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Don't be intolerant towards the lactose-intolerant!

Updated: Apr 11

Don't be so quick to judge us. We are people too. In fact we represent close to 40% of the population. Yet we are often belittled, shunned, even looked at like extra-terrestrials.

No, I'm not talking about people with intellectual disabilities, those with cleft palates, or even visible minorities (and shame on you if you have put these people down).

I'm referring to the intolerant! And hand way up in the air I'm here to say it LOUD and PROUD: "I'm intolerant too"!

Relax, I'm not referring to that kind of intolerance. Really. Just hear me out....

I'm speaking about those of us who who cannot digest lactose properly, otherwise known as the lactose intolerant or as some call us disparingly, the dairy "unfriendlies".

Now granted, being intolerant to lactose will not kill you like an allergy could (say like a bee sting, or a peanut allergy) but it can make your tummy ache, and ache a lot. It can occasionally ruin your day. It's just simply often not worth the short-term gratification of enjoying cheese, ice cream, or a latte (I've always felt a quality coffee did not need to be drowned in milk....) given what will ensue.

But, believe it or not, that's not the hardest part (I know I sound like whiner- and I am). The most frustrating with being lactose intolerant is so many people are just clueless as to what it really implies. And they often make ridiculous and annoying comments....

A few years ago I was in Vermont and was at a restaurant with my wife, children as well as another family. We picked a random diner on one of the main strips. The menu was rather limited, 5-6 main courses and a couple of appetizers.

I quickly glanced through it and realized every single item had some sort of a milk product in it. But I really didn't want to make a fuss. I had already spotted a McDonald's across the street as an emergency option. And so when it was my turn to order, I calmly told the waitress that I wouldn't be eating, maybe just have a coffee and that's it.

And that's when everyone turned on me. "What do you mean you aren't ordering anything? Isn't there anything on the menu you like?" "No, I'm ok, all good, you guys go ahead". "But we're all eating , do you not like this restaurant?" said one person who shall not be named, with the waitress of course looking on.

"You guys go ahead, I had a big breakfast, honestly I'm fine", I insisted, as my nose began to grow and my tummy growled in hunger. "Well if you're going to be difficult, why don't we go somewhere else then" said someone in our party. The waitress offered to come back in 5 minutes.

"LOOK" as I began to raise my voice "I can't have anything on this menu, everything has some form of cream or milk, but like I said don't worry about it". Female friend proceeded to wave the staff over (like you do when someone is in distress, causing a scene or acting inappropriately). "Excuse me, our friend here is lactose-intolerant (crime of the century), do you have anything you can make him that doesn't have milk products in it?". The waitress looked at me like I had just landed from another planet "Sir, are you ok with cheese, we have a mac and cheese option we can make you". "Um no, it's ok, really...."

I began blushing (or perhaps turning into the Incredible Hulk), as in no way, shape or form was I enjoying being "pointed out" in this manner. "You know what, let me go check with the Chef". A couple of minutes later, 3 individuals came out from the kitchen, including the restaurant manager (that's when you know things have really escalated).

"Sir, we've been informed you have some sort of an issue (an issue, imagine), an allergy I think..." "'s an intolerance actually (intolerance to persistently annoying people)...". "

"Well we want to accommodate you, our chef suggested he could make you a butter chicken (how lovely, finish me off right here and now), would you be ok with that?". I began stabbing my thigh with my fork. "Um no, butter isn't's not ...I'm ok, I can just have bread...I am fasting you see....(last resort was to play the religious card)". "Ok well we can make you a boiled chicken, with nothing on it....maybe some French fries on the side with some gravy (gravy often has loads of lactose, but whatever maybe it was time to go I thought as I began seeing hallucinations Cow walking towards me with an axe)".

As savory as a boiled chicken sounded, I insisted I was ok, but would gladly devour the proposed French fries, sans the gravy. "Ok, are you sure, so would you be ok with some ketchup on the side?" "Well yes, that's great" (listen bozo, tomatoes are not a milk product unless you know something i don't!?!)".

But, rest assured, I had no plans to remain famished that day, and my ordeal would soon be over; when the group went to Ben & Jerry's after lunch (rub it in why don't you), I discretely did a beeline to McDonald's to finally get my tasty, lactose-free, meal.....

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