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Having Different Dietary Needs

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Recently, on the Vegetarian/Vegan SparkTeam
, someone asked about how to reserve certain dishes for veg*ns (common term used to mean both vegetarian and vegan - since they both start with 'veg' and end with an 'n') so that the typical, meat-eaters, don't use the dishes as their side dishes. It brought up a lot of people talking about what they do at potlucks/event or what they expect others to do. I thought it was very good topic and it really brought up some good issues for discussion.

I personally am not a strict vegan but I am a strict vegetarian (who eats vegan at home) so potlucks and events I am usually okay. There seems to always be *something* I can eat - even if it's just a roll or a salad... even just grabbing the toppings to burgers (tomatoes, lettuce, onion). But being a vegan (or having allergies/intolerance) is much more difficult.

I was talking with my mom and husband about this since we recently went to my son's kindergarden potluck. I was in charge or dessert and made three different organic treats (one gluten-free, one vegan, and one low calorie - all were nut free, just incase). I considered making little signs with ingredients on them but my mom told me not to bother since, "If you really had an issue, you wouldn't go or you would bring your own food." She's right, of course, but why does it have to be this way?

Further, society seems much more willing to cater towards religious and allergy restrictions. Perhaps, rather than stating that we are veg*n (which is generally accepted as *choice*), we should say that we are allergic to animal products. I know I am hands-down intolerant to dairy (though I still eat it when the moods strikes) and I'd be willing to guess that I am also intolerant to meat, especially beef, as that is typical for anyone who refrains from animal proteins for an extended period of time.

Yes, organizing events is more difficult when you are catering towards other people's certain dietary needs but wouldn't we want that for ourselves - and our children/families/friends - if the roles were reversed? So, what would the solution be? Should invitations all have a inclusion: "Please RSVP and note any dietary requirements by Oct 12th." Or, in situations where a varied menu cannot be bothered with, be up front right away about what will be served and allow an open door for others to bring a dish that they can enjoy.

I read an article once about being a veg*n and what to do if you are invited to a dinner party. It recommended that the veg*n call the host/ess, inquire about what will be served and offer to bring a side dish that can be shared but could also serve as their dinner. Sure, this is a great option but should we feel obligated to cook for ourselves at someone else's dinner party?

Yeah, I generally bring my own meals to my parents/inlaws house when we;re invited for dinner. I don't want them to worry about me or what I might or might not be eating today - plus, they are family. However, if it's known that I am veg*n and am invited to a home dinner elsewhere, I sort of expect that there is at least something substantial for me to eat. Is that rude?

Sorry, I'm going off a little bit here. Perhaps I am not only looking at how others handle my eating but how I handle others eating as well. Have I ever bothered to ask others what they require? Have I shied away from inviting people to dinner who I know are more difficult to cook for?

I guess what I'm getting at is that a special plate shouldn't have to be reserved, you shouldn't have to go without and you shouldn't have to eat first - I wish society was just more willing to help make it work for everyone.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I love that: "Since I'm vegetarian, I'm making that choice to be difficult." That is exactly how society treats us, isn't it? My mom does, that's for sure!
    2682 days ago
    This is a really good post. As of October, I've become almost completely vegetarian (for health purposes) and I'm finding that a lot of people are almost intolerant to our needs. It's almost like since I'm vegetarian, I'm making that choice to be difficult, and shouldn't be accounted for. When going out, I'm expected to pick around meat or have salad. I think it's just becoming very clear how much meat dominates and how little protein-filled non-meat meals there are out there!
    I want something vegetarian and dinner parties, restaurants, everywhere!

    2686 days ago
    Love this blog. Everytime I go out to dinner with a friend, she'll say something like, "Are you going to eat real food tonight?" It's frustrating!
    2691 days ago
    After having to eat very restricted for weeks due to an allergy, I have a new respect for dietary choices. Well said!
    2691 days ago
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