I celebrated my birthday with my family over this past weekend. As always, our time revolved around food. When my mother called me to make birthday plans, the conversation was strained.
"Are you still on the vegan diet?" she asked.
"It's not a diet Mom, it's just the way we choose to eat," I said.
"Well we still don't know what you can't eat," she said.
This squicks me greatly. I can eat whatever I want. I choose not to eat animals and their byproducts. But I let that one go.
"We could have tacos," (our traditional family birthday meal), "but I don't know what you'd put in them," she said.
I think - mmmm grilled veggie tacos.
"We could barbeque, but I don't know what we'd barbeque for you guys," she continued.
I think - mmmm grilled portobellos for sandwiches.
"And I have no idea what we'd have with it. I really don't have any idea what you eat," she said.
At this point I take a deep sigh. I've explained this to her several times. My father, her husband, used to be vegan, for baby Jesus's sake. It's not that hard. No animal nor product of an animal passes my lips. One would think she'd get it by now. One would be wrong.
I offer up a quick summary of what we eat ... again - veggies, fruit, grains, rice, couscous, beans, lentils, pasta ... plenty.
I eventually suggested we go out for dinner. She agrees this would be easiest for everyone. So we make plans to eat at our local Old Spaghetti Factory. It's close, cheap, pretty good, generally loud which is nice when you're bringing a three-year-old, and I'm pretty sure they can accommodate vegans.
"What about a birthday cake?" Mom asks.
"I'd love a birthday cake, but it needs to be vegan," I said.
"I don't know how to make a vegan cake," she said. "What about a lemon-poke cake?" (my long-time favorite).
"Well, it uses a boxed cake mix, I'm pretty sure it's probably got some powdered milk or something I don't eat in it," I said. Not to mention HFC and tons of preservatives and other crap I'd rather do without.
We agree that I don't really need cake. But wait, there's more...
"Your father really wanted to use his new ice cream maker, but you can't eat ice cream," she said.
I think - don't ... not can't ... don't. And then I think about the dairy in ice cream and all the sudden I hear Zuzu Bailey's voice, a la "It's a Wonderful Life", in my head saying, "Look Mom! Teacher says, every time we drink some milk, a calve is slaughtered for veal."
"How about sorbet? Can he make sorbet in his ice cream maker?"
"Well ... yes, he can! He's been wanting to try a new recipe for pineapple sorbet," she said.
"That sounds great," I said.
"But it has coconut milk in it," she said. "Can you have coconut milk?"
I'm crying on the inside, now.
"Yes, coconut milk is fine," I said.
So, my birthday was relatively uneventful after that. We went out to eat and the waitress was very helpful, making suggestions to accommodate us. I had a wonderful plate of fettuccine with steamed broccoli and a mushroom marinara sauce that was quite tasty.
We went to my parent's house after we ate and enjoyed a wonderful pineapple sorbet that had fresh ginger in it. It was so good! I'm going to try to get the recipe from my Dad.
All said, it was a good birthday. I am really hoping, however, that I won't have to go through this same line of questioning every time we eat together. It's almost exactly the conversation we had prior to Christmas and my father's birthday in January. Eventually, I'll get to stop repeating myself.