A friend of the family died last week, losing a second battle with cancer. Saddened and concerned for the family, I put together a lasagna and brought it by the home. Additional family had arrived from out of state and I suspected an easy to heat up meal would help.
As I visited with our friend’s wife, I learned that a memorial was planned for the following Wednesday at a residence close to our home. I volunteered that Frank and I would be happy to help, and then the widow shared a concern. The host was vegan and was intent on serving vegan food.
My food service hackles immediately flared. All my training and experience with food typically drives me to provide a wide range of choices so that anyone can eat satisfactorily. I suspected many of the attendees would not be vegan, and I offered to talk with the host and see what could be done. As it turns out, nothing was to be done.
The resident vegan steadfastly refused to allow any animal product on his property, and pointedly reminded me that “This is my home.” Since the event was planned from 3-6 in the afternoon, we settled on a few snacks to serve and left it at that. My thinking was that a vegan meal would only make the absence of any animal protein that much more obvious.
A VEGAN FEAST
A mix of phone calls followed with other concerned friends and family. The host stood firm. Neither the widow nor helpful volunteers made any impact on the his plan to serve only vegan food. When others claimed more food was necessary, he decided to purchase what he wanted in the first place: a mix of Mexican and Mediterranean fare that included beans and rice, tortilla chips and salsa along with hummus, baba ganoush, tabbouleh, and a variety of dips with pita and flat breads.
We sliced up watermelon, offered bowls of baby carrots and nuts. I mixed fresh lemonade to serve with iced tea and mineral water. No animal meat, no dairy, no eggs, no alcohol, no dessert. And not one complaint.
A LESSON FOR ME
Of course, a vegan diet can be delicious and satisfying. I support my clients who choose to eat vegetarian or vegan fare, and work with them to make sure their diets are nutritionally and metabolically sound.
But many up to 75% of vegans go back to eating animal products, a full thirty-five percent because of declining health. Sometimes, the issues is more pragmatic. In this same study a former vegan states, ” I just felt hungry all the time and that hunger would not be satisfied unless I ate meat.” Clearly, a vegan diet doesn’t work for everyone.
However for this one meal no one commented that there wasn’t any animal protein. No one asked about dessert or alcohol. The food was beautiful in the way so much plant food can be.
Chili colored rice and rich brown pintos. Bright reds of salsa and watermelon with the greens of cilantro and tabbouleh. A shaded mix of dips with grainy flat breads and pita. The display was appetizing, the food on people’s plate looked fresh and delicious, and the buffet allowed guests to mix and match what they wanted to eat.
WHAT I DON’T KNOW
I remember days past filling up on mostly grains and produce myself. I too often felt bloated, and found myself overeating to try to feel satisfied. Today, my metabolism is far more stable, and even this one meal didn’t throw me much. I was careful to limit myself to a small portion of hummus, baba ganoush, and a bit of pita along with a few bites of melon. I knew I could stabilize myself with additional protein later that evening, and I did.
I don’t get to know about anyone else. I don’t know if others kept eating, struggling to feel satisfied. I don’t know if anyone planned to eat a hardier dinner after they left the reception, or maybe made do with a few bites of left over chicken or a slice of cheese once they returned home. Maybe most felt fine.
Overall, I appreciate the lesson. I spent most of my time ferrying out additional supplies and replenishing the buffet table, so I know attendees appreciated the food. I was thanked repeatedly, despite not really having much to do with it’s preparation. Everyone appeared content and happy to share the moment with friends and family, seemingly oblivious to the absence of animal protein, sugar, and alcohol.
In all, a lovely day. A chance to celebrate a special man and support his family. And under all of that, a lesson for me. I humbly acknowledge that I was wrong. Despite my concerns that vegan fare would not be enough, for this one meal it was.