Case 1

A while ago, I happened to be driving home from a conference held in another part of the country, quite far from everything else. I had been driving for some time and felt ravenously hungry, as people are wont to do after wasting their weekend with brainless group dynamics exercises. So quite naturally, I drove to the nearest gas station in search of a decent sandwich.

Once inside, I scanned the selection available. Uh-oh, I thought, they all have ham or beef in them. I'm a vegetarian, so I asked the woman behind the counter whether they had any non-meat options.

"Weeelll..." She said, "those ones on the left are filled with sausages. Would you like one?"

Case 2

Three weeks afterwards, I participated in another conference. This time the organisers had arranged a meal for us, prepared and served by a professional catering manager. I had asked beforehand whether they would prefer me to bring my own food, and was replied along the lines of "Don't worry, Be happy". The catering manager was informed about my dietary requirements and would act accordingly, the organisers assured me cheerfully.

Of course, when it actually came to eating, I was left standing before two vats filled with chili con carne and chicken sauce.

"But," I whined, "where is my vegetarian option?"

The catering manager smiled at me and pointed towards the vats. "Vegetarians eat chicken, don't they?" he replied.

Case 3

Another day, another conference, this time a very formal one, with people seated around the table and servants handing us our portions on silver plates. When it was my turn, I politely declined the offer of smoked salmon and asked for a special vegetarian option, which I had made a point of ordering beforehand.

The waiter's face was perplexed. "Miss, it seems we have no vegetarian options prepared. Would you like roast duck instead?"