Let the Eater Beware

Jane and I were out and about today and popped in to an ad hoc cooking class. The teacher was presenting different summer recipes and one of them sounded very interesting. After the class was over we chatted with the teacher for a few moments. After a few references to different meats we could incorporate into the recipes she had presented we told her we were vegan. Her first question, "Do you eat fish?" Then she suggested various ingredients we could add to certain recipes to "spice them up" -- including Worchestershire sauce, which contains ANCHOVIES! (Note: she didn't know, nor did she suggest searching for vegan Worchestershire sauce.)

This woman then went on to mention that she would be presenting a vegetarian cooking class later in the summer, and suggested we sign up. Now I understand that not everyone knows the definition of "vegan" -- I mean really, there's even debate about it within the vegan community. But if you are promoting yourself as a cooking instructor, especially one who is going to teach a class on vegetarian fare, should you have an understanding of what vegetarian means? And shouldn't you have a vague understanding of what the ingredients are in the products you are promoting?

Oh, and did I forget to mention that this woman is also a caterer?

Anyway, the point of this post is to remind everyone, ourselves included, that you don't always know what you're getting when you don't prepare your own food.


  1. Living in New York City, I do have a choice of several vegan restaurants, and avoid eating prepared food (anything beyond a salad, in which one can identify the elements) anywhere else. Going to ethnic restaurants, which can seem appealing, is always dicey because the staff isn’t likely to have a good command of the English terms relative to our diet.

  2. It is unprofessional on her part not to research the subject she’s planning to teach on further.
    But something as inconspicuous as Worcestershire sauce…?

  3. Not only unprofessional, but her teaching a class is a good way to spread bad information. I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years and am still finding out about things I didn’t realize weren’t veg… but, then again, I don’t teach a class about it. If I did, I’d at least do a little research first!

  4. I went to a store demo once in a Williams-Sonoma where their “vegetarian” cooking demo began with the removal of a chicken carcass from the broth and an explanation to the crowd not to worry with their guests b/c “vegetarian” means many things…. the management at that location was highly unresponsive to a complaint.

  5. People keep surprising me when saying that they’re also vegetarian– they only eat fish or chicken. Mmm…maybe omnivore should be one of the SAT words. Though maybe they’re familiar with both of these words, but feel strongly about vegetarianism to the point of restraining their eating habits to one or two types of animals that are quiet remote from us. Maybe by titling themselves as vegetarians they will eventually be vegetarian. It’s up to us, though, to educate the people and let them know what is the meaning and the value of vegetarianism.

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