling an event because there is a fixed menu and everything has meat, I ate it. Could I have eaten the noodles and cheese and not the meat, probably, but for the Bride's sake I did not play with my food (appetizers I did avoid meat during) It's a big step, a big improvement for the environment & your health to limit meat and try to cut out as many animal products as you can, every little bit helps. Do you look down on yourself for not being 100% plastic free? Nope, so don't fret over not being 100% animal free. You have years to perfect the art of living animal & plastic free! I've found it hard to eat healthy at restaurants and vegetarian, many have options but they aren't good unless you want a plan ole salad. BTW McDonald's does have vegetarian options...some yummy ones like their parfait :) If given a fast food choice I will take them over BK, Arby's, etc since I know I have multiple choices of safe and lower cal/fat things to eat.

mudnessa
mudnessa

I went veg in November and vegan in January. I noticed no real difference in feeling better or anything until I went vegan. Apparently milk products and me were not friends and I had NO idea. I feel better, I rarely get bloated, I have a much nicer relationship with my bathroom (don't wanna go all TMI so I'll leave it at that), and the part I love the MOST is my skin. Not just my clear face, practically no acne which was only slight to begin with, but overall it feels more moisturized and have less of a dependency on lotions. Saying all that I first changed my diet mostly for environmental reasons and guess I can be classified as a "casual" vegan. I don't eat meat ever, but sometimes when I eat out I will have bread or cookies or other "snacks" that are probably made with eggs, milk, and/or butter. I don't do this very often but it has happened. I will very occasionally eat the crust of my husbands pizza that is all buttery and delicious. I have settled for veggie patties that aren't vegan, one was made with so much egg though it tasted like an egg patty with chunks of veggies in it, quite gross and my stomach was not happy. I am pretty sure I won't be eating veggie patties unless I know they are vegan from now on. It has been pretty easy to find foods that fit my diet while dining out but the hardest part has been putting the order in. At a lot of restaurants apparently the order can't just be put in as a veggie burger with mushrooms and avocado for example. It has to be put in as their "mushroom swiss burger" with veggie patty and avo, without cheese and mayo. I use that as an example because at a recent dinner out with my husband I got two burgers that were incorrect before I had one I could actually eat. Seems technology kinda makes things more difficult sometimes. But that's me getting on a whole other subject. There is definitely a learning curve when starting a new diet now matter what it may be and even I am still learning 6 months later. It is worth it and you learn to carry acceptable snacks with you and which restaurants have items you like to eat or are very accommodating to "special orders". And you will also learn when you may just have to "give in" and when it is not good to "give in". Good luck and hope to read more.

JSK
JSK

I've been a cheese/dairy veggie for about four years. I haven't encountered any surprise meat such as your "cheese biscuit," with the early-in-my-veggieness exception of foolishly ordering French onion soup once. (I did eat it, as this was a fancy eat-out on a special in-memoriam occasion.) I don't eat out too much, though, and often when I do, I have to order some omnivore dish and have them hold the meat. I think I would have done exactly as you did in your situation, for the same reasons. I've heard that some long-time vegetarians feel sick if they've accidentally eaten some meat, but I imagine that's not a big concern this early in the game or even for all people. Thank you for sharing your "journey" (if you will) with us. I've been following your struggles with plastic for a while, and in return I hope I can maybe offer some bit of help on your new dietary path based on having forged my own way in this matter not that long ago.

Allie
Allie

In the 24 years since I stopped eating mammals, I think there have been maybe 10-15 times that I've accidentally eaten small bits of red meat. Once you get the hang of knowing what to ask, it'll get easier. I think your reasoning on the biscuit is sound - why waste it at the point where it's already past the point of no return? That doesn't do any good. Mentally, I am all about not being concerned about red meat touching my food, but physically, I have some issues with it. Since I gave up red meat at 9 years old, my system can't handle it. When I was younger, there were many an incidence of me trying to play it cool as someone ordered a half plain cheese, half pepperoni pizza. You know that pork grease isn't staying just on the pepperoni side. And I ALWAYS got sick from it. You won't have that issue now, but it's something to keep in mind - you may lose some tolerance for meat. That said, one of my friends was a vegan for years and went back to eating (sustainably raised) meat with no problems whatsoever, so I don't think everyone has that issue.

Beth
Beth

Yes -- what other people have said about getting really good at asking. (I've been a vegetarian for . . . 32 years now). You get a sense of whether people even have a clue by what their answers are, and that allows you to figure out what the next question is. It becomes second nature. And I also rely on the precautionary principle (which is probably a bit how you are about plastic): unless you can be absolutely certain that it's vegetarian, don't eat it. That means if the stoned waitstaff can't give me a clear answer about what's in it, I get something else or go somewhere else. Not in a huff or anything; I just won't eat meat at all for any reason (or any reason that's likely to occur in my life as it stands) and so I treat it a bit like an allergy -- there are things I'm allergic to, and I don't take the chance if someone can't completely reassure me that it's safe.

Pavlina
Pavlina

Beth, please don't beat yourself up over eating that little bit of pig. That's all I meant.

Meg
Meg

That makes good sense! I look forward to reading more about this journey of yours and am very excited for you. YMMV, but my husband and I have found it to be really good for us physically and mentally, despite the occasional frustrations. And I know what you mean about being too extreme and not extreme enough, lol. But that's when I realize that I've probably found a decent balance because if EVERYONE thought you were too extreme, then maybe you are since there are some REALLY extreme people out there. And the people who'll say that you're "too extreme" don't realize that they are just extreme in the other direction. For example, I've had a lot of family tell me that me going vegan is "so extreme", but I think that what most people do for their taste buds is pretty darn extreme, especially for the animals on the menu. So, what I'm doing doesn't feel extreme to me at all.

Meg
Meg

Vegan here, so eating a strictly vegetarian diet as part of that. I really hate the thought of wasting food. It was a sin growing up. But, I have other considerations now. 1. If I buy something with animal products because the waiter or chef screwed up and I don't return it, then they have less incentive to get it right the next time. Unfortunately, some don't seem to take people seriously no matter how well you spell things out and despite the obvious problems of people with allergies. I hope in returning items that will send the right message. 2. Animal products make my stomach...less than happy. I won't go into details, but it was a long term issue that I didn't discover until I started eating a vegan diet. Other people, including non-vegan vegetarians, report having upset stomachs when ingesting meat (or other animal products) that they haven't in a long time. 3. It's not food anymore. Yeah, I know I spent years eating the stuff, but I just don't see meat (or other animal products) as food anymore. I saw a piece of fried chicken in a parking lot the other day and instead of seeing wasted food, I saw part of a dead animal carcass and wondered about the poor, miserable life that bird lived. And, even well prepared and "fresh", I want to gnaw on a chicken wing about as much as I would want to gnaw on roadkill to keep that "food" from being "wasted" -- which is to say, not at all. Definitely don't let mistakes ruin your day. It happens, especially when you first start. And I think vegetarian is even harder than vegan diet-wise because more people think you can have stuff like fish or chicken, or cheese with rennet, or gelatin, or stuff cooked in animal broth... not to say that there isn't A LOT of confusion about veganism, but I think the line is a lot clearer and "Certified vegan" products rock, as much as I do try to avoid a lot of packaging (which I mostly do by getting lots of stuff at the farmers' market). Also, over time, you learn what places you can go to that have knowledgeable staff and a veg-friendly menu. I'm really lucky to live in an area with a lot of vegan-friendly places, including an ice cream shop that uses REAL silverware -- even for sampling! But when I first started out I didn't know where to go and it was really frustrating. Traveling is a bit more difficult, but there are sites like happycow.net that make it a lot easier. Plus, I've learned that Moe's and Chipotle are easily vegan friendly (though the pinto beans at Chipotle have lard, fyi, so get the black beans). I'm not big into fast food, but in some areas I am VERY thankful that it's not Big Macs and Whoppers. Even Taco Bell will do in an emergency. This is just me being curious and a bit nosy, but why are you "not ready" to go vegan -- especially if you understand the problems with those foods? I ask because my husband and I went from omnivore to vegan and we seem to be in the minority with a lot of people going vegetarian first (some say it's a gateway, some say a stalling point, I guess it depends on the person). I can understand it feeling overwhelming. We didn't tell ourselves that we were going vegan forever at once, just that we'd give the diet part a try for a few months and meanwhile try our best not to buy other new animal products. In the end, we didn't see a good enough reason to go back to our old ways. Not saying that it's that simple for everyone, and I wouldn't say it was "simple" for us, either, but I do think it's worth giving a shot since you obviously do care about animals.

Elisa Camahort Page
Elisa Camahort Page

It's all about asking the questions, I agree, to prevent unwanted mingling of non-veg foods with your veg food. Honestly, if it's the end of a long travel day, when I haven't packed those snacks one should pack, and my blood sugar is low, and I'm in a non-veg-friendly town (like recent trips to Columbus and Omaha), and my room service meal shows up at 9:30PM with cheese sprinkled on top, despite my questions about it and requests to omit it, yeah, I'm probably going to eat it. But mostly I do speak up...before, during and after, in a really nice way, because I want to make the *demand* visible, so the *supply* will improve. And I probably wouldn't eat actual meat, mostly because I believe it has spiritual impact (for me). Finally, while I don't ask about pans and grills and utensils, i do ask for separate plates. It's not hard for them to do that :)

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Honestly, right now, I think I'm more inclined to eat my mistakes than take them back and have them thrown out. To me, wasting meat is worse than eating it. But I guess that could change with time.

Alyssa
Alyssa

I've accidentally been served a beef burrito before when I ordered veggie, and only realized after taking a bite. It happens. Fortunately, I was in a restaurant so I could return it for what I'd actually ordered. When I first stopped eating meat I didn't mind the random contamination here and there, but today even thinking about eating something that touched meat or cheese grosses me out. I have found that my tolerance has gone way down. It gets hard at home to eat food cooked on my parents pans knowing what they cook on them when I go visit. Also, I lost the taste of meat after a while, so when I eat a veggie burger that was obviously fried on the same spot as a hamburger at a restaurant, I know. But hey, you gotta eat, and sometimes you have to make do with what the situation throws at you. Be forgiving with yourself because nobody is perfect, and it definitely takes time to learn all of the tricks of navigating difficult eating situations.

Kaylen
Kaylen

Having undeclared meat in something happens, but thankfully not too frequently. Because I'm vegetarian primarily for environmental reasons if something unexpectedly comes with meat I'll either ask someone I'm with if they mind eating it or eat it including the meat or eat around the meat depending on what seems reasonable at the time. This probably results in my eating up to an ounce of meat a year. *shrug*

Leanne
Leanne

You're a new vego, so go easy on yourself. Truth is, vegos just get really, REALLY good at asking, if they're the sort of vegos who care about a little bit of, say, meat stock in soups or whatever. Some don't. The first question most vegos ask is "Is this vegetarian?" If the person serving the food doesn't know, ask them to check for you. It's pretty easy, and usually doesn't take long. Then, if the food in question *isn't* vegetarian, ask if they have something that *is*. Most places do. Easy vego options include sushi (avocado or egg rolls), hot chips (you'd call them fries, I think - not healthy but often vego as most places use vegetable oil these days), sandwiches with cheese and tomato or salad, some salads (although you have to ask), and curry bars usually have good vego options too. Forget McDonalds - I don't think they have *anything* technically vegetarian - even their fries have beef fat. I think Burger King and other similar chains are the same. A lot of vegos get used to just bringing snacks with them. I often have a muesli bar or an apple with me. Saves money too :-) If a staff person says something IS vegetarian, you order it, and then find meat in it, or even suspect it has meat in it (has a meaty flavour/feel/smell) you have every right to bring the food back partially eaten and demand a refund of your money. Usually it is a mistake rather than malice on the part of the server, but some people are lazy and claim they've checked the food is vego, when they haven't. You shouldn't have to cop their laziness and attitude. Being vego is actually really easy these days - I went out to the Lone Star Steak House with friends the other night (for a 21st) and even there they had a few vego options, and the one I ordered was YUMMY (Love Stacks). But it does take a little while until you get used to asking, checking, and making vego choices. Good luck :-)

bpod
bpod

Living where we do (California, particularly the Bay Area and Los Angeles), I find it much easier to avoid meat on a regular basis than avoiding all plastic. There are tons of markets with wide veg. selections, and many veg-friendly restaurants (YMMV in other parts of the worl). Like you, I'm a lacto/ovo vegetarian, and I've found that in most situations it's easier to ask "does this have any meat in it? I'm vegetarian" than it is to ask for the ingredient list. Also note that there are still many people who equate "meat" with beef and/or pork only, so depending on the situation, I sometimes the need to spell out "meat, chicken, or fish." If a server seem uncertain or unable to answer definitively, and they don't offer to ask to find out, I usually opt for something that's clearly veg. or go somewhere else. I'd like to think your experience at Tully's was an anomaly, but you can also request sellers to provide you with product ingredients if they don't display them.

Pavlina
Pavlina

Oh good grief. You can't live your life in regrets. Also, I don't think Ethiopian food is always served on the spongy bread, I've had it served like Indian food before, in small dishes.

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator moderator

@Nicole Z I am always very careful when having vegetarian or vegan and non vegetarian friends over for dinner at the same time. I had a mishaps during an impromptu dinner party where a utensil used for meat touched a vegan entree and I felt really bad. Thankfully my friend who is vegan was very understanding. I've been an omnivore all my life but completely understand why this could be upsetting for someone who lives their life meat free. Really glad to hear you are making steps on living with less plastic. Let us know if you run into any obstacles and we'll try and help you out. 

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator

Nicole Z I am always very careful when having vegetarian or vegan and non vegetarian friends over for dinner at the same time. I had a mishaps during an impromptu dinner party where a utensil used for meat touched a vegan entree and I felt really bad. Thankfully my friend who is vegan was very understanding. I've been an omnivore all my life but completely understand why this could be upsetting for someone who lives their life meat free. Really glad to hear you are making steps on living with less plastic. Let us know if you run into any obstacles and we'll try and help you out.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hey Meg. One of the reasons I'm not all the way vegan yet is that I want to give my body some time to adjust. I want to see how I feel not eating meat before I switch to zero animals products. The other reason is practical. I have a HUGE chunk of plastic-free cheese I bought a while back (http://fakeplasticfish.com/2009/09/cheese-crazy-plastic-free/) and I'm still working on it! And finally, I just need time to figure it all out. It's not like I planned this and then sat down and figured out how I was going to do it. It all kind of just happened after reading that book. So I'm doing as much as I can for right now. It's funny because I always know that no matter what my decisions are, there will be people who think I am extreme and people who think I don't do enough. It's like that with plastic, for sure! So I just have to figure out what makes me comfortable. :-)

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

I'll definitely be more specific in my inquiry next time. Pavlina, I'm not regretting anything. I hope my post didn't come across that way. I'm wondering which part of it seemed like regret to you. The part about being sad for the pig? Or something else. Or maybe we have different definitions of that word. Also, sorry for the ugly formatting of the email that went out. Still working on getting this new blog set up -- with all the spare time I have!