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Vegetarians understand. February 13, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. This morning, my Yahoo homepage featured an article from Cosmopolitan.com called “23 Problems Only Gluten-Free People Understand.” A number of the problems were related to the fact that wheat (and thus gluten) is hidden in so many products, from beer and soy sauce to peppermint Altoids, and that people on gluten-free diets have to be constantly on their guard, reading labels, asking questions. Eating salad for supper when they go out in case the soup or gravy has been thickened with flour. Generally being a pain at parties and family gatherings.

Trust me, as a vegetarian, I understand. Long before there was gluten-free eating, even before there were vegans, there were vegetarians. And yes, we too had to resort to constant label-reading (and to this day), to make sure insidious ingredients like gelatin (made from calves’ hooves) and lard hadn’t snuck into seemingly innocuous products like crackers, yogurt (!!! damn you, Yoplait), spreadable better-than-butter alternatives, vitamin capsules, and yes, Altoids. (Gelatin in mints? Please.) Not to mention fish oil in such unlikely places as milk and eggs that have been omega-3 enhanced.

We’ve had to ask if the soup at a given restaurant was made with beef, chicken, or fish stock, if the miso soup in a Japanese restaurant was made with dashi (bonito tuna flakes), if desserts were made with gelatin. We’ve had to patiently explain to our server, after ordering a club sandwich with no meat and receiving one without the chicken or whatever but with bacon, that in fact, bacon was meat. We’ve had to decline the gazpacho that our hostess made “just for us” with beef stock. (Gazpacho with beef stock?!!) We’ve passed up endless slices of pie with “authentic” lard-based crusts, and had to ask every time we go to a Mexican restaurant or buy a can of refried beans if they’re made with lard.

In short, we’ve had to get used to making a pain of ourselves. In the most polite, apologetic way, but still. So we know what you gluten-free folks are going through. Hang in there, do your homework, and above all, be considerate. Just as it’s not other people’s fault that we choose to be vegetarian or vegan, it’s not other people’s fault you can’t tolerate gluten. Be kind, be patient, and you’ll find that people will be happy to help you. Except, apparently, the Altoid company.

‘Til next time,

Silence

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