General Question

janbb's avatar

Should a vegetarian expect special dishes at a dinner party?

Asked by janbb (44818 points ) December 29th, 2010

My vegetarian friend was complaining that she went to Christmas dinner at a friend’s and her friend, who knew she was vegetarian, did not get it right. She said ham and turkey were served as well as sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and many vegetables. I did not question her but she seemed to be put out that a specific vegetarian dish was not served. (She was not complaining about the fact that meat was served.) There were a number of other guests at the meal. I lean to vegetarianism myself but It seems to me that if several vegetable options are served at a festive meal, the vegetarian has enough choices and can make do for that meal with what is served. Your thoughts?

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182 Answers

FutureMemory's avatar

Being a vegetarian for over 20 years, I’m very accustomed to having few food choices at large gatherings. It doesn’t bother me though. I understand that I may be the only one in attendance with such dietary restrictions, and I’m more than happy to have something to eat – a plate of rice, or a few servings of vegetables on the side. I don’t expect special treatment. It certainly would be nice, but I don’t expect it.

On the flipside, carnivores better not expect me to serve meat when I host an event – ain’t gonna happen :)

MrItty's avatar

Unless her eating habits are forced for medical reasons, no. If you choose to not eat perfectly valid food that other human beings eat and enjoy, it’s your problem that you don’t want to eat what’s given to you, no one else’s.

Now, if someone was, say, allergic to chocolate, and the host knew that and served only chocolate cake with no alternative – That, I would consider rude.

tinyfaery's avatar

If you invite someone to a dinner party and know they are vegetarian why wouldn’t you provide something they can eat? That would just be rude. Expecting them to just eat the side dishes is dismissive in my opinion. I would never invite someone to eat in my home and then not provide them a good meal.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’m apparently in the minority because I think there should be vegetarian dishes or even vegan dishes served. So many people eat this way you’re almost guaranteed to find one or two at a party. And there are really good as well as healthier dishes you can make.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’m answering this as a vegan (full disclosure, people): I don’t expect people to provide specific dishes for us because we’re vegans but if they’re friends of mine, they’ll be mindful to have something, anything other than meat for us to eat. We haven’t had all that many problems so far: a lot of our get togethers are pot-lucks so we bring our own stuff.

Coloma's avatar

I think it’s a two way street as always.

The strict vegetarian should not expect someone to cater to them exclusively, but…the host/hostess of such a function should provide a decent array of vegan options beyond a basic salad and carrot stick scene.

Kinda a no brainer to me…the usual formula for good relating, don’t have inflated expectations about anything and give generously.

Win/win ey?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m glad you asked this. I’ve been thinking about it because of a Q that was asked the other day. In a nut shell…. Font size 50 >>>>Hell no! I’ve been to dinner parties where I didn’t like what was served…tough titty I say. I’m sorry, but it just sound like a five year old whining about the food, and expecting everyone to move heaven and earth just to keep them happy. If you don’t like it, suck it up and mind your manners just like everyone else has to do when food they don’t like is served.

Anyway, what exactly does it mean to be a vegetarian if the vegetables served at a dinner aren’t enough???

MrItty's avatar

As for all the “Why not?” responses – because the vast majority of “normal’ omnivore diet-enjoying people do not eat vegetarian dishes if there is meat available. Therefore, the special dish that was created for just one person is going to go largely uneaten. The time and money put into that one dish is therefore largely wasted. It is rude and more than a little arrogant for any one person to think he/she is special enough to warrant the extra time and money required to make a special dish just for him/her.

Jeruba's avatar

I think the main thing is setting appropriate expectations. If you are hosting a dinner party, it’s not exactly an open house. You should know who your guests are and how many there are.

The hosts ought to inquire if the guests have any special dietary restrictions; or, at the least, the guests should so inform the hosts and not surprise them when they arrive.

The hosts should let restricted-diet guests know if there will be food choices that meet their requirements and not greet them with a surprise. I don’t think they are obligated to provide an array of options for every kind of limited diet, but if they know they have guests who have a certain restriction (for example, diabetic, gluten-free, etc.), there ought to be something they can eat.

Again, the key is knowing and letting others know as needed. Mistaken assumptions and unpleasant surprises can certainly spoil the event for both host and guest.

Personally I don’t see anything wrong with permitting someone who has very special requirements to bring along a single portion of something they can eat and warming it up for them.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@MrItty I beg to differ. My family tries all the vegetarian dishes in addition to the dishes with meat.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb Was she unable to eat the stuffing, veggies, and other non-meat dishes? Is she no dairy also?

Is she complaining, like she is really insulted, or feels they overlooked her? I complain when every item at a party is full of fat. But, I don’t actually feel the host should accomodate me.

Generally, for a party, I think it is a good idea to have some healthier vegetarian type choices, so everyone is able to eat. The healthier veg choices works for vegetarians and people watching their health.

anartist's avatar

No, the guess should expect to seek nourishment among the vegetable dishes, unless the host/hostess should initiate in advance a discussion of concern about having something for the vegetarian guest[s] and offer to make something special. And even then should the special dish fail to appear, the guest should be slow to take offense. Making a holiday meal is a lot of work and maybe it was just not possible to fit it in.

tinyfaery's avatar

If you don’t want to put as much time and energy into treating your guests equally than do not invite people who cannot eat the meal you have planned.

I was a vegetarian for 7 years and have been a strictly seafood and poultry eater for 15 years. I have been to my share of meals where all I ate was bread and salad. I never complained, but I never felt those people who invited me but then dismissed me cared much about making me feel welcome. I was mostly right.

JLeslie's avatar

@MrItty The vegetarian dishes can be side dishes for the omnivores.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I don’t think anyone should expect a host/ess to make anything especially for them. I mean, you’re a guest, most likely they’ve paid for and slaved over whatever they’ve made, and acting put out because you won’t eat anything is really rude. And in my house, would have me reconsidering inviting you back for another meal.

Now, that said.. I think if it’s a dinner party, as a good host/ess, you should be aware of your guests’ dietary restrictions and make some attempt to accommodate. I would not feel comfortable knowing a friend couldn’t eat 95% of what I’ve made. I’ve waited tables way too long… I want to make sure everyone has something they can enjoy, that will fill them up, and be satisfying.

Seelix's avatar

If I went to a friend’s party and they had no food I could eat, I’d be upset. If I went to a party where I didn’t know the host and they had no food I could eat, I’d deal with it.

Based on your description, your friend had enough choices to eat well at the party (i.e. more than salad and bread). She’s just whining. I don’t think it has anything to do with vegetarianism – she might be the type to complain no matter what.

janbb's avatar

She is a vegetarian only by choice (not for medical reasons) not vegan and there were vegetable dishes she could eat; just not a vegetarian option. As stated in the details, the hostess did know that. There certainly was food she could eat, but it was not a “meal” in her opinion.

Kardamom's avatar

I’m a vegetarian and I would never expect any special accomodations for me. That being said, whenever a friend or relative knows that I am a vegetarian, I consider it a kindness (politeness) for them to ask me what I can and cannot eat, and hope that they could make something (for everyone) that contains no meat, fish or fowl. But I would never demand that someone make something especially for me. And I always offer to bring something!

If there is only one thing that I can eat at a party, then so be it. I usually eat something before I go to a party, especially if I have no idea whether or not there will be something vegetarian. I usually carry nuts and breakfast bars in my purse.

But on the other side of that coin, as a hostess, I always ask people what they can and cannot eat because in my family we have some folks who have diabetes, some with heart disease and one that has a very severe peanut allergy. So I’m used to asking and do my best to make sure that there is at least something that everyone can eat. It’s not that difficult to find out what to make that can accomodate most people.

If I was certain that there would be no vegetarian items served at a function (for whatever reason) then I would probably politely decline the invitation and/or offer to make something. Or if I couldn’t get out of it, then I would eat ahead of time.

But the best times I’ve had at functions are when the host realizes that some of the guests may be vegetarian and thoughtfully prepares dishes that can accomodate everyone. Pasta is one of the easiest dishes to prepare without meat and most people like it. And just having a big salad goes a long way in my book. No one has to be put out.

My aunt made Xmas dinner this year and she was so excited to tell me the vegetarian dishes that she prepared. There was nothing weird, so everybody enjoyed what she fixed- mushroom tart, stuffing made with vegetable broth and tons of side vegetable dishes. There was also ham and turkey, so no one went hungry. I thanked her profusely.

Kardamom's avatar

@MrItty Although I am a vegetarian by choice, I have some friends who are Hindu and Seventh Day Adventists that adhere to a vegetarian diet because of their faith. Would you expect them to eat meat and just shut up about it and not complain? Would you expect Orothodox Jews to just eat bacon and pork and shut up about it because it’s perfectly fine food that other people eat? That would be cruel and insensitive.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Yes, I think so. But I suppose it depends on various factors. If you knowingly invite vegetarians to a dinner party, you better have something for them to eat! If they can make a meal out of what is available, they don’t need a specific dish. Still, it’s nice to have one. It’s not like non-vegetarians can’t eat the vegetarian dish (if you make enough of it).

But maybe I’m just used to my mother always making something separate for my vegetarian aunt and her kids.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@MrItty I should have asked how many different dishes you have at a gathering. My family always has tons of different dishes so we’re used to a lot of different foods in the meal. The omnivores are used to trying different things so almost all of them try the vegetarian dishes.

diavolobella's avatar

@janbb Do you mean she was put out that a specific vegetarian entree was not served, although there were vegetable dishes? I’m a little confused by that. I’m not sure I would know how to make something that would be considered a vegetarian entree. Most people who aren’t vegetarians probably wouldn’t since they don’t bother to learn how to use meat substitutes like tofu, etc. It might just be lack of knowledge of vegetarian cooking.

If I invited someone to eat at my home and I knew they had specific dietary restrictions (medical or by choice) I would make a special effort to provide them with plenty of good things to eat. If I failed at that (for instance because I don’t know what constitutes an entree type dish to vegetarian) it wouldn’t be because I didn’t try my best.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb The host was unaware, so how can she really be blamed? Was it a sit down dinner with courses? Buffet? Family Style? I can see if it is formal with many courses how it might seem awkward, otherwise I am not feeling it for your veg friend. I usually don’t like something on my plate, or even a course, because I tend to be a little bit of a picky eater.

If it is a small formal dinner party, then I like @Jeruba answer. I would ask people if there is anything they don’t or can’t eat if I was the host, and try to accomodate them with an option if it interfered with what I wanted to prepare, or if they offered to bring their own separate dish for the main course, and heat it up for themself, I would be ok with that too.

I don’t eat veal, so when a friend prepared osso bucco for my husband, he used lamb for me. If he hadn’t I would have just eaten all the other stuff. No big deal. It is one meal.

JLeslie's avatar

@diavolobella Because you didn’t try your best? It sounds like in your answer you do care about your guests eating preferences, and did try. Why would whatever effort you made not count?

janbb's avatar

@JLeslie I stated twice that the host knew she was vegetarian. Otherwise, I agree with your answer. From the way she described the meal, I had the sense it was served “family style’; i.e., take what you want.

@diavolobella I didn’t pursue it with my friend becaue I didn’t want to argue or agree with her but my sense was that she was upset that there wasn’t a vegetarian entree. There were vegetables, possibly a salad and two kinds of potatoes without any meat.

diavolobella's avatar

@JLeslie I mean if I failed (in the eyes of my guest) it wouldn’t be because I didn’t make the effort. Sometimes even when you try, it’s not considered good enough. If the friend that @janbb mentioned was put out because there was not a vegetarian entree served, she might not realize her friend didn’t know how to make a entree for her. The friend might have felt they really tried to accommodate her by serving lots of vegetables, but still got it wrong in her eyes.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I would never expect a host to cater to my dietary needs.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb I misread it twice then. I am really losing it. Sorry, totally my fault. Maybe the host felt like she did accomodate your friend? Did I also miss whether it was family style, buffet, or served courses? I think that makes a little bit of a difference.

JLeslie's avatar

@diavolobella So, we agree actually. In that case don’t you think the veg friend is being too critical?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille What if you’ve been invited by a person fully aware of your dietary needs? I have a friend who is allergic to chocolate. If I tell him he absolutely must come to a dessert tasting I am hosting and only serve chocolate desserts, surely I have done something quite rude. And if I just make one non-chocolate dessert, it’s hardly a tasting for him. Part of the host’s job is to take into account the diversity of the guests.

Disc2021's avatar

I think vegetarians should know that for the most part, people eat meat – just the same way people who don’t eat pork know that pork a popular food. Therefore, if I were a vegetarian, I wouldn’t just attend a party expecting my very own vegetarian meal or fried tofu being the main entree (unless it was offered or stated beforehand) – I likely would’ve inquired before the get-together what was going to be served and would’ve accommodated myself if the host didn’t offer any options I was satisfied with.

No offense to your friend, but it’s kind of silly to me. It’s kind of like, if I’m not in the mood for pizza, I wouldn’t go to Pizza Hut and say “Hey, I’m not in the mood for pizza… don’t you guys have any other main dishes?”. At the end of the day, it’s your job to figure out what goes in your mouth.

Kardamom's avatar

@janbb I have this awful feeling that even though the host knew your friend was a vegetarian (some people don’t really know what it means) and did her best to attempt to make “vegetable” dishes, there might have been the situation that I’ve encountered before: stuffing made with chicken broth, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green beans with bacon, mashed potatoes made with chicken broth, brussels sprouts cooked with ham, roasted vegetables cooked with the roast meat, pie crust made with lard, salad with bacon or anchovies in the dressing, soup made with fish or meat stock, beans made with pork. Unfortunately, none of those dishes are vegetarian, even though they are vegetables.

But still, your friend should always do like I do and eat beforehand and carry nuts and breakfast bars in her purse and not complain. Next time, she should offer to bring a dish. Hopefully no one in this story was actually trying to be spiteful.

diavolobella's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, I believe we do agree. I think the two people involved had different expectations. The vegetarian expected her host to know more about what constitutes an acceptable vegetarian entree than what most non-vegetarians would reasonably be expected to know. The host probably thought by making lots of veggie dishes she was doing a good job of being considerate. After all, I don’t expect my veggie friends to know how to make me a pot roast, so why would they think I’d know how to make a veggie entree.

JLeslie's avatar

@Kardamom That spiel made me think of that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, when the guy says he is a vegetarian, or maybe he says he doesn’t eat meat? And, response, is something like, “he doesn’t eat meat? You don’t eat meat? No problem you’ll have some lamb.” Hahahaha.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Dutchess_III's avatar

I have a question…what am I missing? Let’s take a Thanksgiving meal. Mashed potatoes, green bean casseroles and many other vegetables are always part of the dinner. What is there for a vegetarian to complain about? What is they want?

MrItty's avatar

@Kardamom no, I would not expect them to eat something that conflicts with their beliefs. I would, however, expect them to deal with the fact that there’s nothing there they choose to eat. (Not “can’t” eat – let’s not pretend there’s something actively preventing them from ingesting it. Religion is as much a choice as vegetarianism is). If you have a self-imposed restrictive diet, the burden is on you to address the situation before you get to the party – either by inquiring of the host, or feeding yourself before you go, not expect others to cater to your choices.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III The complaint seems to be not that the person in question couldn’t make do, but that it would have been more appropriate to have a main dish that was vegetarian instead of suggesting that vegetarians must make do with a collection of side dishes. My wife was a vegetarian for several years, and she pointed out that she was the only one expected to go without an entree.

As mentioned above, however, it could still go wrong if the mashed potatoes already had gravy on them, if the casseroles had small bits of meat mixed in, and the vegetable dishes were in a meat broth. And even if it’s unlikely that all of those things will happen at once, each one that does limits the practical options open to the vegetarian guests.

I agree that it is worth checking in advance what will be available. That’s a responsible thing to do. But it’s also responsible for the host to make sure all the guests are accommodated. That’s what hosts do.

Kardamom's avatar

@JLeslie Oh yes, I remember that scene well. I’m often asked, “But you still eat chicken and fish, right?” Oh, lord.

For those who need a general primer, most vegetarians don’t eat any meat, fish, fowl (including, but not limited to any fish, shrimp, tuna fish, clams, oysters, mussels, lamb, gelatin, chicken, turkey, goose, or other birds, fish or animals or caviar) but do eat (some types of) eggs and/or dairy.

And Vegans usually don’t eat all of the above and also don’t eat eggs or dairy (including butter, casein, whey, yogurt, ice cream, cheese) or anything with carmine or cochineal (ground red beetles used for coloring) and may not eat honey, sugar, or drink alcohol because some of those products exploit animals or use animal products in their production.

All of this may sound daunting, but a bowl of spaghetti with marinara sauce and a green salad usually accomodate everyone. And they now have gluten free noodles, if you need them.

diavolobella's avatar

You know, I think if I’m ever in this situation, I might ask my vegetarian friend if they would bring an entree with them so that we could all enjoy sampling it and learning more about vegetarian cooking or if they have a favorite recipe they could give me so I could make it for them.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@SavoirFaire So..it’s a concept that they’re objecting to? That’s silly! What would a vegetarian entree consist of, anyway? Like, some veggies piled high in the biggest bowl in the house in the middle of the table?

chyna's avatar

I could fill up on the vegetable dishes @janbb mentioned. I wouldn’t have complained or expected a special dish. However, carnivores can eat a vegetable dish, so it would’ve been nice for the host to have one.
I was invited to a friends house for dinner and she had brown beans and cornbread. I hate both. We just laughed and I fixed myself a peanut butter sandwich. It was really about the friends getting together and talking.

janbb's avatar

Wow, what fun I am having! I thought this would be a provocative issue; i.e., one with no “wrong” answers.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@SavoirFaire -I am diabetic and still do not expect anyone to cater to my dietary needs.Ever.

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III Well, a vegetarian entree would usually hae some combination of beans and veggies or cheese for protein and complex carbohydrates. But I maintain that one could live without that combination for one meal.

Kardamom's avatar

@Dutchess_III As a vegetarian, I have encountered all of these things: stuffing made with chicken broth, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green beans with bacon, mashed potatoes made with chicken broth, brussels sprouts cooked with ham, roasted vegetables cooked with the roast meat, pie crust made with lard, salad with bacon or anchovies in the dressing, soup made with fish or meat stock, beans made with pork. Unfortunately, none of those dishes are vegetarian, even though they are vegetables.

janbb's avatar

@Kardamom She wasn’t talking about egregious hidden meat products, as far as I could tell.

JLeslie's avatar

@Kardamom Not to take the question off track more, but I think the thing is some vegetarians say, “I don’t eat meat.” Instead of saying, “I am a vegetarian.” To the Catholics Fish is not meat. To some others out in cattle country meat means beef. Vegan, Lacto Ovo, even more complicated.

@Dutchess_III Depends on the vegetarian. If they don’t eat anything that is animal related, if they are vegan, then the mashed potatoes need to be made with alternate milk and margarine, stuffing no butter, etc.

diavolobella's avatar

I never thought about marshmallows in this respect. It’s the gelatin! You learn something new every day

JLeslie's avatar

@diavolobella Yeah, the gelatin foods are tricky. Jello seems vegetarian, same with marshmellows.

Kardamom's avatar

If anyone needs any good vegetarian recipes let me know. I’ve got lots of them. I’m the only vegetarian in my family, so I always try to find recipes that everyone will like. Nothing too weird. I would probably not serve a bowl of fried tofu to a group of non-vegetarians, although

I made a great side dish at our Xmas party potluck that was a cold soba noodle salad made with a peanut butter dressing with broccoli, macadamia nuts and cubed (herbed, baked) tofu that everyone loved. Tofu like that, has the consistency of diced chicken or cheese. But even, so, I would not be very inclined to serve a tofu dish when there are people who fear vegetarian fare.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t get the marshmallow part…it’s just sugar…I think..
Somebody give me a sample recipe for a veggie entree, please, because @janbb‘s explanation. ”....usually have some combination of beans and veggies or cheese for protein and complex carbohydrates. ” doesn’t really make sense for me. A meat entree is pretty limited on it’s nutritional value. The point of different dishes is to make up for that….

janbb's avatar

She did not say that there was nothing she could eat because it had meat in it; she complained that her friend did not understand vegetarianism well because there were only the vegetables and potatoes that she could eat. I maintain that you can suck it up for one meal; not by eating meat, of course, but by making do.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Marshmellows are made with gelatin. Gelatin is made from animals.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Kardamom How many peanuts had to die for your meal????? JK!
@Kardamom. That just sounds like a salad. I’m up for an example entree recipe here.

Disc2021's avatar

@SavoirFaire I feel like the host is reasonably accommodating their guest by cooking for them to begin with. If the guests don’t want to eat the meal they were provided, who’s really responsible for that?

What if every guest attending had a different preference for any set of dietary reasons – one wanted baked ham, the other wanted pork chops, the other wants fried chicken, etc… does the host have to accommodate all of their dietary preferences?

If I have a chicken BBQ for labor day, chances are I’m mainly serving chicken BBQ – if vegetarian friends were attending, they’d have to request otherwise or bring some of their own food. At this get-together, the host chose to serve ham and turkey. I say, whoever didn’t want ham or turkey should have either made special arrangements or otherwise respected the fact that the host went out of their way to make a decent meal for everyone.

Seaofclouds's avatar

If I was hosting and knew a guest had any dietary restrictions (be it by choice or medical reasons), I would try to accommodate them. That being said, I know very little about vegetarian or vegan meals, so whatever I tried might turn out to taste horrible.

I am a very picky eater. I don’t expect people to make something that I’m guaranteed to like. I’ll eat what I like, try new things, and not eat what I don’t like. I wouldn’t complain that the host had nothing for me to eat just because I didn’t like what they did have.

Kardamom's avatar

@janbb If there was no hidden meat products and there was at least one thing she could eat (even if it was only a plate full of iceberg lettuce) then she should have been gracious. Next time she should ask the hostess if she could/should bring something. It would have been nice (but not expected) if there was a vegetarian entree, but no one should make a big deal out of it, as long as there is something for her/him to eat. I’ve been to plenty of events, that were hosted by people that I did not know and couldn’t speak to in advance, that had only one thing I could eat (weddings are notorious for this) such as a bowl of nuts, a bowl of olives, a plate of carrot sticks or a bowl of iceberg lettuce and I ate it happily and didn’t complain. I’ve gone out to dinner to get a pizza many times after one of those events.

Here’s a funny side note. At the place I used to work, there were only 3 of us vegetarians (and about 50 non-vegetarians). Sometimes there would be a company sponsored pizza party. They knew that 3 of us were vegetarians so they would always kindly order a vegetarian pie. Well, when the food got there, the meat eaters would grab up all the vegetarian pie AND the pepperoni pie and leave nothing for us. All the while the meat eaters would be complaining that they would have preferred a meat lovers pizza instead of just one with pepperoni and one with just sausage and one with just canadian bacon and how awful the vegetarian pie (that they just scarfed down) was. There was usually about 10 pies and the meat eaters would always eat the vegetarian one first!

@JLeslie Yes, you are correct. There are people that don’t eat meat (that are not vegetarians). I’m always very up front, in a non-confrontational way, when I explain that I am a vegetarian. And I always offer to bring a dish or two or three.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Kardamom Next time go for the pineapple pizza! Nobody ever seems to want to touch mine, the silly gooses!!

janbb's avatar

@Kardamom Nailed it. At my workplace, we have a few vegetarians, too, and always have some options for them at gatherings. I have family who keep kosher so that makes catering interesting also.

Dutchess_III's avatar

There are always vegetable and fruit options, everywhere I’ve ever eaten. I’m still not understanding why a vegetarian would have any “problem” anywhere. I understand that there could be issues of “hidden” meats, but…what you don’t know won’t hurt you! There is a lot of things in the food I eat that would gross me out if I knew it was in there (peanut butter anyone?!) If you DO know it, don’t eat it….eat something else.

Kardamom's avatar

@Dutchess_III My reasons for eating a vegetarian diet are religious. It would be abhorrent to me to eat any type of meat products. Just as it would be abhorrent to a person of Jewish faith to be fed a meal and then to find out later that it had pork or bacon in it. It would be abhorrent to a person of Hindu faith or Seventh Day Adventist faith to find out that they had been fed meat. It is an afront to their (and my) faith. So you are terribly mistaken when you say that what you don’t know won’t hurt you. That is incredibly insulting. It can also be a very deadly proposition when you say that about someone with a peanut or shellfish allergy. It could kill them.

I am not a vegetarian to inconvenience you or anyone else. It is a matter of following my conscience and my faith. I am always up front with people about being a vegetarian and I am never rude or un-grateful. And when I am the hostess, I always make a point of finding out if anyone has any dietary restrictions. I would never purposely feed something to someone with a restriction and say, “Oh well, what they don’t know won’t hurt them.” That is the height of egotism. If you feel like you can’t accomodate someone, you should let them know, so they can bring a dish or decline to attend, graciously.

As the examples I gave above point out, it is not always possible to get any type of vegetarian food. I have been asked to go to restaurants where there are no vegetarian items on the menu and I’ve been to events where there was nothing I could eat. So it’s not always as easy as you might think.

Taciturnu's avatar

Being a vegetarian-transformed-into-a-vegan, I know being vegan is MUCH harder to cater to than being a vegetarian. It is SO easy to have a vegetarian dish at a function. (I think vegan dishes are easy, too, but people tend to forget we don’t eat butter.)

If you invite someone to a party who is (a friend and you know is) lactose intolerant and throw cheese on everything, most people would consider you thoughtless. As for those who say you “chose” not to eat meat, that’s correct- but after a certain time period my body rejected it when I would find it was “hidden” in my food. (No, not psychosomatic- I wouldn’t know until after I was in the bathroom for a few hours.) Therefore eating meat was not an option.

A friend should have said they didn’t have any good ideas of what to make and requested a recipe or for the friend to make a dish.

Trust me, I understand if you don’t eat like me and I understand if you don’t understand why I eat the way I do. But if you’re inviting me to a function KNOWING that, you should have SOMETHING available for me to eat and be a part of the dinner, even if I bring it myself. Next time, I either won’t go, or I’ll show up after dinner’s done. I have gone far out of my way for people who do not eat like me because that is what it means to be a good hostess.

[Edit: GA @Kardamom You said it before I did. lol]

Taciturnu's avatar

@janbb Your friend should have been happy with the vegetables and potatoes.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III I teach philosophy, so I cannot agree that objecting to a concept is silly. Concepts can be very important to people and are really the heart of etiquette.

As for a vegetarian entree, my wife makes amazing vegetable fajitas. They consist of zucchini and bell peppers spiced and cooked in a frying pan then wrapped in a tortilla along with crumbled queso blanco. Sometimes we eat them on their own as a meal, sometimes we add rice as a side dish.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille In my opinion, you have lower expectations than you need to have. That’s fine, of course, but I don’t think it is necessary.

Kraigmo's avatar

Any gathering of more than 20 people will inevitably have a vegetarian. It is prudent to make vegetarian dishes for them that are separated from the meat. It is intelligent of a host to provide vegetarian options.

However, vegetarians should always bring snacks with them just in case they are displeased with food choices.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Disc2021 Merely cooking is not sufficient. Would I be reasonably accommodating as a host if I knowingly served you spoiled meat just so long as I went through the trouble of preparing it? It does not count as making a decent meal for everyone if it is known a priori that it will not be a decent meal for someone. Yes, people would be smart to prepare ahead of time. I’m not denying that. But hosts still have some responsibilities qua host.

The key word there, however, is some. The scenario you present about guests with different preferences commits the perfect solution fallacy. This is not an all or nothing scenario. There are reasonable expectations and then there are unreasonable expectations. Your scenario involves unreasonable expectations, the scenario mentioned in the original question does not.

holli's avatar

I can see all sides of this argument and everyone has contributed plenty but I thought I’d share my own little story. I have a friend who is vegetarian and lactose intolerant so when she comes in town I usually prepare options that she can eat and that everyone else enjoys. If I make gnochi with a butter sauce, I pull out a serving for her before I add the sauce. If I make mashed potatoes, I pull a portion out of the pot before I add milk. I also experiment with alternatives like Quorn products and tofu dishes. She never asks for it but I enjoy the culinary challenge and other folks have the opportunity to try something they might not have otherwise. Of course, its extra time and money.

downtide's avatar

Having been a vegetarian myself for many years, I would have been happy with all the vegetables and potatoes and I wouldn’t have expected the host to put out anything special for me.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@SavoirFaire -I don’t make a big deal about meals,and surely do not expect anyone else to for my sake.When I go to dinner parties,there is always a choice there in what to eat that doesn’t wreak havoc.
I have also been to homes where they have certain things that are for diabetics specifically for me.They still don’t need to cater to me as I am there for the company anyway.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Kardamom You said, “So you are terribly mistaken when you say that what you don’t know won’t hurt you. That is incredibly insulting.” I’m thinking you may have mistaken my comment as though I was saying, “I know you’re a vegetarian, but I’m going to create a dish that has a meat base of some kind, but I won’t tell you and you’ll be fine.” Now that would be rude and insulting, and I would never, ever do something like that. Something like that would put me down there in the gutter with liars and cheats. I respect other’s beliefs, even if I don’t understand them.

As for the “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” comment…that’s a truism that we live with a thousand times a day… It’s like the “germ” phobia many people have thanks to the media. I’m not a germaphobic, but If they took a microscopic photo of my kitchen counter tops I’d probably be traumatized. And, did you know that at any given time there are 500 spiders within 10 feet of you? (Or something like that!)

Also, I have never been to a restaurant that had NO veggie options at all. I can’t imagine one that would. Can you give me an example, @Kardamom, since you made the comment that you have been?

Guys~I’m not trying to be argumentative or obtuse, but I just don’t get why a vegetarian would have such a hard time at any dinner gathering or restaurant, unless somebody was pointing fingers and making fun (in which case, just hang on. When your friends make it to the first grade things will change.)

PLEASE give me an example of a vegetarian ENTREE!! You never know when I might need one to put along side the fried chicken or the roast or the turkey!! I often forego the meat dishes and opt for the veggies…and that has never, ever been a problem or issue for me….

stardust's avatar

If a friend of mine invited me to a dinner party, I’d hope that they’d be mindful of my diet and provide something other than potatoes and veg. In general, I wouldn’t expect people to cater specifically for my diet. I do think that vegetarian and vegan food is healthier and far more common nowadays anyway so it’s not something I usually have to worry about

Supacase's avatar

I do not understand what the problem is. There were several vegetarian side dishes for her to eat. Sides make up the majority of my holiday meal. I don’t care for ham, so Christmas dinner is almost always sides and I have plenty to eat. I think getting ruffled up over the category of foods (entree, side, salad, appetizer) is silly. It is all food – eat the most of whatever you like the most and consider it your entree for the meal.

Jeruba's avatar

I’ll just toss this one in here since we are all having such a field day with this question.

How about if I have a special dietary limitation, and my host knows it, and I say “Oh, don’t worry about me—I know how to find things I can eat” and I proceed to do that…and then the host makes an issue of what I have on my plate? “Do you have enough there? Can you eat some of this? Are you sure you can’t eat that? What’s the problem with it? I thought you’d be able to eat this, I made it especially.” and won’t drop the subject no matter how may times I say “I’m fine, I’m okay, I have plenty, it’s all right, please don’t worry about it”?

tedibear's avatar

@Dutchess_III – An example of a vegetarian entree: Lasagna. It’s great without meat. I’ve made it with broccoli, green peppers, spinach and yellow squash and didn’t miss the ground meat. It did have cheese, so it wasn’t vegan, but it was vegetarian in that it had no meat.

Taciturnu's avatar

@Jeruba YES! I’ve run into that way too many times. And at a dinner party? The guests are likely to do the same. (At least in my experience.)

Jeruba's avatar

Those would be folks who’ve never read Miss Manners’ remarks on the subject of going to any length necessary to avoid embarrassing your guests.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba I think calling attention to it is annoying. If it were my party, if I were the host, I might point out or assure my vegetarian friend which dishes are ok for her to eat, but then I would leave it up to him to eat as they please at that point. I don’t like when people harp on the act that I did not eat some of the dishes at a party, I’m sure vegetarians usually feel the same.

@Dutchess_III Well, here in Memphis, green beans are cooked with pork a lot of the time. There is a “plate” restaurant in town that proudly boasts they do not have any pork in the restaurant, and so they cook their green beans in chicken broth. Seems in Memphis they have a hard time just doing a nice steam or sautee. Some restaurants use lard as their cooking oil, although that is some less often. And, vegetarians and vegans don’t just eat something, because it just looks vegetarian, they know more about hidden meat products than the average guy, so they always ask. I think it is almost impossible for them to just eat something thinking what they don’t know won’t hurt them, but I do understand youo mean no harm from that statement. My dad is mostly vegetarian for health reasons, and he asks how things are made, asks fo no butter only olive oil if possible, etc. It is much easier in some cities where the population is more in tune with these things.

Vegan veggie dishes:

Pasta primavera
Cous cous, with veggies tossed in it, can add soy in some form to give it protein.
Bean burritos with Spanish rice
Veggie burger
Lentil or chick pea Indian dishes (I don’t know the names) over rice or with nan

Non vegan veggie:
Cheese stuffed shells or ravioli
Soft tacos or burritos with refried beans, rice, lettuce and tomato, with cheese on top

But, I still think three “sides” which are vegetarian is adequate. I would be happy with potatoes, sauteed veggies, and stuffing at Thanksgiving for instance. If I wanted to skip the meat.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

As guests and not contributors to the meal vegies shouldn’t expect specialty dishes but a host who invites a vegie as a guest would be rude not to make sure there were vegetarian acceptable dishes, otherwise why invite the vegie at all?

NO ONE who is a guest should balk at what’s served, vegie or not. It’s silly to expect other people who regularly eat meat dishes to forgo them in the presence of vegies.

JLeslie's avatar

@Neizvestnaya Um, because you enjoy their company? You invite the vegetarian because you enjoy their company. Or, they might be a SO of your SO. All sorts of reasons the vegetarian is at your party. When I go to a party my main thing is the people not the food. I like to know the food will suck or not accomodate me ahead of time, but it does not always happen that way. Each year my husband and I are invited to a xmas party at one of his coworkes house. Food is not great and all VERY fatty. I know ahead not to go there very hungry. I eat a late healthy lunch, and at their party I have a few appetizers and a couple of cookies.

Kardamom's avatar

Sorry, my phone rang and I’ve been on the phone for the last two hours.

For everyone, here are a few of my favorite vegetarian recipes:

Mushroom Lasagna (or any other kind of vegetable lasagna with any combo of veggies that you like: kale, cauliflower, butternut squash etc.

Vegetable Enchiladas (Again, you can use any kind of veggies that you want and I’ve made it with all kinds of things)

Pasta Primavera with Pesto Sauce

Channa Masala (or any other kind of Indian dish such as aloo ghopi, palaak paneer, navratan khorma.

Spinach Ravioli (or plain old cheese ravioli, or mushroom or artichoke or squash)

Mushroom Quiche (quiche can easily be made with pre-made pie crusts and you can mix up the ingredients any way you want. Sometimes I use broccoli or asparagus or add in some potatoes or sundried tomatoes or chopped green chilies, depending upon what I have on hand)

Leek and Potato Tart

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Rice

Spanakopita

Vegetarian Moussaka

And If you can’t find anything on this list that sounds good try looking at Vegetarian Times website.

Or Veggie Life

@Dutchess_III Here is the most recent example of a restaurant that I went to (with friends) that had no vegetarian options of the menu. It’s called The North Woods Inn It had sandwiches listed on the outside of the building, so I figured it would be ok. I’ve been to Italian restaurnts where all of the sauces contained meat (no marinara sauce available) and I’ve been to Asian restaurants that serve so-called vegetarian items that contain chicken broth or fish sauce. And I’ve been to “diner” style restaurants that served sandwiches with no vegetarian options and soup and salad with no vegetarian options for either (but I’m sure I could have gotten a bowl of plain iceberg lettuce at this last example).

JLeslie's avatar

@Kardamom You made me think of eggplant parmesian, one of my fav’s.

charliecompany34's avatar

a good dinner party host should always plan meals for all invited. gone are the days of “what i cook, y’all just eat and shut up!”

Kardamom's avatar

@JLeslie Oh yeah, how did I leave that one out? Oh, and chiles rellenos!

JLeslie's avatar

@Kardamom OMG. I cannot believe I did not say that. I had poblano peppers stuffed with cheese tonight. But, if there is not some rice or tacos on the side, that will seem more like a side dish I think?

Taciturnu's avatar

As an add on to what @Kardamom‘s recipes were, I have great luck with this blog. The stories are cute, and the recipes are delicious.

[Edit: I run into issues at restaurants also. If you ask them to make something up without ____, _____, or _____, they are usually willing to oblige. :)]

Kardamom's avatar

@Taciturnu Thanks for the tip. : ) I am so hungry right now!

charliecompany34's avatar

just cooked a christmas eve dinner where “hamburgers” was the theme meal. i had salmon burgers, vegan burgers, turkey burgers and the quintessential steak burger, but the menu included all invited. takes a little more effort, but you have to be thoughtful.

especially if you had been invited to a dinner party and there was nothing there for YOURSELF to eat.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III I already gave you an example of a vegetarian entree (and for the record, the vegetable fajitas are quite filling). But as for “what you don’t know won’t hurt you,” my wife got terribly sick whenever she accidentally ate something with a meat base during the periods of her vegetarianism. We know it wasn’t psychosomatic because she usually didn’t even know that she had ingested something meat-based. We would find that out later and realize it was what made her sick. Similarly, she would get sick the first time she ate meat when quitting her vegetarianism. So yes, what you don’t know can hurt you.

gailcalled's avatar

Here’s the ultimate take: Roz Chast’s about-to-be famous Nov.22, 2010 cartoon entitled

The Last Thanksgiving

Neizvestnaya's avatar

My vegetarian sister decided to indulge in a few pieces of batter dipped/fried catfish the other day and became sick. Her body isn’t used to flesh stuffs anymore so when she visits then we make vegetarian gravy, use vegie broth instead of meat or poultry kind and try not to roast/bake vegetables alongside meats.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Neizvestnaya It’s a matter of enzymes. Once your body gets used to not producing them, it takes time to get them back. I suppose it would be the same for just about any kind of food, but it’s vegetarians who are most likely to suffer in this way.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@SavoirFaire: I wonder if that’s why we all got upset stomachs over the holidays, too much rich foods we normally don’t eat during the year?

Disc2021's avatar

@SavoirFaire Well, in your scenario, who knowingly cooks spoiled meat for guests? That’s a little extreme as well. My point was that a host isn’t going to cater to everyone’s dietary needs; if it’s their responsibility to cater to vegetarian’s particular dietary needs, why shouldn’t they have to cater to everyone’s particular dietary preferences? If I say “Hey guys, I’m having a party… what kind of food does everyone want?” – that’s different. Otherwise, If you dont draw the line somewhere, it gets just plain ridiculous.

I think it would certainly be courteous of a host to accommodate a friend who happens to be vegetarian or vegan at a get-together, but certainly not required nor responsible. Then again, I grew up through a time where if you didn’t like the food they were serving at school, you packed your own lunch.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Neizvestnaya That’s a good question. Hadn’t thought of that. A lot of it is probably due to overeating, but the richness of the food could be a factor if those foods contain ingredients we don’t often eat a lot of during the year.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Disc2021 My scenario is aimed at a very precise claim: that merely cooking is sufficient to count as being accommodating. It is entirely appropriate to test precise claims against all possible counterexamples, and my scenario is one such reply.

As for the difference between a vegetarian’s dietary needs and someone else’s dietary preferences, it’s right there in the words. Even if the vegetarian does not technically have to eat only vegetarian foods, his level of commitment is greater than that of someone who is perhaps more in the mood for one thing but would be content with what is being served and has no general commitments against eating what is being served.

And the drawing a line point was mine: that’s the alternative to committing the perfect solution fallacy like you did earlier. But the fact that you have to draw a line somewhere doesn’t mean you have to draw it at “vegetarians come at their own risk.” Part of being a host is accommodating your guests. Sure, you are not required to do so. No one is required to do anything. I am talking about what is generally expected of a host. We only make this sort of exception regarding vegetarians because we see them as “other” or “weird.” As has been mentioned, almost no one (except racists, I suppose) would feel the same way if the issue was Jews and pork.

Finally, your school lunch point is not apropos. If you know what is being served ahead of time, then the responsibility falls on you. Pack your own lunch. I’ve said as much already above. I’ve also noted that it makes sense to ask what’s being served when you have special dietary concerns. But it is also appropriate for a host to be aware of their guests’ needs. My friends warn me if they have cats because they know I am allergic to them, but I also try to remember to ask before going somewhere I’ve never been. The appropriateness of one, however, does not diminish the appropriateness of the other.

JLeslie's avatar

@SavoirFaire I think another tricky thing is if a vegetarian asks the host ahead of time what will be served, the guest might worry the host will feel extra pressure to accomodate her special needs. It might simply be the guest just wants to know to eat ahead of time, or bring something with her. Then if the host does make a fuss, the guest feels badly. Most hosts do care everyone is happy and full. The school lunch example the menu is there for everybody.

Disc2021's avatar

@SavoirFaire I’m kind of dismissive towards the point you’re making between dietary needs and desires. Sacrifice is a part of any commitment; you choose to become a vegetarian, after time it becomes harder for you to digest meat. Therefore, you need to be careful and particular about what you eat and where you eat it. I also think it’s quite bold to suggest that common “omnivores” would be content with any old vegetarian dish. If tofu and mushrooms (popular vegetarian food items) turned out to be a part of the main course meal, I know a few people that wouldn’t exactly be satisfied with the meal.

Here’s a better example, I strongly dislike seafood. I’ve been to dinners before where the main dish was seafood. I didn’t whine or pout, I simply understood that the majority of people attending love it and I just settled with the minimal sides that were offered. On another occasion, when I had a big event celebration to attend to at Red Lobster with the family, I simply ate a larger portion before and just snacked on some of the non-seafood sides that were offered. Again, I didn’t demand that we change the restaurant or do something else just because I didn’t like seafood.

While I agree, there is a widespread stigma towards vegetarianism, I dont quite think that this is the case here. I don’t think vegetarians are weird for not eating meat, usually, it’s them who think I’m weird for eating it. In my opinion you’re more than welcome to eat or not eat what you so desire and more power to you for doing so.

Overall, if I got invited by a vegetarian to one of their get-togethers and knew that most of the people there were vegetarian, I would not expect meat to be served (even if they knew for sure that I’m an omnivore) – nor would I complain that they didn’t accommodate me because I’m not a committed vegetarian. Again, just me.

mattbrowne's avatar

No. What matters is the choice of the hosts. Same applies to vegetarian hosts. Guests cannot expect to be served meat.

JLeslie's avatar

@mattbrowne There is brilliance in your statement. I did not take the time to even think about the situation in reverse.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@JLeslie @mattbrowne I was thinking over the same idea. Should omnivores expect meat if a vegetarian is throwing the party. Might make a good question.

Taciturnu's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I always do. I really think it comes down to being a good host/hostess.

nikipedia's avatar

I have to agree with the prevailing sentiment so far… it’s nice if there’s a veg entree, but not expected.

But let me change the question slightly… what if it’s not a dinner party?

First example: flying. It is almost impossible to find vegetarian food in an airport, and I have had to cobble together a “meal” out of potato chips or a candy bar before. More recently I have started to travel with food (trail mix, crackers), but this is annoying when you have limited space, and the TSA people are very picky about what they let through (e.g., I was not allowed to bring peanut butter once, since they considered it a “gel.”)

On top of this, I spent 11 hours on an airplane yesterday. Everything they served for the first 8 hours or so of the flight had meat in it. The flight attendants wouldn’t even answer my questions about what was in the food. (Me: What is this? Flight attendant: Something for you to eat. Me: Right, but what’s in it? Flight attendant: It’s food, just eat it.)

So, I think if you’re stuck on an airplane… they really should offer a veg option.

Second scenario: a professional conference or meeting. The organization I work for hosts a quarterly meeting that involves people from all over southern California coming to us. One year, lunch was some kind of korean barbecue buffet that involved only meat—not a single vegetarian item was served. Aside from being hungry, I was also really embarrassed. I think it looks really rude and unprofessional to not have a vegetarian option available for people who can’t leave and go get something else.

Taciturnu's avatar

@nikipedia Jet Blue has vegan options. (And, I love the service.) You have to pay for anything more than a snack, but I think it’s $6/meal.

I’m surprised your SoCal meeting didn’t have vegetarian options, since there seems to be a lot of them out there. Have you ever been to Au Lac in Fountain Valley? I thought they were great!

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Kardamom Thanks for all the recipes…but the mushroom Lasagna has butter, milk and cheese in it….? Is that OK or not? I could flat live on cheese-only lasagna!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Re: the North Woods End…It’s a steak house @Kardamom!!!! That’s their specialty! And they DID offer non-meat foods, just not as an entree. Sorry, but that’s like going to a pizza place and complaining that you can’t get a burrito there!

gailcalled's avatar

My rule is simple. The ohef sets the menu. I am so thrilled not to be the person in the apron in the kitchen that I can always find something that does not have meat, fish or poutry in it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@gailcalled Exactly! I love it when I say, “Do you need any help?” because that means I’m not the HCIF and I’ll be finished with whatever in a minute, and get back to the movie!

You know, if I was hosting a dinner party and I had invited someone I knew to be a vegetarian, I would go to the lengths of making something special, like cheese lasagna (probably because I’d love it too!) I would never knowingly exclude someone.

As to why they don’t serve vegetarian entrees at a steakhouse….that’s just a matter of simple finance. They’d lose money because 99.99% of the people who go there are there for the steak, and they wouldn’t order the vegetarian option. The restaurant would have to throw it all out. It would be just like tossing money into the garbage disposal.

gailcalled's avatar

Steak houses have salad bars that have copious choices, and baked potatoes and some veggie side dishes. You can make an entire meal out of the salad bars these days; cole slaw, cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs, raisins, pineapple, cooked beans, grated cheese…

Dutchess_III's avatar

@gailcalled Exactly…but the complaint is that there are no vegetarian entrees.

gailcalled's avatar

@Dutchess_III: That’s nitpicking.

Kardamom's avatar

@Dutchess_III I did not choose the restaurant, other people did. When I got there, there were no vegetarian items offered at all. It was embarrassing and awkward for everybody.

Butter and cheese are ok for vegetarians. Vegans would not be able to eat those things. In that case you can either leave them out or use vegan “cheese” and vegan “butter” or you can pick a different dish. Everyone was curious about vegetarian dishes, but I have plenty of vegan recipes too. I think most vegetarians and vegans would be happy with a side dish. Maybe the person in the OP’s question would not.

@Taciturnu Yes! I have been to Au Lac many times. It is my favorite restaurant of all time. I’ve taken several non-vegetarians there too and they loved it.

@gailcalled This “steak house” did not have a salad bar or any of the items you listed. I wish it did. Even if it was just an un-dressed bowl of iceberg lettuce. I’ve been to many places (with other people) that had only that, and I was happy to have it. Like I said, I always carry nuts and breakfast bars with me everywhere I go.

janbb's avatar

@nikipedia While I definitley understand your concern on the airplane and the stewrdess was rude, they were dealing with a crisis situation. Airlines do generally provide veggie meals when they are ordered in advance. I will often eat all the bits in a regular airline meal but not the meat main dish.

In your second example, I definitely think one is catering for a crowd in this day and age, vegetarian options should be on the menu.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Kardamom Was it a restaurant that you’d never heard of, and didn’t know was a steak house? The name itself is a pretty broad hint. Why did the rest of your party become uncomfortable and embarrassed? Food is food. Who cares if you eat the entree or the “special,” or whatever? They offered bread, salad, potatoes, cottage cheese, peanuts, and you could have asked for some vegetable or split pea (yuck!) soup . Sounds like a full deal meal to me….but I’m not a real big meat eater. Why would anyone feel uncomfortable then?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@janbb ”...vegetarian options should be on the menu.” but it will only be offered if it will make a profit for the place. If it runs at a loss they’ll drop it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Reading the post again, my penguin friend, I noticed that you said, ”...who knew she was vegetarian, did not get it right. So….the friend tried, but it just wasn’t good enough?

Math321's avatar

Don’t expect special treatment. Just sit down and eat what you can.

Coloma's avatar

One of my favorite veggie dishes that everyone loves is my Cashew Cole Slaw.

Super easy, the usual red, green cabbage and shredded carrots, with homemade or store bought Cole Slaw dressing and bucketfuls of Cashew halves.

I always have this on hand as an extra when the company is going to be of mixed preferences.

Kardamom's avatar

@Coloma Yum! That sounds great. I love any kind of cabbage salad. : p

I make one that uses red cabbage, red apples, spicy pecans (from Trader Joe’s) with a sweet and sour dressing made with apple cider vinegar.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I make a good salad using some sort of store pre-mixed coleslaw veggies. No cabbage, but it has been sprouts and carrots and broccoli and all kinds of good stuff. I mix in about a ½ bottle of Mazzaratti cole slaw stuff…so good. Ok, so I also add fake crab meat to it, but it would be yummy without!

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III I meant in the example that @nikipedia gave of a corporate sponsored conference, a vegetarian option should be included. This can always be something like penne with vodka sauce that will be propular with carnivores as well. I still think that in the small dinner party my friend attended, the side vegtables were sufficient, although it certainly would have been thoughtful had a more complete entree been made.

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III
@Kardamom

You guys are making me hungry now!
Broccoli cole slaw is really good too!

Oh oh…I am on red alert with the mods for going off topic…hope this minor interjection is not my demise. haha

Dutchess_III's avatar

Tell you what got me was the menu from that steak house! I’m sooooo hungry right now!

@janbb That’s a good point…anything that is made for someone with a special preference should still be something that most people like anyway. Like…5 cheese lasagna!! Gotta make me some! You want to come for dinner, guys?? Can’t smoke in the house, but you can eat in the house! Except not AstroChuck if he comes. He has to eat outside. Too messy, he is.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, it’s definitely a tricky situation. I suspect that’s why a lot of people don’t ask. Then again, one can try to make it clear during the conversation that nothing is being expected. But the fact that the host might feel pressure just solidifies the point I’ve been making: as a matter of convention (remember, I don’t think there is a factual answer to this question since it’s just a matter of social niceties), it is the host’s responsibility to accommodate each guest. That’s why the host feels pressure in the first place, and it’s why hosting is a stressful activity.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@SavoirFaire So…if you have a dinner for 50 people you might have to cook 50 different courses??

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I haven’t been hosting the times I made a vegetarian dish for my niece. I do it to help out the host and take care of my niece. It’s a win-win to me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I would do the same but….the question is, why wouldn’t you make an vegetarian entree?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Dutchess_III My dishes are usually entrees.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Maybe I don’t know the definition of an entree….

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Disc2021 You can be dismissive of whatever you like, but it is a simple fact that there is a difference between a need and a desire or a commitment and a preference. And that’s the only point I was making. All talk of what follows from each is irrelevant to what I said.

This is not to say that it is irrelevant to the topic at large, however. Still, I wonder what you think I’ve said that contradicts the claim that commitments involve sacrifice. As far as I can tell, I’ve been perfectly fine with the suggestion that some responsibility rests on the vegetarian to see what is being served and to prepare accordingly (possibly by eating at home first). But I have also pointed out that hosting is a commitment. Is it so strange to insist that the commitment involved in hosting also involves some sacrifices? Because that’s what is involved in being accommodating.

Furthermore, I would like you to point out where I said that omnivores would be content with “any old vegetarian dish.” As a picky eater, and an omnivore, I’m quite certain that I never would have said such a thing. The most I think one could get out of what I’ve written here is that it doesn’t violate an omnivore’s commitments to eat a vegetarian dish.

And once again, your example is a non sequitur. My answers are given specifically in terms of a dinner party. I wouldn’t complain if my niece wanted to go to a restaurant I don’t like for her birthday. It’s her birthday! Nor would I whine and pout at a dinner that didn’t have much that I like. I’m not excusing any sort of behavior, nor am I discussing how vegetarians are or are not stigmatized. I am making a point about the responsibilities that come with hosting. So comments about your own behavior—which appears to be very much like my own—are immaterial.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Dutchess_III I think of it as one the vegetarian could eat as the main course? In the ballpark?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III I have already answered your question above in a reply to @Disc2021. Preferences and commitments are importantly different; and besides, you can try to find a common denominator. If there is no common denominator, perhaps it would be best to hold a potluck or just not have a dinner party at all. Meet up at a restaurant if you want to eat together, and host a regular old party later.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well…I guess I’m glad I’m not a vegetarian. I would really be embarrassed to think that any host or hostess would feel that they need to go to all kinds of lengths to make a second main course just for me. I would never expect that.

Now, if someone did it out of love, that’s one thing. But out of pressure to kow tow to me? No. Never!

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III No one is asking you to pressure a host to make something just for you, nor is anyone asking you to expect it. What has been said is that it is not unreasonable for a vegetarian who has been invited to a dinner party by someone who knows he is a vegetarian to expect some vegetarian dishes. It is incorrect to think that the mere presence of food a vegetarian can eat means that the vegetarian has been accommodated in a meaningful way.

Anyone who wants to take the tough approach is free to do so. My grandfather did this to his vegetarian daughter (my aunt) until the day he died. But no one could reasonably call this “accommodating,” regardless of whether or not his behavior was appropriate.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What did your grandfather do regarding his daughter? Did he actively try to sabotage her?
I still don’t know, guys. What if the hostess of a party of 50 mentioned that she was serving Prime Rib as the entree, and I don’t like prime rib, would it be right to expect her to make, say, a baked chicken entree as well for me? I don’t think so. I’d just partake of whatever else was there. And if she was making prime rib I’m betting there would be LOTS of good stuff there!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Dutchess_III I think it’s a little different than your analogy isn’t it? I could eat a little prime rib if I preferred chicken but a vegetarian wouldn’t want to eat any of the prime rib. Does that make sense?

Dutchess_III's avatar

No, not really. Let’s say I was allergic to it, and couldn’t eat it. What if peanuts were part of the entree, and I was deathly allergic to peanuts. I still wouldn’t expect a second entree just for me.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III My grandfather made exactly what he would have made even if she wasn’t a vegetarian. That’s the way he was. No active sabotage, because that would mean acknowledging the vegetarianism (plus, he wasn’t mean like that).

As for your other question, I will again point out that I’ve already answered it. If you’re not going to read my responses, then I have to assume you’re just asking to be a pain and don’t really want to hear anything against your preformed opinion. But here they are just in case: response1 and response 2. You may have to go back to see the context of my comments.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Dutchess_III From that viewpoint I understand your position.

Disc2021's avatar

@SavoirFaire You’re right, hosting does involve sacrifice… in my opinion, sacrificing the main entree on their menu for one person is ridiculous, that’s all I’ve been trying to point out.

“Even if the vegetarian does not technically have to eat only vegetarian foods, his level of commitment is greater than that of someone who is perhaps more in the mood for one thing but would be content with what is being served and has no general commitments against eating what is being served.” – Put into the context of this subject, this is implying that omnivores would usually be content with what is being served, given their “mood”. What I’m saying is that most omnivores aren’t used to a lot of vegetarian entrees and therefore probably wouldn’t be content with them.

How are my examples that different!? Literately, I said I’ve been in the same position at a dinner party and I literately had to skip the main entree, the same way the friends of the person asking the original question had to. I’m pretty sure the host knew I wasn’t a fan of seafood and I certainly don’t feel that because of that, they should have made me a special dish or changed the entree altogether.

I just think if you’re vegetarian going to an “omnivores” house, why would you expect anything different than what omnivores typically eat? I were going to a vegetarian’s house for a dinner party, I wouldn’t expect anything more or less than what vegetarians eat (even if all of the guests were omnivores, I really wouldn’t expect someone who doesn’t like anything about meat to serve it at their house, nor would I expect them to handle it).

Now given @nikipedia‘s flying scenario or a situation in which someone is going to be in a particular setting for an extended period of time, I understand special accommodating options made for everyone’s dietary needs, desires or preferences. Perhaps we could just agree to disagree, otherwise?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Disc2021 I’m not asking anyone to sacrifice the main entree. I never once said that you shouldn’t serve meat if you’re inviting a vegetarian over for dinner. As for the quote of mine, you put it into the wrong context. Don’t read it relative to the question at large, but rather to what it was actually a response to: the difference between a preference and a commitment. That will prevent further misinterpretations and perhaps help you understand why your examples continue to miss the point.

As for agreeing to disagree, you keep making statements about how to behave after the fact that I don’t disagree with. My point has been that they do not constitute proper rebuttals to my statements, which are about what to do before the fact.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@SavoirFaire—I don’t have time to relook at your links up there (getting ready for a wedding) but I will later. At any rate, my “preformed” opinion applies only to myself. I, personally, would never expect any kind of special treatment regarding food. Ever. If someone else feels that they are entitled to special treatment and complained when they didn’t get it, well, that’s them. I wouldn’t do it.

Having said that, if I had a vegetarian over as one of many guests, I would take into consideration their preference and keep that in mind as I planned the meal. It wouldn’t substantially change what I fixed, but I’d do what would be reasonably fair and considerate.

If I had a vegetarian over as my only guest, then yes. Of course. The meal would revolve around them. That’s a no-brainer as far as common courtesy goes.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III Given this response, I cannot understand why you’ve been disagreeing with me on anything. I have said quite explicitly that I don’t think you, specifically, should expect anything.

Kardamom's avatar

@SavoirFaire I think you have hit the nail on the head perfectly with everything you have said. You sound like you would make a good host and guest. I read all of your posts and you are much more articulate than I am.

I’m just grateful that my immediate and extended family members try to make me feel welcome in their homes, by inquiring about the foods I need to avoid. They do the same for my Dad who has to have limited salt intake because of heart disease, and an aunt and uncle who have to be careful about sugar instake because of diabetes. I think that by asking and offering, we have all become much closer and more tolerant. Some of the people on this thread would probably not welcome me into their homes at all and some would simply tolerate my presence, but be pissed off.

This is why I am not likely to go to a sit down dinner party at someone’s home whom I did not know well. Going to restaurants with people who are not good friends (even some who are) or who are not close family members is always a gamble. I’ve been held up to ridicule by people I barely know.

But I try my hardest not to complain or stand out like a sore thumb or make demands. I always try to discreetly talk with the host or a waiter ahead of time (or check out the restaurant info online if I have the chance) and I would likely not attend a party/gathering with people than I’m unfamiliar with. I don’t want to make waves. I always carry food around in my purse and expect to have to eat beforehand or immediately afterward. And I try to find out if my guests have any special needs beforehand. I’m just doing the best I can whilst trying to remain faithful to my belief system, without hurting anyone or anything.

janbb's avatar

@Kardamom You make wonderful sense and sound very considerate.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Kardamom I agree with @janbb. That was truly a “great answer.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

I agree..it was a good answer, but it changed the whole picture. All of this time, when I was responding, I was thinking of “dinner parties,” which, to me, sounds like a function where a lot of people are invited, many of whom aren’t all that well known by the host. Like what politicians have. I wasn’t thinking of close friends and immediate family members. That’s not a dinner “party.” That’s just “dinner,” and that is a whole different animal. I mean, for my family members I go out of my way to make the foods (mainly side dishes) they they especially like, even no one else does. I’d do the same for a family member who was a vegetarian. Through trial and error we’d find something that everyone else likes too (which would be 5 cheese lasagna whether they liked it or not!! I just gotta make me some soon! : ) and which would become a part of what our gatherings are all about. Over time I’d find more and different vegetarian things that would just become a part of what we have at gatherings.
So, in a nut shell (Notice I didn’t say “In a cow shell…”) we’ve been on slightly different pages, I’d say.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III Good point. That does explain a lot. Since the question specifies that the host was a friend and the guest’s vegetarianism was known, I was thinking of a family-and-friends type affair. If I were invited to a state dinner, I don’t suppose I’d expect much of anything other than some insincere speechifying.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yes @SavoirFaire. Exactly. I was assuming a state affair. “Unknown” is not the same as a “knownand-dear-to-your-heart.” I was thinking of “dinner parties” like the one I went to tonight (wedding reception). Must have been 70 people there….and damn if they didn’t have bacon bit in the tatoe salad! (Not that I care, but….I was lookin’ because of this Q.) Other than that, if I’d filled my plate with pasta salad, and potato salad, baked beans and and rolls (No ham, turkey or brisket) , nobody would have noticed…Unless I brought it to their attention.

JLeslie's avatar

Story time. When I was in college I went tk a friends pool party at her parents house one summer (we lived in the dorms during the school year). For lunch she orderee in pizza. Must have been 10 pizzas for everyone. 10 pepperoni pizzas. I could not believe it. It seemed like their was no consideration taken that some people might prefer a different topping, and yes it turned out there was a vegetarian at the party. I personally never order pepperoni, not my favorite, but I can eat it.

The reason I knew there was a vegetarian was because when we started lifing the box tops to see the pizzas, she asked if they were all pepperoni, and eventually said she was vegetarian. My friend, the host apologized, and her mom offered to get her something else from the kitchen. But really, that was one of the most ridiuclous food selections I have ever seen at a party.

The host was not being obnoxious, thinking everyone should like the pizza she likes, she was just ignorant. In MI pepperoni pizza is kind of treated as the standard regular pizza (at least that is how it was at my university and with many of my friends).

I think there are a lot of people out there who simply don’t realize how varied people’s food requirements are.

@nikipedia I agree with @janbb answer to you about the circumstances you mentioned. One thing I would say is if you are at a meeting in a conference center or hotel, ask catering if you can get a vegetarian meal. They should be able to accomodate you, even if it is during the event. They can get an item from a restaurant in the hotel. Better yet, if you call ahead, they will most likely include your meal with no extra charge to the host.

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL! I’ve spent the last two days wondering how I could include a strict vegetarian in an outdoor grilling get together! It’s hard! I think of grilled veggies…but they’d have to be grilled on the same grill that the meat is grilled on, and that won’t work! I’ve really been worrying about this…and I don’t even know any vegetarians!

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III Either grill the vegetables first, or keep them on a separate rack if you have a multi-level grill.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t…and I don’t have a multi-level grill. I’d do them first but the grill would have had meat grilled on it before…I mean…I don’t know. I’d scrape it first, but would that be good enough?

SavoirFaire's avatar

I think it would be good enough. I know it would’ve been more than enough for my wife during her periods of vegetarianism. A guest who demanded more would, in my opinion, be going overboard.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@SavoirFaire Ready to eat??!! : )

Coloma's avatar

I could live on french bread and spinach dip forever. ;-)

Dutchess_III's avatar

THAT belongs in “What two items would you buy together that would make people look at you weird” question @Coloma!

Dutchess_III's avatar

BELAY THAT!! I thought you said, “French toast and spinach dip! Sorry!

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III

haha, well…I’m quirky, but not THAT quirky!

Kardamom's avatar

@Dutchess_III My cousin had a barbecue this summer and several of the guests (including me) were vegetarians. She borrowed a neighbor’s grill to keep the veggies separate from the meat. She actually made skewers, rather than burgers and dogs. She had all of the items in separate tupperware containers: raw beef cubes, chicken pieces, shrimp, mushrooms, sweet peppers, pineapple and onions. The tupperware were all set into a big container (like a shallow, but long rubbermaid sweater box) filled with ice so that everything would stay fresh. Then she had the two grills set up and then she had 2 or three marinades that you could brush onto your skewer (that you would build yourself). Everyone had a great time making and grilling their own skewers and my cousin didn’t have to spend all of her time grilling. She also served all sorts of side dishes, all of which were vegetarian so that everybody could eat them: potato salad, cole slaw, Greek salad, tabouli, hummus, pita chips, potato chips and tortilla chips with salsa, and raw veggies with ranch dip and assorted olives. It was so much fun.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Sounds like a plan @Kardamom! I’d do that for people.

Kardamom's avatar

@Dutchess_III You will be the talk of the town!

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III Well, now I’m definitely ready to eat!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Actually—that’s seriously a great idea!
Well, @SavoirFaire Now you have to wait! I had 5 cheese lasagna ready, but now it’s in the freezer and I have other shopping to do!

Dutchess_III's avatar

OMG! You aren’t going to believe this! Every Sat Rick and I watch “Primal Grill.” It’s always about grilling different meats in exotic ways and it just makes me so SO hungry. Well, this morning we were watching. I came in about half way through the show, not really paying too close attention….he was finishing up some yummy shish kabobs. Then he was working on some Port mushroom burgers when it hit me…He was doing a vegetarian grill!!! He never does a strictly vegetarian show! :) It was awesome…he brushed the ports with a pesto mix he made himself, then grilled them with a piece of provolone cheese…um hum yum!

Here’s his website I went to it for the first time today to get the recipie for ya’ll…but he has a whole section on vegetarian grilling, so that’s what I posted. Happy grilling and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and Happy Birthday, from Dutchess. (I’m for sure going to do the shish kabob idea that @Kardamom gave us…that sounds great no matter what your food preferences are!)

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III

Oh man!

And, that 5 cheese Lasagne…I bet it would put 5 lbs. on for every serving. ;-)

Making veggie breakfast burritos now.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Coloma I’ll take two, please!

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III

NOTHING beats grilled peppers with cheese!
Heh…Oh..Monday, Monday…the scale waits!

Kardamom's avatar

@Dutchess_III If you liked the idea of the grilled mushrooms (for the barbecue) you might also like these stuffed crimini mushroom if you are having an indoor party. Another cousin (the brother of the skewers making cousin) made these at his last party. All of the meat eaters loved these and I appreciated them too (he made them for me).

Dutchess_III's avatar

Criminal mushrooms? Those aren’t the hallucinogenic kind, are they?? :)
That sounds yuimmy…but I have an urge to add cream cheese….

Kardamom's avatar

@Dutchess_III Cheese and Mushrooms is always a great combo.

criminal mushrooms! ha ha, I should invent a mushroom dish and call them that. They’re so good they’re criminal!

So back to the original question, it would have been nice for the hostess to have served these mushrooms at her party and it would have been nice for the vegetarian guest to have brought these mushrooms to the party. Mushrooms are the great equalizer!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ports were one of the greatest discoveries of my life! Sauteing ports and onions together…oh, heaven!
@Kardamom Yes, that would have been nice BUT would it have been considered an entree? I mean, I thought that’s what the problem was…there was no vegetarian entree at the meal. Lots of veggie sides but no entree.

Kardamom's avatar

@Dutchess_III I think that stuffed mushies would not be considered an entree, maybe an appetizer, but grilled (big) portobello mushies would definitely be an entree. I’ve been served grilled mushy sammies as an entree many times.

I’m still not sure why the vegetarian guest would feel slighted as long as there were 1 or 2 completely veg (no hidden meat products) side dishes. I’ve made many a meal out of side dishes. I wonder if the guest has had a conversation with her friend (the host) to clear up this mess. The guest has to be the more accomodating party in this particular situation and she should tell the host that she would love to bring something to the next party and not be mean towards the host. Sometimes the host just doesn’t know any better.

My best friend and her boyfriend (who are also vegetarians) invited his mom over for Christmas dinner. They served a vegetable pot pie as the entree and had other little vegetarian side dishes and a vegan apple cake for dessert. The mom declared the dinner, “Very unusual.” But she liked it ok, and learned something about vegetarian cooking. This same lady, hosted a birthday party for her son a few years back and she found a few vegetarian recipes and made a feast for all of us. It was wonderful!

It would be great if @janbb could get the host and the guest to come on here on here to give their views on this whole thing. I bet both of them are nice people and a simple mis-understanding lead to hard feelings.

Hopefully in 2011 all hosts will ask a few simple questions ahead of time (about if there are any special dietary needs) and all guests will ask if they can bring something, pointing out that the dish/food/contribution will be a vegetarian item and the guest will still eat a little something ahead of time and will carry some nuts and snacks in their purse. If the guest arrives and finds that there is nothing for him/her to eat, she/he will be discreet and not make a fuss, but will talk to the host after the party and offer to bring something next time. Then everyone will go out for pineapple pizza. Happy New Year!

gailcalled's avatar

We had two delicious vegetarian dinners at my sister’s this past week.

#1: Lentil soup with vegetables, apricots and cinnamon.
Large salad
Whole grain bread and home-made foccacio.

#2: Mac and cheese make by the 7-year old and his grandfather; whole wheat pasta, home made bread crumbs, grated organic cheeses.

Roasted mashed winter squash from the garden with nothing in it.
Toasted whole wheat bagels, cream cheese, wild Nova Scotia Salmon
Baby roasted Brussel Sprouts from the garden.
Roasted baby potatoes in their skins, from the garden.

A smorgasborg of ice cream, fruit, cookies for desserts.

All other meals consisted of left-overs.

( For the one meat eater – the 82-year old grumpy man who smoked – she picked up two rotisserie chickens from the super market.)

Coloma's avatar

@gailcalled

Well…the 82 year old grumpy man has already WON at the game of longevity…so, smoke away and eat the fried chicken with a smile!
It’s ALL frosting on the cake after 50 IMO! lol

gailcalled's avatar

@Coloma: I wonder. He has all the symptoms of early onset Alzheimers, including a flash point temper, giant ego, helplessness, defensiveness, denial, and confusion.

Additionally, he wears dentures, can’t hear, coughs all the time, was forced to give up driving after two serious accidents last year, got fired finally from his job as a corporate psychologist after falling asleep while treating patients, and has such severe osteoporosis that his chin almost rests on his chest.

Coloma's avatar

@gailcalled

Not to laugh, but..the irony of a psychologist that probably has a personality disorder. haha
Maybe it’s not Alzheimers, maybe it’s late stage narcissism! hahaha

gailcalled's avatar

@ColomaNext year we are not only banning him from the inn but also from entering NY state.

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