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Food Contamination

Can anyone explain?

1 - 10 of 11 posts   1 | 2  


BFV BFV SA Posts: 138
1 15 Jun 2013
I am vegan myself but I'm just curious about something that I'm hoping someone can explain.

I am very strict about actual ingredients as well as the ethics of parent companies (animal testing, etc), however in most situations I am happy to eat products that have been processed on equipment used for non-vegan items (food that 'may contain traces of ___.')
I prefer vegan-only companies, but I also like to encourage other companies that offer vegan options by buying those products and showing them there is a market for it.
The same goes for non-vegan restaurants.

I completely understand if people choose to avoid those foods/restaurants for ethical reasons (not giving your money to anyone who harms animals.)
What I don't understand is why people go to these restaurants or a social BBQ knowing there will be non-vegan foods there, and then get upset that their food has been contaminated by a dirty knife/gloves or that their veggie patty has touched someone's meat at a BBQ.
I do understand the 'grossness' of meat... But is that all it is? I feel like, if the idea of getting contaminants from someone's gloves disgusted me that much, then I probably wouldn't choose to eat at places that served meat at all, because being around meat in general would be too disgusting.
Or is it an ethical choice to eat no traces of animal products whatsoever? Again, I feel like that logic only works if you are not buying food from those places at all - asking them to use a new knife makes no difference to the money you are giving to their business.
Hope I don't sound rude, I'm genuinely curious and would love any help to understand this. Thanks!
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KirstyGirl KirstyGirl TAS Posts: 754
3 16 Jun 2013
Cross contamination IS gross and as it's a totally unnecessary thing should be avoided. It's different to things stating "may contain traces of..." because normally they don't contain traces.. most companies list this to protect themselves when they also make things containing milk etc. which most companies do.

This would be the same deal if you were at someone elses place and your fake sausage was cooked in a CLEAN pan that had been used to cook meat in the past. It is not the same as cooking it with the meat or using a knife that had just chopped up meat to chop up your fake meat.

It IS absolutely contaminated in that case. I think everyone has their own separate lines with this but it's certainly a different issue than companies stating "may contain traces of".
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noddysmiley noddysmiley SA Posts: 75
4 17 Jun 2013
I eat vegan foods from non vegan companies. Oreo cookies are probably the most famous, and I dig 'em! I think it's good to encourage big companies to provide vegan options. I'm a bit more sceptical about restaurants. I still eat there, but I don't feel good about it if I grab some chips because I'm with my friend at KFC. I try to avoid those sort of restaurants, but I'm ok with ethnic food restaurants because I think they're generally pretty good to us veggies.

As to contamination at social occasions: I do my best to have good 'vegn* PR'. I want to put any omni friends at ease that I'm not there to judge them too much, but just give them an example of a different lifestyle and give them the reasons why if they are interested. So I see food gatherings as an opportunity. It's ok to be particular about what your food touches though, and I usually get offered a fry pan inside to prep my food at barbecues, without even asking! It's all personal choice, just be prepared as much as possible happy
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Ronnie Ronnie QLD Posts: 205
5 18 Jun 2013
I don't mind when restaurants ask about your dietary "restrictions" but I DO mind when they TOTALLY ignore them. Case in point my besties  engagement party - I spoke to restaurant about what vegan means, they said no problem we've catered for vegans before......

Rocked up at the party to be given my own waiter o look after my meal & he presents me with sushi containing EGG!!!  I spoke showed him & spoke to him.....

Main meal - stuffed zucchini flowers & ratatouille.  Yum! Until my taste buds touched the zucchini which was stuffed with cheese & had been pan-fried in prosciutto fat!!! I was highly unimpressed. I was also not allowed to tell my bestie in case it upset her.

In this case it was unacceptable & as if I wouldn't notice???  Needless to say I was sick in the stomach as I'm not used to eating animal pieces - even the small amount of prosciutto fat that dribbled into the ratatouille made my stomach painful.
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z1 z1 VIC Posts: 535
6 19 Jun 2013
I think veganism is about helping animals. Not personal purity.
I understand that some people are grossed out by dead flesh, but some people go too far and demand sandwich makers change gloves.

sometimes you go to  bbq and ask they cook your food separate,then you see the fat flying across the bbq onto your burgers, lol. You just have to bite your tongue and not be a pain in the ass about it.
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BFV BFV SA Posts: 138
7 19 Jun 2013
Thanks for the replies.

I personally find meat equally disgusting and upsetting whether it's on my plate or someone else's, so I don't have extra strong feelings about my own food being contaminated. If there is meat at a BBQ, I already find it disgusting, so a bit of animal oil on my own food is not going to make much of a difference.

I agree that social meals are an important opportunity to educate people, even if it's as simple as showing them that being veg*n is very do-able and doesn't have to exclude you from social events.
Part of my reason for being so curious about this is because it was the only exposure I had to veg*ns before I became one myself, and these particular people didn't make a very good impression on me. I remember being at a BBQ once, and this girl was making a huge fuss saying, "Ew eww ewwww, get your meat away from my veggie patty, ewwwww!!!" without taking the time to explain why she was so aversive to meat... So from my uneducated perspective, I thought her behaviour seemed pedantic and attention-seeking. On another less extreme occasion, I offered cake to a vegan who just said, "I'm vegan, I can't eat cake." I didn't even really know what a vegan was back then, but not being allowed to eat cake sounded pretty restrictive to me. I didn't even understand which ingredients were off-limits, but I wanted no part in a diet where I couldn't eat cake!
I can't help but think that if these people had been more open to discussing their lifestyles (in a calm and polite manner,) then I might have started looking into the issues a lot earlier.

I think a situation like Ronnie's is completely unacceptable though. It's so frustrating that ethical dietary requests are held in much lower regard than allergens. Imagine if someone with a peanut allergy who specifically requested no peanuts in their meal was served a plate of peanut stuffed vegetables with satay sauce. That would NEVER happen (I hope!) so why should it be so common with veg*n requests? I was unknowingly served a meal with non-vegan soy cheese the other day and had horrendous stomach pains, bloating and gas for the next 12 hours. So it's really not even that different from an allergen - when you've been a while without a certain food, your stomach just isn't ready for it! It's not the case with everyone, but I've heard many similar stories.
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Ariadne Ariadne SA Posts: 148
8 19 Jun 2013
That is a huge question! But a good one! happy

I just try to make the best choice I can under the circumstances. I travel alot so sometimes I find myself in truckstops trying to explain my vegan ethics! And I can honestly say I've met with some of the best responses and best service in said truckstops. People who were very genuinely curious and really wanted to help me out. I usually just get things like coffees, bottled drinks and sandwiches, most places are very willing to use a new knife (also aren't there food prep. guidelines about not using the same knives/cutting boards for vegetables, dairy and meat?). I avoid grill food because I am not going to stand there and ask them to clean the frkn grill on my behalf!

And I've met with the worst kind of scoffity scoff "we only serve rhinocerous pate served on a bed of fried baby birds and baked unicorn stuffed with lemmings" from fancier country restaurants in wine regions...which shall remain nameless.

When I'm at home I eat out in vegan places mainly unless I'm with omni friends. But I'm lucky because there are alot of places in Adelaide that at least cater to vegans and I like to give money to small businesses that are making a genuine effort to accommodate different diets, learn new things and understand ethics that they don't necessarily share.

With food shopping, I don't have alot of time so while I do try to buy from vegan/organic small business as much as possible, Foodland is a good everyday choice because they do have an excellent range of vegan goods in some of their stores. I also appreciate that recently Coles has started adding details about the vegetable/animal origin of additives to their labels on some of their home brand products. I picked up a packet of el cheapo garlic bread recently and was pleasantly surprised to read that the additives were all of vegetable origin (yay!!) but that it contained palm oil (ok, I will grant that it is good that they specified that the type of oil was palm oil...but my reaction was more like "you RUUUUIIIINNNNNED my DREEEAAAAAMMM!!)
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Ariadne Ariadne SA Posts: 148
9 19 Jun 2013
Ultimately, I think what my brain is trying to poop out is that I make the best choice given the limitations of the situation that I find myself in. Eh!

*edit* just saw your comment about the knife issue, basically I do like a separate prep. area/equipment for three reasons: 1. I do not like the taste, nor do I want to develop a taste for animal products. 2. As others have pointed out, if you eat something with animal products in it and your stomach isn't used to them it can make you sick. I think it has something to do with changes in gut flora once you go vegan. 3. Health/hygeine, there are so many more dangerous types of bacteria crawling on animal products than there are on veg stuff.

Hope all of that helps!  happy
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noddysmiley noddysmiley SA Posts: 75
10 19 Jun 2013
Lys said:
On another less extreme occasion, I offered cake to a vegan who just said, "I'm vegan, I can't eat cake." I didn't even really know what a vegan was back then, but not being allowed to eat cake sounded pretty restrictive to me. I didn't even understand which ingredients were off-limits, but I wanted no part in a diet where I couldn't eat cake!
Oh wow, you just made me realize something important. At my work sometimes they go around offering Fredo frogs and I always say 'no thanks' or 'I don't really eat chocolate' and only ever take something if there's a more vegan option (like sherbies, I think they're ok...). I don't really advertise the fact that I'm a vegan either, but I should probably stick to 'no thanks' and change my response to 'I don't really eat things with dairy' when I get asked why, because I don't want people thinking I entirely deprive myself of any cocoa products, lol. That would sound really off putting! Thanks happy
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