Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Lying about food allergies does more harm than good

This week I saw another article about a mother lying about food allergies so that their vegan lifestyle would be taken seriously. This got me thinking.

Food allergies are a life threatening issue that causes major effects if a food is eaten that one is allergic to. Veganism is a personal choice that as one chooses not to eat any dairy or animal by product. That is a personal choice. No one chooses to have food allergies. No one chooses or likes to experience anaphylaxis.

Restaurants have the ability to accommodate those with food allergies. Some do it better than others though. Sometimes, though, it takes research. Planning, asking, calling, emailing, and inquiring about certain foods, cross contamination, ingredients, and methods used to cook. All that happens before one can eat out. It is a daunting experience, sometimes, to trust others to cook for a food allergic. However, most can effectively do that. Restaurants that are good with food allergies earn respect of others in the food allergy community. If someone says they are "allergic" when it's just a personal choice then that does not build the awareness of food allergies. It is just lying. It discredits the term "food allergy.
Pure, plain, and simple. There are both food allergy aware restaurants and vegan options available for all. Researching and asking questions can help.

Chef Keith Norman is no stranger to food allergies and has dedicated his career to providing options to those with food allergies. Norman presently serves as the food and safety manager and Assistant Executive chef at South Point hotel in Las Vegas. Having met Norman at the Food Allergy Bloggers conference last year, he truly "gets" food allergies and successfully fed many with sensitivities and anaphylactic allergens at the conference. He continues to work with the hotel to assure that those with food allergies and other food difficulties can eat safely. With his team of chefs, they successfully fed all without incident. That, in itself, is a huge accomplishment.

The bottom line is simple. Food allergies are severe and have the potential to cause anaphlyaxis even with the smallest bite. Veganism is a personal choice and will not cause anaphylaxis even with the smallest molecule. While vegans have a choice to avoid all animal derivatives, food allergics must take strict avoidance to the foods that could potentially kill them. The smallest molecule, for me, will cause anaphylaxis. Respect each others beliefs and their personal life choices, yes, but do not lie about food allergies just if you are choosing not to eat something.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So glad to meet you on Twitter! One thing I've noticed recently is people who are vegans being upset by statements that say "may contain milk" or "processed in a plant that contains milk." In these conversations, they honestly never bring up the fact that the statements are there for allergies and instead question why they are there in the silliest ways. As we already know, we need more awareness for allergies, but it bothers me that allergies never pop up in said conversations.

P.S: I also have Celiac Disease, and I actually always say, "I have Celiac Disease, so I cannot have any product that has any contact with gluten." However, frequently the terminology used in the back is a "gluten allergy" (which celiac is not) to forewarn the chefs to prepare my food in a separate area. In this case, it doesn't bother me since it's their behind the kitchen terminology.