You can’t argue with the response to a food allergy diagnosis. The person’s diet needs to change.
No doubt, the person is responsible for the choices for what they eat, and in the case of a child, the parents also carry this responsibility. They change the system of their food preparation at home, and they begin to make more informed decisions as to how they source their food — and where they eat out.
But its also true that a specific (and initially obscure) dietary requirement has the potential to completely change the food industry — eventually. When those responsible for the household of a child with dietary requirements take responsibility, the world can change.
If parents move from ignorance, to awareness, to education, to proficiency in food preparation — then ultimately to advocacy — not only can their child experience greater health, but the next generation might enjoy a meal at a restaurant in safety.
The alternative to taking responsibility is almost unthinkable. Minimizing a family member’s dietary need can promptly descend into the sphere of neglect.
It sounds like such a harsh word in the realm of spiritual community, but the most well-intentioned food preparation can have devastating effects on a person’s health.
Ignorance toward a person’s needs might be tolerated if the diagnosis is early, but how long must it take for the system to change?
One generation? Two?
A person’s inability to join the worship band shouldn’t affect their access to the table.
A serious mental illness need not keep them from eating off the menu.
Navigating questions around sexuality or gender-diversity need not deny them entry to the premises.
But the dietary needs are so easily ignored or dismissed — the household hasn’t filled the pantry with what the person needs. Not in a vindictive way: “we just can’t cater for everyone”.
The spiritual community politely withdraws.
There’s only one word for it.
So, how do I respond?
It’s tempting to make a lot of noise — stand at the pantry door of the restaurant I’ve been frequenting and make it known to the world what’s missing.
But it’s better for my household if I get good at filling our pantry first. It might be that as the health of my children begins to flourish and I do what I can to advocate for them, they might become the generation who can change the system.