One of my favorite blogs is Captain Awkward, an advice column blog.  The advice is always thoughtful and often funny, and the comment section is ruthlessly moderated to be a safe and interesting space.  Today I was reading a recent post with a letter from a person who has recently become vegan and who was learning how to talk to her friends about her new passion for animal rights, social justice, and mindful eating.  HOO BOY do I have THOUGHTS about this subject.  Additionally, there is a fascinating discussion going on in the comments about these subjects (and more! intersectionality! veganism around the world and in history! really, this is the one site on the internet where the comments are OK!).  However, since there are 350+ comments as of right now, I can’t wade through all of them, so I thought I’d share my thoughts with you on my own blog.

Here at Harvest Kitchen we work hard to provide options for people who have different dietary restrictions and preferences.  Of course, we’re a fairly small operation and we don’t always have something for everyone all of the time, but we try to keep it varied, and you won’t find us judging you for your choices. So, I want to offer some tips about how to make conversations about food go more smoothly, coming from our expert experience.

If you have a dietary restriction or preference:

  • Let hosts and friends know about your dietary restrictions ASAP.  Whenever we have a new friend for a meal at our house, “Do you have any dietary restrictions?” is one of the first questions we ask so we can plan our menu to make sure there’s something our guests can eat.
  • Let food service professionals know about your dietary restrictions. At Harvest Kitchen, when customers ask for recommendations, we like to ask if they are vegetarian or vegan, because there’s nothing worse than trying to convince a vegan/celiac to buy lasagna! We want to recommend something that you WILL like, so help us out by letting us know what you can eat!
  • Be gracious about your food choices.  Don’t preach–you won’t win any converts by acting superior to others.
  • Educate others!  Let friends and relatives know about the details of your food choices (can you eat honey? soy sauce?).  Also, if someone asks about WHY, feel free to share your reasons as much as you feel comfortable! You don’t have to go into a million medical reasons if that’s too personal, but if it’s about ethics, frame it as a personal preference (see above about not preaching) but do share the interesting facts you’ve learned about factory farming or whatever.  Maybe we can all learn from one another.

IF you have a FRIEND or FAMILY MEMBER with a dietary restriction:

  • Learn about your friend’s dietary needs so you can provide safe and tasty food (can they eat honey? soy sauce?)
  • Find restaurants and recipes that can accommodate their needs so that you can enjoy your friend’s company at meals and outings.
  • Be patient and understanding.  Your friend is not being vegan AT you–it is their choice.  They (shouldn’t) think worse of you for not also following their diet, so DON’T be defensive.
  • Ask questions.  Be courteous as you learn more about what influenced your friend to change their diet.  Remember, this isn’t about picking apart their arguments, so much as learning what is important to your friend, which is what friends do.
  • If it’s a medical situation, don’t share random internet finds with your friend–support what their doctor is recommending.

That’s what I’ve got for now–anyone else have ideas for do’s and don’ts??  If you’re puzzled about what to feed a vegan for Thanksgiving, check out our “Pies and Sides” section for some delicious vegan and vegetarian friendly options!

In the mean time, here’s the menu for the week:

Omnivore

(made fresh Monday and Thursday–also available Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market)

Jambalaya with Rice – Rich flavors, Creole spices, summer-fresh vegetables, and of course delicious sausage and chicken. Couldn’t ask for more! Gluten free. Single Serving $10
Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and Bacon –  Our ever-popular creamy mac and cheese gets a fancy makeover with fresh broccoli and crispy Michigan bacon. Yum! Single Serving $10
Cauliflower Millet Soup – This hearty soup is inspired by a favorite recipe from Diet for a Small Planet. It’s a delicious (vegan) alternative to the usual cream-of type soups–full of savory flavors that will have you coming back for more. Gluten Free. Pint $7
Roasted Butternut Delight  – A simple, delightful autumn side dish: roasted squash paired with cranberries and feta.  Gluten free. Pint $8 or Half Pint $5
Salad Mix with House Dressing  — A delicious green salad blend featuring fresh seasonal greens from a variety of local farms, paired with our delicious seasonal salad dressing. Gluten Free. 5 oz salad with 4 oz dressing $8

Vegetarian

(made fresh Monday and Thursday–also available Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market)

Vegetarian Jambalaya with Rice – Rich flavors, Creole spices, summer-fresh vegetables, and hearty black-eyed peas for protein. Couldn’t ask for more! Gluten free. Single Serving  $10
Mac and Cheese with Broccoli  –  Our ever-popular creamy mac and cheese gets a fancy makeover with fresh broccoli. Yum!  Single Serving $10
Cauliflower Millet Soup – This hearty soup is inspired by a favorite recipe from Diet for a Small Planet. It’s a delicious (vegan) alternative to the usual cream-of type soups–full of savory flavors that will have you coming back for more. Gluten Free. Pint $7
Roasted Butternut Delight  – A simple, delightful autumn side dish: roasted squash paired with cranberries and feta.  Gluten free. Pint $8 or Half Pint $5
Salad Mix with House Dressing  — A delicious green salad blend featuring fresh seasonal greens from a variety of local farms, paired with our delicious seasonal salad dressing. Gluten Free. 5 oz salad with 4 oz dressing $8