By Published On: 7 July 2014498 words2.5 min read

SCENE, one of many veg-friendly places to go in Columbus, OH. Grabbing a bite with a friend/acquaintance/coworker. We approach ordering time, and said companion turns to me:

OMNIVORE
Will you be offended if I order meat?
ME
I am aware that people eat meat. You ordering it right now is as offensive as I ever find it.
OMNIVORE
(to server, without missing a beat)
I’ll have the Sesame Chicken.
ME
(Internal sigh. Desire to educate further. Working on effort to smile and have a nice lunch anyway.)
I would like

[insert best-looking vegan item on menu]

END SCENE.

Getting along with omnivores while ordering out

In Columbus, OH, we are lucky to have a variety of vegan-friendly restaurants to fill us up with anything from a thick, grilled (Daiya) cheese sandwich to General Tso’s tofu and veggies. We are not lucky, though, in having many all-vegan restaurants, which often lands me in the above scenario… I get to enjoy a delish vegan option while watching an omnivore friend down a cheeseburger, when the menu even had a veggie burger option.

I typically employ the gentle vegan strategies of suggesting my companion try a bite of my food, letting them see me enjoying my vegan food, and answering any veg questions that may come up. That means I am usually fairly non-confrontational in this type of situation. I play the role of reasonable vegan having a casual lunch. Sometimes that feels wrong, like I am quietly witnessing injustice. I can’t think of another time I am quiet in the face of injustice… I don’t let a racist joke go unchecked and I intervene if someone hits a dog or a child, just to name a few. On the other hand, I’ve studied up on activism enough to know that positive techniques can be more effective, and shouldn’t I take the approach that helps the most? Perhaps if I avoid upfront bombardment about the topic most on my heart and mind, we will maintain a more open and effective dialogue over time, as described in In Support of a Vegan Omnivore Alliance?

When I have control over the situation, I exercise it. Meals at my house or occasions thrown somewhere else in my honor (baby shower/birthday) are vegan. Period. One of my oldest friends tried to talk me into allowing a dairy-based ranch dressing at a party and I said it was like she never met me. It’s tough for me to reconcile why I’m acting different in two alike settings.

The best course of action is to eat at my house or suggest vegan restaurants, but with limited selection depending on the part of the city, it’s not always going to work. When I’m out and about, I don’t feel like I can tell people what to order. I also don’t want to stop going out with others and isolate myself. How do other vegans handle getting along with omnivores in situations like this?

Photo credit: vistavision via Flickr

By Published On: 7 July 2014498 words2.5 min read

SCENE, one of many veg-friendly places to go in Columbus, OH. Grabbing a bite with a friend/acquaintance/coworker. We approach ordering time, and said companion turns to me:

OMNIVORE
Will you be offended if I order meat?
ME
I am aware that people eat meat. You ordering it right now is as offensive as I ever find it.
OMNIVORE
(to server, without missing a beat)
I’ll have the Sesame Chicken.
ME
(Internal sigh. Desire to educate further. Working on effort to smile and have a nice lunch anyway.)
I would like

[insert best-looking vegan item on menu]

END SCENE.

Getting along with omnivores while ordering out

In Columbus, OH, we are lucky to have a variety of vegan-friendly restaurants to fill us up with anything from a thick, grilled (Daiya) cheese sandwich to General Tso’s tofu and veggies. We are not lucky, though, in having many all-vegan restaurants, which often lands me in the above scenario… I get to enjoy a delish vegan option while watching an omnivore friend down a cheeseburger, when the menu even had a veggie burger option.

I typically employ the gentle vegan strategies of suggesting my companion try a bite of my food, letting them see me enjoying my vegan food, and answering any veg questions that may come up. That means I am usually fairly non-confrontational in this type of situation. I play the role of reasonable vegan having a casual lunch. Sometimes that feels wrong, like I am quietly witnessing injustice. I can’t think of another time I am quiet in the face of injustice… I don’t let a racist joke go unchecked and I intervene if someone hits a dog or a child, just to name a few. On the other hand, I’ve studied up on activism enough to know that positive techniques can be more effective, and shouldn’t I take the approach that helps the most? Perhaps if I avoid upfront bombardment about the topic most on my heart and mind, we will maintain a more open and effective dialogue over time, as described in In Support of a Vegan Omnivore Alliance?

When I have control over the situation, I exercise it. Meals at my house or occasions thrown somewhere else in my honor (baby shower/birthday) are vegan. Period. One of my oldest friends tried to talk me into allowing a dairy-based ranch dressing at a party and I said it was like she never met me. It’s tough for me to reconcile why I’m acting different in two alike settings.

The best course of action is to eat at my house or suggest vegan restaurants, but with limited selection depending on the part of the city, it’s not always going to work. When I’m out and about, I don’t feel like I can tell people what to order. I also don’t want to stop going out with others and isolate myself. How do other vegans handle getting along with omnivores in situations like this?

Photo credit: vistavision via Flickr

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  1. Amy Bradley July 8, 2014 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    It looks like we have similar feelings about this. And I’m going to check out your dot com right now :)

  2. Pat C July 8, 2014 at 8:02 am - Reply

    We have exactly one vegan restaurant in my city and none of my friends will eat there. In general, I just won’t accompany people to overtly omni restaurants ( ex. Steakhouses -why the heck would one of them even think about rubbing potatoes with bacon grease?). That said however, I make it clear what I eat and explain why if asked. It’s not my job to tell others how they should eat. It’s not always easy though. In the last two weeks I went to one event where I could eat nothing and one where in order to eat anything, I brought a salad for 30 to a catered event. Vegan friendly isn’t easy here either I can’t tell you how many salad wraps I’ve eaten. So, basically I just don’t go out much anymore I’m tired of trying to be creative with other peoples menus and attempting to explain vegan to barely English speaking waitstaff in restaurants where animal ingredients can actually be present but not apparent (fish sauce, ghee, stock etc. etc.) I’m jealous of everyone in more sophisticated cities which have obvious vegan options. I’m lucky if there’s one vegan option on the lunch menu and it’s ALWAYS a veggie sandwich.

    • Amy Bradley July 8, 2014 at 6:26 pm - Reply

      Columbus was like this 15 years ago, and it was frustrating. I rarely went out to eat with others and felt EXACTLY as you describe! Hang in there…your city may come around :)

  3. Lauren Smith July 7, 2014 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    I am lucky for two reasons. Not only do I live in NYC, which is truly blossoming with phenomenal vegan options, but I also have two great friends who love going to said restaurants with me. In fact, one of those friends chose a vegan restaurant for her birthday brunch! It’s truly ideal.

    However, my struggle is in the workplace. The days when food (usually pizza) is provided is difficult. I don’t mind that I can’t eat it; I just hate watching everyone else slurp down greasy pizza. I sometimes feel like I’m just helplessly watching the people I care about consume poison. :(

    • Amy Bradley July 8, 2014 at 6:30 pm - Reply

      NYC?!?! I’m jealous. Even when something wonderful there closes, so many options pop up everywhere! Did Lula’s Apothecary close? I hope not. About the workplace…I’m the second vegan to come along to my office! That’s a first for me to be the second vegan. We both watch other consume nasty pizza. But then we brought in vegan doughnuts one day and people swooned.

      • Daria Zeoli July 9, 2014 at 5:25 am - Reply

        Lula’s isn’t Lula’s anymore… it’s run by the wife of the couple who first owned it, but it doesn’t have a name last I heard. Ah, Lula’s. Now I’m hungry.

        As for the workplace, I can relate to being the only vegan. My company is good about making sure there’s a vegan option for me to eat when they supply food for all, but I really have to put on blinders and pretend not to see the animal-laden eats around me, most every day.