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Sloane2024's avatar

Is improper etiquette to order an entree with meat when eating with vegetarians?

Asked by Sloane2024 (1879points) April 21st, 2008 from iPhone

My mother, sister, & I are eating dinner with my Indian boyfriend’s devout vegetarian parents this weekend for the first time, but we’ll be eating out. I REALLY want to add to the good impression I’ve been working on for the past five months since I’m a blonde American that they aren’t particularly fond of their son dating. Should I play it safe or will it even matter?

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25 Answers

wildflower's avatar

If they’re hindu, I’d steer clear of the steak…...

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

I would suggest playing it safe and ordering veggies, as if they are devout vegetarian and Indian they probably be insulted and angered at you eating an animal at all, let alone in front of them. If it was because they just didn’t like the taste of meat, I would say go for it.

peedub's avatar

Play it safe. It’s only one meal. Take the anthropological standpoint and try to embrace their culture for one night, they will most likely take this as a sign of respect.

nikipedia's avatar

But let me speak for the rest of the herbivores and state that most of us would not be offended. We don’t know his parents though, so better safe than sorry in this case.

jrpowell's avatar

I was ready to say that you shouldn’t worry about it. But, after reading the details I think you should play it safe.

bulbatron9's avatar

Don’t compromise your personal beliefs just for someone else’s sake! That would be like a vegetarian saying “I’m going out to eat with some meat-eaters, should I eat meat?” Let them know who You really are, and don’t try to put on a show for them! If they are taking you out to a vegetarian only restaurant, then you don’t really have much of a choice!

After all, you do want them to know the “Real You”!

Also, do you think your mother and sister will eat “veggie”? What has your boyfriend said, and is he a vegetarian?

peedub's avatar

@bulb- I like this idea, and was thinking something similar when I hadn’t read the description (much like what JP stated) but she wants to make a good first impression. Even if she ate meat later in the future I feel it would be different than the first night.

jrpowell's avatar

This is only one meal and Sloane2024 can grab something after dinner if they need meat. Your comparison is ridiculous.

edit :: and this is only one meal. They aren’t being asked to give up meat.

wildflower's avatar

Why not ask your boyfriend what would be appropriate. And while you’re at it, ask for some details on the parents, like mother’s favorite flower, so you might be able to bring a thoughtful gift.
Considering they’re Indian, think about colours to wear too.

This is not so much because you want to follow their example, but just to respect their culture and traditions.
This may be of some use:

CameraObscura's avatar

I say eat whatever you’d normally eat. That shows respect to them and to yourself. I’m quite sure they’re aware the vast majority of the world’s population does not share their diet and have “come to terms” with it. If they are upset by it, you’ll want to know of their intolerance as soon as possible.

bulbatron9's avatar

@jp If the family is willing to go to a restaurant where meat is being served, then what is the big deal? Also, thanks for the “Ridiculous” compliment! This is why I love this community we have in fluther, so you can voice your opinion to your neighbor, without getting a personal attack!

@PW Cool! I read the details, before I spoke! That was just my opinion!

@wildflower I agree with asking the boyfriend!

@CameraObscura I am glad I’m not alone! I was starting to feel ostracized!

jrpowell's avatar

I didn’t think your your entire statement was “ridiculous.” Just your comparison. Not eating meat for a single meal is in no way comparable to asking a vegetarian to have a steak.

delirium's avatar

Absolutely play it safe. ABSOLUTELY.

They probably take etiquette very strongly in to account, and you want to put forth the best impression possible.

My boyfriends parents aren’t my biggest fans at all. But I try my best to do what I can to make them like me. I don’t bring my books that I like to read (science books) in to their house if i’m over there and I dress much much more conservatively for them.

gorillapaws's avatar

Yeah, I think it’s best to play it safe with the first impression thing. Imagine your daughter’s boyfriend eating dog or something equally culturally repulsive to us on your first time meeting him. Maybe that would help you understand why it’s best to be courteous of other’s beliefs. But I don’t think you should compromise who you are (as others have pointed out), and at some point in the future if your relationship does indeed have a serious future, then you will want to communicate to their parents that you are a meat-eater and that you don’t plan on changing either yourself or through your boyfriend.

simon's avatar

I know several vegetarians (none indian however) and they would all be mildly offended if I didn’t order what I wanted and went vegetarian, most are going to respect your beliefs. The thing you’ve got to ask yourself is this going somewhere? If so, are you always going to be a vegetarian in the in-laws presence? When and where are you going to start eating meat in their presence? Or you going to become a vegetarian? Hey maybe one meal wouldn’t hurt (and I’d probably go veggie and do the same in your shoes) but sooner or later something has got to give.

Ask the boyfriend, what does he think you should do?

scamp's avatar

Here’s something to think about. If you play it safe this time, what about future dinners with them? Will you never eat meat around them? I am guessing from your question this is not your first meeting with them because you said they already don’t care for you, and you have been working on making a good impression for 5 months. If they are still judgemental towards you after all this time, I don’t think what you eat or not at dinner will make much of a difference. Since there is safety in numbers, if you are ever going to eat meat around them, best to do it while your Mother and sister are there to help balance things. On the other side of the coin, wouldn’t it be rude of them to ask you NOT to eat meat? Bottom line is: do what you are most comfortable doing, and enjoy your dinner.

mcbealer's avatar

I’m a vegetarian and have had several meals out with nonvegetarian friends who have asked if I would mind if they ate something with meat. My reply is always the same, “No, please order whatever you’d like.” (My stance on this is: as long as I don’t have to it eat)

I will share with you though, it is somewhat disconcerting if I’m having a get to know each type of meal and I have to watch people knaw meat off of bones… so with that being said, I will suggest if you do order meat, be discreet, and enjoy your meal. Odds are, if the restaurant chosen serves meat, that’s a sign if would be OK. I’d guess THE PARENTs have already broached the is she or isn’t she a vegetarian topic with him before.

occ's avatar

I have been vegetarian my entire life – I was raised veggie by hippie parents and have literally never eaten meat—but I am definitely NOT offended when people eat meat in front of me. In general, I think it’s totally fine ettiquette to eat meat in front of vegetarians.

But, in this case, since you mention that they don’t eat meat for religious reasons, and since this is the first time you are meeting them, I“d recommend ordering a veggie entree. Think of it this way, if you were dating someone from an Orthodox jewish family, you would probably not want to order pork the first time you were meeting the parents. Or if the parents were classical musicians, you might not take them to a restaurant with loud rock music blasting ,even if that’s where you would normally eat. It’s just about being considerate and respectful of the tastes that your partner’s parents have.

It doesn’t mean you have to lie about who you are, but you don’t need to flaunt something on the first meeting that might offend them.

But if you were just going out to dinner with, say, some friends from college who are vegetarian? Order whatever you want and if they get all self righteous about it, find some other dining partners. And I“m saying that as a life-long veggie.

delirium's avatar

Occ: I also don’t mind when people eat meat around me. I don’t care in the least, in fact.

If it were religious, however, i’m sure that I would mind significantly more.
I think it shows a much better side of you (Original Asker) to respect their culture in their presence and stay off the meat. Its not going to kill you to eat veg for one meal.

Sloane2024's avatar

My boyfriend is in no way a vegetarian, & their family is catholic, not hindu. Because of all of your incredibley helpful advice, I’m definitely going to order a vegetarian dish. I intend to dress very conservatively but n bright colors, & keep the conversational topics strictly on education, for this is, by far, their subject

Sloane2024's avatar

*of choice.

gorillapaws's avatar

Let us know how it works out!

scamp's avatar

@Sloane2024 I hope you have a great dinner with them. Can’t wait to hear how it went!

Sloane2024's avatar

Ok!! And thanks again for taking time to relay your invaluable advice; I am infinitely grateful.

Maldadpermanente's avatar

Absolutely not. Tolerance is a two way feeling.

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