Author Topic: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"  (Read 4070 times)

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weschicky

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When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« on: April 30, 2012, 06:20:30 AM »
This happens to me a lot. I'm a vegetarian and I've had several hosts who don't understand that fish, chicken broth, fish broth, and other animal-based ingredients aren't vegetarian. It's somewhat awkward when I'm not eating the fish my hosts have generously provided just for me.  Recently, after telling my host how much I love the dish she was making, I noticed her adding chicken broth. I took a small portion in order to not make it awkward  but wondered if there's a better way to handle these situations.

Shopaholic

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2012, 06:30:40 AM »
I think you should be perfectly clear when invited over to state what "vegetarian" means to you, because different people can give it different interpretations.
I have two SILs that are vegetarian, and one will eat things made with chicken broth and both eat fish.
So next time you're invited just say "Just to avoid any uncomfortable situations, I am a vegetarian and I can eat A,B and C, but not D, E and F."

BTW - there is an instant chicken soup powder that is non-meat kosher, which I have used for my vegetarian friends after clarifying it with them.

cicero

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2012, 06:39:56 AM »
I agree with shopaholic. make sure that your hosts understand what *you* mean by vegetarian because it can mean different things for different people.

and you can always offer to bring something vegetarian to share -this will ensure that you get *something* to eat (of course, only if your hosts agree)

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a

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2012, 08:41:49 AM »
The problem is that so many people use the word vegetarian incorrectly, e.g. as per post 2 already. No vegetarian eats any animal parts, whether they are liquid or have been swimming when they were alive.

For unknown reason, some people choose to call themselves vegetarian although they are not. We need to stop them from doing that since it's ruining the market. 20 years ago nobody ever assumed that I ate fish, being a vegetarian, but nowadays it is not unusual.

If this happens with people you know, could you perhaps bring it up in a lighthearted way at a time when they're not inviting you/not at their dinner. Say, sth like 'I was at x restaurant and it got a bit embarrassing since they did not know that vegetarians do not eat any dead animals' - so kind of mentioning it as an unfortunate incident unrelated to them?

Alternatively, if you're at theirs already, I'd just be bold and say sth like 'I'm really sorry to be asking, but I know there have been misunderstandings before, so I just want to clarify that there's no meat stock, non-vegetarian cheese or gelatin in the dish you've made?" and make it clear that it's not a problem if they have used it (although it is of course a problem...). So if so eat what you can and smile.

And always bring some nuts that you can eat just in case...


SamiHami

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2012, 08:53:25 AM »
The problem is that so many people use the word vegetarian incorrectly, e.g. as per post 2 already. No vegetarian eats any animal parts, whether they are liquid or have been swimming when they were alive.

For unknown reason, some people choose to call themselves vegetarian although they are not. We need to stop them from doing that since it's ruining the market. 20 years ago nobody ever assumed that I ate fish, being a vegetarian, but nowadays it is not unusual.

If this happens with people you know, could you perhaps bring it up in a lighthearted way at a time when they're not inviting you/not at their dinner. Say, sth like 'I was at x restaurant and it got a bit embarrassing since they did not know that vegetarians do not eat any dead animals' - so kind of mentioning it as an unfortunate incident unrelated to them?

Alternatively, if you're at theirs already, I'd just be bold and say sth like 'I'm really sorry to be asking, but I know there have been misunderstandings before, so I just want to clarify that there's no meat stock, non-vegetarian cheese or gelatin in the dish you've made?" and make it clear that it's not a problem if they have used it (although it is of course a problem...). So if so eat what you can and smile.

And always bring some nuts that you can eat just in case...

That is incorrect. There are many different types of vegetarians. Your definition is one type, however, that doesn't make other definitions less valid.

The point is that if one has specific dietary restrictions, they need to make sure those are communicated properly or should eat something prior to attending to ensure that they don't starve if nothing they can eat is served.

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Harriet Jones

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2012, 08:56:48 AM »
Fish and chicken are not vegetables

Piratelvr1121

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2012, 08:58:37 AM »
I have always been under the impression that there are varying degrees of vegetarianism or why would we have two different terms, vegan vs. vegetarian?

My uncle is a vegetarian who will not eat red meat or poultry, but he will eat fish. I've known some who go totally vegan, not eating any meat products at all. 

So I do think clarification is definitely needed.
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a

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2012, 09:00:45 AM »
The problem is that so many people use the word vegetarian incorrectly, e.g. as per post 2 already. No vegetarian eats any animal parts, whether they are liquid or have been swimming when they were alive.

For unknown reason, some people choose to call themselves vegetarian although they are not. We need to stop them from doing that since it's ruining the market. 20 years ago nobody ever assumed that I ate fish, being a vegetarian, but nowadays it is not unusual.

If this happens with people you know, could you perhaps bring it up in a lighthearted way at a time when they're not inviting you/not at their dinner. Say, sth like 'I was at x restaurant and it got a bit embarrassing since they did not know that vegetarians do not eat any dead animals' - so kind of mentioning it as an unfortunate incident unrelated to them?

Alternatively, if you're at theirs already, I'd just be bold and say sth like 'I'm really sorry to be asking, but I know there have been misunderstandings before, so I just want to clarify that there's no meat stock, non-vegetarian cheese or gelatin in the dish you've made?" and make it clear that it's not a problem if they have used it (although it is of course a problem...). So if so eat what you can and smile.

And always bring some nuts that you can eat just in case...

That is incorrect. There are many different types of vegetarians. Your definition is one type, however, that doesn't make other definitions less valid.

The point is that if one has specific dietary restrictions, they need to make sure those are communicated properly or should eat something prior to attending to ensure that they don't starve if nothing they can eat is served.

Please show me any evidence from a recognised source that states that the word 'vegetarian' can be used for a person who consumes /pieces of/dead animals?

Here is the NAVS definition:
Vegetarians are people who abstain from eating all animal flesh including meat, poultry, fish and other sea animals. An ovo-vegetarian includes eggs, a lacto-vegetarian includes dairy products, and an ovo-lacto vegetarian includes both eggs and dairy products. A total vegetarian (vegan) consumes no animal products at all.
http://www.navs-online.org/faq/index.php

International Vegetarian union:
Vegetarian: IVU defines vegetarianism as a diet of foods derived from plants, with or without eggs, dairy products, and/or honey.
Those using eggs and/or dairy products are often known as ovo- and/or lacto-vegetarian.
http://www.ivu.org/faq/definitions.html
And here is the UK Vegetarian Society definition:
The Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as: "Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter."
http://vegsoc.org/page.aspx?pid=698

a

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2012, 09:03:12 AM »
And here are some other recognised terms for sub-groups, none of whom consume dead animals:

Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian: eats plant food plus eggs and milk products.

Lacto Vegetarian: eats plant foods and milk products. Common in India.

Pure Vegetarian - increasingly being used to mean plant foods only.

Vegans do not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other products which are derived from animals.

Veggie -- Shortened nick-name for a VEGETARIAN; often includes VEGANs.

RingTailedLemur

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2012, 09:10:05 AM »
I knew this would happen.  Every time we have a thread here about vegetarianism we get arguments about what the word means, even to the point where posters argue about what the dictionary says.

Please, let's not do this again.

Shopaholic

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2012, 09:14:31 AM »
I think it has become simpler in society to state that one is a vegetarian, rather than going into a full list of what one does and does not consume whenever it is discussed.
When I host someone that is a vegetarian or a vegan, I don't look up the dictionary definition - I ask them.

a

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2012, 09:16:29 AM »
I think it has become simpler in society to state that one is a vegetarian, rather than going into a full list of what one does and does not consume whenever it is discussed.
When I host someone that is a vegetarian or a vegan, I don't look up the dictionary definition - I ask them.

That is a very good solution that I wish more hosts would make use of instead of assuming that they know; especially if what they "know" is not recognised "knowledge" ;-)

Irishkitty

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2012, 09:17:09 AM »
I don't want to get the thread locked or start an argument. However, a "vegetarian" who eats fish is by definition a pescatarian, and not a true vegetarian.

The OP stated that they were a vegetarian.

I can understand that some people may not realise that ingredients such as gelatin contain animal products, but it should be fairly obvious when the clue is in the title eg: Chicken stock.

The problem is that no matter how obvious this appears to be, the OP is having difficulty because there are so many variations, people are making assumptions about what they can/cannot eat.

As I am an omnivore I don't have any good suggestions, I can only agree with a who suggested enquiring about ingredients to make people more aware about this.


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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2012, 09:18:53 AM »
I always ask my vegetarian guests what they mean by vegetarian.  I work with two vegetarians:  One is ovo-lacto.  She is very careful about reading ingredients for hidden animal products like gelatin and chicken broth.  The other one is what I would call a pescatarian.  She'll eat fish but doesn't eat any other meat.  She also doesn't go out of her way to avoid hidden animal products.

So I've learned that being a vegetarian means different things to different people.  And when I bake for work, I make sure to meet the needs of my more strict coworker.
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weschicky

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2012, 09:22:07 AM »
So if my host doesn't ask, it seems that telling my host I'm a vegetarian who doesn't eat fish or animal products beforehand is the best way to counteract the problem.  If I can get E-Hell approval, I think my script will read something like "Host, I hope it's not too much trouble but I don't eat fish or meat products (skipping the word "vegetarian").  Can I bring something to make it easier on you?"

This thread has reminded me of the scene in Everything is Illuminated:
Jonathan: I'm a vegetarian.
Alex: You're a what?
Jonathan: I don't eat meat.
Alex: How can you not eat meat?
Jonathan: I just don't.
Alex: [to Grandfather, in Russian] He says he does not eat meat.
Grandfather: [to Alex, in Russian] What?
Alex: No meat?
Jonathan: No meat.
Alex: Steak?
Jonathan: No...
Alex: Chickens!
Jonathan: No...
Alex: And what about the sausage?
Jonathan: No, no sausage, no meat!
Alex: [to Grandfather, in Russian] He says he does not eat any meat.
Grandfather: [to Alex, in Russian] Not even sausage?
Alex: [to Grandfather, in Russian] I know!
Grandfather: [to Alex, in Russian] What is wrong with him?
Alex: What is wrong with you?
Jonathan: Nothing, I just don't eat meat!