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Member Comments for the Article:
How to Feed a Vegetarian
Meeting the Needs of Meatless Eaters
10/2/2013 8:32:35 AM
One thing that really struck me about the comments is how many people make the automatic assumption that if you say you're vegetarian then it must be a choice and therefore it's your personal choice that is potentially inconveniencing them. Some have pointed out that if it's an allergy then of course you should accommodate it, implying that other health-related reasons for being vegetarian aren't worthy.
While I am currently vegetarian for both health and other reasons, when I first became veg it was mostly because meat made me feel physically ill. Do I have an allergy? Would eating a bit of meat or something that "accidentally" contained meat products put me into an allergic reaction? No. Does that mean that my "vegetarian for health reasons" was a "personal choice"? Only in a way that would be similar to a migraine sufferer religiously avoiding caffeine to avoid the migraine it might cause would be considered a personal choice.
So, I guess my point is that people need to stop making the assumption that being vegetarian is a personal choice and as such those who are need to be the ones who need to somehow not inconvenience you. And even if it is a choice, most of the comments from the veggies here (myself included) show that we're actually really used to trying hard not to inconvenience or bother our hosts with our "special requirements". Lighten up everyone. If you like someone enough to invite them over then why wouldn't you want them to enjoy the meal too? (Though I'm 100% behind the comment that if they don't tell you in advance OR if they spring it on you and expect accommodation an hour before then they're out of luck).
10/2/2013 3:47:28 AM
Good tip about making/ bringing enough for the vegetarian AND others - and for the veg to have seconds. Often there is one dish suitable for vegetarians, but they're not the only one who eats it, so if you're not served first you might not get much or by the time everyone takes some there isn't enough for seconds. I always have to remind people that it's not just the vegetarians who eat the non-meat part of the meal.
When I have company, I want to enjoy their company and the meal. As a result, I cook a roast with carrots and potatoes, etc. cooked around the roast. Then half-an-hour before dinner it comes out of the oven. Then it is carved at the table and I am away from my guests for no more than 10 minutes and can get all ready between getting home from work and serving. You can't do that with vegetables.
And I loath vegetables!
If I must eat with a vegetarian, I will do it in a restaurant or they can bring their own food. I am not into being the kitchen wench to satisfy a variety of diets.
Two of my own children went vegetarian for awhile, they cooked for themselves. And I have no problem with someone else cooking in my kitchen: although it would certainly interfere with the reason they were there in the first place . . . to spend time chatting, eating and enjoying their company.
After browsing some of the other comments, I'll also add: it is *always* easier to remove an ingredient from a meal than to try to add one in. It's easier to accommodate someone who doesn't want everything you serve, than expect someone to serve something they weren't originally making.
On top of that, some more creative vegetarian meal ideas in this article would have been nice. Vegetable stir-fry over rice or rice-noddles. Even omnivores won't notice the lack of meat if you use the rice spices, and mushrooms are great for that heartier bite.
Vegetable soups are a good starter in place of cold salad.
Roasted vegetables of potato, carrots, onions, garlic, and/or squash is a fabulous dish. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle generously with herbs.
Then there's just your basic vegetables: mashed or baked potatoes, steamed or boiled veggies (think simple: peas, carrots, broccoli, spinach, whatever!), baked squash.
I do think pasta is one of the best, and the article did mention both pasta itself and pasta sauce separated between meat and no meat. That's probably the easiest and the least "obvious" way to accommodate a vegetarian dish.
Just recently Burger King is offering "Veggie Burgers".... new on the menu!
11/8/2012 10:14:41 PM
I'm a vegan (2 years, vegetarian 6 years before that) and I'm not going to read the comments here because I dont care to be insulted by strangers on the internet making assumptions about my dietary choices. Anywho I just have to say that I'd disagree with the salad tip because I have to say that my biggest pet peeve is people assuming that because Im a vegan I love salad. Just remember that vegans are people too. We have favorite foods and preferences and we're more than happy to settle for the occasional salad when nothing else is available. Always feel free to ask questions about preferences. I usually just bring my own food with me to parties A recent bbq I went to I was the only non-meat eater. I brought myself a veggie burger (since everyone else would have their own burgers) and I brought homemade cupcakes so when it came time for dessert i wouldnt be left out. Everyone loved my cupcakes and couldnt beleive they didnt have egg or dairy.
Please don't just serve cheese either. I'm a vegetarian and I've been served several meals where the meat is replaced with cheese (think cheese wellington...gross). I like cheese and all, but not that much! I am always happy with salads and sides, no need to cook something extra in my opinion. If I know there won't be a ton of options I usually don't go to someone's house super hungry.
I've been a vegetarian due to a developed meat allergy since 2009. I have a couple of things to say here. First, I can't only speak for myself but I actually will tell people not to accommodate me food wise when I come visit. Well my sister-in-law took that as a challenge and started learning how to cook vegetarian food and my brother learned too. Now I can proudly say that my big brother makes the best portabello burger on the planet! LOL The point is that I never expect anyone to accommodate and will go out of my way to make certain that my host or hostess doesn't feel awkward or uncomfortable. Honestly, I have always worried that if I should up with a dish that my host or hostess would feel insulted so I haven't. But from now on I will offer to do so! Great idea!
I also wanted to say one thing about fixing a meal for a vegetarian. Not all of us are fans of salads simply because we are vegetarian. Over these last few years I have come to dread the word "salad". Going out to eat is the worst sometimes because I've had most waitstaff persons roll there eyes, sigh and say "Well we can always make you a salad and just take the meat off". Or when I do go to someone's house for a meal they say "Well a salad would be fine with you then huh?". To be honest, I don't like cold salads for the most part. I also have come to find it almost (not quite but almost) insulting to have people assume that just because I don't eat meat all I eat is salads. I usually keep my cool, smile, and explain that there are far more options than a salad that is typically drenched in some high calorie dressings. I know this makes me sound like a ...well an unkind person. I'm not. But just because someone isn't a vegetarian doesn't mean I'm going to assume they would love to have shark steak cooked on the grill when they come to my house for dinner. The stereotype attached to vegetarians is just narrow-minded. Not to mention boring.
I am grateful to those of my friends who get excited about learning a new recipe that's vegetarian and consider myself honored when they say "You know I say I am doing this for you but honestly I'm loving this!" or " Thank you for introducing me to new stuff!" or giving me credit for them learning about something they've always wanted learn about but never took the time to until now. It's not the kind words that I love, it's the excitement I see in them and the glow they get when trying new things. It's really pretty amazing. Even though I'm not a vegetarian by choice, and even though I still have times I really miss having a good steak, I am grateful I developed this allergy. It's opened my world up to so much! Not just a change in the foods I eat but also what I see in others reactions toward me whether positive or negative. It's been a fascinating learning experience and I'm thankful for it.
Well I'm glad to see that Spark is spreading how to deal with a vegetarian guest gracefully, even if the comments show that it's not going to be taken into affect by most of the viewers. I can't believe the comments I'm seeing.. making your child eat meat even if they don't want to, just because you want it to come from a dead animal? Expecting a vegetarian to cook a meal that has meat is a little silly, I think. That's doing something they are against. You are not against eating vegetables, so you can handle our food just fine. I'm also sure you could bring your own meat filled dish to one of their dinner parties and eat away. I'm pollopescatarian, I eat chicken/turkey and fish. I don't eat any red meat or pork. It makes me literally ill. The smell of it cooking, the smell of it after... all I can smell is a dead animal. That's not a choice. I use to eat it all and it was fine, then one day my body just went "nope". But, I've been the all across the spectrum after it started, vegan and vegetarian. But that doesn't make me wrong, and it certainly doesn't make having me over as a guest impossible. I live in BBQ territory, Usually any one I get invited to there are no vegetarian options. I just don't eat, but I still have quite a great time talking with my neighbors or friends. My fiance' and our son both eat all meat, but neither like fish. We still eat together just fine as a family. Sometimes we have different entree's but we still eat together and enjoy each other's company. If trying to work with someone different than yourself becomes such a negative thing, then something tells me that most vegetarians/vegans wouldn't want to be at one of your dinner parties anyway. We're all different on this planet, and if we can't work together, with a bit of decorum when it comes to something as simple as food.. well that doesn't give me much hope for anything else.
I'm a flexi/pescatarian. Always have been, even as a child I wasn't too fond of the taste of meat but you could never keep me away from the seafood dishes.I was a strict vegan (including no honey) for almost a year in college, then ovo-lacto vegetarian for another two. Ended up with B vitamin deficiencies because the supplements didn't work and have come full circle since. Still don't really like the taste of meat but sometimes my body just tells me it NEEDS something like a steak now or it'll go on strike again, and I tend to listen.
Re: Invitations. If I know in advance that there's going to be vegan guests, I'll make sure they have a meal accommodating their preferences. Last-minute vegans are SOL, though- I always have at least one, more likely two ovo-lacto vegetarian friendly dishes on the menu but vegan takes a lot of effort in a friend-to-mostly-omnivores' kitchen and I need to plan to be able to make everything from scratch for them. I see it like having a recovering alcoholic as a guest- if I know beforehand I can substitute for the alcohol going into most sauces. If I don't, I cook the way I've learned from childhood and will hopefully have something for them.
I love cooking for my friends, but I need to know the meal will be tasty, and just slapping something together for the sake of it being in alignment with whatever philosophy isn't worth the effort to me.
Food allergies are an entirely different thing, though- I'll religiously accommodate honest, needs-an-epi-pen ones. Blood-type diet things... not so much. If someone comes to dinner and expects me to follow something as ridiculous as a warning that a combination of cucumbers and anchovies or whatever will cause them to gain weight... well, don't come to dinner is all I'll say on that. Funnily enough, all resistance disappears after a taste of the dish more often than not.
I agree with BARBARASCH when she mentions that vegans or vegetarians tend to impose their preferences and expect others to follow it, when if the we go to their house we don't get the same treatment. I believe that when it's something that can cause an allergic reaction, then it must be eliminated. Medical reasons should be attended to but not personal preferences. Because, when it comes to preferences, well, if I was going to accommodate all my friends preferences for dinner, I'd be cooking about 3 or 4 different meals! And I don't think TIMOTHYNOHE was wrong. If it's a last minute thing, then I'm sorry he'll have to settle with the food I've made. If I'm told in advance, then I'll cook a dish that everyone will eat. I refuse to have to spend more money just because of someone's choice.
I'm a vegetarian, and I've found that most people are accommodating when it comes to including something that I can eat. Biggest pet peeve though - when someone presents a dish with some meat in it, for example - a salad, and says to me, "there's not a lot of meat in here, you can pick around it." Noooo thank you. I went to a wedding a few months ago, and there was no vegetarian entree. I had a baked potato because that was the only vegetarian-friendly item. Most of the time I eat something beforehand because I never know how much I'll be able to eat.
Ninja- I am a flexitarian, and I guess it depends on the the person, but it isn't easy for me.... I wouldn't call myself NORMAL. I make a point to eat meat at max once a week. Often times I can go a month without eating meat. It is definitely a lifestyle change, and one that I feel much better on. I have turned down many delicious looking meat dishes for my new lifestyle, and it isn't easy to explain to people how I prefer not to eat meat, that I don't keep meat products in the house etc. I am flexitarian for the health and environmental benefits: why be so negative? If you are vegetarian/vegan, then you should be proud of flexitarians one step closer to the lifestyle you chose for whatever reasons, and if you are not but also don't keep an open mind to vegetarians of all types, then why are you reading this article?
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