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Banished By Association

An odd thing happened to me and I’m interested in the thoughts of my fellow E-Hellions.

The members of my pre-natal baby group, all of whom had our babies last December, had a reunion last weekend. It was organized by one of the couples, who suggested we meet at a park and all bring our own picnic snacks and accoutrements. An alternative plan in the event of rain (a strong possibility in our neck of the woods) was to meet at their home, where guests would be welcome to enjoy the hostess’s garden and, if so inclined, sample the host’s collection of whiskies. Nothing further was said about refreshments.

My husband and I, and most, if not all, of the other guests brought food to be shared by the group. My husband and I also brought a bottle of wine as a host/hostess gift. The host took one look at our offering, a meat, cheese, olive and cracker plate, and said,  “Did [hostess] not tell you this is a meat free house? I’d rather you not open that and please take it home with you.” He offered to put it in the fridge until we left. I didn’t miss a beat and simply said “no problem”. I was happy to take it home and have been enjoying it thoroughly since then. However, I have been turning the incident over in my mind and have to say it annoyed me so much that I do not feel inclined to socialize with him again.

I understand that it’s his house and he has the prerogative to ban meat. However, I was not informed of this prohibition in advance. Also, not all of the guests are vegetarian, and I do not believe his aversion to meat is so strong that he should not have given the other guests the option to eat the meats. Lastly, he could have suggested we only put out the cheese and not the meat, which was wrapped separately. This, I think, would have been more gracious than rejecting my offering altogether. I did not suggest this at the time as he had shut down my offering so completely.

I probably would not have become so annoyed with him had his wife not complained, in casual conversation during the gathering, that she had been looking forward to trying the meatballs at Ikea, but was disappointed with them as they were too small. 0424-13

I can’t imagine why the cheese, olives and crackers were banished to the refrigerator, too.  Oh, well!  More for you at home!

{ 100 comments… add one }
  • Catherine April 30, 2013, 7:29 am

    I’d just like to point out that cheese isn’t necessarily vegetarian – some cheese is made with vegetable or microbial rennet, some is made with animal rennet.

    I am uncomfortable having meat in my house, but if me friends want to bring it I ask them to bring serving gear as well so mine doesn’t need to be used for it.

  • Slartibartfast April 30, 2013, 7:39 am

    I think he handled it well – he asked politely, offered a way for you to still get use out of your purchase (instead of, say, throwing out the whole tray based on his own beliefs), and did it all as quietly as possible. He has every right to restrict what food is on offer in his own home. I don’t know why the other items on the tray weren’t okay – did you ask? (It might just not have occurred to him to offer to re-plate the cheese and olives and offer them separately.)

    I do think it was an error to not warn you the house was meat-free, but it sounds like the original plan as for the gathering to be in a park. If that had been the case, it would have been rude for the hosts to insist nobody being meat to the potluck, though, so I can see why the slip-up happened.

  • Lo April 30, 2013, 7:40 am

    In my own experiences as a very pro-meat but concientious carnivore who associates with a lot of vegetarians and vegans, I would say that this was handled badly by the host. However, it was his method that was incorrect, not his message.

    If you were bringing this with the assumption that it would be enjoyed in the park then of course you did nothing wrong. If you were bringing this dish to their home not knowing that it was “meat-free” then you are also blameless. It is the hosts’ responsibility to inform you of limitations ahead of time. I assume because of his strong aversion to even being around the meat that his reasons are ethical. I get this. I am 100% fine with this.

    If his aversion to meat is ethical he has every right to ask guests not to eat meat in his home, regardless of whether they do in their own homes. This shouldn’t be treated any differently than a religious prohibition. It’s not unreasonable.

    I do think you were owed a little more “apology” from him when he declined your offering. He has every right to insist not to serve any of it, but he should have been more humble. He should have said, “I’m so sorry, I don’t mean to offend, but it makes me uncomfortable to be around meat. I hope you understand if we just put this in the fridge.” Because he was so blunt you feel as though you’ve been snubbed. I don’t blame you. But I would try to look past the incident.

    I think omnivorse should give a little when it comes to those who eat differently. When I go out to restaurants with new vegetarian friends I always ask them if they mind if I eat meat in front of them. Not because I think it’s reasonable that they demand I don’t, but because it’s polite to ask. If ever someone did mind I would order vegetarian and simply make a mental note not to take them to a steakhouse or invite them to a restaurant with friends when I wanted to eat meat. But it won’t hurt me, disgust me, or break my own ethics to eat vegetarian. This is an easy compromise.

    So how much more gracious should we be in the home of a hosts who takes issue with meat. Simply abstain. It’s not hard.

    Now whether is wife is a big hypocrite– that’s a whole OTHER issue.

  • --Lia April 30, 2013, 7:42 am

    He made a mistake, and while he might have apologized, he did cover his error the best he could by offering a compromise in the form of keeping the wrapped plate in the refrigerator. Assuming there was enough for everyone to eat and you were made welcome in other ways, let it go.

  • Miss-E April 30, 2013, 7:50 am

    I’ve been a vegetarian all my life and I HATE people like this. They give the rest of us a bad name! I won
    ‘t cook meat (mostly because I don’t know how and am certain I will make someone sick) but I would never forbid people from bringing it into my house if I’m hosting an event! I’m in agreement, OP, it was rude of them to banish your offering to the fridge like you’ve done them some great wrong!

  • Erin April 30, 2013, 8:08 am

    Wait…so the home is meat-free but Ikea’s meatballs are magically vegetarian? Meat isn’t meat outside the house? Since it’s Ikea, are they equitarians (you know, like pescetarians but with horse meat)?

  • Mary Striby April 30, 2013, 8:10 am

    Wait, so SHE eats Ikea meatballs, but it’s a meat-free home? Sounds like HE has a bit of a complex about meat. But yes, if the understanding was you were to bring picnic foods and the back-up plan was to eat at their home, it seems insensitive to reject pot-luck food at all when no restrictions were in the invitation. I don’t blame you for feeling snubbed. Of course, eating just the cheese, olives and crackers would have been nice, but if someone had said that to me, I’d have been flustered into agreeing just the same.

  • Jay April 30, 2013, 8:11 am

    I can think of reasons why this would be a perfectly reasonable conversation. I think the poster is making much ado about nothing. The poster says that everyone was polite and accomodating about it, and the he/she is the one to make it into a big deal after the fact.

    Just as examples, was it really really obviously that the meat was wrapped separately? Completely separately? Maybe the house was kosher. My father keeps a kosher house, and his wife is not Jewish and presumably would have no problem eating Ikea meatballs OUT OF THE HOUSE. It probably didn’t occur to the hostess because it was planned as a picnic originally.

    The poster is the presumptuous one, presuming that if a motive for a reasonable request, made politely, isn’t obvious to them, it must not exist.

  • Julia April 30, 2013, 8:27 am

    Is it possible they are kosher? In which case, they do not mix meat and dairy, and may have considered both “contaminated” by being in the same container. Doesn’t sound like it to me (unless they are vegetarian AND kosher), but it’s a possibility…

  • DGS April 30, 2013, 8:32 am

    It was definitely not gracious of him to communicate the way that he did, as if the house is in fact, meat-free, it would have been appropriate to inform everyone in advance. However, there are many reasons why one may not open a tray that contains meat or dairy, even if it is sealed. In a kosher or halal home, for instance, they would not be able to use anything on that tray. That being said, it is on the host to communicate their dietary restrictions beforehand, and on the guests to abide by that restriction.

    We keep a kosher home, and we invited several colleagues (many of whom are not Jewish) to Passover seder one time (which comes with a whole additional set of dietary restrictions). One of my colleagues brought a corn pudding (cannot eat corn during Passover) that she had made, even though to avoid such mishaps, we had specifically asked our guests to refrain from bringing anything, stating that we would provide all the food, beverages, etc., due to dietary restrictions I had to take her aside and gently tell her that due to dietary restrictions, I would unfortunately, not be able to serve it, but that I would be happy to store it in the refrigerator for her to take home, bring to work tomorrow, etc. She did seem miffed and suggested that only the non-Jewish guests at the dinner partake of it. I explained to her that I could not even open the container with it during Passover in my home due to religious restrictions. She acquiesced to my request, although she continued to seem annoyed by it; she served the pudding the following day at work, and people who were not Jewish gladly partook of it, so she was somewhat mollified. I felt that in that instance, I was not rude, as I had communicated our dietary restrictions to her beforehand, but she chose to disregard them.

  • WildIrishRose April 30, 2013, 8:39 am

    Wow. What a jerk! I probably wouldn’t socialize with him much any more, either. Certainly not at his house!

  • Annie April 30, 2013, 8:45 am

    Being a vegetarian myself, I can just say that this person is sadly representative of the vocal minority that makes people hate us. You had no warning about her food preferences ( and that’s what they are, a preference, nothing more) so you did absolutely nothing wrong. However, the hostess is in serious breach of etiquette.

  • Virg April 30, 2013, 8:55 am

    I don’t see a whole lot that went wrong here. Based on his statement, it sounds like he expected his wife to inform people about not bringing meat, and so he was probably as surprised as you were. He stated in a reasonably polite manner that he wished you not to open the platter in the house, and he offered to keep it properly until you could take it home with you. As to his wife commenting about meatballs, he said that theirs was a meat-free house, not that his wife eschewed meat. Perhaps eating out is where she gets her fix. In any case, he delivered his statement in a straightforward and polite manner and didn’t include any overt judgement statements, so I don’t think he committed any faux pas.


  • Shalamar April 30, 2013, 9:14 am

    I think he was very rude. It reminds me of when I brought a festive tin full of homemade candy to my in-laws’ house on Christmas Day, and my mother-in-law said “Ugh, take that away. We’ve got too much sweet stuff here already.” I was stunned and hurt.

  • k April 30, 2013, 9:18 am

    The host was fine. He explained what the problem was, did not blame you, and graciously stored the food until you could take it home. You both handled an awkward situation as best you could.

    To call the wife a hypocrite is unfair – she may not be vegetarian. I was veggie for many years with an SO who was not – he ate meat when we went out. That’s not hypocritical.

  • Library Diva April 30, 2013, 9:18 am

    I think the guy was a jerk and very ungracious. If you’re hosting a potluck-style event and there’s something you seriously don’t want in your house, tell your guests in advance. Even when there’s a possibility it may not be at your house, as in this case, I’m sure OP does not routinely go around buying meat and cheese platters, just for her and her family to enjoy at home. Otherwise, suck it up and let your guests serve it. I fail to understand how this even affects him. It was plated by OP, and he could just avoid her platter if he didn’t like it. Sorry, but when you host a potluck, you run the risk that someone will bring a type of food that you find disgusting. If you need that much control over what is served, do the food yourself.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith April 30, 2013, 9:25 am

    The conflict here centers around what happens when a venue is offered but refreshments are not- basically the couple was not hosting, they were co-hosting the event. If it was “bring whatever you want to the park for refreshments” but “oh, NO, we can’t have meat (because we’re vegan, keep a kosher kitchen…have to have Halal, cannot eat beef, whatever) then the couple were a bit “thick” not to have considered the implications of guests also bringing food when they offered their home. They were rude, if only by omission and poor planning… followed by policing offerings on hand at the last minute. It would have been far kinder to have said nothing and made a place for it (since it wasn’t on offer from the hosts, but from the guest) or to have had the foresight to explain the possible difficulty in advance so guests could find an alternate venue if they had difficulty complying (OR everyone could have agreed to observe the restrictions…and voila, no problem… awkward, but at least forewarned). By muddling the duties of host and co-host, offering a venue but not communicating about restrictions that come with it, and not having a back-up plan (could the food be served on a deck, if covered? could the house “give” on the day in question since apparently they do on occasion at Ikea? Other option agreed to?) So he left her in the position of being disenfranchised… and while it was only a dish and it was his home, the gaffe was galling.

  • The Elf April 30, 2013, 9:31 am

    His house, his rules. I don’t think he was rude, but I think the host could have handled it better. At least he did offer to put it in the fridge and not demand you remove it at once!

    1) You definitely should have been informed in advance.
    2) Especially since the meats were wrapped separately, he could have put out at least the olives and crackers, maybe the cheese too, so it wouldn’t be a total rejection.
    3) He should have been more apologetic/slightly embarrassed when he rejected the gift.

    Regarding having a meat free house, with guests over, especially as a pot-luck….. Again, his house, his rules. But I think it would behoove him to relax his rules if he can for the occassion of a pot-luck. It’s just nice not to enforce your dieteray restrictions on someone else by virtue of hosting the event. Sometimes this isn’t possible – the seder being a great example – but if he can manage it, he should.

  • NostalgicGal April 30, 2013, 9:34 am

    I don’t think there was much of an issue here.

    I have kept kosher, I have had friends that kept kosher; I was an omnivore and the doc turned me into a vegan not by my choice… IF the OP had no idea there would be a meat ban at the host house, then there was no way to avoid. Unless there was a question about possible ‘contamination’ of the non meat by the meat of the plate of food, then the non meat should have been okay to put out. I agree, the cheese may have been another iffy.

    It should have been done a bit more delicately but at least the warning was issued and the food set aside to take away again NOT tossed. Just remember next time if there may be an issue with weather (had the event happened at the park then there would have been no issue with the plateful it seems) and the alternate site is that home again, to bring a vegan offering.

    I took in-home study for a time with a group, and the usual host house was kosher. I have had dietary issues for years and at times I would have to bring food to eat that was NOT kosher but was what the diet required (and I could not make the equivalent in a kosher manner). In that case I had carefully discussed it with the host, that is why I didn’t put what I brought out to share (at times I did bring kosher to share and kept my other to myself) and I made sure to clean up and remove every crumb of said foodstuff. They were gracious about my dietary need, I was gracious about it was their house. If they had asked me to remove the stuff to my vehicle or eat it elsewhere I would have as it was their house.

    As for the hostess comments… maybe one is more strict than the other, about what was kept and served in the house… and she expected to try a few OUTSIDE their house (such as at the picnic). Less than tasteful but not totally in the tackyville.

  • Cat April 30, 2013, 9:40 am

    He should have given everyone advance notice if he had restrictions on what foods he allows in his home. He was not as gracious as he perhaps could have been, but you meant to do something nice and you should feel good that you tried to be a good guest.
    Maybe he just put his foot in his mouth and did not mean to be insulting. Maybe he’s a rude person and is not worth knowing. It’s hard to tell from one incident. The fact that his wife eats meat when outside the home sounds like he’s “my house, my rules” kind of guy.

  • Doris April 30, 2013, 9:42 am

    If his restrictions were so important, he should have made them known to all. One thing I don’t understand is why it was acceptable to have the platter in his refrigerator if he was so anti-meat.

    My son married a woman whose family does not eat pork. I knew this before contributing food to an event we celebrated together and kept my contributions pork-free, but that was my own decision. Never did her family ask that we not serve pork or ask us to remove any items.

    Also, we have a few diabetics in my family, but no one has banned sweets at get-togethers. The diabetics police themselves and would never deprive the rest of us from having what we want. That’s the way the world is, folks. Temptation is everywhere and you have to control yourself.

    However (isn’t there always a however?) if I had unknowingly brought a restricted food (thinking of pork or alcohol in a household whose beliefs do not include those items) I would have no problem with not serving my item.

    This story sounds more like a domestic dictator exerting control over his wife and guests than someone with a legitimate health or religious concern.

  • JD April 30, 2013, 9:48 am

    The host was wrong, in my opinion. If he is that adverse to meat, it should have been clearly stated to only bring vegetarian dishes, or vegan, or whatever. It is his right to request meat not be served in his home — to make a guest feel she has committed an error when she simply didn’t know, is not his right. He should have apologized for the fact that she obviously wasn’t warned in advance. I’m not saying he had to serve it, just that he owed her an apology for not getting the information correctly to his guests. If he’s that adamant about it, he should have made sure himself that they knew what not to bring to the house, not ask “Didn’t my wife tell you?” (What did he think — that she did tell OP, but the OP was a boor who brought meat anyway?) A potluck outdoors is a whole different story, of course, and one person can’t command the menu there.

  • lakey April 30, 2013, 9:48 am

    I believe that he was terribly rude. I don’t think this is an issue of being a vegetarian or not. This is an issue of embarrassing and inconveniencing a guest because he or his wife didn’t bother to tell guests that theirs was a meat free home. I know vegetarians and they aren’t like this at all. People on both sides of an issue can be intolerant. His wife however, sounds more easy going. I would associate with her and ignore her husband.

  • lakey April 30, 2013, 9:51 am

    If my comment seemed negative, I have a problem with people who, in social situations, inflict their views on others. I feel that that is what he did. I have friends who are vegetarian, but refrain from judging what others eat, and certainly don’t try to restrict what others eat, including in their own homes.

  • PhDeath April 30, 2013, 9:53 am

    I agree that the misstep here was on the part of the hostess (if we take at face value the host’s implication that hostess was to inform attendees of the restriction).

    The plan was for a BYO picnic; the house was a weather-related backup plan. Hostess should have spoken up, rather than putting her husband and guests in an uncomfortable situation.

    I, too, am a vegetarian but have no problem with meat in my home (my husband is a dedicated carnivore!). I know, though, that others don’t feel the same way. I host asked hostess to impart the information and she failed to do so, I really see her as the impetus of the problem.

  • lakey April 30, 2013, 9:56 am

    For those that think the husband was being reasonable, if he is this serious about vegetarianism, the guests should have been told. Her offering was rejected, no matter how the rejection was worded. You just don’t do this to guests.
    Some people are more thick skinned than others, but some people would have been very hurt by this.

  • Jewel April 30, 2013, 10:02 am

    I’m sorta neutral on how he handled the situation when presented with your meat and cheese tray. He could have managed the interaction with a more apologetic slant, but he also could have reacted worse (EEEWWWW! Dead animal! Nasty carnivores!).

    For me, the aspect of this situation that puts him firmly in the “rude” category, in my opinion, is that he didn’t bother to give you or any of the other guests a “heads up” that the family is vegetarian (well…only sort of, apparently). Because he didn’t do that, he caused you to waste time and money preparing a dish that didn’t get served.

    For that, I wouldn’t banish him in the inner-most circle of Etiquette Hell where the cut-direct is the best defense, but it would cause me to decide not to bother attempting to cultivate the friendship and to decline any further invitations he issues.

  • Lychii April 30, 2013, 10:08 am

    Ok, here’s something to think about: OP mentions that pretty much everyone brought food, but doesn’t mention anyone else’s food being banned from the party. Could it be that the meat-free home was in fact previously mentioned?

    In any case, I think the host was fine. He’s not under any obligation to serve meat in his home when it’s against his beliefs, and separating the food might simply not have occurred to him or seemed too much trouble.

  • Anonymous April 30, 2013, 10:15 am

    I’m vegan, and I still think the hosting husband was rude. For one thing, the OP and her husband prepared their meat/cheese/olive/cracker tray based on the original gathering, which was to be a picnic in the park. In that case, the question of “restricting what’s offered in their home” wouldn’t have even been an issue for the hosting/organizing couple, because the park isn’t their home; it belongs to everyone. For another thing, when you plan a potluck, unless you assign certain dishes to certain people (and, it’s easy to veer into “rude” territory doing that), it’s the luck of the draw, hence the term. I think that, if I’d been in that situation, and I’d planned a potluck that was originally going to be at a park, or an outside venue of some kind, that had to be moved to my house, and someone brought meat, I’d probably handle it by labelling which dishes contained meat/animal products, and which ones didn’t (since I have friends who are also vegetarian or vegan), and then I’d have the bringers of animal products take home their leftovers after the gathering. If the gathering went ahead at the park (or whatever) as planned, then that would eliminate the “leftover storage” issue right there. Since my kitchen and refrigerator wouldn’t be available, everyone would just take their leftovers as a matter of course.

    Anyway, all veganism issues aside, I think the OP and her husband’s cracker-tray contribution was perfect. Since the original plan was for a picnic, the crackers and whatnot wouldn’t require silverware, crackers don’t get soggy the way sandwiches can, but at the same time, they made it more substantial by covering a few more food groups with the addition of the meat, cheese, and olives.

  • ferretrick April 30, 2013, 10:23 am

    I think he certainly could have phrased it better, but it isn’t that big a faux pas in the grand scheme of things. Also, as far as the cheese-perhaps he is completely vegan, in which case the cheese would not be acceptable either.

    Nor does the wife mentioning the IKEA meatballs bother me at all. My partner went vegetarian a few months ago for moral reasons. I respect that because I love him, but I have no intention of taking it up myself. I happily eat the vegetarian meals he cooks (well, we learned to avoid the hideous vegan “imitation meat”), but when we eat out, I’m carnivoring it up. It’s been an adjustment for me to remember his new dietary needs, and I can easily see myself making a slip of the same kind, and forgetting to mention it to guests because it’s not my issue. Especially if my house was a rainout Plan B to begin with.

    What it comes down to-some people simply go vegetarian or vegan for health or whatever reason, but for those who choose it morally, it’s as strong as any other moral/religious belief and should be respected in the same way. He could certainly have been more gracious in refusing, but would you go to someone Haunakah’s celebration and bring your host a big crucifix for a gift?

  • Original Poster April 30, 2013, 10:46 am

    Original poster, here. Thanks so much for you feedback, everybody. Just a couple of points to clarify. There was other cheese being served, so I don’t think that was an issue, although he may not have thought to serve just the cheese and olives or may not have seen that they were packaged separately. It is possible he is kosher, but if that was the case why didn’t he just say so and I would not have been offended in the least even though I had not been informed of any restrictions in advance (and an e-mail had gone out in advance advising guests the event would now be at their house). I do feel, Shalamar, that it was just an arbitrary rejection such as what you describe, and I’m one of those people who never quite feels like they fit in or belong, so that’s perhaps why I took it as a personal slight and don’t feel inclined to attend any more events they organize, although I don’t think I overreacted. It took a while for it to sink in that I was, indeed, annoyed by the incident. Oh well, I forgot to mention all the babies were adorable and are all doing really well, ours included, and at the end of the day, that’s what really matters in life.

  • GwenSoul April 30, 2013, 10:53 am

    Going to have to side with not rude here. You are making judgments on how much he holds his belief and whether he does or does not feel strongly about it, it is his house and if that is the rules he and his wife agreed to it is reasonable to not want it out for others. Seems like he did it pretty politely with offering to store it (I made this mistake going to a Jewish friend’s house nor realizing a certain fast food was not kosher, and had to throw it outside or leave it in the car)

    Same Jewish friend had a husband who was not Jewish, could not bring non-kosher foods in the house but he could have all the pork wrapped shrimp in cheese he wanted outside of it, so the wife eating meet elsewhere doesn’t see that odd.

    Sounds like there was a miscommunication given the change in location, nothing to get upset about though.

  • Allison April 30, 2013, 10:59 am

    I think Husband of the House’s response to the offering was too self-focused and limiting to others. Why not put it out (he could certainly refrain)?

    I have an enormous aversion to mushrooms but don’t dis-allow them in my house. I don’t make a guest bringing food for a group aware of this; I just nibble on something else.

    Not very host-like, was he?

  • White Lotus April 30, 2013, 11:02 am

    Some people keep vegetarian kosher kitchens at home, because of the difficulty of maintaining the two sets of cookware, etc. These people might well eat kosher meats outside their homes. As a veg myself, I have no idea if Ikea’s meatballs are kosher, which is a point against this idea, but maybe their compromise is to be veg-kosher at home to meet his standards, and he doesn’t comment when she eats as she pleases elsewhere (different sects of Judaism have different rules.) I don’t know if this applies to halal. “Meat-free” home implies something more than plain vegetarian or vegan, IME.
    I am pretty darned picky about the food in my house, and I will not be happy if you bring raw meat and expect us to cook it for you or let you take over our kitchen so you can cook it using our equipment (the emergency meat grill is the one over there, outside, with its dedicated utensils, and here are some paper plates) but pre-cooked meats on a provided serving dish at a potluck? I would serve it. He should have explained his reasons further, unless he is merely being ultra-special and giving the rest of us a bad name. He also should have advised people in advance of any such restrictions. We do. We will feed you well, and it will be good, but in our house, it will be veg.

  • Ashley April 30, 2013, 11:13 am

    As a vegetarian, it really annoys me when other vegetarians act judgemental of other people’s choice to eat meat or try to push their own food choices onto non-vegetarians. There is a horrible stereotype of the judgey, holier-than-thou, won’t-allow-meat-in-their-presence vegetarian. Of course, most vegans and vegetarians are not like this. But when one lives up to the hype, it gives the rest of us a bad name. While the host was under no obligation to provide meat to his guests, I find it bizarre and over-reaching that he wouldn’t allow food generously brought by you to be put out for the other meat-eating guests.

  • CaffeineKatie April 30, 2013, 11:35 am

    Wait–he had time to mention his plans to share his whiskey collection, but not that his house was a meat-free zone? Really?!?!?

  • hakayama April 30, 2013, 11:42 am

    @Lo and Mary Striby: somehow I do not see the wife as a hypocrite… More like a doormat in her own home, trod upon by the lord and master. Totally unenviable position in any event.
    However, hypocrisy was my “diagnosis” for a woman that kept a kosher home, but had no qualms about eating shrimp in the restaurant managed by her husband. 😉

    @DGS: I am completely with you on your annoying guest of the corn pudding fame. Some people just seem not to grasp the concept of NOT bringing their own “contribution” to a meal they’ve been invited to. Your guest’s case was particularly egregious since on top of not following your request, she did not even bother to do a bit of looking into the traditions of your celebration, much less the meaning of “Kosher”.

  • ladydesmond April 30, 2013, 11:55 am

    Host was wrong and rude. If he didn’t want any meat in his house, it was his obligation to tell everyone invitedto the potluck from the get-go.
    Since guest were not warned in advance, he should have sucked it up and put out the food offering that guest took the time to prepare and let the other meat eaters enjoy it.

  • June First April 30, 2013, 12:56 pm

    I find with situations like this, it’s best (for the host) to say, “Oops! I think we have a misunderstanding. Thanks so much, but we don’t eat meat. I hope it’s all right if I just put it in the fridge for you to take home later.”
    Misunderstanding = not just the OP’s fault.

    @Erin- equitarians??! LOL.

  • Kristin April 30, 2013, 1:00 pm

    He didn’t know his wife failed to inform everyone that it was a meat-free house. It says so in the letter. He could have said, “I’m sorry” but other than that, I don’t see how he was particularly rude.

    Frankly, I’m surprised he allowed the meat to be stored in his refrigerator.

  • Elle April 30, 2013, 1:04 pm

    It’s all in the tone of voice. I can see where what the man of the house could come across snotty and I can see where the same words could end up quite diplomatic. Assuming he didn’t call you out in front of everyone then I don’t see a problem with it. And a “meat free house” is one of the more common compromises when one spouse is a vegan/vegetarian and the other is not. Personally, I think that the host handled it well.

    And, FWIW, I am a die-hard carnivore (vegetables aren’t food – they’re what food eats).

  • Lola April 30, 2013, 1:36 pm

    “I probably would not have become so annoyed with him had his wife not complained, in casual conversation during the gathering, that she had been looking forward to trying the meatballs at Ikea, but was disappointed with them as they were too small.”

    That’s hilarious! Meat-free house, eh?

  • ladydesmond April 30, 2013, 1:46 pm

    I think the couple shouldn’t have even offered to host a potluck if they weren’t going to let all the guests enjoy (or not) the offerings that were brought. It’s called a “potluck” because that’s just what it is, and if you’re that strict about what types of foods are allowed in your house, you’re not a suitable host for a potluck.

  • Susan April 30, 2013, 1:47 pm

    If the OP went thru birthing classes with the other couple, they should have known thru conversation that hubby was meat-free. He sounds like he makes his visions known. Or the wife knows her husband well enough that if she made the suggestion to meet at her place, to remind people not to bring meat. Delicately, of course.

  • Lo April 30, 2013, 1:53 pm

    Looking back on the comments I agree it wasn’t right of me to label the wife a “hypocrite”.

    I guess it was a kneejerk reaction to the thought of implementing a house rule presumably based on ethics that is not followed outside the home. It did not occur to me that the wife may have allowed her husband to keep the house that way for his benefit even though she enjoyed meat on the outside. I suppose he could be the sort to insist upon it, which would be unfornate if she weren’t on board.

    Then again my “legally Jewish” but practically irreligious husband lives with staunchly Christian me and our ethics are often in conflict, so I suppose it’s hypocritical of me assume others aren’t capable of a lopsided compromise.

  • Politrix April 30, 2013, 2:27 pm

    I guess my most urgent question is: did the host at least thank you for the bottle of wine you brought? Because I think the whole situation is really not about meat/non-meat, but rather how the host made the OP feel after she presented her offering. It seems like she was really hurt by the way he acted and his tone of voice, rather than what he actually said about being a “meat-free house.”
    If this is the case, then I, too, might have second thoughts about socializing with this couple one-on-one (though maybe I’d be ok with them in a group environment, where I could remove myself from them easier if things get uncomfortable) . But I’d also consider this is just a year after having a (first?) child — everyone’s nerves might still a bit worn down from lack of sleep, more work and worries, major life changes, etc, etc… and tempers might be shorter — and feelings are apt to be more hurt — than in a more “conventional” social setting.
    At any rate, congratulations OP! Glad to hear the babies are doing fine!

  • nk April 30, 2013, 2:44 pm

    If he’s such an ardent vegetarian that he allows absolutely NO meat at all in his house, you’d think that would be something he’d warn people about in advance. If he doesn’t inform guests of that and then reacts so angrily when they bring meat, it’s his own fault for failing to take steps to prevent that situation.

  • amyasleigh April 30, 2013, 2:48 pm

    I’m an omnivore, and all the vegetarians I’ve known in real life have been polite and non-confrontational. I hear plenty though, on the Net, about vegetarians of the other kind. I consider that the host was very rude — both in failing to let it be known in advance that the house was meat-free, and in his wording to the guests when they arrived with their offering. I feel that if he’d been a bit apologetic about his objection to meat being brought, that would make things a good deal better; but his words as quoted by the OP strike me as falling just a little short of an outright declaration of war. If I’d been the guest in the situation, I’d have felt furious with the guy, and would have wanted to oblige him by saying, “fine — we’re walking out right now, taking our filth home with us as you ask — we won’t be back”. (OK, retaliation is not good, one should see some more polite way of conveying same message.) And I’d have envisaged making a complete end of the friendship.

    As a poster early in the thread writes, “I’ve been a vegetarian all my life and I HATE people like this. They give the rest of us a bad name !” This, very much.

  • Jane April 30, 2013, 2:59 pm

    I’m with Lychii – what food did the others bring? Did any other foods get banned? Surely OP wasn’t the only one who brought meat.

    I’m going to have to side with OP; the host does seem a bit rude here. Not horrific or gaspingly shocking, but rude none-the-less. He should have told everyone to not bring meat beforehand.

  • sweetonsno April 30, 2013, 3:30 pm

    Wow. I must say that I am surprised at the number of people who believe it is rude for someone to limit what guests do in their home. To me “I don’t have this preference and shouldn’t have to abide by it in another person’s home” looks like entitlement far more than “This is my home so my preferences should be respected.” I can’t imagine that anybody would be on the guest’s side if the offending item had been cigars to share. Of course it would be better if the host had said that theirs was a tobacco-free home in the invitation. However, I can see how someone might forget that they hadn’t told one person if they had told everyone else.

    The same goes for the wife not having the same dietary habits as the husband. Perhaps the “home is vegetarian, do what you will outside of the home” is the rule. If we replace meat with cigarettes, we get a “no smoking in the house” rule, which most people would see as an acceptable compromise. I’ve also known multi-faith families to do the same thing. The house is kept kosher, but outside of the home, the non-kosher half of the couple eats as he or she wishes.

    Are there really those who believe that if a person forgets to mention a boundary (be it with a substance, behavior, or timeline) ahead of time, it is invalid and doesn’t need to be respected? I find that rather alarming. Yes, you should let people know of these things ahead of time, but “I didn’t know that was a rule” is no excuse for disrespecting it.

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