Author Topic: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?  (Read 14098 times)

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TootsNYC

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #120 on: June 19, 2013, 03:39:33 PM »
I wonder if the answers would be the same if we were discussing telling a vegan that the mashed potatoes have something like chicken broth in them?

If not why do the folks who are not vegan have any less right to know about allergens and intolerances. There have several people in this thread confess they have medical issues that would be aggravated by those ingredients. So why are dietary choices so much more sacrosanct than medical ones?

Really all of these same arguments could be used to hide things from people with dietary restrictions for any reason at all...if we are to respect choices -why not medical needs?

I think every one of us thinks it would a great idea to properly and accurately label the dishes on the buffet.

camlan

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #121 on: June 19, 2013, 03:51:35 PM »
I wonder if the answers would be the same if we were discussing telling a vegan that the mashed potatoes have something like chicken broth in them?

If not why do the folks who are not vegan have any less right to know about allergens and intolerances. There have several people in this thread confess they have medical issues that would be aggravated by those ingredients. So why are dietary choices so much more sacrosanct than medical ones?

Really all of these same arguments could be used to hide things from people with dietary restrictions for any reason at all...if we are to respect choices -why not medical needs?

I don't think anyone here is advocating that ingredients be hidden from the guests.

The issue the OP posted was whether or not to reveal before the wedding that the food is vegan.

Certainly, anyone who asks about ingredients should be informed of what is in a particular dish.

The OP is also going to put a line on the response card about allergies. That way, the caterer can insure that food without those allergens is available for the guests.
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camlan

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #122 on: June 19, 2013, 04:01:44 PM »
It's one meal of the day. Most people eat three meals and some snacks daily. There should be a way to cope with one meal having a less than optimal selection of food.

This I don't think is accurate in terms of a wedding day guest behavior, not among anyone I know anyway. Every time I'm at a wedding some of the chitchat is "wow this food is [insert adjective]. I'm so hungry, I barely ate today!" Most people I know eat a late breakfast and skip lunch and snacks before attending a wedding. This happens for a variety of reasons. Late breakfast because its often a weekend evening. Skip lunch and snacks because they are getting ready to go out to a wedding - where there is usually an over abundance of food, and also because they are getting ready and getting dressed up and don't have the time to eat, nor do they want to risk spills or even the hassle of having to brush their teeth again. maybe they have a long drive and don't want to stop (they know there will be food once they arrive). Etc.

I also think at a wedding people are exerting more energy then normal (dancing) and drinking alcohol, so their need for food increases.

Mostly, I was referring to people who have some dietary issue--if you know you can't eat gluten, or are a vegetarian, you run the risk of not having enough to eat every single time you accept someone's hospitality. Therefore, I think it is a good idea for those people to carry snacks or plan to stop for a snack to make sure their needs are met, instead of hoping their hosts will provide for the individual special needs of all their guests.

For those guests who have few or no dietary restrictions who choose not to eat much before attending a wedding, skip a meal, etc., well, that is their choice. They run the same risk that there won't be enough food they can eat at the reception. It's a risk they are deciding to take.

I have no food allergies, but I've ended up at weddings or other functions where I simply didn't like the food that was served--I don't like cream sauces and for a while there, chicken a la king seemed to be the most popular wedding food in existence. I ate what I could--the green beans, the salad, the bread, the dessert. When I got home, I'd fix a snack to fill in the gaps. As I say--absolutely anyone, dietary restrictions or not, can end up without a lot to eat at a reception. You learn to deal with it.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


blarg314

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #123 on: June 19, 2013, 06:26:40 PM »

I don't think you need to announce "vegan menu" because some people are going to object to the word vegan even if it's something they would normally happily eat and enjoy.

If you're offering a choice on the menu, you need to give enough information to let people choose properly - so "basil pasta with tofu" is better than "basil pasta" and "flax seed and cashew pizza" is better than "pizza".

At the actual meal, if you provide a varied selection of items and information about the contents, you're being a good host, even if there are people who will turn up their noses at everything, or  not be able to eat due to serious dietary restrictions. In your case, I do think you need to accurately label food that's made with non standard or substitute ingredients, so people with restrictions know what's going on (like indicating the spaghetti sauce is made with wheat gluten or soy based meat substitute rather than ground beef).  People with allergies and serious restrictions will know how to prepare for a wedding meal, and how to ask about ingredients. Picky people are not going to die if they have a meal that's not prepared to their exact tastes.

My personal advice, though, if you want to design a vegan menu with broad appeal, is to avoid leaning too heavily on vegan substitute ingredients in normally non vegan dishes (soy cheese, tofu as a meat substitute, seiten, etc), and focus on naturally vegan dishes. I'm not at all a picky eater, enjoy good vegan food, like tofu, and will generally eat what I'm served, no matter how weird (and I've been to a lot of Chinese wedding banquets, so when I say weird, I'm talking things like stewed chicken testicles). But I still regard something like pizza with soy cheese and vegan pepperoni as a badly made pizza.


Sharnita

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #124 on: June 19, 2013, 06:53:08 PM »
You know, even if it is just preferences, people are entitled to their preferences.  OP seems to imply that objections would be based on misconceptions.  Allergies and sensitivities aside, people seem to dismiss this as being picky or uninformed or whatever.  Aren't vegetarians/vegans allowed to have preferences without us labeling them misconceptions?  There seems to be a mild form of judgement or snobbery or I don't know what if people have preferences that exclude cashew cheese and other similar offerings.

Zilla

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #125 on: June 19, 2013, 07:50:17 PM »
You know, even if it is just preferences, people are entitled to their preferences.  OP seems to imply that objections would be based on misconceptions.  Allergies and sensitivities aside, people seem to dismiss this as being picky or uninformed or whatever.  Aren't vegetarians/vegans allowed to have preferences without us labeling them misconceptions?  There seems to be a mild form of judgement or snobbery or I don't know what if people have preferences that exclude cashew cheese and other similar offerings.


I mentioned cashews.  It's a common ingredient to puree to mimic a cream sauce.  But they aren't not the same in taste.  I would be in for a rude awakening if I am expecting a cream milk based sauce and instead encounter a cashew sauce.  I would think the cream has gone off. I think if the title of the dish doesn't indicate that there might be substitutions (such as cashews) that it should be mentioned.  And this goes for both sides of the coin.  If I am eating a hamburger, I am expecting ground beef.  And if I get ground lamb, I would be in for a rude awakening as well and think the beef has gone horribly off.   So I myself haven't seen any snobbery or judgement, just prefer to see full disclosure before I eat something.  And it doesn't have to be waaaay before the wedding, if there is a sign on the buffet that indicates what each dish is and what it has, I be fine with that as well.

Sharnita

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #126 on: June 20, 2013, 05:11:29 AM »
You know, even if it is just preferences, people are entitled to their preferences.  OP seems to imply that objections would be based on misconceptions.  Allergies and sensitivities aside, people seem to dismiss this as being picky or uninformed or whatever.  Aren't vegetarians/vegans allowed to have preferences without us labeling them misconceptions?  There seems to be a mild form of judgement or snobbery or I don't know what if people have preferences that exclude cashew cheese and other similar offerings.


I mentioned cashews.  It's a common ingredient to puree to mimic a cream sauce.  But they aren't not the same in taste.  I would be in for a rude awakening if I am expecting a cream milk based sauce and instead encounter a cashew sauce.  I would think the cream has gone off. I think if the title of the dish doesn't indicate that there might be substitutions (such as cashews) that it should be mentioned.  And this goes for both sides of the coin.  If I am eating a hamburger, I am expecting ground beef.  And if I get ground lamb, I would be in for a rude awakening as well and think the beef has gone horribly off.   So I myself haven't seen any snobbery or judgement, just prefer to see full disclosure before I eat something.  And it doesn't have to be waaaay before the wedding, if there is a sign on the buffet that indicates what each dish is and what it has, I be fine with that as well.

Zilla, I think you misunderstood.  I meant that posters who felt that those who might not be thrilled with "cashew cheese" or "vegan" and attributed that to being misinformed or picky while respecting the preferences of vegetarians and vegans seem to be a little judgemental or snobbish.

blarg314

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #127 on: June 20, 2013, 05:28:39 AM »
You know, even if it is just preferences, people are entitled to their preferences.  OP seems to imply that objections would be based on misconceptions.  Allergies and sensitivities aside, people seem to dismiss this as being picky or uninformed or whatever.  Aren't vegetarians/vegans allowed to have preferences without us labeling them misconceptions?  There seems to be a mild form of judgement or snobbery or I don't know what if people have preferences that exclude cashew cheese and other similar offerings.

When it comes to catering a wedding banquet, though, I'd say that while guests are entitled to whatever preferences they have, the hosts are not required and shouldn't be expected to pay any attention to them.

I do find food pickiness with someone who already has a special diet exasperating. That's about the point where I throw up my hands and decide that they're on their own food wise - I'm not going to waste any effort catering to them.  If I go through the effort, for example, of making sure there's a vegan meal for someone because they don't eat animal products, only to be informed that they don't like tofu, or find the texture of cashews unpleasant - that's likely the last time I invite them to dinner.


LadyL

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #128 on: June 20, 2013, 09:14:00 AM »
You know, even if it is just preferences, people are entitled to their preferences.  OP seems to imply that objections would be based on misconceptions.  Allergies and sensitivities aside, people seem to dismiss this as being picky or uninformed or whatever.  Aren't vegetarians/vegans allowed to have preferences without us labeling them misconceptions?  There seems to be a mild form of judgement or snobbery or I don't know what if people have preferences that exclude cashew cheese and other similar offerings.


I mentioned cashews.  It's a common ingredient to puree to mimic a cream sauce.  But they aren't not the same in taste.  I would be in for a rude awakening if I am expecting a cream milk based sauce and instead encounter a cashew sauce.  I would think the cream has gone off. I think if the title of the dish doesn't indicate that there might be substitutions (such as cashews) that it should be mentioned.  And this goes for both sides of the coin.  If I am eating a hamburger, I am expecting ground beef.  And if I get ground lamb, I would be in for a rude awakening as well and think the beef has gone horribly off.   So I myself haven't seen any snobbery or judgement, just prefer to see full disclosure before I eat something.  And it doesn't have to be waaaay before the wedding, if there is a sign on the buffet that indicates what each dish is and what it has, I be fine with that as well.

Zilla, I think you misunderstood.  I meant that posters who felt that those who might not be thrilled with "cashew cheese" or "vegan" and attributed that to being misinformed or picky while respecting the preferences of vegetarians and vegans seem to be a little judgemental or snobbish.

The type of misconceptions I was referring to are the idea that vegan food is always flavorless because it's meat that gives dishes flavor, or that all vegan food contains mushy tofu, or that it's vegan means nothing but salad and veggie trays. Not personal preferences about textures, flavors, or vegan substitutions for things like cheese. I am mostly talking about people who probably have no experience with vegan food but have a prejudice against anything they see as "hippy dippy."

ladyknight1

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #129 on: June 20, 2013, 03:19:31 PM »
We had a luncheon today at work. The vegan offerings were: rice, black beans, an assortment of fresh vegetables, salsa, guacamole, chips, and tortillas. It was very enjoyable for everyone, we also had chicken and beef for those that wanted them.

I think there are a lot of negative preconceptions about vegan food, especially by people who are in more rural areas. I am sure your reception will be wonderful.

sweetonsno

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #130 on: June 20, 2013, 06:57:20 PM »
I love how popular this thread is becoming! Reading over the responses, I think a lot of people are basing their answers on an assumption about what vegan food is. The OP has already addressed labeling the dishes to identify allergens, so we don't need to worry about that too much. It also sounds like there will be a wide variety of choices as well.

I think the basic question is this: do I need to inform guests ahead of time that I will not be serving something that they might expect? I could see this popping up at weddings in a few scenarios. For instance, if a host is going to have an alcohol-free event, do they need to tell guests that the reception is "dry"? What if they decide to have a sundae bar instead of the traditional wedding cake? What if they decide to have a nut-free or gluten-free meal?

I'm not sure I think etiquette dictates that they do, regardless of guests' potential preferences for alcoholic offerings, cake over ice cream, or sauces thickened with flour over those thickened with cornstarch. While I do think guests should be made aware of hidden ingredients that might create trouble for someone with an intolerance or values-based restriction, I don't really think guests really need to be told what they are NOT consuming.

That said, if you're on a diet that requires you eat a particular food at regular intervals, or you prefer to, I think it's your responsibility to bring it. Vegetarians and vegans should carry a couple of energy bars if they are attending an event that spans a meal and aren't sure if they will have any options. (They should probably run off to the lobby or restroom to eat them rather than doing so at the table, of course.) If someone absolutely insists upon meat due to a diet or a preference, they can stash some jerky or other nonperishable meat in their bag. Sure, granola bars and beef jerky aren't a delicious catered meal, but it's better than going hungry.

Rohanna

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #131 on: June 20, 2013, 07:07:27 PM »
Yes, but since the vast majority of meals feature meat, you wouldnt DO what you suggested unless warned...
« Last Edit: June 20, 2013, 10:14:17 PM by Rohanna »
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saki

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #132 on: June 21, 2013, 05:52:08 AM »
Yes, but since the vast majority of meals feature meat, you wouldnt DO what you suggested unless warned...

But the thing is that the meal could contain meat but still not be acceptable to everyone.  It could be a chicken curry, for instance, and some people might not like spicey food.  It could be pork and some people might not like pork.  It could be plain chicken and potatoes and there would be some people who wouldn't like that.  There isn't any one menu that absolutely everyone would be happy with.  In my view, you should always go to an event with the knowledge that you might not like the food. 

Even if someone does provide menu information in advance, there's a chance of this.  They might describe an option as "chicken and vegetables" and a picky eater might find it being served with sauce made it inedible to them.  So, what it boils down to for me is that you can't and shouldn't expect to know every detail of food that will be served to you when you're invited somewhere.  If you are so picky that that is a problem for you or so reluctant to chance the possibility of not getting food you like, you should probably avoid eating with people or eat beforehand all the time.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2013, 05:59:49 AM by saki »

Rohanna

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #133 on: June 21, 2013, 09:36:38 AM »
Yes someone who is picky about "standard for the region food" should be prepared- but if its a completely unexpected menu for both the area and the known tastes of the couple, I am afraid that blind-siding the OPs guests may not have the intended result she is looking for.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. ~ Jack Layton.

mlogica

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #134 on: June 21, 2013, 09:53:06 AM »
So, what it boils down to for me is that you can't and shouldn't expect to know every detail of food that will be served to you when you're invited somewhere.  If you are so picky that that is a problem for you or so reluctant to chance the possibility of not getting food you like, you should probably avoid eating with people or eat beforehand all the time.

This largely sums up my feelings.  Full disclosure:  I'm a vegetarian and a little bit of a picky eater (far less than previously, but there are a few foods that I truly despise, like raw onions and yoghurt).  At most events involving food, there is something vegetarian, or something that can be made vegetarian (i.e.:  if everyone else is being served a plated meal of meat and sides, I will ask for just the sides).  Sometimes the food is fabulous, mostly it's fine, and on rare occasions it's mediocre.  Like nothing without meat except the green salad and bread.  Green salad is not (IMHO) a complete meal.

But it's one meal, and in the grand scheme of my life, one meal is not that big a deal.  The worst case scenario is that I am hungry for a few hours.  It's not going to kill me.

Granted, this is coming from the perspective of someone who has no serious blood sugar issues, allergies or other health conditions.  OTOH, if those were factors, I'd make sure to have something I could eat on hand, either in my purse or stashed in the car.  Similarly, if I were a really picky eater, that is something I would need to recognise and take responsibility for, by having some kind of food available that I could consume discreetly if a given meal was really not to my taste.  If someone's personal food history often involves being served food he or she doesn't like, it should not be a surprise if it happens again, and that person should not go to social events without a game plan to handle it.