How to navigate social events as a vegan?

I am very new to this.

I used to be the kind of person who, mentally, judged people who caused a fuss about what they could and couldn’t eat, even for allergy reasons. To me, an allergy is the sign that your house was too sterile as a child, perhaps you weren’t allowed to play in the mud, climb trees, eat everything you could reach – yes, I know it’s far more complicated than that, but my brain still automatically jumps to those conclusions.

Prior to a couple of weeks ago, but since going vegan, I wouldn’t have made much of an effort or a fuss about making sure my food was vegan. But then I drank some of a cow’s milk latte by mistake and felt hideous for several hours afterwards (another post about that incident coming soon). I don’t consider this to be an allergy, but more that my body has been so used to the feeling of drinking and eating huge amounts of dairy since I was a child, that it didn’t bother it before; I kept the gut bacteria that could process it. But after a month of absolutely no dairy, those bacteria had gone/been decimated, so when I drank that cow’s milk latte, I had discomfort within 30 seconds.

Adults were never meant to consume dairy (I didn’t get this memo until a few months ago). It is for children to get all the nutrients and hormones to grow up big and strong. Cow’s milk is specifically for baby cows to get all the nutrients and hormones to grow up bigger and stronger than a human. Also, it’s really cruel and heartbreaking when you learn how farms keep their supply of milk continuous (another post on this soon).

Anyway, I’ve had a few social events since becoming a full vegan, and I’m happy to report, all have been fine, mostly.

Firstly, lunch with my boyfriend’s family in a country pub. Marylebone station is truly horrific for vegan food. I didn’t have long before our train, but not one place offered any vegan options, or made it clear that there were any vegan options. M&S had a spinach wrap that looked appetising until I saw it had a feta dressing in it.Β Β I nearly cried with hunger before finding some “Emily” apple crisps in Boots and running for the train. The pub (The Castle at Edgehill) was fine, though not a huge selection for me; the heirloom tomato bruschetta and mug of onion soup were delicious.

Secondly, a workshop day with my London Local Etsy team (I also make jewellery in my spare time: CleaMadeThis.com). I’d made sure that they knew my sugar-free and vegan dietary requirements well in advance, and luckily, there were other vegans there, all clamouring to make sure they got their food first (some were really pushy about it – cutting the queue saying “I’m a vegan, I’m a vegan”. It was fun to say, “Me too! Me too! Stop barging in.”). The food was great! There was a huge selection of vegan wraps and salads and desserts, they also had Oatly milk, which is my milk of choice in coffee.

Thirdly, a BBQ with my boyfriend’s friends from back home. I spent the afternoon before making up little boxes of vegetables and tofu to put on kebab skewers. I even made a beetroot and chocolate cake. But the host had gone to the trouble to make sure he already had loads of vegetarian options (vegan kebabs, apart from the halloumi) and vegan pasta salad. The next morning he made sure that the pub we were going to for lunch would be able to accommodate me well – we ended up at The Greyhound in Derby which did an excellent butternut squash and avocado pizza (usually with mozzarella), and had several other options that could be easily made vegan.

Fourthly, today I had to tell a friend, whose wedding is in just over a months time, that I am now a vegan. Luckily, she had sent a message saying they needed all dietary requirements by the 1st August (I think she had spotted through social media that I might have changed some things), but I had put off letting her know because I didn’t want to cause a fuss and thought it would be fine as a one-off. IΒ said only if it’s not a hassle to change it now and that I’ll help in any way I can. I haven’t heard back yet, so I really hope it was received well.

What do you do in that situation?

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