Excuse me, is this vegan?

The main dilemma I’ve had since I’ve decided to begin my vegan journey is how to ask servers or hosts of dinner parties if anything on the menu is vegan. I went to lunch with coworkers and it was slightly embarrassing to ask the server if the soup had dairy in it. I don’t know why, but it was. I felt others looking at me funny, almost criticizing me with their look without saying anything. After the server went over to the manager to ask, I knew the soup was dairy-free; but then later when I got my food, I realized that maybe the sandwich bread wasn’t vegan. I wasn’t certain if the bread had butter on it. Also, we went to a friend’s house the other night and ate dinner there. As I was biting into my pasta, it dawned on me that there was dairy in it. I paid for it later, for sure. I’m having a hard time overcoming that hurdle of just asking what’s in the food. What’s the most polite way to ask without seeming pompous?

8 thoughts on “Excuse me, is this vegan?

  1. Most restaurants will provide an allergen information sheet. All of them that I have seen have both egg and dairy on them. Even if they don’t have an allergen information sheet, just telling the server you have allergies so you need to know works well. Another way to not seem pompous is to say “I’m trying out a vegan diet to see if helps improve my _______” (fatigue, digestion, weight) People tend to take someone being on a special diet for health reasons better than they take them being on a diet for moral reason. I know because I am intolerant to gluten, egg, soy, and dairy. No server or friend has ever made me feel strange because of it. Recently, I decided I didn’t want to eat animal products, and it was taken completely differently. Good luck!

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  2. It’s funny how embarrasing it is to ask if something is vegan…I totally feel the same way. I’m always concerned that people are going to think that I’m pushing my morals on them for some reason and then I try to get over myself and just ask. Pshaw I don’t need to explain myself if I ask what’s in the food I’m served….I’ve just started asking if there is dairy or eggs in things that appear vegetarian and leaving out the word vegan since it seems to be loaded with ethical and moral issues.
    I also made a point of putting up some status’ on facebook and mentioning the vegan thing to my friends when I started out so that they would all be aware if we got together for food…I also always offer to host dinners and food related gatherings at my house, or bring my own dish for dinner parties so that no one is put out…and I also like to show ppl that vegan food isn’t just salads!!

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    • Yes, thank you for saying that – vegan doesn’t equal salads all the time! That’s a great idea to bring your own dish to parties that you know you can eat. I definitely need to get over the fact that I care what other people think about my diet. It’s just so new, but over time I think it’ll become second nature, like it did with being a vegetarian.

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  3. Knowing you are not the only one that experiences this is SO helpful!! Some of the things I do:
    Yep, everyone that knows me, knows I’m vegan. This helps a lot for parties. I also always bring something that looks yummy to everyone.
    At restaurants, I will look up the menu and call ahead of time if I know I’m going somewhere new. If I land somewhere, I will pretend to go to the bathroom and corner the waiter to ask all my questions. Or, I will wait for everyone to be enthralled in conversation when I ask the waiter my questions.

    Good luck! Your body thanks you 🙂

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    • Thanks for the tips, Deanna! I actually called up two restaurants this week ahead of time and I feel less stressed about going there now. I’m really glad I called one of the places because they didn’t know if anything was vegan on their menu. They offered either a salad option or they mentioned an omelet, which I had to gently remind them that omelets have eggs in them so they’re not vegan 🙂 I’m glad I didn’t have to go through that at the restaurant with 6 other faces in the dinner party staring at me.

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  4. i, personally, don’t fell the need to make up allergies or justify my diet choices. and i feel like these days most people in the service industry have heard of the term vegan. i’m always straight forward with servers so if i find myself in an unfamiliar restaurant, i just say: so i’m vegan, what can i eat? i usually get a positive & helpful response-and not just in nyc restaurants but when i travel as well. if you are more concerned with it being an issue(topic of conversation turned into you explaining yourself in a defensive way) with the people you are dining with, then i say stick with calling ahead! whatever makes you comfortable. people can by judge-y & sometimes you just don’t want to have to deal with it! 🙂

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    • Thanks for the advice! I’m definitely getting more comfortable in my own skin with being vegan, not caring what others think so much and actually trying to speak up more about why I’m doing it (health, animal rights, etc.). I’ve found that I was being self-conscious during the transitional period when I didn’t need to be. And people are truly just curious about the lifestyle, which is totally a good thing! Maybe I can convert some family and friends. Thanks again! Your confidence is inspiring 🙂

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