Two small anecdotes from our recent trip to Berlin:
It may have come to your attention that parts of Germany have been hit by floods a few weeks ago. As a result, even the Deutsche Bahn – the German railway company – has to take a couple of detours. Entirely not their fault, but still they feel like they have to apologize to their customers. Maybe because they’re so used to apologizing by now. So they decided to give them free sweets.
While we were enjoying a beer in the dining car, a Deutsche Bahn employee handed me a small bag of (cow’s) milk chocolate. I returned it to him, adding politely: “Excuse me, please keep it. We’re vegan and we don’t eat this.”
And I kid you not: the entire restaurant fell silent and everyone was like:
Of course, everyone had heard of the existence of vegans. But now here they were, two (!) of them, right before their eyes, having a beer, just like normal people would. They kept staring and staring. And I couldn’t help staring back, amazed at the kind of reaction you can still get out of people when you come out as vegan. It took minutes before the conversations went back to normal …
On our way back from Berlin – again enjoying a beer in the restaurant – I happened to sit right next to the exit where they had put up a table with a bucket full of free gummy bears.
A little boy passed by and asked if he could have some. I said: “Yes, they’re free. Take as many as you like …” and so he did, happily continuing on his way through the train.
When the boy was out of earshot I added quietly: “… and enjoy your ground up animal bones.”
The man at the table next to us, who had overheard this, burst into laughter and said: “Thanks, you made my day! That’s so funny! I will laugh all day!”
I replied: “Well, it’s true. Gelatine. Ground up animal bones and sugar.”
The man looked at me and said quietly: “Yes … I know …”
Half an hour or so later the man left the restaurant. On his way out he reached for a bag of gummy bears, then hesitated – and left without taking one.
I’m wondering if he’s still laughing …