What do you do when you’ve made a choice about your diet and you are invited to dinner? Do you insist that your diet is followed there as well?

I remember my aunt telling me that she hasn’t given up eating root vegetables because when she eats out with her daughter and her family, it would restrict where they can eat. She wants the experience of eating out with them to be enjoyable, not a hassle!

I remember a friend of mine telling me that she was going to eat meat when she was invited to eat at someone else’s house. I got quite angry and felt it was unjust but I missed the point! She didn’t want to do it because she was fickle or taking the easy way out. It was because she didn’t want to ‘harm’ her friends! They had often themselves into a tizz trying to think of what to make. Often they had cooked fish or chicken but, in my mind and hers, you can’t claim to be vegetarian if you eat seafood/poultry etc. Meat is meat! This would then cause problems because she’s get there, realise it wasn’t appropriate and once they knew, they’d have to make something else or get take away for her etc. Often it would affect the mood of those present and change the atmosphere! Thus she decided to eat whatever was served and no longer say that she needed to be given certain food.

I was thinking about this recently. This is not because I am willing to eat meat. Luckily most of my family/friends know what I will and will not eat and/or they are also vegetarian. Thus this is not an issue. However, now that I am vegan, similar scenarios are occurring. So when I visit someone and lunch is thrown in, do I eat the pasta that has cheese in it already? Do I join in to the pizza party which everyone is enjoying? Do I have the already made Indian masala tea that has cow’s milk in it?

Do I turn it around and spontaneously fast? A good opportunity to test my discipline right? An opportunity to detox.

Do I take food with me wherever I go so it’s not an issue?

Do I create some sort of sheet to give family & friends detailing what I will/wont eat/drink. Prevention.

The thing is, it’s not as simple as an active choice any more. I actually feel ill if I consume dairy products. I had some tea with cow’s milk in it by accident and I felt sick. I’m not sure if it’s because I realised my mistake and I remembered the video that I saw which is what put me off dairy produce or if it’s because I’ve become intolerant to it. There’s a theory that a large proportion of people who are not Caucasian, are intolerant to dairy produce but are unaware of it. Of course, if you are intolerant to it, when you cut it out, you’re likely to feel the intolerance more and perhaps have a more noticeable reaction.

I’m still unsure of what to do. I do know that I don’t like wasting food so if I go out and order something, for example, pizza which I learn has dairy products in the base, I won’t let it be binned. If I tell the staff, they’ll probably let me order something else but that pizza will go to waste. In my mind that’s unacceptable. That’d be a waste in terms of food and what the cows went through would be in vain too!

Any comments/ideas?

Related Posts with Thumbnails


Ajay · October 10, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Hi Heena,

Really love what you wrote above and when I read it I thought….”I don’t know”…..so that in itself is such a discovery, I’m still trying to find out, living in it….putting aside customs, traditions, etiquettes…for they are not life…not getting caught up in those things…

Here are some words from J.Krishnamurti which I liked v. much-

“The fact is that truth is life, and life has no permanency. Life has to be discovered, it cannot be taken for granted.If you take it for granted that you know life, you are not living. Life is something to be discovered; and you cannot discover it if you have not lost, if you have not put aside the things that you have found.”

Anyways….sending you a few blessings to add grace to your day….much love + peace


Heena Modi · October 11, 2008 at 6:51 pm

Thanks Ajay
The words you’ve shared are quite eye-opening. Reminds us to reflect and re-assess!

Re my ‘I don’t know’….let me know if you work out

Heens 🙂

Koonal Shah · March 13, 2009 at 12:34 am

I think that’s it hugely important not to alienate and antagonise others when discussing your ethical beliefs, particularly when you want to portray an image of vegetarians/vegans/fruitarians/etc. being humble and accepting of others.

The inconsistency/hypocracy issue is probably the biggest
criticism that I have received from others, and I find that the best response is to simply accept that some of my beliefs *may* by inconsistent but state that I feel that I am doing the best that I can, given the environment I live in and the limitations of my willpower. As long as I don’t try to be argumentative, most people seem to accept this response and are generally sympathetic towards my beliefs.

Sagar Shah · March 13, 2009 at 12:38 am

You say it is important not to alienate others and antagonise them, but rather to be accepting of their beliefs – but being accepting of their beliefs and actions, requires being accepting of the harm that their actions causes others.

Yes none of us are perfect – but as long as we are striving to be as ethical as possible, if we are accepting of others performing harmful actions is that as bad as us performing the actions are ourselves….

Perhaps look at this example:

On many occassions at university – my friends would ask me to either:

a) Pick up a can of tuna when I was doing shopping at tescos to save them the trip

b) Pick up a burger / chicken on the way home from uni…

One the one hand – I could be accepting of their views, acknowledge that they were going to buy it anyway and purchase the items on their behalf…

But on the other – doing that would almost undermine what I believe in.

If I were to refuse to do something (i.e. antagonise them and not accept their actions)- and offering only to bring home vegan items on their behalf – they could refuse to bring home vegan items for me when I ask them to buy things on my behalf to save me time….

Fortunately I did not have that great a problem – after the first time we had a discussion – we spoke about my views (and in fact my muslim house mate had a similar view with respect to alcohol and non-halal meat) – and most agreed that it would be unfair for them to ask me to purchase something that I believed to be wrong – and so did not
ask me again after the first time. they also acknowledged veganism to be something they would strive towards – but felt it was far too difficult to even be vegetarian…

Even if this situation seems a bit too simple – there are other occasions where being accepting of others views can be damaging for yourself:

For example if going out to eat with non-vegetarian colleagues or friends… one member of the group has the ability to influence the restaurant chosen (i.e. I know that if I put enough effort into it – that my non-vegetarian friends will eat at a vegetarian restaurant – but if I don’t we will end up eating at a non-vegetarian restaurant)…

The amount of animals that consumed on that evening thus becomes a direct result of the effort put into choosing what restaurant to go to by the vegetarian. If one inteprets being accepting of other peoples views as one which allows others to eat where they choose, being accepting of their views indirectly causes individuals who believe that killing animals for food to be wrong to allow unnecessary killing of animals for food to take place.

Its very difficult to strike the balance between being accepting, antagonising, understadning and consistent with your beliefs…..

Its all well and good to only want to asociate oneself with other vegans that don’t require you to put yourself in that a position that will compromise these values, but at the same time unless you try and do something about what is going on in the greater world (and thus are in touch in non vegans) you will never able to achieve desirable change….

Jonathan · March 13, 2009 at 12:39 am


I think you’ve hit on one of the classic moral dilemnas (ie. running errands for friends / colleagues who ask you to buy something that’s against your principles).

I have come up against this problem many times myself and am ashamed to say that even within the last year I have bought meat products for colleagues at work. However, I have since spoken to my superiors and have been excused from such duties in future.

It would be interesting to know if there are any vegans who would refuse to fetch cheese sandwiches, kurma curries or naan bread etc for their vegetarian friends.

I also wonder if, when in these sorts of situations, it would carry more weight if we refused to fetch such products on religious grounds ie Jainism) as opposed to vegan / vegetarian grounds.

Best wishes

5 Articles That Illustrate Heena’s Character | Suraj Dinesh Shah · May 5, 2010 at 10:28 am

[…] When your diet affects others. What do you do?, Heena explores some of the social considerations of following a vegan diet and how to overcome […]

Comments are closed.