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Old 05-21-2012, 08:40 PM   #1  
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I was wondering how do you tell people you are vegetarian/vegan/don't eat certain types of meat without making other people feel like they have to go out of their way to make special meals for you? I'm talking about if you were going to someone's house to eat... Like a friend says they like to put bacon and steak in their chili, so no way I'd feel ok eating that but I don't want them to go out of their way to make a vegetarian or turkey chili that they might not even like "just for me"... and I guess this could happen even if you do eat meat but have to face a not-so diet friendly meal(but you could always control the portion then I suppose). I think part of me is shy or feels guilty saying I don't want to eat something So what do you do when faced with eating something you don't want to eat?
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Old 05-21-2012, 09:19 PM   #2  
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I'm not vegetarian, but have had experience with people feeling they need to make special accomodations for me, because I no longer eat wheat, because I have an allergy or sensitivity to wheat or gluten. I don't have celiac disease so my reaction to wheat is relatively benign (a day or two of worsened arthritis symptoms, a red itchy rash and some swelling on my hands and face, and if I eat quite a bit or eat several days in a row the rash will worsen and result in peeling, flaking skin sort of like a sunburn, and eventually an icky impetigo like rash. I haven't had the impetigo-like rash in a couple years, because I never let myself eat enough wheat to get to that stage).

Still, it's easier to say "just make whatever, and I'll find something to eat," and yet some people refuse to listen and want to show off their culinary skills and hospitality. Sadly, the effort is often wasted, because if people aren't very good at creative cooking, the results can be disastrous.

My hubby's stepmother isn't a very good cook, and was always making "special" diet and sugar free dishes for my husband and I (because hubby is diabetic, I'm borderline diabetic, and we both are working at weight loss). We kept trying to encourage her to make her "standards" and letting us decide portion size... and even that didn't work. She still would make special dishes that were essentially just for us, and just horrendous.

It got much, much worse after I realized that it was wheat causing my skin issues, because I needed to know what was in everything she made, so I had to tell her about the wheat allergy. I told her that traces of wheat didn't seem to be a big deal, so I just had to avoid breads, pastries, and breaded items. Easy enough for me, but she just will not let it be. At least now she's on the gluten-free diet as well (her chiropractor recommended it - some of her advice has been pretty wacky, so I'm not sure she really is gluten-intolerant, but at least I don't have to feel she's making stuff just for me).

We visited on Easter and she made a gluten-free pumpkin pie she wanted me to have. I've been married to hubby for going on ten years, and we've lived in the same town with this woman for eight of them. I've told her at least 15 or 20 times that I don't like pumpkin pie, and really don't care for anything heavier than fruit or jello salad for dessert, and yet she's been trying to make special desserts for me, every time. It's like she wants to "convert" me to dessert-eating (which lousy gluten-free pumpkin pie is not going to do).

She is who she is, and I can't make her "get it." I have stopped eating things "just to be polite," though. I thank her for the effort, but I'm firm about not eating things just to please her.

I'm not saying that it's never ok to let friends make special meals for you. My husband and I have vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian friends, and my husband loves to show off his cooking skills (For a dedicated carnivore, the man makes kick-*** veg*n food).

We've had several entirely veg*n dinner parties just because hubby wanted to show off his skills to the veg*n and meat-eating friends. He likes to prove that a good cook can make wonderful meals with (or without) almost any specific ingredient.

The meat-eaters are astonished that veg*n food can taste wonderful and satisfying, and the veg*ns usually are astonished that hubby is not and never has been veg*n yet makes amazing veg*n food (but he was also trained in a four star chinese restaurant that routinely served vegan banquets for budhis relatives of the owner, including half a dozen budhist priests).

As to how to say you don't want to eat something, there are a lot of ways you can go about it (and I've used different techniques with different people).

If the food is served family style, if I don't say anything and just pass the dishes I don't want, most people don't even notice (unless I take only one item or if the item I passed over is the main course).

Usually a generic "I'm watching what I'm eating," gets a better response than "I can't eat...." When you say "I can't eat x" or "I don't eat x" then people feel the need to either justify eating x, or they want to try to make you eat something else. However, if you say "I'm watching what I eat, and I took what looked the most delicious to me," that satisfies most people. But when you say "I can't" or "I don't" then they want to either persuade you to eat it, or make a substitution for you (which often tastes horrible because they don't know how to make that kind of food).

In the case of step-mother-in-law, I've tried a variety of tactics and almost none of them have worked very well. I even tried putting a little bit of everything on my plate, and making it look like I had tasted everything (it's amazing how big a rounded tablespoon can look when you put it on your plate, and how small it can look after you've spread it around a bit with your fork. Voila looks like you ate it, when you really just smeared it across your plate).

Eventually I had to get firm and say "Don't feel the need to make anything special for me, most of what you make I can eat and will enjoy, but please don't take offense if I choose not to eat something."

In the end, you can't control what other people do, so you decide what you're going to do, and how you're going to address it (or not) and let other people "deal" in whatever way they're most comfortable.
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Old 05-22-2012, 09:25 AM   #3  
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We eat at my in-laws at least once a week, sometimes more. I'm the only vegetarian. I just skip the meat part and eat the salad, roll, veggie, and desert (need to work on cutting out the desert lol). On the nights we go over there for pizza I just make sure to order myself something else, like a veggie sub.

Now for the times we go to someone's house that I don't know what will be served, I always eat beforehand. I also always offer to bring a side (veggies and dip). That way I'm not scrambling to find something that I can eat. It's always so chaotic with all the kids that no one really notices that my plate just has veggies and dip on it, as opposed to a full meal. And usually there will be a few non-meat sides, like fruit salad or something.

I'm a pretty low key vegetarian-my friends and family know I am but I never bring it up. I've never had anyone offer to prepare me a vegetarian option and I've never asked. The only awkward moment I've ever had as a vegetarian was when a group my husband is a member of went to a steak house for a Christmas party. Everything had meat in it, even the side salad! I ended up eating bread, mac and cheese, which was listed as a side, and asparagus, another side. Not the best meal, but it was quite the experience

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Old 05-29-2012, 01:31 PM   #4  
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I actually converted both my dad and sister to vegetarianism, so it really isn't an issue at family gatherings.

And I do not ask people to make special meals for me. I either eat beforehand or brings something to share with everyone. And usually people offer to make something special or leave something out. And I leave it up to them.
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Old 05-29-2012, 02:53 PM   #5  
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I have a dairy allergy and also try to follow an anti-inflammatory diet for health reasons. I don't ask people to make special meals for me, although my mother-in-law tries because she knows I eat differently than most. However I can go off my normal diet temporarily without too many side effects and so that is what I typically do for family get togethers. I do often eat separately from my DH, however, as he likes his cheese-laden meals and I can't have dairy more than once in a blue moon or I have health issues.
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Old 05-30-2012, 02:53 PM   #6  
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I have people offer to cook for me and my husband (both vegetarians) all of the time but, we decline more often than not.. It makes social situations awkward I must say.. or I'll even bring my own food sometimes.
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Old 05-30-2012, 06:11 PM   #7  
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It's my own personal feeling that there is too much of the "all or nothing" mentality with vegetarianism. I've gone vegetarian, vegan, and everything else under the sun mostly just out of curiosity. If it is vegetarianism for moral reasons and not necessarily an issue of being unable to digest meat, it should be okay to take one or two meals off for social reasons. Doesn't hinder the cause at all, and it from what I've experienced it helps others to be more open to the idea of eating a vegetarian or vegan meal you prepare in the future
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Old 05-30-2012, 06:34 PM   #8  
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Originally Posted by stunzorz View Post
If it is vegetarianism for moral reasons and not necessarily an issue of being unable to digest meat, it should be okay to take one or two meals off for social reasons. Doesn't hinder the cause at all, and it from what I've experienced it helps others to be more open to the idea of eating a vegetarian or vegan meal you prepare in the future
I'd definitely have to disagree with you. A lot. And I don't know a single vegetarian that would agree with you. Especially if you are a vegetarian for moral reasons. I'd kind of get it if you were a vegetarian for health reasons only. i.e. you perform better as an athlete while on a vegan diet. Okay, great, have some dead pig or cow every now and then. But morally? That makes no sense. I understand that animals were necessary to eat at different points in history. But we don't need to eat them now, they don't need to be tortured and killed for our momentary pleasure, so "taking one or two meals off for social reasons" is definitely out of the question.

I love eating as a vegetarian in different social settings. It opens up the conversation about why I am a vegetarian, how I've dealt with the perceived difficulties, and how it has been the best thing I have ever done for myself. I'm not the type that is pushy, I just answer questions very honestly. Plus, everyone knows that I'm a great cook, so they welcome me bringing my dishes to social events. This upcoming weekend I am attending a baby shower and a bridal shower. And I was asked to bring a dish for both occasions. My vegan sushi is always a hit. And if someone doesn't want to try one of my dishes, I could care less.

Next you'll be suggesting that it is okay to murder someone, because "it should be okay to take one or two days off" (from being a moral person) "for social reasons."

Last edited by ade903; 05-30-2012 at 06:35 PM.
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Old 05-30-2012, 06:56 PM   #9  
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I'd definitely have to disagree with you. A lot. And I don't know a single vegetarian that would agree with you. Especially if you are a vegetarian for moral reasons. I'd kind of get it if you were a vegetarian for health reasons only. i.e. you perform better as an athlete while on a vegan diet. Okay, great, have some dead pig or cow every now and then. But morally? That makes no sense. I understand that animals were necessary to eat at different points in history. But we don't need to eat them now, they don't need to be tortured and killed for our momentary pleasure, so "taking one or two meals off for social reasons" is definitely out of the question.

I love eating as a vegetarian in different social settings. It opens up the conversation about why I am a vegetarian, how I've dealt with the perceived difficulties, and how it has been the best thing I have ever done for myself. I'm not the type that is pushy, I just answer questions very honestly. Plus, everyone knows that I'm a great cook, so they welcome me bringing my dishes to social events. This upcoming weekend I am attending a baby shower and a bridal shower. And I was asked to bring a dish for both occasions. My vegan sushi is always a hit. And if someone doesn't want to try one of my dishes, I could care less.

Next you'll be suggesting that it is okay to murder someone, because "it should be okay to take one or two days off" (from being a moral person) "for social reasons."
You know, that final comment was the worst thing I've ever read by a member here at 3FC. Frankly I think it was totally out of line and if you can't discuss a dietary choice with basic respect then you probably should opt out of discussions of that nature. 3FC is a place for us to come and support each other.
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Old 05-30-2012, 07:35 PM   #10  
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You know, that final comment was the worst thing I've ever read by a member here at 3FC. Frankly I think it was totally out of line and if you can't discuss a dietary choice with basic respect then you probably should opt out of discussions of that nature. 3FC is a place for us to come and support each other.
What I find out of line is that someone who isn't a vegetarian comes to the vegetarian specific area, suggesting that my lifestyle is too "all or nothing". The OP wasn't asking if we take time off in social situations. She was asking how we handle them. Not if we throw them out the window completely. Morally, how can it be okay to take breaks or time off from being moral because it is easier to do so? You know, sometimes I feel like Christians are too all or nothing. That whole no sex before marriage thing? Yeah, go ahead and give in, but just here and there, and only in certain social situations. Assume things about my morals, and I'll assume things about yours.
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:03 PM   #11  
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It *is* a vegetarian area of the forum - that said let's agree to disagree.
I am vegan for moral reasons and would NEVER take a day off for social reasons. I don't feel the comment was out of line, because to me an animal life has the same value as a human life. But that`s me.

Back to OP, I feel awkward all the time because people feel the need to go out of their way for me and I REALLY don't want them to. And some people just don't get it. My friend is having a dinner party this week and I was having to tell her I recently went from being just vegetarian to vegan (I wanted to ask her if she minded me bringing a dish. Some people love it and some people get offended) - then she suggested maybe I would like pasta with a seafood medley?

I try to make people understand that I'm there for the social aspect and I can eat before or after or pick at a few veggies or fruit for the time being.
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:04 PM   #12  
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What I find out of line is that someone who isn't a vegetarian comes to the vegetarian specific area, suggesting that my lifestyle is too "all or nothing". The OP wasn't asking if we take time off in social situations. She was asking how we handle them. Not if we throw them out the window completely. Morally, how can it be okay to take breaks or time off from being moral because it is easier to do so? You know, sometimes I feel like Christians are too all or nothing. That whole no sex before marriage thing? Yeah, go ahead and give in, but just here and there, and only in certain social situations. Assume things about my morals, and I'll assume things about yours.
Well, your post is sort of all over the place but here goes-

One- the OP asked if we have other people make special meals for us. That was the original topic. It wasn't about the moral relevancy of eating meat vs. not eating meat. That wasn't in the post or the thread.

Two- whether you agree or disagree, many of us choose vegetarian or vegan lifestyles for health reasons not because we find it morally wrong to eat meat. This subsection (I believe) caters to both crowds, so passing moral judgments on people and comparing them to murderers if they adopt a "flexitarian" diet and eat vegan most of the time while occasionally eating meat isn't cool, in my opinion.

Three- I'm not going to try and address Christianity or premarital sex because honestly I don't even see where that is relevant to this discussion or why you brought it up.

Four- I never assumed anything about your morals. You're the only person here trying to foist your morals onto other people. I think there is always room for civil discussion about any number of topics and would never have objected to you bringing up your reasons for choosing veganism for yourself. What I commented on and objected to was the fact that you flat out insulted the other person and compared flexing a vegan diet to occasionally include meat to murder. Even if that's your personal belief, it doesn't belong here at 3FC. This is a place where we respect other people and accept our differences and support each other.
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:21 PM   #13  
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Well, your post is sort of all over the place but here goes-

One- the OP asked if we have other people make special meals for us. That was the original topic. It wasn't about the moral relevancy of eating meat vs. not eating meat. That wasn't in the post or the thread.

Two- whether you agree or disagree, many of us choose vegetarian or vegan lifestyles for health reasons not because we find it morally wrong to eat meat. This subsection (I believe) caters to both crowds, so passing moral judgments on people and comparing them to murderers if they adopt a "flexitarian" diet and eat vegan most of the time while occasionally eating meat isn't cool, in my opinion.

Three- I'm not going to try and address Christianity or premarital sex because honestly I don't even see where that is relevant to this discussion or why you brought it up.

Four- I never assumed anything about your morals. You're the only person here trying to foist your morals onto other people. I think there is always room for civil discussion about any number of topics and would never have objected to you bringing up your reasons for choosing veganism for yourself. What I commented on and objected to was the fact that you flat out insulted the other person and compared flexing a vegan diet to occasionally include meat to murder. Even if that's your personal belief, it doesn't belong here at 3FC. This is a place where we respect other people and accept our differences and support each other.
You do realize that my response was not to the original poster, yes? I was very supportive to the OP. My post about morals was to the person that said if you are a vegetarian for moral reasons, it is okay to take time off in social situations. I was pointing out how off that thinking was and how it didn't make any sense.

And it was directed to stunzorz (hence the quotes). My point was that someone who is not a vegetarian can't rightly say "If it is vegetarianism for moral reasons and not necessarily an issue of being unable to digest meat, it should be okay to take one or two meals off for social reasons." Both the murdering example and the Christian example were there to point out that morally, it wouldn't be okay to take time off in those situations, so for me (and moral vegetarians -- I get that a lot of people are vegetarians for health reasons, it should have been obvious that I was not referring to them), morally, it isn't okay to do so with veg*nism. My point, again, is that any vegetarian for moral reasons would not take time off, and for someone that isn't a vegetarian to say moral vegetarians should take time off is just ridiculous. You don't pick and choose when your morals fit and when they don't.
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:23 PM   #14  
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I am vegan for moral reasons and would NEVER take a day off for social reasons. I don't feel the comment was out of line, because to me an animal life has the same value as a human life. But that`s me.
Exactly my point. Thank you.
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Old 05-31-2012, 08:04 AM   #15  
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Honestly, that was a really unnecessary amount of anger for something that wasn't even intended to offend anyone here! I have been a vegetarian, and a vegan, and my choice to no longer pursue those lifestyles was for health reasons of my own, although I do eat a diet heavy in vegetarian options with some meat. I did it for MORAL reasons too, but as a human being it is my own PERSONAL BELIEF (strongly stressed here) that animal life is not equivalent to human life, and I'm not going to insinuate that meat eaters can be likened to murderers. I have every right to input into a conversation on this forum.

Regardless of what you say, I stand completely by my statement. Life is about doing everything you can to be a good person, and making choices on a daily basis. No, eating a meal with bacon sprinkled on it does not make you a MURDERER. And no, I'm not the only person who has been vegetarian and would agree with that statement (maybe I'm just lucky to have open minded friends who share my belief system). You're welcome to disagree, but you don't need to take me to the stockades for having that opinion, especially since I'm someone who actually supports your cause. It's just one option I suggested, and you're more than welcome to not take it.

Edit: Also, this is my last statement on this topic, since it has pretty much derailed the OPs thread.

Last edited by stunzorz; 05-31-2012 at 08:06 AM.
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