Animal Writes
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From 24 April 2005 Issue

Advice Columnist Gives Bad Advice
By Michelle Rivera - [email protected]

Should a bride serve dead animals to her guests even though she finds the idea repugnant? Apparently, Readers Digest thinks so.

In the April edition, a woman who signs herself "Bewildered Bride" writes in to Reader's Digest advice column "Ask Laskas…you've got questions, she's got answers" with a question that may be of interest to Animal Writes readers. We would love to reprint it here but that would surely violate some copyright laws. If you are standing in line at the checkout you may want to pick up a copy of the April issue of RD and turn to page 71.

The bride writes that she would like for her rehearsal dinner and reception to be vegan because, as she puts it, she wants to "stand up for my beliefs about saving animals.." Her problem is that her future mother-in-law insists that meat be served and the bride does not want to start an argument. The advice columnist, "Laskas," gave an unbelievably archaic and unenlightened answer. She wrote that the bride had "made her point regarding animals" and that the mother-in-law had rejected it. The bride, therefore, must compromise. She further stated that, if vegan food were to be served, the bride should insure that the food does not taste like "variously spiced cardboard" leaving readers with the impression that vegan food could not possibly be satisfying or tasty or sufficient. As the author of a vegan cookbook, I find that statement condescending, insulting and dim-witted.

This advice is dead wrong on a number of levels. First, since it is the bride's day, her future mother-in-law should acquiesce to HER wishes, not the other way around. What gives this woman the right to "reject" the bride's point anyway? Second, if the bride's mandate were based on religion, for example, she wanted the food to be kosher, I am sure that the advice would have been different. Those who do not understand the ethics of veganism don't see that it is a way of life, almost a religion to some, and that vegans should be respected in the same way that anyone who is practicing any ethical lifestyle would be. Furthermore, I know that I have seen questions like this one posed to Dear Abby and Ann Landers who always, though they themselves were not vegan, sided with the person who wanted the vegetarian food. They respected the decision to be a vegan/vegetarian and they advised others to do so as well. The fact is, this bride will probably want to raise her children vegan and if she does not stand by her principles now, she will face this argument with her mother-in-law again and again throughout her entire lifetime. She does not mention her husband's preferences in this situation, but one assumes he is fine with her decision since it is his mother, not himself, that is making the demands.

If you feel, as I do, that this advice columnist missed the mark on this answer, drop her a line. Her name is Jeanne Marie Laskas and her e-mail address is [email protected]

Compromise is a good thing most of the time, but not with this. If a bride does not want to start out her marriage by serving dead animals on a plate, she should not have to.

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