Pssst...don't tell anyone, it's vegan!
In the New Castle in the middle of the pretty Meersburg am Bodensee, I witnessed a debut. Here, some friends of mine - not vegans themselves - got married in lavish style; with a heartfelt ceremony in the magnificent chapel, with romantic musical performances by the groom, with a sparkling wine reception in the spacious castle garden, with a delicious three course meal, with a singing flash-mob as a surprise for the bride and groom and... wait for it... with a vegan wedding cake!
I have already been to a number of weddings at which the respective hosts went to varying lengths to ensure that vegan guests were also pleased with the treats on offer. But to have the bride whisper in my ear, right at the big moment, as the wedding cake is wheeled into the room accompanied by what feels like thousands of sparklers, “You can have some too. It’s vegan!” – that was a first. And how I celebrated it! So much so that I immediately wanted to share my joy with my daughter, and I beamed as I shouted the good news to her.
“Psst! Not everyone needs to know”, said the bride, urging me to maintain my composure. Being the bride means being the boss, so I pulled myself together. After all, it is possible to celebrate secretly and in silence. But it got me thinking. The fear that non-vegan guests wouldn’t enjoy it as much if they knew that neither eggs nor milk products were among the list of ingredients for this beautiful and amazingly tasty cake, was not entirely unjustified.
In fact, when we eat we are influenced not only by our eyes, but also by certain beliefs. The actual flavour doesn't necessarily take priority. We know this from spinach, for example: children will throw it at the wall without even trying it, but will then happily polish it off when it is hidden in tortellini. Or from the sausages, which in actual fact taste the same as always. Only when the news reports announce that they could have been made from horse meat instead of pork do some people suddenly have a nasty aftertaste in their mouths.
Taste buds can be overridden if the person they belong to allows it. After three weeks of sugar withdrawal, strawberries taste as sweet as a piece of tiramisu used to. I once didn't enjoy coffee without sugar. It just tasted much too bitter. And now I no longer like my latte when sugar is being added. It’s obvious that it’s not only the ingredients that determine whether we like the taste of something. It’s our decisions, the thoughts and emotions which we harbour and which make our reality what it is. It’s precisely because of these feelings that no one can cook as well as mum!
But isn't interesting that we can fall for our own tricks so easily? Our habits can have such a strong hold over us and yet it is only a matter of time before things change. The saying goes: “What the farmer doesn’t know, he doesn’t eat.” Nevertheless, we know from experience that something that seems exotic today will often be trendy by tomorrow and entirely normal the day after that, and that trailblazers are usually branded as bizarre and ridiculed at first.
This was the case 40 years ago – as Hans-Paul Mattke was starting out as an organic baker – when an organic sunflower bread caused people to be branded as “bird-food-eaters”. Today we can only laugh at such narrow-mindedness
And so the person sitting next to me at this beautiful wedding is quite possibly correct in his claim that in ten to twenty years there will probably be more vegans and vegetarians than meat-eaters. I look at him with wide-open eyes, as there is a fillet of beef on his plate which he definitely seems to be enjoying. “Once we understand something, it doesn’t take long before we also put our new knowledge into practice”, he says, grinning at me before enquiring if my sesame-baked sweet potato mash tastes any good. Who knows, maybe that was his last meat dish?
At any rate, I believe it does us good to remain flexible and open to new things, as change is simply a part of life. And sometimes it can creep in quietly in the form of a delicious secret...