Bad title. I didn’t order duck, she did. Still, it presented a dilemma all vegans face from time to time.
I was eating at a well-known restaurant in Northern California. I asked for a vegan meal. She ordered duck. Just like that: “I’ll have the duck.” She did not ask: “Do you mind? But I don’t think I would have said anything had she done so.
My belief, at least until that moment, was you don’t dictate to friends what they can and cannot eat in your presence. Imagine if she had objected to my vegan dish: “Would you mind terribly ordering something with meat?”
Of course nobody does that. But could I ask her to order something that would satisfy my sensibilities, while offending hers? It seemed churlish.
But I was not prepared for the impact those four simple words had on me: “I’ll have the duck.” I felt sick. The Duck? The Duck?? You mean that small animal who hours before had been innocently carrying on her life as nature intended, doing what ducks do? You are going to eat that duck? Eat her? “Are you insane,” I felt like shouting, conjuring up the ghost of Geraldine Ferraro.
I didn’t say anything. My meal was already ruined, why spoil hers? Nobody likes an argumentative vegan.
Yet I felt almost complicit in the murder of that duck, sitting there, quietly munching away at my vegan meal without saying a single word in defense of ducks. For that duck it was too late. But maybe my words would save a different duck, on some future occasion. Maybe my dinner companion would suddenly think: “He’s right. This is the whole lifetime of the duck I’m taking just for the sake of a few minutes of my pleasure. No more.”
So what should a vegan do? Dine only with the like-minded? Raise polite objections? I really don’t know.