When my husband and I became vegetarians over 20 years ago, people wigged out. Our moms, both Southern cooks who put pork fat in everything but iced tea, didn’t know how to cook for us any more. Our friends were defensive; as much as we tried to keep it from being an issue, they took our choice not to eat meat as an indictment of theirs to eat it. No matter how much we said “we don’t care what you eat,” it was guilt-inducing.
We are ovo-lacto-pesco vegetarians, which is barely vegetarian at all. We simply don’t eat pigs, cows and chickens, or anything that has bits of them in it. I added “only kosher fish” to the list of my self-imposed food restrictions when I converted to Judaism, which produced much eye-rolling from my way-Reform friends. Oy gevalt, why does food become such a battle?
Tips for Vegetarians
1. Talk to your host in advance about what you can eat; don’t announce at the table that “meat is murder” as Uncle Herman begins to carve the bird.
2. Offer to bring something vegetarian, and bring enough for everyone.
3. Get the hostess to slip some tofurkey onto your plate.
4. Eat before you go, and serve yourself small quantities of things to push around your plate.
5. Be out of town. It’s just one meal, for pete’s sake.
Tips for Hosts
1. If you didn’t know your guests well enough to know they are vegetarian, don’t be offended if they don’t eat the green beans swimming in ham broth.
2. When guests ask you about the menu in advance, be gracious. You wouldn’t treat them like alien life forms if they had diabetic food retrictions.
3. Have some things that are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and nut-free. Oh, hell, just serve celery sticks and vodka.
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