Sunday, September 16, 2012

Response to comment and ramble

Response to comment: the things is, I generally don't order bread. The bread I tend to consume (apart from the bread I occasionally buy, which is vegan, and usually Ultimate Grains brand or Eziekel) falls into four categories: (1) ordered as part of a sandwich labeled vegan; (2) brought out to the table; (3) part of the only vaguely vegetarian sandwich on the menu, so it's already a bad situation; and (4) served by hosts outside a restaurant setting. In the first situation, I'm in the clear. In the next two--and I realize this is a luxury, since I'm not allergic--I'll only eat the bread if I'm hungry enough that I don't care (since the diary content tends to be trace, anyway). At the game, I ended up leaving most of the bun. Also, in some restaurants, the servers will state that there's dairy in the bread (as in the trace amounts in the table bread at Zaytinya). In the fourth case (for example, when we were served lunch), if there are options other than bread, I'll usually go for those, and if there aren't, I'll just eat it (in fact, in the case this past week, I ended up eating an egg sandwich--again, a 'luxury' since I'm not allergic). In a way, people with food allergies have more leeway in the those situations, because it's more appropriate to inform one's hosts of the issue than if it's just a preference (I suppose the same goes for religious dietary restrictions).

For 'ethically-motivated' vegans, every individual has to pick her battles. My personal philosophy is that small amounts of dairy and eggs once in a while, particularly as served 'generally' (i.e., not specifically ordered), are not going to change anything (i.e., increase demand for animal products). And unless you're allergic or intolerant, they're sure as hell not going to affect you health-wise. If you're going to leave the house, and particularly if you're going to leave the country, you're going to have to make some trade-offs. Unless you travel with a personal chef or otherwise have unlimited resources or can be bothered to bring your own food everywhere.

I have mixed feelings about things like wine (often produced with egg or even pork fat) and sugar (half of which is processed over bone char). Is this one of those things where if vegetarians and vegans made more noise, producers would at least be better at labeling and at best reconsider how they source their products? I don't consume a lot of sugar (I cook with turbinado, etc.) but I do get dark chocolate, which has some sugar. I am not willing to trade in my $5/lb Trader Joe's 72 percent chocolate for chocolate definitively labeled vegan (i.e., the sugar is known to be vegan). Does that make me part of the problem? In part, yes. Most vegetarians I know are furious about both, particularly because the potential involvement of animal products is not known or labeled. We just don't know what to do about it without spending a lot more money (in the case of dark chocolate) or severely limiting our choices (in the case of wine). I tend to go for sustainable wines, for the most part, and I can only hope that these are vegetarian, if not vegan. On that note, I had an exquisite glass of pinot noir at a friend's birthday celebration last night. I did not ask whether it was vegan, but it does appear to be certified sustainable. Is PETA on this labeling thing?

Last night at the birthday celebration, I talked to a couple who had met online. The guy talked about what drew him to his now-girlfriend's online profile: she was a nurse, so you knew she was smart, educated, and professional. So much for "guys don't care about intelligence" and "guys don't care about what you do."

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