When Vegans and Carnivores Sit Down to Seder

This Passover in Israel, many a new vegan and veteran carnivore sat together for the very first time as veganism in Israel takes off. So, how'd it go?

Asher Schechter
Asher Schechter
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Vegan to Carnivore: You might as well eat people. Yeah, I'm judging you in my heart.Credit: Dreamstime.com
Asher Schechter
Asher Schechter

The herbivore's version

The biggest mistake I made, or at least the first, was the food platter.

Normally guests don't usually bring their own food to Seder, unless they have some awful allergy. But there I was, knocking on the door of my aunt’s house with a tinfoil-wrapped tray of steaming vegan delights.

My family is not exactly vegan-friendly, but it's is even less guy-who-eats-nothing-friendly. So what could I do except bring my own thing?

Why, oh why did I agree to come? I knew I'd be the only vegan there. How did I know? I was told that roughly 50 times days beforehand, just so I know how much of a weirdo I am.

The fact that veganism has skyrocketed in Israel over the past two years - that seems to bear very little weight with my 70-year-old aunt, Fanya.

I knew my social life might get complicated when I went vegan. Giving up meat, eggs and dairy was small potatoes compared to having to explain myself at every social gathering, facing frowns from meat-eaters who suspect I’m judging them in my heart (I am).

Still, no-one wants to be the one telling everyone else at the table, “You might as well eat each other, you murderers." I didn’t want to be that guy.

Until the Seder, I was a remarkable success at avoiding sticky situations. I managed to avoid all animal-product-centric holidays - Independence Day (sick), Shavuot (sick again), Rosh Hashanah (that darn flu, can’t shake it) - but you can’t avoid Passover.

And it's the worst. Every holiday has a meat portion or a cheese element - but in Passover it’s all combined. And it's mandatory. In this case, the flesh'n'eggs lobby of Aunt Fanya, my mother & Co. has a venerable sidekick: God. Or is it the other way around?

From the door I could hear them groaning in despair because Mr. Vegan Buzzkill (that would be moi) has arrived. In my hands, like a schmuck, I have my fancy platter of fancy food for the fancy know-it-all (again, moi).

After agonizing for days - should I bring my own food? Should I trust that they'd respect my life choices and make me a vegan dish? - I made my own. And wouldn't you know they'd made me vegan food. Was good, too. Turned out Aunt Fanya bought a vegan-recipe book specifically for the occasion. I am a schmuck.

The carnivore speaks

Dear Diary,

Today we're hosting a vegan for Seder! We dunno what to make him - what do they eat, anyway?

I’m guessing chicken is out of the question. Gefilte fish too, I guess. And, god, brisket and eggs and even matzoh ball soup??

Oh well, nothing to it. We’ll just consult an online manual, or, like, a cook book. “My vegan Seder." Gosh, sounds so chic!

I just hope he’s nice. Not one of those people. You know, the ones who say things like “you might as well eat each other." God, I hate those people. Who do you think you are, condescending to other people, you self-righteous douche?!

Sorry, got a bit carried away there, Diary. Anyhow, I’m sure he’s perfectly agreeable and tolerant to lifestyles different than his own.

Better make a lot. Do they eat a lot, vegans? Hard to tell. They sure seem like a brittle bunch, ha ha.

And what do I make everyone else? Maybe we should serve chicken instead of beef? Is fish more “ethical” than chicken?

Wait, wait. Why am I downgrading our supper just so ONE guy can enjoy himself? Screw him and his moral superiority! Know what? I’m not making anything special! Ugh, I wish we never invited that guy to begin with.

P.S. He turned out to be a lovable guy. Didn’t eat a thing, though.