Well, I finally did it. At work, I confessed to being a vegan. No time better than the day before Thanksgiving for that, right?
I hadn’t planned on it. Like so many impromptu disasters, it “just happened.” I guess I was in a holiday mood when I mosied up to the workstation of one of our secretaries and began a conversation about something totally unrelated to food and diet. We actually discussed a few different things before she asked me whether I will be cooking the turkey this Thanksgiving.
In retrospect, I should have just laughed and said “Oh, no, I don’t cook.” I could even have pulled out one of my fabled stories about being able to cook anything, badly, in the microwave. But no, I had to open my big mouth and say “Oh, I don’t eat meat.”
“You’re a vegetarian?” she asked me, incredulous. In this day and age, I should think that admitting to be a vegetarian would be somewhat less than shocking and perhaps even just plain boring.
“Even worse than that,” I added. “I’m a vegan.”
“A vegan?” she responded, “What’s that?”
I explained that I don’t eat meat, dairy or any animal products.
“You don’t?! What do you eat? Grass?”
Oh, great, here we go again. I’ve ridden in this rodeo many times before, and it’s never pretty. As I often do, I responded to this idiocy with some self-deprecating humor. “Just take a look at me and you can tell that I find plenty to eat.”
I am kicking myself now for not being sufficiently quick-witted to have asked whether she’s ever seen a skinny cow.
After that came other Thanksgiving related questions, including whether I eat mashed potatoes or marshmallows. I explained about the dairy in mashed potatoes (skipping the part about how great they are prepared with almond milk).
“What’s in marshmallows?” she asked. “I just bought some little ones to put in my hot chocolate.”
I told her that marshmallows are mostly sugar, held together with gelatin. That’s when I threw every bit of caution to the winds and explained that gelatin is most commonly made from horses’ hooves.
The poor woman frowned. “I’m eating horses’ hooves?” She seemed saddened. “You mean Jello is made of horses’ hooves, too?” I assured her that it is possible to purchase gelatin desserts and even marshmallows that are made from vegetable sources, effectively eliminating the giddyap factor. “They’re usually kind of expensive and I’m not really interested, so I just don’t bother,” I added.
“What about cakes, cookies, candy and chips?” I could see she was getting alarmed now. I looked around to see whether anyone else was listening. I didn’t see anyone in our immediate vicinity, but I’d bet a nickel that ears were perked in numerous nearby cubicles. “Plain chips are often meat- and dairy-free,” I told the bewildered secretary. “I don’t eat cakes and cookies. Fortunately for me, there is some very good non-dairy dark chocolate out there.”
“You don’t eat cakes and cookies!” she cried. The woman could barely believe what she was hearing, particularly since I am, well, obese. “I guess you can’t have one of these then,” she remarked, bringing out a little Baggie containing two chocolate macadamia nut cookies. “This is all I have today because I forgot my lunch at home. Left my eggs right on the kitchen table.”
“Are those cookies made with butter?” I asked.
“No,” she told me, “but you can’t have flour, right?”
I assured her that I do eat flour. “Is there an egg in that?” I asked.
“Oh, yes, it does have eggs,” she admitted.
I nearly blurted out something about refined sugars and the dangers of diabetes, but I managed to stop myself just in time.
The poor woman was shaking her head. Fortunately, we were each put out of our respective miseries at this point by the receipt of a phone call over her wireless headset. I took the opportunity to make my escape.
I now have four consecutive days off work for the Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully, that will be enough time for my department secretary (and all the unseen eavesdroppers) to forget that this little conversation ever happened.
Monday should be interesting.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my faithful readers. I am extremely thankful that you keep coming back to read the drivel that I regularly dispense in this space. May you enjoy a lovely holiday filled with family, food, love and laughs.
Recommended: Don’t Fear the Vegan at Your Thanksgiving Table