Monday, February 25, 2013

"Vegetarian" Might Not Be, Upsets Hostess By Eating Bacon

Dear Tazi:

My best friend from college recently came for a visit and was staying with me for the week. "Karen" is a self-proclaimed vegetarian, so in order to accommodate her dietary needs and make her stay in my home as pleasant as possible, I went a little overboard. Yes, she told me not to make a big deal of her diet; that she would eat the meals that I serve and avoid the foods she could not eat, but as her hostess and her friend I wanted to make her feel at home. I went out and bought a vegetarian cookbook and the necessary supplies to cook the recipes. I spent a great deal of time in the kitchen creating special vegetarian meals that looked appetizing and that my family would eat. Karen told me that the food was delicious, and thanked me for the efforts.

While in town, Karen had plans that did not involve me (and I was fine with that) but we did agree to meet up for coffee one afternoon; I am really wishing that I hadn't. As I walked into the coffee shop I noticed that Karen had arrived before me, and was halfway through a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich! I expressed my shock to Karen over the idea that she was eating animal products, and she told me that she was not vegan so eggs and cheese are an OK part of her diet; and as for bacon she responded, "Well, sometimes I slip. I love bacon".

Tazi, I put in a great deal of time and expense to work around her vegetarian diet and am hurt to find out that she is not a vegetarian - not a real one, anyway. I tried to keep my cool through the rest of Karen's visit, but it was difficult as I continued to prepare the vegetarian meals I had already planned for the week. I think Karen noticed that something was wrong, but she did not say anything. After she left, I released my stress and anger to my husband, who laughed over the idea of me walking in on Karen eating meat! He thought the whole thing was hysterical!

I am considering sending Karen an email expressing my upset with her, and asking for an apology for her lies and maybe even reimbursement for the cost of the vegetarian cookbook, which was not cheap. My husband says that I am overreacting and that I should let the whole thing go, but he was not the one who was put out in the kitchen, or the one who was misled to believe that a special menu was necessary. I realize - as my husband pointed out - that Karen said not to go through any trouble on her part, but who actually believes a guest when they say that?

Steamed (Not Boiled)

Dear Steamed (Not Boiled):

I am assuming that your signature is a play on the way you cooked the vegetables during Karen's visit? Steaming really is the best way to prepare veggies, since it allows the veggies to retain their nutrients that would otherwise leech out into the boiling water. Just a tip...I did not mean to digress from your concern.

Not to take sides, but your husband has a point: Karen told you not to make a big deal out of her diet, and apparently she meant it; it was you who ignored her requests. Consider the cost of the cookbook, vegetarian menu, and your time spent in the kitchen the cost of being a gracious hostess to an old friend, as well as the cost of a lesson learned (that lesson being to take people at their word).

Rather than email Karen to vent, why not email her to let her know that you enjoyed seeing her and that you are sorry that you were agitated towards the latter half of her visit; that seeing her eat meat really threw you for an emotional loop, and that you hope your reaction did not put a damper on her visit. This will give Karen the chance to profess her apologies for misleading you with the idea that she is a strict vegetarian. There are all kinds of vegetarians - from the strictest of the strict (vegans) to those who will eschew red meat but eat fish (because fish have a very poorly developed sensory nervous system). While there are those who would not consider Karen a true vegetarian, there are those - including Karen - who do consider her one. Not being a vegetarian yourself, I do not believe that this is your judgement call to make.

In the end, try to remember the happy parts of your visit with your old friend, and work towards reestablishing the ties that have bound you together over the years.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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