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Reblogged:The Etiquette of I Can't (or Won't) Eat That

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Miss Manners tackles a nice problem we'll all begin facing again as the pandemic subsides: dietary restrictions and strong preferences. Her three examples run the gamut in the dimensions of (a) the reason one is avoiding a particular kind of comestible, (b) the convenience of how one does so, and (c) etiquette, of course.

After first describing someone who hates carrots (and pretends to be allergic to them), a recent convert to vegetarianism, and a polite old man who has quietly navigated a (real and life-threatening) shellfish allergy his whole life, she offers advice for each.

The first two need her advice the most, and so I shall repeat it below:

Image by Thomas Park, via Unsplash, license.
The young gentleman is passionate that it is everyone else, not himself, who is at fault: They are either unaware of the cruel and destructive nature of the meat industry -- in which case he is doing a public service by educating them -- or they are indifferent to it, which crime pales in comparison to anything he could say.

The young lady, though not yet 14 years of age, has already realized that it is simpler to tell everyone she meets that carrots send her into anaphylactic shock than to admit the truth, which is that she hates them.
The first one we can now have hope of tamping down, starting with a question: How do you hope to win anyone to your cause with your accusatory insinuations? The second has an important drawback I hadn't thought of, as she explains later: "Your fib provides one more reason for callous hosts to dismiss assertions by people who really are in peril."

I'll remember that, because my daughter hates bread -- and has an older relative who hates cheese and pretends to be allergic to it. (In her defense, she does this at restaurants because she has found that she otherwise gets ignored too often. That said, it's a tactic I could see my daughter adopting out of ignorance.) I have always encouraged Pumpkin to simply be up front about disliking bread, but with the apparently bad model also around, it is helpful to be able to supply a very good reason for her not to emulate it.

And for the old man? I did not expect her to have advice for him, but she does. That, too, is worthwhile, so I recommend reading the whole thing.

-- CAV

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