Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

When having a large dinner and you have one person who is a vegetarian, is it necessary to make a special dish for that person to replace what ever meat dish(es) you are serving?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42493points) November 1st, 2015

If so, why?

Let’s say you are hosting Thanksgiving for 20 people, and one person is a vegetarian. Let’s say you have 2 meat dishes and 8 other dishes that don’t contain meat, like green beans, corn, potatoes, ect. Can’t one simply serve all the vegetable dishes that one normally serves and that person can choose from among those dishes?

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117 Answers

janbb's avatar

If there are ample vegetable sides, I don’t see a reason to make a special vegetarian dish. I might make one of the vegetable dishes a little more substantial – like a broccoli and cheese bake – but it doesn’t have to scream vegetarian eaters only.

Pachy's avatar

Perhaps you might ask that one person?

Seek's avatar

Depends.

I’d likely make the extra effort, especially during Thanksgiving. I usually use poultry births for nearly everything, but could use vegetable stock instead. I could make a batch of stuffing with cranberries instead of oysters.

Not saying I would do tofu; historically tofu and I do not get along. But I would make sure there was plenty of food for everyone.

longgone's avatar

Vegetarian here: Nope.

But it is a nice thing to do.

majorrich's avatar

I think I put forth a pretty good effort, but feel like I also fail a lot. Not from lack of trying though. It’s just my repertoire is kind of small.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@longgone, but why? What is so special about the meat dish that it needs to be replaced, especially when there is a lot of other foods to choose from?

Dutchess_III's avatar

ARE! ARE! “There ARE a lot of other foods….” Sorry Gailcalled. :(

chyna's avatar

@Dutchess_III It appears to me that @longgone is agreeing with you, that “nope” means you do not have to have more veggie dishes.

longgone's avatar

^ Yes! :]

Dutchess_III's avatar

I know. And I’m feeling safe with her. I don’t feel like she’s about to lite into me. But what she said was “It would be a nice thing to do” if they did. Why? What is so special about meat dishes that it would be nice if they were replaced, with something?

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III It’s not that meat dishes are so special, it’s that vegetarians don’t eat them!

jca's avatar

I gave this a GQ because from the standpoint of a guest, I never expect anybody to try to accommodate my dietary needs. If I have anything special that I want to eat, I eat before I go and that way, I’m set. I never even discuss my desires as I’m just grateful to be invited.

I may bring something I hope is served. I also always feel like if anything is not to my needs or satisfaction, I can always pick up something on the way home or eat at home when I get back.

longgone's avatar

Ah, got you. Two reasons:

1. Often, the meat dish is the most important part of the meal. All other dishes center around it. When asked what you’re having for Thanksgiving, you will probably say, “Turkey”, rather than “Broccoli, lentils, potatoes, cabbage, shrimp fried rice – oh, yeah, and the turkey.”

2. Vegetarians get quite a bit of attention. I’ve been looked at as if I was an alien countless times, and people have been expecting me to outgrow this “phase” for a long time. Just the fact that I don’t eat meat has gotten people angry. I’m not sure why. It’s not like I meet new people and tell them that I’m a vegetarian before I’ve stated my name. When people make clear they accept my not eating meat, I am pleasantly surprised. Making an extra dish would guarantee you a lifelong subscription of my hand-raised tofu.

I am so about to light into you.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jca me either. If I don’t care for something I just don’t eat it. I would expect folks at my house do do the same, and I wouldn’t care.

I knew you’d get me @longgone! Sure I know that meals in America are defined by the type of meat served. Fried chicken. Pot roast. Barbque, and so on. But for a vegetarian the type of meat doesn’t define the meal. So, why even bother having something else in its place? Why not just not eat the meat?

I’m sorry if some people act like assholes like that. You can come to my house and not eat any meat I have and won’t care. I have candy I’d like you to help me get rid of though.

syz's avatar

As a vegetarian, I can tell you that I would never expect a host/hostess to alter their plans or make something special for me. I’m happy to make a meal of sides.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Sides are my favorite. More important than the meat to me. Man,show me jalapeno poppers at a barbque and that’s all she wrote! Maybe some potato salad and jalepeo poppers and some baked beans and some jalapeno poppers. I can live without the ribs or the burgers.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Is it necessary? Probably not, depending upon their preferences. I do it anyway. It’s a sign of respect for those that are invited to the meal and worth the extra work.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Is there some go-to special thing that is made to replace the meat?

jca's avatar

If there are 6 vegetarian courses already at a typical thanksgiving dinner, I don’t see what more needs to be done to accommodate a vegetarian guest.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Six? Wait…I’m going through my TG meal, including only the veggies

1. Green bean casserole
2. Mashed potatoes
3. Home made bread
4. Homemade stuffing…there is no meat in the stuffing, but I cook it inside the turkey. For a vegetarian friend I guess I’d just pour some veggie broth in some stuffing and bake it. That’s no big deal. It doesn’t taste nearly as good though.
5…....

Well, I only have 4 sides. Wouldn’t that be enough? Especially the mashed potatoes and bread. That would fill me up.

jca's avatar

Our family does sweet potatoes too, plus salad. More vegetarian options than non. I don’t see the need for a more extensive vegetarian menu.

majorrich's avatar

Dinner could be Stuffing and gravy and I would be satisfied.

jca's avatar

Stuffing and cranberry sauce is great.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Me too. I could really live without the turkey altogether, but our society, you know. The turkey is the centerpiece. And OMG, my daughter makes the most delicious turkey!

Oh yeah! I make sweet potatoes too, @jca. So that’s 5.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I put raisins, celery and sauteed onions and portabelle mushrooms in mine. Also walnuts.

longgone's avatar

@Dutchess_III “Why not just not eat the meat?”

I hope most vegetarians do so without complaining. As to ”[W]hy bother even having something else in its place?”:

Imagine you were invited to a cannibal’s house – let’s call him Hannibal. You accept the offer without hesitation, as Hannibal is a dear friend of yours. You arrive at his house, and he has not only made sure that there are a couple of sides to choose from…he has also prepared a plate of bacon, just for you. The main dish (human sausage) smells great, but of course, you are not going to eat it. Hannibal shakes his head at that – he makes sure his humans are raised well, and have died of natural causes. Still, though, he accepts your moral scruples.

You would have been fine without the bacon, you didn’t expect it at all. You still appreciate the gesture, very much so. You feel welcomed – and you love bacon.

ucme's avatar

We have staff for that

Dutchess_III's avatar

I just wondered if there is something in particular that people make to replace the meat served at big meals where there is a lot of food available.

A small, intimate dinner with friends would be different, I think.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Bet your staff can’t beat my daughter’s turkey, @ucme!

JLeslie's avatar

I wouldn’t if there are plenty of sides. You just have to make sure they eat dairy and eggs since so many of the traditional sides have at least dairy. If they are vegan I would veganize some of the sides. I’d keep some green beans separate from the casserole, make a baked potato, make stuffing with veg broth and margarine, that sort of thing. Actually, I might bounce off those ideas to them and make sure they even like the foods I might make for them, because thanksgiving is enough work already, why go to more trouble and the person doesn’t even like it?

For me, I’d be fine with vegan sides anyway, and vegan dessert. It doesn’t sound like they are vegan, so that’s easy.

Things to note: If you make stuffing with turkey broth that won’t work. Also, marshmallows aren’t vegetarian. Jello is not vegetarian.

ucme's avatar

Why would they want to beat her turkey? That would be like a warped piñata, no candy, just bloodied meat.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh you silly boy @ucme!

ucme's avatar

Ahem, man…silly man

Dutchess_III's avatar

Manly man man! Sry.

longgone's avatar

Sure, lots of things.

As I said, I don’t eat any special dishes at Christmas dinner. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving over here, so that’s out, too. At barbecues, however, people do sometimes accommodate me. They will just buy anything that looks like meat and has “suitable for vegetarians” on the packaging. Sometimes, they buy Halloumi cheese or simply some kind of vegetable they wouldn’t have thought to buy otherwise. I’m good with all of that, and I very much appreciate the extra effort.

My favourite alternative to meat is Quorn. I could eat buckets of that stuff. I don’t crave meat, exactly, but I certainly crave protein – Quorn will get rid of that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You know, I’ll keep an eye out for Quorn. Maybe I’ll even buy some and eat it!

JLeslie's avatar

I just noticed you already thought about the stuffing and how to adjust it for a vegetarian.

I would not serve some sort of fake turkey or fake ham.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, but it’s really bor-ring compared to being cooked in the bird. But I’d do that. That’s not a huge deal.

You know, I found out I like mushrooms only recently, especially grilled, stuffed ports. They’re almost like a meat and 0 calories!

JLeslie's avatar

Portobellos are a great addition for Thanksgiving dinner. They are very yummy with potatoes and stuffing. Everyone would probably enjoy that. However, it’s adding more work, and I don’t think you need to add more work to the dinner.

What desserts are you having? Pies usually are vegetarian. Again, you just have to make sure nothing has gelatin.

There will be plenty of food a vegetarian can eat I’m sure.

Is she/he vegetarian for health or humane reasons? Do you know? Most of the sides are very unhealthy when prepared the traditional way.

majorrich's avatar

We are having one Pecan Pie (My #1 favorite) and with any luck a Banana Cream pie (My #2 favorite) Dad and boy both like pecan best.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I’ve never had to take into consideration whether someone was a vegetarian, but I’ll keep all of this in mind for the future.

I just wondered why there had to be some substitute for the meat, instead of just don’t eat the meat. Most of the answers were, you don’t, if you have enough sides, which I always do at a big meal.

If we just had another couple over, and one of them was a vegetarian, that would probably be a little different story. Then I might make an all vegetarian meal and the guys could just lump it! I think most men just don’t feel like it’s a meal unless they have meat. Well, back when we were busting our asses on a daily basis, just trying to stay alive, that may have been true, but I think it’s often overkill (ha ha) anymore.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Mmmmm@! Peekin’ Pie, as my Dad used to call it! Mmmm!

JLeslie's avatar

Pecan is the best! Do you make the banana cream or buy it? If you buy it it might have gelatin. It would be in the ingredients list, so I only mention it to suggest maybe keep the list for the vegetarian to look at if she is interested in eating it.

majorrich's avatar

I have a recipe to make a custard wish squished banana’s and then lining the bottom of the crust and layers. But when it comes to Meringue I flat stink because I get impatient and don’t have the experience to do it like Mom did. I will probably do the Jello pudding version with Cool Whip. Mommy and my Sister in Law will be doing the heavy lifting of the side dishes. I farmed out the Turkey to the BBQ joint around the block who will be smoking a turkey for us.

JLeslie's avatar

@majorrich Do you put cream
of tartar in your meringue?

majorrich's avatar

I think so. I have to check off the ingredients as I go. Egg whites, Vanilla, Sugar..yup Cream of Tartar. For some reason I fail every time. Mom used to say I was too ‘heavy handed’

Dutchess_III's avatar

All you have to do is whip the shit out of egg whites while adding sugar @majorrich, using an electric beater. Whip the shit out of them until they stand up in peaks.

majorrich's avatar

Ok I’ll try again. OOoooh Electric beater! I’ve not tried it with that! That may be my ticket.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ah! Yeah! That’s the only ticket! It takes what feels like a gazillion years to even see any difference in the egg whites, but they slowly come around. Mom taught me to stop the beaters every so often, and then use them to test how stiffy they’ve become.

I just wonder how they made meringues before electric beaters, or if they even did.

Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One's avatar

It’s not like strangers are coming over and it’s all a big mystery. If I have a veggie friend coming, we make something for them. If they neglect to tell me, they eat cranberry sauce. Shrug.

Kardamom's avatar

I just spotted this question. It’s almost midnight so I’ll try to give an answer tomorrow. Time for sleep now.

longgone's avatar

@Dutchess_III Do keep an eye out for Quorn, and let me know how you like it. I’d love a meat-eater’s perspective!

JLeslie's avatar

Meringue by hand?! Oh no, it has to be done with an electric hand beater. Whipped cream by hand maybe, but meringue? I can’t imagine it. I wouldn’t do either by hand.

ibstubro's avatar

I never expect anyone to significantly alter their menu because I’m a vegetarian.

However, Americans are obsessed with meat. The whole bacon craze is maddening for vegetarians. The place I normally spend the holidays will have giblets in the stuffing, bacon in the 7-layer salad, ham in the green beans, and if the potatoes are twice baked…bacon again. And to make matters worse, I usually take home-made chicken and noodles to accommodate the meat eaters.

That said, your menu sounds good to me, veggie wise. I would avoid things like Tofurky completely – your veggie guest might simply not like it and they’re on the spot.
You have nice bread. How about getting @janbb‘s recipe for Minestrone Soup? Make ahead and not a bizarre addition to the menu. There’s a great cheese soup that they make around here with chunks of veggies and noodles (like Reams) that’s hearty and delicious.
And FYI, if you’re interested and unaware, there is ‘Chix’ bouillon that, if used in moderation, is a good sub for chicken broth. The Veggie broth is good too – I buy a brand that is paste and comes in a glass jar for both.
“Better Than Bouillon – No Chicken Base” is what I like best.

Seek's avatar

Why would anyone put giblets in the stuffing? That stuff belongs in the GRAVY.

Seek's avatar

I’ve had This in-the-pumpkin stew recipe sitting around for years. It looks like a festive and fun, hearty dish that anyone could enjoy, that happens to be meatless.

I might make it this year if I have the room.

edit: wrong magazine. Found the right one. Haha.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, a salute to gluttony. I will eat and eat and love every minute of the meal and the family. My opinion is I’m not going to make the vegetarians eat rabbit food.So I’ll work with my mother, the chief cook, to come up with a real stick to the ribs vegetarian dish ot two. I have a big repitore I can draw from. And you know what I find interesting? The hard core cannivores will usually try it and like it, and I’ll get recipe requests. it’s just knowing how to work with different ingredients and styles. I don’t mind the work, it’s fun and interesting what different zips you can come up with.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, mashed potatoes stick to your ribs pretty good. That along with green bean casserole and bread, pecan pie, apple pie, would completely fill me up.

Anyway, post some veggie recipes and I’ll save this in my recipe folder. As for now, I don’t actually know any vegetarians.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’ve made an eggplant lasagna that was excellect, ratatioule, a puried northern bean soup, a tofuu noodle dish, I don’t have te recipes in the office, I’ll dig them up. It’s just go wild and get it so it tastes good.

majorrich's avatar

Because I farmed out my turkey to be smoked this year, I’m going to snag a couple few of the giblet packages from our church thanksgiving dinner to make turkey broth with. It will be used for the gravy and dressing both. Need about a gallon of gravy to float my boat.

jca's avatar

Mac and cheese (good mac and cheese) is a good vegetarian option.

Another thing I had once at a party was a zucchini casserole, which was with some kind of cream sauce and bread crumbs on top.

janbb's avatar

I often make eggplant parmigiana as one of the dishes when I am having a crowd over for a barbeque or other gathering and vegetarians are coming over. It serves as a main dish along with other side dishes that don’t include meat or meat products and is easy to make in advance and freeze. Sometimes I’ll make a quiche as well.

Dutchess_III's avatar

How come you guys know so many vegetarians and I don’t know none?!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

You’re in Kansas, cattle country more than veggie burgers. I live north and west of NYC. Take a guess whose going to see more vegetarians.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, can someone take a picture of one so I know what they look like? :}~

janbb's avatar

^ I know a cutie but I’m not sharing. :-)

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

If I knew I had a vegetarian guest coming, I would ask them if there was something they particularly like to eat to make sure the meal is enjoyable to them too.

As to why the meat dish is special, I think it’s because it is normally the focus or central part of the meal. We don’t do thanksgiving, but isn’t the turkey the central component of the meal? The vegetable dishes are the sides. So if you don’t eat turkey, you’re going to be left with a plate of sprouts, beans and whatever. The vegetarian can undoubtedly manage without a special meal, but if it was a special occasion, and they were my guest, I’d want to make sure they have a fabulous dinner too.

If you go to a restaurant (not a vegetarian restaurant), the main part of the meal is usually the protein component. The meat, the fish, the chicken and then you add vegetable sides to that.

JLeslie's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit Not at a typical Thanksgiving. The sides are hearty, full of calories (unfortunately) and many people look forward to the sides more than the turkey. The biggest problem I would foresee is vegetarians usually, not always, prefer healthy-ish food, and Thanksgiving sides are full of starch, fat, and salt.

janbb's avatar

^^ Reminds me of when my son once said, “I guess you have to have the roast beef to make the Yorkshire pudding go further.”

ibstubro's avatar

I normally spend the holidays with peculiar farm folk.

Masked potatoes is pretty much a given.
Never, not once has there ever been gravy. If you want butter, salt or pepper, you have to ask for it. Even though there are hot rolls more often than not. No frills people, and yet they manage to incorporate meat into practically every dish they make. Once there were only 2 things I could put on my plate and even pretend I believed they were meat free.
They had steaks on the grill one time so I took a side of salmon. I was about the 8th person in line and got the last piece.
4–5 hour drive or overnight stay in a motel, so it’s not like my possibilities in what I take are endless.

Stinley's avatar

masked potatoes? @ibstubro

I was a veggie and I loved nut roast. it’s traditional for vegetarians, like turkey is for meat eaters

Stinley's avatar

masked potatoes @ibstubro?

I was a veggie and I loved nut roast. it’s traditional for vegetarians, like turkey is for meat eaters

Seek's avatar

I just want to invite everyone to my house for Thanksgiving. We’ll have to eat on the lawn because my house is tiny, but it’ll probably still be 85 degrees by then, so you’ll be warm. We’ll have plenty for everyone, carnivore and bunny alike.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’ll be there, @Seek! Would you like a list of foods that I would prefer to have? ;)~

Seek's avatar

That sounds like another question. I’m off!

Cupcake's avatar

I’m late to the party here… but I’ll add my experience anyway.

I flew to my (vegetarian) sister’s house for Thanksgiving. She knew, well in advance, that the kids and I had dietary issues (no gluten, no dairy). I ate salad.

I find this offensive. While I agree that I don’t want to put people out… there are some special considerations to be made for both (1) out of town guests and (2) large family/holiday occasions.

Please, just take a big picture look at the meal. A salad is just not enough food for a meal (in many cases). If there are several side dishes that would be accommodating, that is great. But please make sure that they are really accommodating (i.e., is the dressing baked in the turkey, as mentioned above, or is a veggie dish made with chicken stock, for example). Just make sure that you have enough to offer, that there is some variety, and that there is a choice of protein and vegetable.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That just makes sense, @Cupcake. And I was looking at the big picture, I think, with the meal I had laid out in the details.
I think maybe your sister was an ass. It almost sounds like she went out of her way to cook only foods that you couldn’t eat. That’s very offensive.

Also, if I was having just another couple over, and one or both were vegetarians, then I would build the entire meal around them.

Cupcake's avatar

I know you would. I was just posting that for people who wouldn’t necessarily think of all of the components of the dish or the composition of the whole meal. I think that’s very considerate.

FYI – if we were in town, I would have brought my own dishes that I knew I could eat. Even with the best of intentions, people can make mistakes (and add flour or butter even knowing that I can’t have dairy/gluten). I just had dinner at my uncle & aunt’s house and they made me special mashed potatoes “with sour cream” because I’m gluten/dairy free. Um…. thanks? (my mom secretly ate it)

Dutchess_III's avatar

SMH! But the taters sound good! I’ll have to try that sometime.

I had an uncle who was diabetic. Back in the 80’s he came to visit. I told him about my French onion soup. I saute the onions in butter to start with He said it sounded good, but he asked that I use fat free margarine, so I did. It wasn’t quite as rich as it normally was, but it was OK. He liked it, and that was the main thing.

I really had to think long and hard about anything that I made for him while he was there, and double check with him to make sure it was OK. I didn’t mind that. However, he was a bit “difficult” to use my mother’s gracious description (it was my husband’s uncle.) He’d get mad and act like I was dumb if I checked with him and learned that it was NOT OK to use whatever. He was like, “You know I can’t! Why do you even ask?!”

JLeslie's avatar

@Cupcake It still stuns me how ignorant people can be. It reminds me of that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where her boyfriend says he doesn’t eat meat and the aunt says, “so you’ll have the lamb.” Duh.

I mentioned in my first answer that they should make site the guest is vegetarian, not vegan, just be sure. Confirm eggs and dairy are ok, which goes to your point that people can think they prepared food that will be ok when it isn’t.

Do you ever eat before an event so you don’t have to worry about being very hungry?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, if people don’t know, they don’t know. My husband wants / needs to lose about 20 pounds, but refuses to educate himself on the different calorie counts that meat and other foods have. He has pork, which is the most fattening of meats, at least once a day.

For breakfast, at the cafe, he used to have 2 eggs over easy, hashbrowns with gravy and link sausage, and toast. Then, because he wants to lose weight (and all I order is 2 eggs over easy and toast and it was kind of mind blowing to compare his heaped plate to mine) he changed it to three eggs over easy, link sausage, toast but no hashbrowns and no gravy. He just blew me off when I suggested that he keep the hashbrowns, with no gravy, and ditch the sausage. He tried to insist that the hashbrowns were more fattening than the sausage. I’m just like, “OK.” Granted, his plate doesn’t looked absolutely HEAPED with food any more, but his new diet didn’t do that much to cut out any calories. Ditching the gravy helped some, but then again, he added an extra hundred calories with an extra egg.

Cupcake's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, all of the time. And I bring my own food most places. But still… it’s not easy to sit with people and not eat, even if I’ve eaten. I’ve actually started skipping food related gatherings. I completely avoid them at work… I miss many that are social outside of work. If it’s a local family gathering, I know enough places we can go where I can trust the food.

JLeslie's avatar

@Cupcake I understand why it’s hard to sit there and not eat. It can be socially uncomfortable even if you aren’t hungry. It shouldn’t be like that. I will say that if the person seems hungry it makes me very uncomfortable they aren’t eating. My husband does this, and he doesn’t believe we, especially me, can tell he needs to eat. He is one of those people very unaware of his personality change when he is hungry. If he is fed, then it doesn’t bother me at all that he isn’t eating when we are out.

Food can be such a difficult thing. My family has very varied diet requirements and it’s a torture trying to decide on a restaurant where everyone will be happy. It’s actually impossible. We stopped trying years ago. We don’t eat with them. If it’s just my parents, or just my sister, or just my aunt, then it’s fine.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m usually finished eating well before other people at the table, mainly because I don’t eat as much as most people do. When dining with people for the first time, they invariably comment on it. When I was married to my first husband, we went to Minnesota to visit his dad and his step mom. We went out to dinner at a buffet style restaurant. I finished my plate of food, leaving about ¼th of it untouched because I was full.
So we were all chatting, then his step mom, who was “heavy set” said, “You’re not going back to the buffet? Is that all you’re going to eat??”
I said, “Yeah, I’m full.”
She almost snarled, “Of course. That explains why you’re so skinny.” It was not meant as a compliment. It was more like an accusation, although I happen to know my body was FANtastic at that time. Still not too bad today.

More recently we had dinner at our house with some friends. It was a barbque. I ate ½ my burger (for some reason, when men are in charge of making hamburger patties, they make them huge and thick. No way can I eat that much!) my baked beans, my corn. Then I got dessert, which my guest had provided. It was yummy. I was eating my dessert when the husband said,”‘Look at that! She’s almost finished with dessert and we’re all still stuffing our faces with hamburger!” I just kind of grinned and shrugged. I didn’t sense any disrespect or judgement. Just a comment on it because I guess it’s pretty unusual.

Perhaps I should slow down. I guess. Pick at my food. Maybe.

ibstubro's avatar

We were invited to friends’ house for dinner. They were having seafood lasagna because I don’t eat meat.
The husband later let slip that they boiled the the lasagna noodles in chicken broth. Just to be asses, I can only guess. I suppose they greased the salad bowl with bacon grease, too.

My best advice is, if you don’t see meat, buck up and just eat it. Most always, veggie is a choice, not a dietary restriction like @Cupcake‘s gluten and dairy.
If you’re going to freak out because there might be chicken broth in the dressing, either don’t go, or take your own meal. Explain that you do it out of consideration for everyone else, as your dietary restrictions are so tight as to make the meal unenjoyable for everyone else.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Fishes have feelings too!

jca's avatar

My feeling is and always has been if you have special requirements, make sure you eat first so that your needs are met, just in case, and so as not to be a burden on the host(s). Some hosts will go out of their way to please individual guests, but I feel they shouldn’t have to. To be a guest in someone’s home is honor enough.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well said. Especially if it’s a choice and not a medical necessity.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Dutchess_III
“1. Green bean casserole
2. Mashed potatoes
3. Home made bread
4. Homemade stuffing…there is no meat in the stuffing, but I cook it inside the turkey. For a vegetarian friend I guess I’d just pour some veggie broth in some stuffing and bake it. That’s no big deal. It doesn’t taste nearly as good though.
5…....

Well, I only have 4 sides. Wouldn’t that be enough? Especially the mashed potatoes and bread. That would fill me up.

I haven’t read all of the responses here, because there are so many. But my first reaction was, “I wouldn’t want to serve a vegetarian only sides.” Mainly because I’ve had vegetarian friends complain that their relatives do this.

My second reaction was that a lot of people here seem very happy to be served only sides, so I guess there are different feelings about this among vegetarians (hardly surprising).

But then I read your list of sides… and I know I would be uncomfortable serving only four dishes which a vegetarian can eat if three of those four are all starchy foods. I would do a more substantial vegetable dish, so that they can at least have a more balanced meal. Potatoes and bread are filling, but they don’t make a good meal together on their own.

But the bottom line is, you should probably tell your vegetarian guests what you plan to serve, and perhaps ask them whether this would constitute a Thanksgiving meal for them.

JLeslie's avatar

One idea is to have nuts, olives, and cheese out as people arrive. Or, even just assorted nuts. Those all work for a vegetarian, and the nuts have some protein. I’ve noticed a lot if people put out crackers and chips and that’s just more starch.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t have any vegetarian friends.

But they are only “sides,” therefore assumed to be a “lesser food,” because they aren’t the focus of the meal for most people. That’s a psychological / social thing, though. If I was a vegetarian I would have no trouble getting full on the sides I presented. It’s really not up to the host to fulfill my vitamin and protein needs anyway. That is my own responsibility, and a lack of certain nutrients at one meal certainly isn’t going to hurt me. It certainly isn’t what I’m thinking about when I go to dinner at a friends. I decide what I want to eat based on whether or not I like it, that is all.

That’s a fine idea, @JLeslie. But people are likely to say, ‘Well, how would YOU like it if all they could offer you were nuts and cheese?!” Like there is something wrong with nuts and cheese.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Dutchess_III “But they are only “sides,” therefore assumed to be a “lesser food,” because they aren’t the focus of the meal for most people. That’s a psychological / social thing, though.”

Well, sure, it is at least partly a social thing. But why does that mean you wouldn’t respect it? Some guests would perceive a sides-only meal as a kind of disrespect. Like, everyone who eats meat is worthy of a main dish, but vegetarians get only what goes on the side of a main dish. Yes, it’s a perception, but that’s kind of the point: how your guests are seen in the social order of the dinner party.

” It’s really not up to the host… ”
Well, your entire question is about what should or should not be up to the host. If you already know, why ask us what we think?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, what if I said my home made bread was the main dish (which, IMO, it is) and the turkey was nothing but a side? What if I cut the turkey up and put it on a plate, or in a bowl, along side the other “sides?”

Or what if I said there is no main dish at all, only sides?

You can’t take just part of my sentience and post it out of context, @dappled_leaves. I don’t serve giant meals based on the nutritional content, and I certainly don’t expect a host or hostess to serve me only those foods that have a particular nutritional content. My nutritional intake is strictly my responsibility.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III The nuts, olives, etc are there for everyone. I don’t like “appetizers” before Thanksgiving, but a vegetarian might. It’s very common to have food to snack on as people arrive to a “party.”

I put cashews in my stuffing, so I already have some nuts in the meal for everyone.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I know, @JLeslie. I don’t care for appetizers myself. For me, it just makes me full before the dinner. The point I was making, that others might make, is “How would you like to be offered only appetizers and sides at a dinner?!”

My solution is…only offer appetizers and sides for the dinner, for everyone. That way we aren’t being disrespectful of any particular group of people.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think that would be a good question.

JLeslie's avatar

The sides aren’t sides to a vegetarian. It’s the meat lovers who perceive it that way. Sometimes at restaurants I order 2–3 sides and that’s my meal.

Cupcake's avatar

@ibstubro You mentioned a preference to be vegetarian vs. a food sensitivity/intolerance/allergy. My family member (same one I mentioned above about Thanksgiving) has the opposite impression. She really believes that since she is morally opposed to eating meat/meat products, that the moral opposition takes priority over a food sensitivity. I don’t get her logic, but thought I would mention.

I love your moderate approach, however, I don’t know vegetarians who would agree with you. Maybe I just don’t hang out with moderate vegetarians…

Seek's avatar

I do put out appetizers, to keep people out of my kitchen while I’m working. Usually crudité, olives, pickles, deviled eggs, stuff like that.

Thanksgiving dinner is turkey with stuffing, oyster dressing, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, green bean casserole (gag), giblets gravy, cranberry sauce. Fresh bread if I remember to bake it the day before.

Sometimes yams. Hardly anyone in my house eats it so I usually skip the extra work.

This year I want to add in winter squash somehow. Maybe a soup.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Not sure who your last comment, ”I love your moderate approach, however, I don’t know vegetarians who would agree with you. Maybe I just don’t hang out with moderate vegetarians…” was directed at, @Cupcake. You started out talking to @ibstubro.

Cupcake's avatar

@Dutchess_III It was still to @ibstubro in response to “If you’re going to freak out because there might be chicken broth in the dressing, either don’t go, or take your own meal. Explain that you do it out of consideration for everyone else, as your dietary restrictions are so tight as to make the meal unenjoyable for everyone else.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

Thank you.

@JLeslie I don’t like nuts in my stuffing.

ibstubro's avatar

When I was a kid, the ‘appetizers’ were an integral part of the meal. We always had a relish tray filled with olives and pickles, and there were always nuts. Deviled eggs. Maybe a cheese ball and crackers or chips and dip. Nobody snacked before the meal – those things were just part of ‘filling your plate’.

As a vegetarian, @Dutchess_III, something I would very much appreciate you adding is gravy. Even if you just dump it out of a jar or make it from a packet. You can get gravy that isn’t meat based, like brown, mushroom or milk gravy. It’s a great compliment to the sides you plan. I like to moosh my food together and gravy is the glue.

I try to be a realist, @Cupcake. If you’re eating some place that has meat on the menu, it’s likely you’re eating meat in some quantity.
Anyone that deludes themselves that they are meat free should have to clean a commercial meat/cheese slicer.
In vegetarian hot dogs, human DNA was found in two-thirds of them, and 10% of the vegetarian hot dogs contained meat.
Gluten free is a whole different issue.

Seek's avatar

I make a point to never promise anything coming from my kitchen is “gluten free”. I will say it’s “Hipster Gluten-Free”, that is, made with ingredients that all say “gluten free” on the packaging.

However, I bake way too much bread to ever say there isn’t cross-contamination happening, and I’m not about to be responsible for killing a celiac patient.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, then they weren’t “appetizers,” @ibstubro, any more than, say, green beans are an appetizer.
An appetizer is “a small portion of a food or drink served before or at the beginning of a meal to stimulate the desire to eat. ”

I, personally, think appetizers are a horrible idea.

As for the gravy, here is the definition of that: “the fat and juices that drip from cooking meat, often thickened, seasoned, flavored, etc., and used as a sauce for meat, potatoes, rice, etc. ” If you aren’t supposed to eat gravy, then don’t eat gravy.
That’s something I don’t understand. Some people “diet” by eating sugar free candy, fat free sour cream, stuff like that. Well, that completely defeats the purpose and quality of candy and sour cream. If you don’t think you should eat the stuff, then don’t eat it!

Seek's avatar

Well, he clearly means “a cream sauce” when he says “gravy”. That’s no big deal. It takes about five minutes to whip up a roux and add milk and cheese and a little onion.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I call that “solter salt.” Well, it’s the name my little sister gave to the cheese sauce Mom used to make to put on baked potatoes, and it just stuck. I long wondered where in the hell she came up with it, and I think I finally figured it out. Where I grew up we had really hard water. Really stinky, like sulfur. So we had a water softener and every so often we’d have to haul 80 pound bags of salt to the basement. Yep, at the age of 13 I could throw an 80 pound bag on my shoulder and take it down stairs. Tried to do 2 once, one on each shoulder. Thought I was gonna make a fast trip to the basement through the floor, so I gave that up.
Anyway, the salt was called, “Solar salt.” Maybe she had just learned to read that and it go tied up with cheese sauce. Who knows.

For me, a baked potato with solter salt IS a meal in it’s entirety.

ibstubro's avatar

Hence the use of ‘appetizers’ in my response, @Dutchess_III or ”Use Single Quotation Marks to Highlight Words Not Being Used for Their Meaning.” Think of it like cutting the turkey up small and calling it a ‘side’.
My point was that since you neglected to provide gravy for the mashed potatoes, an Easy Vegetarian Gravy could be enjoyed by those who wanted gravy. I should eat the gravy, I choose not to eat the gravy made from animal fat and juices.

Yes, @Seek, a nice Bechamel sauce with some cheese and maybe a light dose of the seasonings used in the stuffing sounds glorious.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m providing gravy. You don’t have to eat it if you don’t want to.

janbb's avatar

I kind of wonder why you asked this question @Dutchess_III. You seem to have your mind made up most of the time and are not really looking for other points of view.

Seek's avatar

Bechamel. That was the word I couldn’t remember.

ibstubro's avatar

1+1+1, @Seek.

Tablespoon of butter
Tablespoon of flour
Cup of milk (liquid)

I was so thrilled when I learned there was a recipe for gravy/sauce.
I tell it every chance I get to try to encourage more people to make their own.

I’ve never had the balls to try making Béarnaise from scratch. I’m going to cabbage onto the next immersion blender that comes through the auction. I have 10 days to use it, clean it, and put it back. :-)

Dutchess_III's avatar

You are so bad @ibstubro! I expect unblemished shit when I buy at auctions.

Seek's avatar

I need an immersion blender in my life.

Also my kingdom for a Cuisinart with all the toys.

jca's avatar

My sister uses an immersion blender for making things like butternut squash soup. It seems like a great gadget.

ibstubro's avatar

I should have a barn for a kitchen. I’m a sucker for gadgets and one storage drawer and one storage cabinet doesn’t cut it.
Stacking spare kitchen items in the floor has not proven to be a popular option.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I am in the process of building floor almost-to-ceiling shelves in my new broom closet.

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