Being a vegan freak, and living (until recently) in your everyday ‘burb, I often find I receive blank looks, sometimes full of disdain, when perusing a menu and asking about vegetarian food. This tends to be the most profound in restaurants/café’s that do not even have a vegetarian section (even option) on the menu – places I avoid at all costs accept when unable to (see recent post). I have often received similar looks, not with the same note of disdain generally, when inquiring as to vegan options in vegetarian restaurants/café’s. I had an similar, yet different, experience recently that I actually enjoyed!
I recently went into what is my currently favourite restaurant/café with some friends for dinner: Sweet Cherubim (Commercial Dr, Vancouver’s east end). To provide some context, it is effectively a vegan restaurant/café (with a linked/adjacent store) that has vegetarian options. It has a wide variety of dishes and treats, with these all having labels in front of them. These labels have the dish/treat name in the centre with small clarifications in the corners. These clarifications include vegan, raw, gluten-free, wheat-free, etc. The vegetarian options have dairy (and/or honey?) listed on them.
My first experience with Sweet Cherinbum was my last trip to Vancouver in October/November last year, and then when I arrived back here recently. Some of these labels are either old, or temporary(?), and do not include any clarifications. So I am not full experienced with all dishes, and they are not all clear what they are. On looking at options for dinner – and I am trying to try different dishes each time I visit (a very short walk from where I am staying) – I was uncertain as to whether one of the dishes I was considering may be non-vegan. I inquired with the person taking orders as to whether this dish was vegan or not, and the response – specifically their body language – came as somewhat of a shock. It was not quite the disdain mentioned above for carni restaurants/café’s, yet it was something – almost a how dare you consider otherwise.
Whilst it would probably be more appropriate, prefigurative and amenable to promoting what we wish if the response was different, there was no malice involved. I (ironically?) found it pleasant that if I was to be scolded in any way at all, it would be for (essentially inadvertently) questioning if there were vegetarian options. It’s a nice change from feeling marginalised and belittled at every turn for attempting to live a compassionate, prefigurative and ethical lifestyle free from cruelty and exploitation. If I am going to be ostracised – which I am sure I will again be many many times – I hope it to be in this form and many others find themselves in a position for this to be possible.