I’m a Bad Kid

What circle of hell is reserved for people who unintentionally serve meat to vegetarians?

This week I made my Grandma’s Imitation Chow Mein hotdish recipe, and it turned out really well. I also made a vegetarian version that replaced the ground beef with diced portobello mushrooms. Both versions turned out really well, and everybody liked it.

I had an “oh, shit!” moment later when I realized that the vegetarian version was not as advertised: one of the base ingredients in the hotdish is chicken noodle soup. You’d think having the word “chicken” there would clue me in, or perhaps the chicken broth or even the little pieces of chicken. ::thunks head on desk repeatedly::

Obviously, at this point, it’s a little too late to undo the damage, but it was just an honest (in the unthinking/unintentional sense) mistake. thinks that I shouldn’t say anything, but you probably already all know how easily guilt-ridden my conscience is, so I’m obviously going to apologize. I can understand his position, in that saying anything will likely at least get me in trouble and possibly offend the people in question, but I’m just too open or something.

I know some of you out there are vegetarians, so two questions: (1) How would you suggest I break the news? I was thinking something like “I want to apologize because I realized that the dish I cooked earlier this week actually contained meat in the form of chicken noodle soup. I just didn’t think.” (2) How would you react if someone told you that something you had eaten (and enjoyed!) had contained some meat?

::sigh:: Suggestions welcome.

You know me; perpetuating the omnivoranormative paradigm, one dish at a time.

Sally Simpson” from Tommy by The Who

12 comments on “I’m a Bad Kid
  1. sammka says:

    I know this gets in the way of apologizing, but I’m pretty sure I just wouldn’t want to know if I accidentally ate something with meat in it. Comma seems to be of the same opinion. We often risk eating things that have broth or stock made from animals, since people very often forget that that’s not vegetarian. Usually we make a good-faith effort to make sure that what we’re eating doesn’t have nonvegetarian stuff in it, but we usually prefer not to know that something we’ve already eaten had meat in it. We also have a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy about animal broth/stock in a dish if that dish is the only thing to eat, since we don’t want to eat things that we know are meat, and we also don’t want to go hungry.

    But if someone were going to tell me, I think the way you’re thinking of doing it is as good as any. In which case I probably wouldn’t be angry (I’ve had relatives intentionally feed me something with meat hidden in it, so often if I find meat in something I’ll get mad and wonder if they just don’t care about my dietary restrictions, but if someone goes out of their way to apologize about something I don’t notice, then obviously I won’t assume it was deliberate). I’d feel sort of unclean, though, and I’d bug you a lot more in the future about the vegetarianness of what you’re serving me.

  2. uncleamos says:

    If they didn’t get sick, then their omnivorous digestive track is still functioning properly, and no harm has been done.

  3. shipwright says:

    As has been said, it might be best just not to say anything, and to take it as a lesson for next time. Some vegetarians are more disturbed by the thought of accidental meat consumption than others; for some, the revelation that they accidentally had a bit of meat, even a week ago, may be very off-putting. But you’re an earnest fellow, and the mistake was an honest one, so I am sure that the apology outlined above would afford no dire consequences.

  4. sildra says:

    I’m a vegetarian for different reasons than a lot of people, so accidental consumption of meat wouldn’t even matter to me–I say I’m a vegetarian because I’m a picky eater and I’ve found that I’m much more likely to like something if it doesn’t have meat than if it does, so “vegetarian” becomes a convenient label. So perhaps my perspective isn’t the best on the subject. But…

    My advice would be not to tell them. At this point there’s nothing you or they can do about it, so no reason to cause needless grief. If you are going to say anything about it, I’d suggest waiting until next time you’re going to cook for them, when you might want to say (before you make the dish) that you made a mistake last time so you’re going to be even more careful this time.

  5. stormwynd says:

    I’d say fess up as you described in your post. Assuming that the people you accidentally fed meat to are reasonable and understand that it was an accident and not something intentional on your part, I’d like to hope that all would be well, and you could cease feeling quite so guilty about it. I also think it’s basic respect for you to tell them — you’re acknowledging that their vegetarianism is important enough to you that you want them to know what happened.

    In an unrelated note — HOT DISH! *sighs nostalgically* I still refer to casserole-type dishes as hot dishes and confuse everyone with my Minnesota-speak.

  6. greebsnarf says:

    I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat seafood for a bunch of reasons (including weird principles and occasionally getting violently ill from it). I think if I were accidentally fed seafood, and I didn’t realize it at the time, I’d prefer never to know about it–if I found out later I’d be somewhat disgusted. On the other hand, although I’d rather not know, I certainly wouldn’t be angry if the cook told me apologetically, and I might just get angry if I somehow found out or suspected it but wasn’t told or apologized to. So… I guess I’d agree with the majority that it’s fine, and respectful, to tell them and apologize, especially if you are feeling guilty about it.

  7. showergrrl says:

    Yeah… I was a vegetarian for 6 years, and I was always of the “I’d rather not know” variety. However, if you were to tell mem, I’d be sort of unhappy, but I’d understand your reasons. Plus, it’s always possible that these people had *some* unpleasant stomach reaction, and it might be better for your cooking-with-them-relationship to know that it was probably because of the accidental meat rather than because of your cooking.

  8. giantlaser says:

    It’s good of you to be honest. But there is a difference between honesty for the sake of atoning for a lie and honesty solely for the sake of easing your conscience. When you are being honest solely for the sake of easing your conscience, and unloading your conscience will burden another’s, you are doing the wrong thing. Don’t make the mistake again, and otherwise forget about.

    If you really must, go ask the people you served, discretely, if they’d prefer to know in a hypothetical situation. Then you have your answer. But do it carefully.

  9. sashita says:

    I don’t know what’s funnier: the situations you find yourself in or the way you talk about getting out.

    But seriously. I have no advice to offer you, since I am omnivorous, despite whatever “vibe” I may give off.

  10. tirerim says:

    I am also in the “I’d rather not know” camp. If someone accidentally fed me something with meat in it and then told me about it, I wouldn’t feel sick at the thought of it or anything (though I know people who would), but I’d still be annoyed about it.

  11. Nicolas Ward says:

    You have a vibe? I guess that explains why Dan… never mind. Don’t kill me.

  12. sashita says:

    wow…a lewd joke?? from NICK???

    I simultaneously want to say
    a) nice one!
    b) grow up, dude
    and
    c) awww…nick is growing up, isn’t that cuuuuute

Nurd Up!