Author Topic: Another guest with dietary restrictions question  (Read 2777 times)

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LemonZen

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Another guest with dietary restrictions question
« on: January 22, 2014, 02:21:45 PM »
Hi everyone, after lurking for a long long time I finally decided to join in the fun :)

BG: I am a part of a group of women that meet every other week. We rotate hosting fairly evenly and we always have tea and a snack (we meet in the evenings). Tonight is my turn.

One lady decided a while ago to become vegan(ish). She has often changed what she is allowing herself to eat, at one point eating chicken once a week, to sometimes going strict vegan. Currently she seems to be more strict with her food choices, but still occassionally eats non vegan things. From what I can see, she will usually eat baked goods, whether or not they contain eggs, butter, etc. but not "visible" things like cheese or whatever. For example I served angel food cake with whipped cream and berries and she ate the cake (containing lots of eggs) but not the whipped cream. This is not a matter of her being unaware, as I make sure to mention that the cake (or whatever) contains such and such, and she says "oh that's ok".

End BG

As I said tonight is my turn and I have made a sun dried tomato dip (made with cream cheese) to be served with veggies and pita. I know she will eat the veggies and pita and not the dip, so I had planned to make rice krispie squares as well until I had the lightbulb moment that of course I can't make that because of the gelatin in the marshmallows. (Whoops!)

I don't have time or money to buy anything new, and I could bake some brownies or something, but they wouldn't be vegan. Thing is I know she will probably eat them anyway. But it seems a little weird to me to make extra snacks for the vegan, and then have those snacks not be vegan. Part of it is I am not 100% sure day to day what she is eating or not, which makes it difficult to plan.

So, for tonight and future gatherings, is it rude to make snacks that are not vegan but that I am pretty sure she will be fine with? I guess what I am wondering is how far out of my way should I go to accomodate a dietary restriction that seems to be flexible, without presuming that she will break it?

For the record, in the past I and the rest of the group have sometimes had extra vegan things for her and sometimes not. She doesn't seem to make a big deal of it either way. I value her and her friendship and want to make sure she is comfortable and welcome.

Mikayla

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Re: Another guest with dietary restrictions question
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2014, 02:32:01 PM »
Welcome!

I think the gamechanger here in terms of potential rudeness is that she's not a vegan.  She may be genuinely trying to get to that point, but until she does, I don't see why hosts should worry about the food they serve.  Obviously, if she succeeds, then it's a different story.

Also, since the MO of the group is that some hosts provide vegan and some don't, and she's fine with this, I think you're free to serve whatever you want. 

lowspark

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Re: Another guest with dietary restrictions question
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2014, 02:33:16 PM »
It sounds like she's pretty cool about the whole thing. At most, I'd probably just email her the menu and point out any ingredients you think might concern her. Just say, Heads up on what I'm serving tonight: dip made with cream cheese, veggies, pita and rice krispie bars made with marshmallows.

If you're comfortable saying, "you're welcome to bring extra food if there won't be enough you can eat" then you could add that. But really, since her choices keep changing, I wouldn't go too far out of my way to accommodate a restriction she may not even be observing.


TurtleDove

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Re: Another guest with dietary restrictions question
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2014, 02:36:15 PM »
Personally, I would make and serve what I want to make and serve and not even attempt to cater to her. 

LemonZen

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Re: Another guest with dietary restrictions question
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2014, 02:44:39 PM »
Thanks, you are all saying pretty much what I have been feeling. I get annoyed sometimes that people (including myself) have gone way out of our way to make something for her when it seems like it really doesn't matter to her, only to have her not eat at the next time because there is X ingredient in it. I didn't want my frustration with the arbitrary diet rules to override my desire to be a good friend. She is very anxious about social situations and it can be difficult to navigate normal friendship ups and downs without causing hurt feelings.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Another guest with dietary restrictions question
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2014, 02:45:21 PM »
As long as there is something she can eat, I wouldn't worry about it at all.  She can eat the veggies and will probably eat the pita, which may or may not be vegan.  For future gatherings, maybe include a dip that is vegan to go with the veggies, like hummus.  If you want to make something sweet for everyone, great.  But I wouldn't specifically try to make a vegan sweet, just so the 'vegan' will have something else to eat.

As long as you inform your guests as to what is in the food in terms of allergens or banned foods due to religious or moral reasons, I think you are fine.  They eat what they can eat and grab a snack later.
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Dragonflymom

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Re: Another guest with dietary restrictions question
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2014, 02:49:01 PM »
If she were really following a strict vegan diet, I'd think it was nice to try to accommodate her if possible.  But she's not.

Eating chicken once a week, or eating stuff she knows has eggs or dairy, is not vegan.

Just like my friend on the low carb diet, who was always cheating on her diet, bringing potato chips and stuff and impossible to accommodate because I never knew when she was following her plan and when she wasn't, you aren't required to be any more cautious in catering her than she is about feeding herself.

I do agree it would be a good idea to give her a heads up on what you are serving, and see if she'd like to bring something else.
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LemonZen

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Re: Another guest with dietary restrictions question
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2014, 03:56:21 PM »
If she were really following a strict vegan diet, I'd think it was nice to try to accommodate her if possible.  But she's not.

Eating chicken once a week, or eating stuff she knows has eggs or dairy, is not vegan.

Just like my friend on the low carb diet, who was always cheating on her diet, bringing potato chips and stuff and impossible to accommodate because I never knew when she was following her plan and when she wasn't, you aren't required to be any more cautious in catering her than she is about feeding herself.

I do agree it would be a good idea to give her a heads up on what you are serving, and see if she'd like to bring something else.

I totally agree it's not vegan, but she identifies herself as a vegan and feels strongly (although apparently not too strongly) about it, which is why we as a group refer to her eating habits that way despite the evidence to the contrary. It's actually quite confusing and I have tried to talk to her just to understand her perspective, in hopes it would shed some light on why she eats what, but I didn't really understand her reasoning.

I think I'll just continue to make whatever it is I want to make that day for now. She will probably eat the veggies and the (non vegan) pita tonight so she will have something at least.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Another guest with dietary restrictions question
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2014, 04:01:03 PM »
Going forward, I would make sure I had either veggies or fruit and a vegan dip so that this person with the strange ideas  ;) could have something to eat, no matter how strictly she was sticking to her diet.  And then I'd make whatever else I wanted to make, whether it was vegan or not.  I'd tell her what was in it and let her make up her own mind as to what she was going to eat that particular day.

I'd do the same thing, even if she was truly vegan.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
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Arila

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Re: Another guest with dietary restrictions question
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2014, 04:11:07 PM »
Some people try to eat vegan for health reasons rather than for moral reasons. If for health reasons, then 100% adherence all the all the all the time is not actually necessary. If you think about her diet that way, maybe it will become less confusing/frustrating.

My aunt is vegan (for health), gluten free, and diabetic (try finding a dessert recipe to meet those requirements!!!!). When I host her, there are undoctored fruit and veggies available for her. I don't otherwise do anything extra, though I do make sure there is enough food so she could have a portion if she wanted to.

Tea Drinker

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Re: Another guest with dietary restrictions question
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2014, 04:34:26 PM »
I think your current plan is fine. If she brings the question up, you might tell her that it's hard to keep track of other people's dietary restrictions, so would she rather notify you 72 hours in advance of her current restrictions, or just be told the ingredients so she can decide what to eat.

I'm generally happy to work with other people's restrictions, but if you want me to keep track, we have to be pretty close, *and* it has to be relatively consistent. Sure, anyone can develop a new allergy, or stop eating pork for religious reasons, or otherwise have their limits change. But I'm not going to remember that someone only eats pork in the last 11 days of each month, or know how much chocolate someone who is limiting their total intake has had this week. Her diet, her responsibility.
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LadyL

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Re: Another guest with dietary restrictions question
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2014, 04:36:55 PM »
I usually have some go-to stuff on hand at all times that is vegan. Hummus and cut up veggies is a favorite, along with some veggie burgers that I like. But I seem to know a higher than usual proportion of vegans (I think it's my interest in social justice overlapping with their animal rights beliefs).

I also have a friend who is vegetarian aiming for vegan, for moral reasons. She is roommates with another friend who is a low carb/paleo dieter, and thus eats a good amount of cheese and animal protein. Low Carb friend relayed to me that Veganish friend was criticizing the amount of cheese she was eating, but Low Carb friend's reply was "She lives off of Domino's pizza and Taco Bell, and she's criticizing *my* eating habits?" I found that pretty funny  :P.

lowspark

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Re: Another guest with dietary restrictions question
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2014, 04:46:10 PM »
Come to think of it, I have a friend who is something like this. Only with her it's gluten-free. A few years ago she apparently was told by a doctor or somehow otherwise decided to avoid gluten. So she'll go out of her way to eat gluten free stuff... sometimes. Then other times, she's eating whatever she wants.

I never thought much about it other than the fact that I did notice she eats gluten when she wants to. I had a party at my house a few months ago and I remember noting that she ate all the stuff with gluten in it without question.

Because of this, it really has never occurred to me to go out of my way to make sure I have gluten free stuff on hand when I invite her. It's never been an issue.

Now, I do have a friend who is most definitely vegan. Has been since I've known her and she doesn't go off that restriction that I know of. So for her, I make sure to have at least a couple of vegan things or even make everything vegan with the non-vegan stuff on the side. Like vegetarian chili with cheese on the side or salad with chopped egg & feta on the side, for example.

I don't mind going the extra mile for someone if it's called for. But if someone doesn't follow their chosen restriction strictly or consistently, why should I worry over it?

So yeah, aside from giving her a heads up if (big if) you really want to, I wouldn't give it another thought.

LemonZen

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Re: Another guest with dietary restrictions question
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2014, 04:56:52 PM »
Come to think of it, I have a friend who is something like this. Only with her it's gluten-free. A few years ago she apparently was told by a doctor or somehow otherwise decided to avoid gluten. So she'll go out of her way to eat gluten free stuff... sometimes. Then other times, she's eating whatever she wants.

I never thought much about it other than the fact that I did notice she eats gluten when she wants to. I had a party at my house a few months ago and I remember noting that she ate all the stuff with gluten in it without question.

Because of this, it really has never occurred to me to go out of my way to make sure I have gluten free stuff on hand when I invite her. It's never been an issue.

Now, I do have a friend who is most definitely vegan. Has been since I've known her and she doesn't go off that restriction that I know of. So for her, I make sure to have at least a couple of vegan things or even make everything vegan with the non-vegan stuff on the side. Like vegetarian chili with cheese on the side or salad with chopped egg & feta on the side, for example.

I don't mind going the extra mile for someone if it's called for. But if someone doesn't follow their chosen restriction strictly or consistently, why should I worry over it?

So yeah, aside from giving her a heads up if (big if) you really want to, I wouldn't give it another thought.

This is really how I feel right now too. It does feel silly to prepare something extra, only to have her dig in to the non-vegan brownies with everyone else. But then on the weeks she turns down whatever snack has been prepared I feel bad that there is nothing there. It really seems to be an out of sight out of mind thing, she won't spread butter on a slice of bread, but she'll eat that same slice of bread with butter baked into it.

As for all the suggestions of hummus, it seems like that's the go-to dish for everyone who does want to give her a vegan option. I like hummus and all but I'd be fine to not see it again for a few months :P

Edited to add that I really would go out of my way for her if she truly was vegan and would not eat the other options. I have done that for other friends with other restrictions and would do it for her too. It's the not knowing and not wanting to make 2 separate options if there's no need that is the challenge.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2014, 04:59:00 PM by LemonZen »

lowspark

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Re: Another guest with dietary restrictions question
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2014, 05:02:03 PM »
When you say, "she turns down whatever snack has been prepared", I wonder, are you actively encouraging her to take whatever is offered? Are you saying, Sally, have some cake to which she answers, no thanks, it's got eggs in it.

If you are, I would stop. Just let her take what she wants and leave what she wants and don't mention any of it.

If she's saying something anyway, like, Oh, I would love to eat the cake but it's got eggs in it so no dessert for me, well I'd see that as sort of passsive aggressive, only because her food choices are so unpredictable, so I'd ignore it. Or maybe shrug and say, Oh well!

By the way, another go-to vegan dip is guacamole. My recipe: mashed avocados, lemon or lime juice, salt and your favorite jarred salsa. Mix and serve. E-Z and naturally vegan.