“Oh my God – I’m SO sorry you can’t eat this!”
This is a phrase I have gotten so used to hearing that I barely even hear it anymore when it’s said to me. And it’s said to me a lot.
There’s this weird misconception about vegetarians and vegans that we are these sad creatures, living a life of complete deprivation, spending every waking moment wishing that we could eat non-vegetarian and non-vegan foods. I have no idea why people think this, but a lot of them do.
SIDENOTE: There probably are vegetarians and vegans out there who wish they weren’t vegetarian/vegan, but this blog is about me.*
Here’s the thing, though: I became a vegetarian by choice when I was three, and a vegan by choice when I was 17. (Note the words “by choice.”) As such, I have never had things like steak or bacon. I often have to ask my meat-eating friends what certain things even are. Like “surf and turf”? That sounds weird. And why would stuff a chicken into a turkey into a duck or whatever? That sounds ridiculous.
The only two meats I remember the taste of are chicken nuggets and sandwich ham. I remember those tastes neither fondly nor with disgust: I just remember them. But I have absolutely no desire for any of those foods. So when people are like, “It must suck to not be able to eat bacon or cheesecake or whatever,” all I can think is no, it doesn’t suck. It never even occurs to me.
But let’s talk about gluten, folks.
Or, “fucking gluten,” as my friend Louise and I refer to it.
(She’s not gluten intolerant, she’s just a damn good friend. Solidarity.)
I know I’ve mentioned that I am a gluten-free vegan. The “vegan” is by choice. The “gluten-free” is not. Over the last 3-4 years, I developed a very serious gluten intolerance. No, my blood tests do not diagnose me as Celiac, but let me put it this way: the last time I decided to test the waters and have a serving of gluten with dinner,** I ended up in the ER with facial paralysis and difficulty breathing.
Anyway, I’ve learned to live with it, and being gluten-free doesn’t really phase me anymore.
Except when I want to eat gluten.
Like some days, I’ll just stand around in my kitchen and mutter to myself about how I just wanna eat a fucking bagel. Gluten-free bread is getting better, but it’s still not the same yet.
Also, most meat substitutes are made out of vital wheat gluten. So I bitch about that, too.
Most days I’m happy as a clam.*** But some days, it’s just like, “WHY CAN’T I JUST EAT WHAT I WANT!? WHY?!”
So basically, what I’m trying to say is that I think I get it. Being gluten intolerant has taught me what people think I feel about being a vegan.
But I love vegan food. I just have a problem with fucking gluten.
*That sounded hilarious cocky. ME ME ME.
**I realize I made it sound like I ate some straight-up gluten for dinner. Actually I had veggie spring rolls, and the shell of them was enough to set me off.
***A free clam. As in one that’s not gonna get eaten.****
****I thought that would sound funnier than it does. Sorry.