Everyone knows about peanut allergies and shellfish and they are serious allergies but the people who suffer from them can if they choose still eat lamb chicken steak hamburgers and hotdogs, in short an average carnivorous diet.
Now if I say vegan most carnivores’ picture peace loving hippies sitting cross-legged on a cushion chanting Om, most people consider it a choice that has no medical complications!
Well There are people like me amongst the vegan community who while we believe that there is no need for so called humane slaughter (no such thing exists) and are now devout vegans we started out vegan because of birth defect or in my case violent injury prohibiting our ability to digest anything animal related which includes.
Any dairy product whatsoever
Any flesh (yes fish is an animal and considered flesh)
Stock cubes (they’re dried up dead animal)
So in short, my stomach and digestive system lacks the organs or natural ability to digest or break down or tolerate in any way any of the above or any dish containing them. Consumption of the above in the minimum ends up with severe vomiting in the worst collapse, hospitalization stomach pumping even surgery.
This in my case is because in my twenties I was stabbed with a very large blade cuting me from breast to pubis and saving my life meant taking out most of what digests any of the above.
Now Imagine what is required to live this way? when I lived back in Australia I managed a clothing store next to a sandwich shop and each day I ordered lunch. Now the owner knew to take precautions when preparing my food but one day he was sick, That day his wife cut a chicken sandwich then cut my tofu wrap without cleaning the knife or using a new one.
I consumed the wrap and hour later collapsed in agony clutching my stomach, my agony was caused by The small amount of juices from the chicken sanwhich on the knife that was mixed into my sandwhich when it was cut was enough to send me to the ER!
I have dozens of stories like that, so for me to find a diner or café I trust is huge they are few and far between, well until this sunday past we thought the verandah restaurant on northern boulevard bayside queens was such a place.
They are a Greek restaurant that we started going to for brunch on Sundays, and they had till this weekend been careful.
But ordering my meal goes something like this “hi I am interested in the hummus salad wrap but I need to know how the hummus, the wrap the dressing the salad are made and then how they are cooked and if the chef cooks them on the same surface as meat does he change knives and utensils for vegan food if you can go ask we’ll wait?”
So the verandah used to bring safe Italian bread and olive oil for dipping, this week they changed it to pita bread hot and Greek dips so of course we went through the usual duty of care and could only have one dip we were assured everything was safe ? Little did we know?
My wrap was taking a while so I ate a fair bit of the pita, when my wrap arrived I was sweating and clammy and overheated but I ate it. Within five minutes of finishing I threw it all back up plus my breakfast and was feeling like I was about to pass out.
The manager was called he assured me it wasn’t them, then I asked how he heated the pita? He replied on the hamburger flat grill? I said “so you heated my bread on the flat plate where you cook omelettes pancakes hamburgers steaks fish?” Yes he replied I was flabbergasted I said to him “when you have sauce left how do you eat it?” he replied “I sop it with bread” exactly I replied because bread sops everything up like a sponge.
A light went on, he had heated the bread of someone who could end up in surgery just from the small amount of chicken juice from cutting a sandwich on the same grill as every meat dish and breakfast eggs he had ever cooked in a 400 seat restaurant? My pita was flavored with every dead animal and dairy product they had on the menu?
If you Have fries and like me can’t eat animal product, potatos like bread absorb five times their weight in oil. That is the oil flavored by the fried fish, the fried prawns, the fried schnitzel and veal parm in short your fries are animal infused ?
Do you ever consider the cooking method of your meal when you’re out? The waiter tells the nut allergy sufferer no nuts are in their food but did the apprentice just finely chop walnuts on the same chopping board as the parsley for your pasta? If so I guarantee the best he did was a quick wipe with a rag so your parsley is infused with enough nut dust to make you vomit if not cause an unwanted ride to hospital?
To all of us who live with life threatening disabling allergies please be vigilant your dinner partners might get bored but at least you won’t get dead nothing kills the dinner conversation like a corpse at the table!
To the restaurant and diner owners if you think Zagat’s can kill business with a bad rating or a C on your window will turn away customers see what ABC prime time news will do for it with a headline like “disabled woman dies at city eatery because chefs didn’t listen to allergy warnings”
Yes the manager of verandah comped the meal but only after 45 minutes of arguing it couldn’t have been them, well nick if it had been more than the juice (say the cheese that was in the salad we had to send back because the waitress didn’t get cheese came from animals) 4 minutes can be the difference between life and death 45 would be the difference between my widow suing you for so much money your unborn grandchildren would owe us!
Instead of arguing from your total lack of medical knowledge whether “that little piece of cheese won’t hurt” just listen and make a note and make sure your chef your lady plating your waiter delivering get the memo and we all leave happy but even more important we all leave alive!