Saturday, April 9, 2011

Not sure how I kept my cool...

My school district had off on Friday, April 1 for César Chávez Day, so a group of us from school decided to go up to Glen Ivy Day Spa and Hot Springs to celebrate our friend's birthday. We had an awesome day of girly bonding and relaxation - we did a red clay mud bath, had moisturizing treatments, went swimming, did pilates, and relaxed in our own super-cool private cabana.
Lunchtime there looked like it was going to be a breeze for me. They had plenty of salads that I could they had a boca burger.
Easy peasy....
or so I thought.

On the menu, the boca burger was listed as having lettuce, tomato and cheese on it with a fruit salad on the side. I figured I would just order it without the cheese and I would be golden. So I did that.

First problem was that everyone else's lunches came out except mine. "The boca burger just takes a little longer...sorry." "Longer than making a pizza?" I asked as I looked at my friend's lunch next to me. Whatever - I am patient.

Finally, as my group was halfway done with their meal (no joke) my boca burger arrives. 
WITH cheese AND without fruit. Instead, it had a pasta salad with grated cheese on top.

I politely said, "I asked for this without cheese. Plus, don't you think that if I asked for it without cheese that I MIGHT NOT want a pasta salad with grated cheese on top?" (Mind you, on the menu it said it had fruit as a side.)

So, I wait again.

Here comes my boca burger, this time with fruit on the side (as it was listed on the menu) but it STILL HAD CHEESE ON IT!!!!

"This still has cheese on it. I am sorry, but I asked this with no cheese. Please take it back and bring it without cheese"

Normally, I don't make THAT big of a deal. But if I SPECIFICALLY ask for something done a certain way, I EXPECT it to be done right.

Now, by the time he FINALLY brings it back without cheese, it does not have any lettuce or tomato on it (like it was supposed to) but this time I just have to take what I can get. The rest of the girls were pretty much done with their meals already, plus I was hungry! So, I began to eat my boca burger...and fast!

After a few bites, I realized something just wasn't quite right. I've eaten lots of boca burgers and this just didn't taste like it.
I lifted the top of the bun and to my disgust, it was not a boca burger, but a TURKEY BURGER! (they had both on the menu)

All I wanted to do was YELL at someone, was my friend's birthday. I needed to remember that this was a celebration for HER. But, inside I was absolutely disgusted. I felt HORRIBLE. So horrible that I excused myself from the table to go to the bathroom to let out a few tears. Years ago, this would not have been a big deal. Hell, I was ordering turkey burgers left and right, since I never really liked regular burgers as much.

But this time it was different.

I KNEW what my meal was.

I KNEW the pain that the turkey endured to make that burger.

I knew the suffering that he went though during his time on earth - his beak was burned off on the end without anesthesia, the ends of his toes were clipped off, and his snood was cut off (the part of skin that hangs under his chin.) He was bred, drugged, and genetically manipulated to grow as big as possible as quickly as possible. He might not have been even able to walk because his breast was grown too fast for his legs to hold him up. If he was able to walk, he only had about 3 square feet, if that, to walk around in a crowded, smelly room. He most likely couldn't even spread his wings out. He certainly didn't see the light of day or feel the grass or ground under his feet while in the factory.

When it was time for him to go to slaughter, he was roughly thrown into a crate which was stacked up on the back of an open truck. If it was very cold or very hot out, he had no protection from the weather, and he certainly was not given any food or water for the ride no matter how far away it was. If he even survived the ride, he was dumped onto a conveyor belt, then his feet were put in metal shackles and he was hung upside down. I can't even type the saddest part - what happened next to him - because I'll just start crying, but you can read the last 3 paragraphs of this article if you want to know.

So, after I composed myself in the bathroom, I walked back to our cabana. I happened to run into the waiter. I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs to him and call him every curse in the book, but I didn't. Instead I educated him on his error and explained to him why it was such a big deal not only to serve cheese who someone who SPECIFICALLY asked for none, but to also confuse a boca and turkey burger. He seemed genuinely apologetic, which was enough for me. He didn't know. Just like there was a time when I didn't know.

But, still....yes he should have gotten me the correct meal that I ASKED for, but....I needed to get back to my friend's birthday celebration. I couldn't let on how much this really affected me. So, I put on my happy face and tried to enjoy the rest of my day there.

The truth was, I felt like shit for the next few hours.
I had to leave the group twice to go to the bathroom. I'm sure you can figure out why. My body just isn't used to even a few bites of animal anymore. Neither is my soul. That part was even worse.

But.... the story does have a nice ending.
The next day I knew I needed to go volunteer at Animal Acres. It is the least I can do for all the suffering I unknowingly caused animals in the past.

Luckily when I arrived, the first creature to greet me at the main door was a turkey. And he looked at me with the most sincere eyes, as if to say, "It wasn't your fault. We still love you." That moment made me suddenly feel better and made me realize that mistakes will always be made along the way and it is my job to EDUCATE others, not to judge.
(But that kid STILL should have gotten my order right!!)

My greeter who still loves me!


  1. awww this post was so cute, and sweet. Well the end at least, where you ran into the turkey at Animal Acres :)

    Overall I feel you pain lady! I devoured a whole meal at a friends house (a weird bean and rice casserole thing) after asking 2 people if it had chicken stock in it. After being reassured profusely, and eating it, I found out later that she cooked the beans in bacon fat. UGH I was so sickened. I didn't get physically ill (although I'm a little surprised) but it did put a damper on my whole day. And just over a year ago I would have laughed at someone like me... funny how things change.
    Keep your head up, it wasn't your fault and waiters can be clueless sometimes.
    Great story!!

  2. I'm so sorry that this happened. I totally feel your pain. My fiance has been vegetarian for his entire life for religious reasons (he's Hindu). Recently we went out for mexican food and we both ordered veggie tacos. Mine were veggie and the order was right, but they gave him STEAK tacos. He had a few bites and knew someting wasn't right. I felt so bad - he was so upset and we were so scared that he was going to get sick. He didnt, thank goodness. But the waitress and owner of the restaurant were so apologetic and comped our entire meal, drinks included. We have definitely been more careful lately to check all of our food very, very carefully. Its horrible that restaurants mess up like this. Its unacceptable.


  3. LovesVeggies - same here! So true how things change! Lauren- I'm glad your finace didn't get sick. There's a huge difference between steak and veggie tacos - that's totally unacceptable! I can at least understand why my waiter messed up.

  4. Debbie - SO NOT COOL! not your fault. I would totally write to the owner/restaurant manager about the situation, they can probably do more than the waiter can about the situation. People in the food industry seriously do need to be educated and aware of this stuff. So sorry you had to go through that! Hang in there xoxo Ellie

  5. Hey Debbie! Thanks for the sweet comment. I need to figure out how to arrange my blog so I can make comment replies and they will go directly to people's emails but I'm not sure if that is feasible on blogger. Grrr... frustrating.

    As far as substitution yes you could definitely sub sugar. I would use brown sugar if you have it, it tends to be less processed. Or rice syrup is a wonderful natural sweetener too.

    I've heard some bad things about agave too. But I have 2 bottles in my pantry and I just decided to use them up! :) I have read that many agaves are highly processed and not as natural as you may think so it's a good idea to be picky when you shop for the stuff.

    I also use maple sugar a lot, but for stir-fry I don't really like the flavor so I stick to agave or brown sugar. I'll check out that link you sent me later tonight when I finish my homework and do a little research on the stuff because I AM curious.

    So glad you are cooking!!