027 Are You a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Vegan?

Do you interrogate your waitstaff over every tiny ingredient in your food, or do you sometimes eat in ignorance in order to make veganism look more approachable? The girls talk through the ups and downs of “don’t ask, don’t tell” veganism.

In This Episode

Inspired by a session at Vida Vegan Con, Nichole and Callie talk about “don’t ask, don’t tell” veganism – a mode of activism where you make veganism looking easy a top priority. So, maybe you don’t ask if there’s dairy in the dinner rolls on the table, or you order a burrito assuming that the guacamole is ok. It’s a controversial topic for sure. Some vegans consider that being not vegan, others consider grilling serves about ingredients harmful to the movement. Throughout the show, Callie focuses on the benefits of don’t ask, don’t tell, specifically in social situations. Being out with friends or family, trying to find a place to eat, sometimes it’s better and easier to not ask if the pizza crust is totally vegan if the place offers vegan cheese. Sometimes it’s more important to share an experience with the people you care about and make a vegan lifestyle seem less intimidating than it is to avoid trace animal products. Nichole focuses on the power of asking in situations where you are acting like a consumer – for instance, when ordering takeout for yourself from a local restaurant that you plan to order from often, it’s good practice to check to make sure the food is vegan so you can order in good conscience and show them that there’s a demand for vegan products in the community. She thinks asking when you are acting alone or with other vegans can be very powerful. San Diego has had a sudden boom of vegan options and restaurants because of this. Nichole also discusses how being gluten-free kinda forces her to ask a lot of questions anyway, so sneaking in vegan questions on top of gluten ones is fairly easy. In the end, it seems like there’s situations where asking questions can create a demand for product, and other times not asking might be a powerful form of activism.

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    • I’m @LorriePaige and wanted to comment on this on Twitter but my comment is too long. First, I live in Portland, OR so am very fortunate that there are many 100% vegan restaurants to go to and I always go to those when eating alone or sometimes with others. So I don’t ask then for obvious reasons. But when I go to traditional restaurants, beforehand I always check out their menu online. (these days it’s very rare that a restaurant doesn’t show their menu online.) Many many times they do have a “v” or icon letting you know which meal is vegan, so I already know what to order or call to ask questions before I go to the restaurant. If in doubt, I just would eat a salad. One time I went to a buffet where the person I was with said their flat bread is vegan, so I took their word for it and placed some on my plate; a few seconds later I had mentioned being vegan to someone and the owner overheard I was vegan and looked on my plate and said to me, “You can’t eat that; it’s not vegan.” It had a trace of some milk product in it. What if I was told it wasn’t vegan but ate it anyway since it was only a trace of animal in it and the owner had heard that and seen me eat it anyway? I figure if I don’t take veganism seriously, why should the owner of the restaurant, or non-vegan people I’m with, or anyone else, take me seriously? I find if you are “picky” about this, others respect it. They respect your compassion, passion and dedication to a (the animal rights) cause. I’m not rude about it. I ask in a very sweet, very polite way, and always thank them and leave a nice tip if they are accomodating. About making veganism easier. Where do you draw the line? If you compromise a little, then you may start compromising more and more. And really most people with jobs/make money are not literally “starving” when out. A person can most likely wait until they get home to eat; that’s what I would do anyway. Plus, most restaurants at least carry simple salads so we can always eat that. So what if it’s a simple salad. Just never go there again. We are, in a way, in the public eye so I think it’s important to be a good representation for the animals’ sake.
        • You make some great points, Lorrie, and you experience seems to reflect mine (this is Nichole). I have found being vocal has gotten me great meals and constructive dialogue with others. I do respect and understand those that are in situations different from mine, and that not everyone is in the right place in their vegan journey to be as vocal as I am. It’s definitely a tricky topic, and I think it’s important for each person to find their own way. Hopefully, a lot of us will choose to drop the “v-bomb” to spread awareness as our numbers continue to grow. Thank you for reaching out, we love hearing from our listeners and we’re so glad you are one that likes to talk to us! We’d love to hear your thoughts on any and all episodes as you’re catching up 🙂

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