Eight buzzed up dinner guests were having a boisterous convo about old radio sound effects at my dinner table the other night. One guy was doing a pretty good nose trombone and my brother-in-law shook a salt shaker and pounded the table to sound like a big band. It was all smiles and silliness until suddenly, there was a record scratch.
Someone softly said to my mother-in-law, "Didn't I see you pour beef fat into those onions?"
Everyone settled upon me, eyes popping, jaws dropping. What is Jenna going to do? Throw a punch? Deliver a mighty dissertation on animal rights and personal liberty? Projectile vomit and spontaneously combust?! You see, I've been a vegetarian over 20 years. If that makes me sound old, I will tell the room I've been at this since grade school. I'm over the righteous convictions and settled into the life routine of reading labels and snacking before dinner parties. It's not something I call much attention to. I eat, you eat. We eat different things. Big deal. But those close to me who cook for me know that I do not eat animal flesh. Ever. To pour beef fat into a dish and serve it to me is, well, a problem.
So what did I do? I rage-vomited on her belongings, that's what I did!!! Kidding. I looked down at my empty plate, shrugged, and told the story of the time I was in China and found a chicken toenail in my tempura. It happens. When you're a vegetarian, part of the territory is that some creepy situation is going to arise every few years where you mistakenly eat beef fat/chicken toenails/spiders in your sleep. Sure it's awkward. Yes it's gross. But the way you handle the situation, particularly if the offender is a beloved (if forgetful) family member, says more about you than your convictions about animal rights. I urge you to be gracious.
Sneaky things that contain meat/lard/meat juice/animals bones/gross stuff:
- Traditional refried beans
- Most restaurant soups
- Caesar dressing
Chances are, as you became a vegetarian you ate some of this stuff. Maybe you still do. Being a vegetarian isn't juried or judged by The Great Keepers Of Morality. It's just you, making choices on a day-by-day basis about what to eat. So if one person in your life makes a mistake and serves you something you wouldn't normally choose for yourself, just make the choice in that moment that it's okay. Basically, it's more important to be forgiving than to be angry - and that applies to more in life than eating beefy onions.
If you must know, no, I did not care for the flavor of beef.
"What do you mean, you used CHICKEN STOCK?"
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