It was our anniversary yesterday-39 years spent raising a family, weathering the storms and enjoying the good times and blessings (our children and grandchildren). We decided that we would not exchange gifts. I should have learned by now that I am the only one who sticks to the rule.
Anyway, one thing that we did agree on was that we would go out for supper. My preference is always to go to a vegan (100% plant based) restaurant. However, I don’t know of any such restaurant on the West Island and we did not feel like going to Montreal. I will go to most restaurants and order from the menu, after we have worked out with the server what is plant based and what can be made plant based. The only type of restaurant at which I draw the line (as in lassoing and fishing) are Steak and Seafood Restaurants.
Asian restaurants are often a good bet and that is what we decided on last nite. It was only as I was pulling out my chair that I remembered recommending Aikawa to my daughter and her husband. I had never been there, but it had been recommended to me by a friend. Then it came back to me. My daughter told me that she had difficulty finding any plant based foods on the menu. However, we were there, the place was clean and inviting and there were no overpowering smells of nonhuman animals being cooked as food.
Mimy, our lovely young server, came to our table, said hello, brought us the menus and served us some water. I told her that we were looking for items on the menu that are vegan. I hesitate to use the word vegan to describe food, because it is really just plant based food. The food itself is not vegan-it is the people who are vegan. But, I know that it is the clearest path to being understood and it opens the door to informing people about what being vegan means.
Anyway, Mimy did ask what this means and I have become quite proficient in naming of all the nonhumans as food items that we do not eat. The usual suspects are egg, fish, dairy, meat, chicken, beef and and fish broths, nonhuman animal by products (this one is much less understood, but I slip it in there, anyway)
Now, if I were writing a post on my website or replying to a comment by one of my readers or maybe talking to another vegan or answering a heartfelt question or callous remark from a non-vegan, I would use different vocabulary for some of the nonhumans as food items. I would say chicken’s eggs, nonhuman animal or cow’s milk or secretions, acquatic animals.
But I think there is a distinction to be made here. People come to my website looking for my views and beliefs on veganism and I feel that as long as I am being respectful, I owe them my honesty. I feel the same when I go to a restaurant, but I try to be mindful that I am requesting a service and that I need to be respectful in doing so. The server is performing a job related to his or her need to make a living and may not be interested in whether or not I am vegan or whether or not I believe that the world would be a better place if everyone were vegan (which I do believe, by the way).
Our server, Mimy, circled some items on the sushi order sheet and then crossed out most of them because of the Tempura, egg thingy. We were left with edamame in the shell, cucumber and avocado rolls without the mayo and vegetarian rolls. I asked her about the Vegetable and Tofu Teryiaki and she said that the tofu is dipped in egg batter before it is fried. We determined that the tofu could be simply fried in a little oil, but Mimy was not sure about the Teryiaki Sauce and scurried off to the kitchen to inquire. The definitive conclusion from the kitchen was that nobody knew if the Teryiaki Sauce was okay. “It has gluten in it”, said Mimy. “Gluten is a part of wheat”, I said, “so that is okay”. Better be safe than sorry was Mimy’s answer and I very much appreciate that she was, in her own way, looking out for her vegans patrons.
Long story short, we ended up ordering a salad, a bowl of salted edamame, and three types of sushi rolls with no mayo. The meal was delicious, we were filled up at the end of it and we had avoided filling our server with fear over what we were going to say or perhaps demand and whether or not she was going to be in trouble over the lack of plant based options on the menu.
Mimy became so comfortable with our requests and what role she could play in helping us that she asked me about soybeans. “I know they can be used to make milk, so I am wondering if they are vegan?’ she said. I replied kindly that they are vegan, because they are a plant. She nodded her head in agreement and smiled. As we were getting ready to leave, Mimy invited us back saying that it would be easier next time now that she understands what is vegan on the menu. Pretty neat huh!!!!
Annie’s Vegan View
It hurts my heart deeply and I will be the first to say that it needs to end yesterday. I don’t think yelling and screaming our truth in a belligerent way will accomplish that. It if would, it would certainly be worth it.
Until then, I will keep trying to advocate in the best way I know how-through education, kindness and compassion.
May all beings be happy and free.