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when you have a dinner party...

and one/some of your guests are vegetarian(s), do you make special food for just the vegetarian(s), or how do you handle it? thanks! i am a vegetarian and new to my community, so i have received many invitations to welcome dinners and the like. i would like some feedback from people on how they would feel if (a) i told them i am a strict vegetarian, (b) brought some vegetarian dish to their home (even though most invites clearly state to NOT bring a thing!), or (c) did not mention my preference and just ate the things i could. of course, i may have to disclose the truth if offered something made with meat, so (c) may not be the option i'll go with. thanks!

Tue. Mar 6, 12:35pm

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I appreciate being told of someone's vegetarianism. I've had people assume that I knew and then get offended that I'd forgotten ("didn't you notice that I always order vegetarian dishes when we go tor restaurants?" kind of a deal). Usually I "use" my vegetarian friends as a good excuse to make a cheese fondue :)

Given your situation, I'd go for (b) at the moment and just explain that you didn't want to make a fuss about rennit-free cheese and such.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007, 12:45 PM

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I find it an fun challenge to be able to cook a meal that everyone at my table can/will eat. That said, you should tell your hosts that you are veg and offer to bring something. They may tell you that it isn't necessary.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007, 12:50 PM

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thank you, that IS a major part of the problem. the whole thing with coagulants/additives in cheese that are not vegetarian-sourced. and people almost always fall into serving cheese as an option for non-meat eaters! thanks for the suggestion! and please, more people respond! thanks again!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007, 12:52 PM

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As a frequent hostess who has friends with almost every imaginably dietary restriction under the sun - I say bring it! I love to experiment and figure out ways of cooking a meal that everyone can enjoy. If you said 'strict vegetarian' than would say 'no animal by-products' to me, but you can't depend on that, so I'd mention that to my hostess and ask if I could bring a dish. I never mind if someone does, but I may want to know what it is so I can plan the rest of the meal so that it all works together.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007, 1:25 PM

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I apologize for my altering the course of conversation, but I have to admit I'm a little confused as a non-veg. I only know the very basics about vegetarianism, but if there were cheeses you couldn't eat, wouldn't that be vegan then? Or do the cheeses have some kind of meat in them?

I would also assume (incorrectly, apparently) that cheese would be safe for a vegetarian (but not a vegan). If anyone can help me make sense of this, that would be great.

And to answer your question, OP, I would also let the host know your preference and offer to bring something.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007, 1:25 PM

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here's a quick lesson in the different types of coagulants used in cheese making. this is just a summary. i don't want to get into the graphic details of cheese ingredients because i do not want to come off as preachy or gross anyone out. (i've had a few friends react badly when i explained why i didn't eat jell-o.) vegan would indicate no dairy or meat in the diet. i happen to eat vegetarian-friendly cheese, but i don't eat butter, milk, cream or eggs. trust me, though, it's not difficult these days to accomodate a person with my preferences. but it can be a bit intimidating for those who know nothing about this type of diet!!!


Tuesday, March 06, 2007, 1:50 PM

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i would prefer to be told about your food preferences, but maybe not what you CAN'T eat. tell me what you like to eat, what particular dishes you like. then i can create a menu that fits that dish into it. if i am not at all familiar with the dish, i can then ask you for a recipe or to bring it with you.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007, 10:18 AM

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Wouldn't true vegan's not eat cheese? I mean cheese does come from a cow or goat. I know a lot of vegans who truly don't eat anything that comes from animals, like eggs, milk, and cheese even though the animal doesn't have to be killed for these things, they won't even eat rices or things that are made with broths except of course veg.. But I don't think mentioning the fact that you don't eat meat would be a big issue. There are lots of fabulous dishes with tofu.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007, 10:27 AM

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VEGAN DO NOT EAT MEAT / DAIRY / ANY ANIMAL BY-PRODUCTS. oops. vegetarians generally speaking do not eat meat. general definitions.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007, 10:35 AM

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I make special foods. That's the number one rule about having a dinner party. Treat everyone like a special guest.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007, 11:04 AM

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I'm a fantastic cook. While I'm not vegetarian, I'm wheat and corn free. So I know all about making substitutions. Plus, I usually cook from scratch.

If you told me you were a veg, and you brought a meal, I for one would be offended. I'd be thinking "What, you didn't expect me to make a meal right for you?" Moreoever, I'm the kind of anal person who plans my meal out, has things balanced- no cream soup if there's a creamy salad dressing, no noodles in soup if noodles in main dish, etc or themed- I'm serving Mexican dishes,so I want all courses/sides to be Mexican..) so you bringing a dish would throw things out of whack and I would be upset. But like I said, I am anal.

I figure when invited, tell them you're a veg, ASK if you can bring something, and if they say No, then DON'T. Say, "ok, I appreciate that, but can you please just/remember that as a veg, I also don't eat x/y/z." That's pretty much what I have to do "Just remember that no wheat means nothing with noodles, flour, thickener, breadcrumbs, croutons, etc., and please no gluten free anything as they almost always have a corn derivative."

I think there comes a point where you have to choose which is more important, your convictions about food, or appreciating what was made for you. In my case, I don't eat certain things cuz they make me ill, but sometimes I'll suffer just because I know my best friend tried SO hard to make a spelt cake, but didn't realise there's corn starch in the icing and baking powder...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007, 11:18 AM

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great feedback, friends! thanks for all of the shared perspectives! i have also "suffered" through /after many a meal simply for the efforts put forth on my behalf!! manners go a long way!! these are new neighbors and i really don't want to come off as a picky-eater or know-it-all-gourmand. i am a chef and i specialize in vegetarian/vegan cuisine, so it's totally possible to come off that way when talking about my food choices and alternative ingredients. i really appreciate the comments!! i am a big label-reader to ensure the absence of meat by-products and i just don't eat other people's food that often for fear that they are not such avid label-readers. i am trying to overcome this fear and get myself to a dinner party, but once there, i really want to feel comfortable eating what's offered without going against my strongly held personal beliefs about what should make up a "diet". your responses are helping me out a lot!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007, 11:32 AM

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I have friends with every food restriction under the sun. As a hostess, I like to do buffet make-it-yourself burritos (or similar) with all kinds of special fillings or options -- take some beans, take some homemade salsa, leave the meat, leave the sour cream -- everyone gets exactly what they want and it's not stuffy-formal.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007, 11:42 AM

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I appreciate it when someone tells me what they need. There's nothing worse than when I make dinner and a guest can't eat. I feel horrible. With all the allergies and sickness now, it's commonplace. Maybe if people began to make healthy dinner parties, it would be easier!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007, 1:35 PM

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Definitely call the host, tell her that you'd love to come, but you want to let her know that you are a vegetarian (and define what this means to you). Offer to bring a dish, and if she says okay, then ask if there's any sort of theme, and what course to bring - maybe she has a killer main course that happens to be vegetarian, but she was planning an appetizer or soup that has meat, so a vegetarian appetizer/salad/soup would be useful.

I love to have friends over and cook for them, but I'd be a bit put out if I cooked up a tenderloin only to later find out that they don't eat it; most meat dishes are more expensive than vegetarian (just a generalization; I know this is not always true!), and I don't mind spending money on my friends, or working to prepare something difficult for them, but it's wasteful of time, money and food if it turns out they can't eat it anyway!

Also, if I'm making, for example, a roast and a side of veggies or potatoes, I may use some juices from the roast to flavor the veggies; this is not something I'd do if I knew there was a vegetarian coming!

So, just tell the host your needs. It's easy to prepare in advance, but not so easy at last-minute.

Also, if you're bringing a dish that needs to be heated, etc., offer to come over early to heat it, or drop it off earlier in the day. It's hard to time food to be ready at the appropriate time, and if someone brings something but also shows up when the food should be served, it's nearly impossible! Something will be overcooked, or cold, or served at the wrong time.

Friday, March 09, 2007, 11:39 AM

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sooo insightful!! thanks for the already posted responses!! being new to the area fills me with a bit of uneasiness with regadr to "fitting in" and having to make new friends for the first time in years is a little unnerving. your suggestions have been great (and, thankfully, honest)! thanks again!

Friday, March 09, 2007, 4:45 PM

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Typically when I host a dinner party, I have a little bit of everything. I usually know my guests pretty well and know what their dietary requirements are. If I as the host am unfamiliar, I'll find out as a courtesy.

I'm not vegetarian, nor have any restrictions, but if I did and I was invited to a party, I would either call up the host and offer to bring something that suited my dietary needs, and this accomplishes 2 things, first of all letting the host know of my dietary requirements and secondly, letting them off the hook and being helpful if they hadn't planned on anyone having different needs.

Friday, March 09, 2007, 4:57 PM

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hosts make special stuff

we always make sure there is something extra for our vegetarian friends- though she has never mentioned the different types of cheese and how they are made. If we are doing a barbecue with burgers- we buy boca burgers so they are available to her- and make other things to go along with what we are having- or make sure we are making something w/o meat.
I like knowing- and if someone wants to come and eat with us and is really specific in their dietary needs, I would want them to be able to bring a dish to share. The food should not come in the middle of the friendship. I am sure it took months to pour over shelves of foods and condiments and the average host probably does not have the time or energy/knowledge for a dinner party.
I would be too afraid I would add something wrong.

Saturday, March 10, 2007, 12:48 PM

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One of the reasons that vegans avoid any animal based proteins is that non-consumption of these are linked to extremely low levels of heart disease and cancer.

I am not saying that meat and dairy cause cancer at all, but a strict vegan diet that also avoids processed foods is *strongly* linked to *extremely* low levels of heart disease and cancer.

Saturday, March 10, 2007, 1:12 PM

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yeah, ok. good way to kill a thread. i always appreciate knowing about a guests preferences. it gives me an opportunity to learn more about that guest, why are you vegetarian? when did you convert your religion?, how much weight have you lost? and if i need help preparing a suitable dish, it allows me to learn something new.

Monday, March 12, 2007, 7:44 AM

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