Etiquette goes both ways. A gracious host(ess) asks if anyone has any dietary restrictions, and if so, makes something that the person with restrictions can enjoy. That doesn't mean s/he doesn't cook meat if there's a vegetarian in the house; it just means that s/he makes meat-free side dishes. If s/he can think of something high in vegetarian protein, that's even more gracious.
A gracious guest makes her dietary needs known if asked, and then says nothing more about the food. Once she knows you're vegetarian, comments are closed. You don't have to eat meat to be polite, as long as you don't say, "Eww, I can't eat that; it's got meat in it!" You just pass on it and compliment the dishes that you do eat.
I said etiquette goes two ways, but there's actually a third. If this is your S.O.'s mother, he also has a responsibility. If mom hasn't asked, HE should find a quiet moment when he's alone with her and say, "Hey, Mom, I just realized I forgot to tell you that Sally is vegetarian. Can you make a little extra [whatever side dish she makes that you like]? She really loves your [whatever it is.]" That way he's absorbing the blame for not telling her, and at the same time reassuring her that she doesn't have to leave out the meat or make a bunch of special, "weird" stuff for you.
If you really don't mind eating meat, then biting the bullet is the easy thing to do, BUT you don't have to eat whatever you're given to be gracious. There are many gracious ways to say "No, thank you."
Fitness Minutes: (208)
9/15/11 7:22 P
Thank you everyone for your advice!
I do buy a lot of groceries, and a lot of them are met with 'what is that?' 'well I've never heard of that' and 'that's just weird' or 'i hate beans'. Well what can ya do. I'm a Seattle transplant living in Montana. I'm not super strict about not eating meat, so I think I'll just be gracious and eat what's in front of me. I think I'll be fine if I limit meat consumption to once a week or so.
9/15/11 7:21 P
Tricky one here. MiL can be purposely doing it as a sign she still has control. I want to think she'd provide another side. Aren't people great at "helping" as long as they hold the riens?
I apologize if I am way off base here. Can you tell this hit a nerve? ha ha.
My suggestion would be to to have a protien packed side or special dessert on the nights she makes the main meal. That way you are both contributing. I can almost laugh thinking of her turning it down! So, and I don't know the correct spelling, but too-che!
I wish I was wise enough back in the days to ask and have the nerve to step up.
Fitness Minutes: (7,279)
9/15/11 5:52 P
It really isn't the easiest way to get protein. Not at all. It's the easiest way to get a ton of fat and cholesterol in your diet though.
Fitness Minutes: (7,279)
9/15/11 5:50 P
It's really frustrating to be in this situation. I 100% know how you feel! I am in a very similar situation, but we buy most of our groceries. The thing is, his mom ALWAYS pushes meat on us! She also seems to think that chicken stock is not the same thing as meat and you can just pick pepperoni off of pizza. Blegh, no!
In my opinion your vegetarian or veganism choice is almost like a religion. You need to tell her that this is your lifestyle choice for your health, and there is nothing she can do to change that. I'm pretty sure she won't kick you out for that (unless she's crazy). You could also try the sly move of just not getting meat at dinner. Don't say anything about it, just choose the veggie/bread options.
Since you are living in her house you owe her the curtsey of being honest and just saying to decided not to eat meat anymore.
If she only cooks once a week and the meat is prepared in a healthy manner then I'd suggest just eating it unless you are avoiding meat due to sudden ethical concerns.
Whatever you do, do not take advice from anyone that said to have an article about how meat is bad ready to show her. I know people who are preachy about their veganism/vegetarianism and it is annoying; even to other vegetarians/vegans. Not to mention that it's not true that all meat is bad for health.
Fitness Minutes: (24,670)
2,640 9/15/11 4:56 P
I've been in a similar situation (living for a short time with my dad and step-mom), and I found that being 100% open and honest was the best approach. She was more offended when she thought I just didn't like her cooking. She was relieved when I told her I was watching what I was eating and her casserole/lasagne/meatloaf wasn't on my plan.
In a way she is right though. Meat is the easiest way to get your protein. Make sure you're getting it somewhere (nuts, soy, dairy) and you'll be able to defend the validity of your diet plan. Good luck.
Just to add: By "meat" I'm assuming you mean also chicken, pork, fish. I also don't prefer red meat, and only eat it once in a blue moon.
Edited by: KENDILYNN at: 9/16/2011 (11:08)
9/15/11 4:50 P
I totally agree with DJBARTCH have valuable information on hand. However, I would discuss it with her even if she only cooks once a week. It will prevent her from trying to figure things out. For example, today she bakes chicken (it's healthy, right?) and you don't eat. Next week she grills veal chops and you don't eat...Telling her will save her from trying to figure things out.
How often does she cook? If she cooks a lot, then you might just need to come out and tell her that you've cut back your meat consumption. Maybe have an article ready that helps explain what you are doing and why - that way it's not just coming from you.
If she doesn't cook very often, I'd just say something like "Meat doesn't sit well with me right now." or "I'm feeling really full and just want to eat the veggies tonight."
Be gracious and thankful. If she fixes your plate with meat on it, just indiscreetly scrap it onto your fiance's plate. :)
Fitness Minutes: (208)
9/15/11 3:41 P
I'm not sure if this is the right board to post to, but I had a question about etiquette when others are cooking for you. I am trying to eat a mostly plant-based diet, and so far, so good. Problem is, my fiance and I live with his mother currently. She loves salads/veggies, and likes everything that I prepare. However, when she is cooking, what is polite way to say that you don't want to partake in the meat portion of the dinner that she has prepared? I'm sure she's noticed that I don't really eat meat anymore, but I haven't exactly come out and said it. We live in Montana, and she is a HUGE believer that you MUST eat meat to get a good amount of protein. I don't want to offend her, and I think that she would definitely take offense at not eating everything she prepares.
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