“Hello, I’m just calling to let you know about something for our stay next week.”
“One of us is vegetarian, the other is vegan.”
“That’s not a problem. Bye -”
“Hang on. So that’s OK, you know what a vegan is?”
“Oh yes, that will be fine.”
“OK that’s really wonderful. We’ll also be needing a packed lunch – will that be alright for a vegan?”
“Oh yes – you just pick one of the sandwiches and a drink and a chocolate biscuit – ”
“And what sandwiches would you have?”
“Well, we have ham, tuna, prawn…”
“Hang on, none of those are even vegetarian. Do you actually know what a vegan is?”
“Well I was just telling you what sandwiches we did.”
“That’s OK. So what do you have for a vegan?”
“Well, what do you eat?”
“Um, no meat, fish, dairy or egg. Peanut butter is alright, and – ”
“Oh yes, that will be fine. OK, bye – ”
“Hang on – I think I’d better speak to the kitchen. Oh, or maybe it’s busy at the moment – dinnertime and that…”
“Oh yes, it’s very busy.”
“Well could you tell me a time to call back?”
“What kind of time?”
“After 12. Bye.”
And you would be amazed how often this happens.
Then the woman phoned me back to tell me that she had talked to the chef and it was going to be salad or nothing. She told me I was free to bring anything I wanted. I tried to debate her. I talked about how peanut butter is cheap and how it keeps, but how it is also rather heavy for a walker to carry – we’ll be walking 120 or so miles that week. She said I could leave the peanut butter when I left the next morning. I reminded her that there would be the next place to worry about, and the place after that. Probably where I lost her is trying to defend veganism and suggesting that she should be prepared to cater for vegans since there is so much choice for us now. I dared to suggest that non-vegetarians could equally enjoy food that was vegan. She said she didn’t need a lecture and suggested I stay elsewhere. I said I’d be lucky to find anywhere else (we’re on a walking holiday and it’s in the middle of the country) and I would like to keep my reservation. I thanked her for finding out the information, which I appreciated, and told her that reluctantly I would resort to carrying a jar of peanut butter around the countryside to stave off malnutrition. Then I said goodbye. I wasn’t looking forward to staying there anymore, but I didn’t think we’d have much choice this late on in high summer.
Then she called me back again and told me we couldn’t say with her. I told her she’d left us high and dry. She asked for my address to refund the deposit.
I’m very tired of this kind of thing. And that’s about all I have to say on it at the moment because I’d better look for another place to stay. And I’m also a bit upset because I’ve been made to feel like an unwanted guest.
All I asked for was peanut butter.