Author Topic: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"  (Read 4578 times)

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EmmaJ.

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2012, 09:28:01 AM »
I sympathize with the OP.  I was a vegetarian in my youth - about 40 years ago.  It wasn't as common in my area as it is now; in fact, I found only one vegetarian cookbook in my local bookstore.

My boyfriend and I were invited to dinner at a friend's house to be followed by a show at the theatre.  I declined, telling my friend I didn't want to put her to any to any bother cooking special foods for me, but we would meet them later at the theatre.  She insisted it was no bother, that she had already planned spaghetti with meat sauce, salad, and garlic bread.  Did I mind eating plain noodles?  She would set aside a portion for me.  I said that would be lovely, thank you!

Well, we all sat down to dinner and the table was set "family style" where all the food was in big bowls on the table.  My friend passed me the bowl of spaghetti already mixed with the meat sauce, and I passed it over to my boyfriend (without taking any).  I thought she might have my plain portion of spaghetti still in the kitchen, so I looked kind of expectantly at her. 

She heaved a big martyred sigh and said "are you really vegetarian?"  I said yes, and she then offered to scramble me an egg.   I declined and ate salad and bread.

But after all this time, I still don't know what happened!  Did she just forget to set aside my portion?  Was she testing me? 


rose red

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2012, 09:36:53 AM »
I had a coworker who's always bragging about being a vegetarian.  One day, we had lunch and she ordered a chicken sandwich, her "vegetarian" meal.  This was before ehell and I wasn't the most tactful person, but I still knew to keep my mouth shut  ;D.

I agree to just tell the host beforehand that you don't eat any meat/animal products including chicken, fish, and meat based broth.  A lot of non-vegetarians just don't really think of condiments.  I didn't either but once I was made aware, I never forgot. 

O'Dell

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2012, 09:37:23 AM »
I'm with you, a. I find it tiresome that so many people label themselves as vegetarian when they are not. I've heard discussions on a couple of different news/talk type shows where people have claimed that vegetarians aren't really vegetarians. Why did they come to that conclusion? Because a poll was done in which many people claimed to be vegetarian but then went on to admit they ate meat. Frustrating.

I really don't know what to suggest to you, Weschicky. The only time I ran into this on a consistent basis was with a friend that used to have a big chili cookout once a year for his friends and the neighborhood and he'd make a pot of clam chowder just for me. I'd eat it. I didnt' have the heart to tell him, plus seafood is one of the foods I miss. Oh the temptation! The other thing for me is my vegetarianism is influenced by Buddhism where rigid adherence to a rule is discouraged. So I suck it up. ;)

For the scenario like the chicken broth, I'd probably say something right then. "Oh, I didn't realize that you use chicken broth. That's not vegetarian." But for the fish, I'd probably just start suggesting dinners out where I had greater control over the menu or finding other activities to socialize over.
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Thipu1

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2012, 10:22:13 AM »
These days, there are so many varieties of dietary preference (or requirements) that people have to be quite specific. 

A while back, we were planning a Chinese take-out meal in the office.  A menu was sent around and people were asked to suggest dishes to share.  One employee specified simply, 'no meat or seafood'. 
Okay, she's a vegetarian.  No problem.  The place we were using offered a wide variety of vegetarian options. 

The meal arrived and was set out in buffet style.  What did our 'vegetarian' attack?  She went straight for all the chicken and duck dishes. 

Turns out she didn't eat red meat and didn't like seafood.  If she asked for poultry dishes when the menu went around, we would have ordered another dish of  'General Tso's Chicken' and one fewer dish of 'Buddha's Delight'.

mechtilde

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2012, 10:44:11 AM »
OP- I think you're going to have to be very specific when you tell people- that you are a vegetarian and don't eat any meat products, including broth and gelatine. It's about the only thing I can think of to make people understand.
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Jones

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2012, 11:01:57 AM »
This may be slightly OT, but it does go with the "tell your host" theme. A couple Christmases ago, we were having my brother over for dinner, and my brother asked if he could bring a coworker and the coworker's family along. They had just moved to our town and really didn't know anyone. My husband and I said sure, and planned extra food accordingly. We had a wide variety of dishes, and avoided gluten because my SIL has celiac, but no one said anything about any other preferences.

Turns out one of the unknown guests was a vegetarian. Fortunately, we had a variety of sides available for her preference, but it would have been nice to know as we cooked the potatoes/carrot dish in turkey broth and we could have warned her as such rather than finding out after she took a bite and asked how we got that flavor.

Instantkarma

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #21 on: April 30, 2012, 11:17:21 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.

i thought it was very interesting and helpful to get a list of the different types of vegetarians.  i only knew about half of the ones on the list.

Wolfgirl

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #22 on: April 30, 2012, 11:49:14 AM »
Hey, Just to say I agree with those stating that 'Vegetarian' means no dead animals or anything that has come from a dead animal (byproducts), period. Whilst the word may well be used by many people to describe other, broader dietary preferences like not eating red meat or chicken, that fact remains that 'vegetarian' was correctly defined by 'a' upthread (and all dictionaries! :P ).

Just because someone says they are a vegetarian, but you see them eat a crabcake, does not mean that that person has changed the definition of vegetarianism! :)

I do agree it's probably wise to clarify, especially if you think your host may be unfamiliar with vegetarian food.

However, if you are hosting and a guest says "I'm a vegetarian", just play it safe and feed them a dish free of meat and animal parts! So no meat, fish, chicken, meat stock/broth, gelatin or cheese with rennet (cow stomach) in. Unless they specifically tell you otherwise. But unless they say "I'm a vegan" then assume they can eat eggs and dairy products. Really not too complicated! :)

RingTailedLemur

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2012, 12:01:12 PM »
POD Wolfgirl.

SoCalVal

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2012, 01:01:28 PM »
Not to be snarky here, but I keep reading references to vegetarians not eating dead animals.  Isn't is just animals, period?



Outdoor Girl

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #25 on: April 30, 2012, 01:10:47 PM »
Not to be snarky here, but I keep reading references to vegetarians not eating dead animals.  Isn't is just animals, period?

Otherwise, they can partake in live goldfish swallowing.   :D

My understanding of the main difference between a vegetarian and an vegan is that a vegetarian will eat things produced by animals that did not kill the animal, like eggs, milk and honey, while a vegan will not eat anything that has come from an animal.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
Ontario

Aeris

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #26 on: April 30, 2012, 01:16:34 PM »
Fish and chicken are not vegetables

Neither are apples, but vegetarians still eat those.  >:D

TootsNYC

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #27 on: April 30, 2012, 01:26:55 PM »
I don't think the problem is that there are people using the term "vegetarian" loosely.

I think the problem is that there are people who forget that chicken broth is not vegetarian.

I don't get how they can do it, but they do.

Sure, there are people who a fish-ok vegetarians, but that's not the REAL problem.

You can say, "I'm a vegetarian, I don't even eat fish," but it's sort of annoying that you have to say, "I'm a vegetarian, and even chicken broth or beef broth is a bad idea."

As for what to do in the moment, I think you just say, cheerfully, "Oh, that's too bad--chicken broth is one of the things I can't eat." And then you don't eat that food but fill up on all the other ones you can. And if they're discomfitted because you're not eating the food they prepared for you, then maybe they'll learn, and mention it to someone else, and some OTHER vegetarian will be spared the steal chicken broth.

(and every time I typed "broth," I ended up with "brother.")

weschicky

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #28 on: April 30, 2012, 02:21:44 PM »
You can say, "I'm a vegetarian, I don't even eat fish," but it's sort of annoying that you have to say, "I'm a vegetarian, and even chicken broth or beef broth is a bad idea."

As for what to do in the moment, I think you just say, cheerfully, "Oh, that's too bad--chicken broth is one of the things I can't eat." And then you don't eat that food but fill up on all the other ones you can. And if they're discomfitted because you're not eating the food they prepared for you, then maybe they'll learn, and mention it to someone else, and some OTHER vegetarian will be spared the steal chicken broth.
In this situation, is it more polite to deliver a little white lie (I'm stuffed from the snacks you put out before the meal!) or to be honest and say "it looks delicious but I don't eat chicken broth"?

jmarvellous

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Re: When your host doesn't quite understand "vegetarian"
« Reply #29 on: April 30, 2012, 02:35:07 PM »
You can say, "I'm a vegetarian, I don't even eat fish," but it's sort of annoying that you have to say, "I'm a vegetarian, and even chicken broth or beef broth is a bad idea."

As for what to do in the moment, I think you just say, cheerfully, "Oh, that's too bad--chicken broth is one of the things I can't eat." And then you don't eat that food but fill up on all the other ones you can. And if they're discomfitted because you're not eating the food they prepared for you, then maybe they'll learn, and mention it to someone else, and some OTHER vegetarian will be spared the steal chicken broth.
In this situation, is it more polite to deliver a little white lie (I'm stuffed from the snacks you put out before the meal!) or to be honest and say "it looks delicious but I don't eat chicken broth"?

If you're ever going to socialize with them again, or if you want people to remember that chicken broth is definitely not vegetarian, I'd go with the latter.

I would always go with the latter, actually, unless the simple truth was that I was stuffed. Why lie when the truth is perfectly innocent and in no way insulting to your host?

I run in a pretty veg-friendly crowd (where half the guests at a meat-eater's house will be asking about broth, for example!), but at things like my mom's friends' parties in cattle country, I just ask the hostess what I ought to avoid and do my best not to freak out if they forget that there's broth or animal fat in something (and I do not sacrifice my principles by eating another bite once I find out, typically).

I can think of times when I'd knowingly eat something with animal ingredients in it, but they're so rare as to never have come up in my life.