Monday, September 21, 2009

Please don’t feed me that.

Warning: ungrateful wretch on the loose. If you’re not into behavioral inconsistencies and awkward social situations, hie thee to a nunnery. Or someplace cooler, like Vegan Feminist Agitator.

I love everyone who has ever offered me a tempting, lovingly made dessert. It’s always desserts, too, which is the hell of it. No one ever offers me something ultra-foul like liver and onions. But, y’all, I’m stuck between animal products and a hard place here. I love desserts, and I want to please you by enjoying the dessert you made for me. But I really don’t want to eat it if it’s made with eggs or butter.

I know this completely contradicts last week’s birthday cake rant. So? I took no vow of consistency. I’m sure I will continue to struggle with this until 1) everyone in the world becomes vegan, or 2) I magically develop the willpower to say no to dessert, no matter who made it. If, on my next birthday, my mom has not disowned me for my brattiness, I can assure you that, as I’ve been doing, I will eat a piece of whatever non-vegan dessert she makes for me. Unless, of course, she makes it vegan. Then, I will eat many pieces, and buy her a bottle of vegan wine for being the best mom on Earth.

I did it again yesterday. I was at a coffee shop with a friend, happy that they had soymilk for my coffee. “You want dessert?” she asked as she paid. I didn’t. “Well, I got a big cookie for us to share.” Sigh. It was a molasses cookie, soft and chewy with sprinkles of sugar on top. I felt trapped, and guilty for feeling that way. She bought the cookie to share with me! She paid for my coffee! So I nibbled about a quarter of it (and she wasn’t kidding—it was a big cookie). I tried to get her to eat the last quarter, but she pushed it back to me, urging me to finish it. So I ate the rest, rather than throw it away. I think that unconsciously, I figured it would look ungrateful to throw it away, too, so better to just eat the damn thing and flay myself later.

The flaying, as you see, has commenced.

I engage in all sorts of psychological gymnastics in order to eat that cookie or piece of cake or whatever. But she made it for me. It’s only one cookie. It’s not like I put eggs in it. They already think I’m weird. It’s a party. I don’t want to seem snobby or ungrateful. As Marla from Vegan Feminist Agitator pointed out, it’s rationalizations like these, good-intentioned though they are, that keep me complicit in my own uncomfortable situations. I need to commit to this as strongly as I’ve committed to other, more visible aspects of my vegan lifestyle. I need to not worry so much about offending people. Unequivocally refusing meat while tacitly accepting baked goods made with animal products only serves to reinforce the idea that eating eggs and dairy is somehow “not as bad” as eating the bodies of chickens and cows. And as we all know, that’s a damn lie. Cake just looks better, that’s all.

I think I’m making baby steps. I have a delicious-looking loaf of raisin challah bread, given as a wedding present, sitting in my freezer. “You can practically smell the eggs,” my friend Jess remarked as I scrutinized the bread, wondering what to do with it. Ordinarily, Red and I probably would have just eaten it, but we had too many wedding desserts left over, and with Red doing PCRM’s vegan kickstart, we had to lay the smack down and consign it to the freezer. Anybody want? I’ll throw in a loaf of (frozen, vegan) zucchini bread to sweeten the deal.

Photos of sinfully delicious vegan Mocha Midnight Madness Cake (top) and Coconut Cream Pie (bottom) from Brunie's Bakery. The awesomeness of Brunie's desserts cannot be overestimated.


  1. You're funny, VB, trying to unload this challah online. Write up a funny little story about it and put it on eBay? ;) Anyway, VB, we all go through something like this on our path and this - non-vegan desserts thrown your way - seems to be your particular obstacle for some reason. It's karmic, I guess. I think you are in a good place because you are figuring out how to assert yourself here in a way that is still polite. You'll get more comfortable with it and you will see that no one's head will explode if you decline a piece of cake. It'll all get easier from there. Really, I think these challenges exist for a reason. It seems to be here for you to work on finding your voice in these situations.

    You rock!

  2. My first thought while reading this was "Wow, even long-time, experienced vegans struggle with this!" Which is comforting to this new vegan. And then I thought "Wait, even long-time, experienced vegans deal with this :( " Meaning, am I gonna have to deal with this forever? Won't there come a day when I grow some b@lls and just say "No Thanks"?? Or won't there be a day when just the idea of eating a cookie filled with milk and eggs totally grosses me out?? So there isn't a magic day when all of your family and friends just Get It, and never again offer you animal products??


    Ok, I've put on my Big Girl Panties and I'll stop whining :)

    Your post also reminded me that I don't have to be a "perfect" vegan right from the get-go. It may be a gradual process for me.

  3. Thanks for the support, Marla! It came just when I needed it.

    Kristie, I'm still waiting for that magic day! ;) I still get asked, "Do you eat fish?" You're doing a great job, and thanks for reminding me of a new vegan's point of view!