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Going To A Vegetarian's House For Thanksgiving

We're going to an acquaintances house for Thanksgiving dinner. They have told us that they are (new) vegetarians, so they will not be cooking any turkey or meat products. But, they don't want us to feel uncomfortable, so they told us if we want turkey to feel free to cook it & bring it (which we will do). My husband & I are planning on cooking a turkey breast & gravy and bringing that (since there will be 2 other carnivores there).

Is this how it's usually done when you go to a vegetarian's house?

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  1. Sorry, but I think the proper and thoughtful thing to do would be to fix a turkey, etc for your guests and whatever the host enjoys, he fixes too. That would be the way to avoid the "uncomfortable" feeling if they really cared.

    1. Often, the people I know won't even suggest you bring your own meat dishes as they don't like the smell and don't want it in their house. If they are hosting, it's their rules, unfortunately. In my experience, they don't make the most generous hosts because they want everyone to conform to their way of eating, which for Thanksgiving, is not a sacrifice I want to make, though I certainly don't mind it on any other normal dinner night. I think it's a bit poor etiquette invite people to dinner and suggest they bring anything, whether it's meat or not, but I think they are trying to be nice by giving you the option of not missing out on the turkey.

      Personally, if I were you, this is not likely to be the thanksgiving you are used to traditionally, so I might just bring a vegetarian dish, which would please them to no end, and have a traditional thanksgiving on a smaller scale on the weekend following the actual holiday. If you bring a meat dish, you will be expected to have not only brought your own dish, which is rude, but to have brought enough to feed 4 people, given the other carnivores, which is really rude of them to expect.

      3 Replies
      1. re: rockandroller1

        This is not the type of traditional Thanksgiving dinner we are used to, but we are thrilled to have somewhere to go & they were nice enough to invite us. They told us that they don't want anyone else to feel like we have to conform to eating like they eat, ie. vegetarianism, so if we want turkey, that's fine with them. I asked if I could bring anything, as I always do when going to someone's house.

        1. re: ctflowers

          Is there something about this that was bothering *you* or were you just interested in generating some discussion? It sounds like you are comfortable with the situation, as is your host - that's all that matters.

        2. re: rockandroller1

          I'm just curious, you say "If they are hosting, it's their rules, unfortunately. In my experience, they don't make the most generous hosts because they want everyone to conform to their way of eating. . . ." Now, if you are hosting the dinner is it your rules? Or do you prepare only what your guests want to eat? If you are not vegetarian and are inviting non-meat eating vegetarians would you make meat because you like it? If so isn't that making people conform to what you like? What if even the smell of meat made them sick, would you still do it? Or would you not invite them? I would be interested in your responses .

          Also, I don't think it rude; if the OP didn't know these people well enough to know they are vegetarians, then I think it perfectly fine for the hosts to explain the situation. Much the same way when inviting people to our home for the first time I tell them we have a large dog and ask if that will be a problem.

          Lastly, what is the point of Thanksgiving? A bird or togetherness?

        3. Half of my (very large) family are veg, the other half not. One of the carniverous crew brings an already roasted turkey to the location (which is 95% of the time my parents' house, who are vegetarian). Pre-cooking it is convenient for everyone, since we all live fairly close by each other and it stays hot. The turkey comes right out of the oven and then rests for the ten minute or so drive.

          You'll probably be having a wonderful dinner, since the focus won't simply be the turkey. Think of all the excellent new sides you'll get to try!

          If you want to bring anything veg along, I have tons and tons of awesome recipes.

          1. That sounds like a great plan! Their is a wide scale of vegetarians. Some vegetarians are more comfortable with meat than others.

            I grew up around a lot of meat. (I used to watch my uncles cut up dear in my Grandparent's basement and most food in my family comes with meat in it.) I am very comfortable around meat, but would prefer not to have it prepared in my house. However, if people wanted to bring meat with them, I would be fine with it -- just take the leftovers home with you :)

            1 Reply
            1. re: adventuresinbaking

              Yes, vegetarians vary a lot in that respect. One I know won't let his spouse eat meat in the house (she is not a red-meat type but does enjoy a bit of chicken and fish). I think it is kind of them to let you bring a meat dish - I'd keep it small, as you are doing, not a "centrepiece" turkey, and take them a wonderful autumnal veg dish as well. A squash gratin?

            2. I understand that there is a wide range of vegetarians, among whom, some will not have any meat products in their home and some will "permit" it. Obviously, your friends are of the latter variety. Since your friends don't have a problem having meat in their home, they should be the ones providing meat. Telling you to provide the meat puts you in the position of either just bringing enough for yourself, which makes it wierd and uncomfortable for the other carnivores there, or providing meat for the other carnivores as well. Though now that I think about it, if you were bringing another course, it would not be for just you and your husband. I guess the bottom line for me is that I don't think it's being a good host to tell a guest I won't cook something, but if my guest wants it, s/he should bring that item.

              When my brother-in-law's sister, a vegetarian who eats dairy, joins us for a meal, we always make sure that there are choices available for her. And when it's a barbecue, for example, we don't tell her to bring her own vegetarian patties to grill. We make sure they are there and we cover part of the grill with foil and cook the burgers for her.

              As far as the "focus" of the dinner being the turkey, in a touch of irony, at least with my carniverous family, we always have turkey, but it's somehow always about the sides. And we try new ones all the time. Having a vegetarian dinner doesn't make the meal any more "wonderful," just because there won't be a turkey...

              9 Replies
              1. re: Shayna Madel

                I agree with this last paragraph. First and foremost, Thanksgiving is about friends and family - whoever you choose to spend the day with. Secondly, to me at least, it is all about the sides. I've been known to leave off the turkey to have enough room (on my plate and in my belly) for sweet potatoes, corn pudding, green beans, etc....

                I can't imagine someone feeling that their Thanksgiving experience is lacking simply because there isn't a turkey (or any meat, for that matter).

                1. re: cackalackie

                  This is exactly how I feel. First, of all, how many times a year do you roast a turkey? Certainly not for the flavor. How many restaurants offer roast turkey as a main course? Outside of diners? The sides are always the best part. I've been to vegetarian Thanksgivings before and it would absolutely never occur to me to bring meat. They were very dear friends, so it was all about the togetherness.

                2. re: Shayna Madel

                  Just because a vegetarian doesn't have a problem having meat in their home or isn't bothered by other people eating meat does not in any way obligate them to provide meat for a guest. If they are vegetarian for moral reasons they probably have a issues with purchasing meat (i.e. paying for something they believe is morally wrong) as well as preparing meat. If as a guest you think a vegetarian host is obligated to provide you with meat then you probably shouldn't accept an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner hosted by a vegetarian.

                  I think in the OP's case the host is clearly trying to make all of the guests comfortable and the offer to bring their own turkey was in no way inappropriate.

                  1. re: mocooks

                    You are correct...the vegetarians who invited us for Thanksgiving dinner actually said they could buy & cook the turkey if we wanted turkey, but I was the one who felt funny having them cook turkey since they are vegetarians, and I told them so. So, then, they suggested that if I wanted to, I could bring the turkey. Hope this makes more sense now.

                    1. re: mocooks

                      We now have OP's clarification that her hosts were willing to cook the meat and that the OP's host was amenable to accomodating OP and OP was, in return, thinking of her host. Both admirable.

                      That said, I do not think that a host is necessarily obligated to provide meat. If someone is a vegetarian, I respect that. I just don't think it's right for a host to tell you to bring your own food (apparently not the case here)--that they won't cook , but they will put it on their table if you bring it, whether it's meat, or Kosher food or some other special diet related food. If they are a vegetarian for "moral" reasons, as you put it, then at least in my mind, they would not want meat in their home. It's dead flesh no matter who brings it to the table.

                    2. re: Shayna Madel

                      Shayna, I disagree. They may "permit" meat products in their home because they don't want to tell their guests what to eat, but that does not mean they might not have legitimate ethical objections to cooking meat or wanting meat residue on their own cookware. It is along the same lines as catering to friends and colleagues religious requirements in terms of food - of course people who keep very strictly Kosher or Halal might not want to eat at a table where there is food or drink counter to their beliefs, I have often been in a position of catering to the "leniently" Halal, Kosher etc, as I work on international conferences. It is a matter of respecting people's ethical beliefs while striving to enjoy fellowship.

                      1. re: lagatta

                        I am acutely aware that there are different "levels" of vegetarianism, Halal and keeping Kosher and I am also aware that there are varying ways to accomodate guests with varying dietary needs/restrictions. It would just never dawn on me to tell my guests to bring their own food. I don't think that comparing putting meat on a table to Kosher food is necessarily a valid comparison. As said in one of my other posts, dead flesh is dead flesh. Others may not agree with me, but Kosher is not necessarily Kosher. As you pointed out, some strictly observing Kashruth won't eat at a table where there is non-Kosher food on the table. And there are varying "levels" of Kashruth.

                        What it all boils down to is a host making guests feel welcome. We obviously differ as to how that can and should be accomplished. I make sure there is food for everyone with their differing dietary needs/observances. I check with my friends with the juvenile diabetic son to make sure what I am serving is okay, I make sure there is a main course for the vegetarian, I know that my siblings who have had catered affairs have made sure there is at least one vegetarian main course choice and that a Kosher meal (tightly wrapped, with eating implements enclosed) can be brought in for the observant. I do not tell my guests to bring their own food and I do not think it is right to do so (and I do not think it is right for the guest to expect meat, when they clearly can do without it for one meal, though Kosher is a whole other thing).

                        1. re: Shayna Madel

                          I think you may have misread the OP. The hosts didn't tell the guests to bring their own food. They stated that they would be providing a vegetarian meal, but wouldn't object if the guests brought turkey. The hosts have no obligation to prepare meat, and the guests have no obligation to bring it. But if the guests think that Thanksgiving dinner is incomplete without turkey, they're free to bring some.

                          Your analogy to kosher food is backward. Hosts have an obligation to provide a meal that their guests can eat. A host who invites observant Kashruth to dinner has an obligation to provide kosher food, and the OP will have an obligation to provide meat-free food to his/her vegetarian friends when reciprocating for the Thanksgiving dinner. But that doesn't mean that a host who keeps kosher must cook treif for guests without dietary restrictions, or that a vegetarian host must cook meat for omnivorous friends.

                          In this case, the Thanksgiving hosts are fulfilling their obligation by providing a full--albeit meat-free--dinner that the guests can eat. They are going above and beyond their duties by allowing guests to bring meat if they want it. It's like a host who keeps kosher telling guests that they can bring shrimp cocktail if they think the meal will be incomplete without it. Some vegetarians wouldn't permit turkey in the house, and some Kashruth wouldn't eat at a table that held shrimp cocktail. But in either case, the hosts' flexibility is an accommodation to the guests, not an insult.

                      2. re: Shayna Madel

                        Sounds like these vegetarians ARE being good hosts by making sure their omnivore guests don't miss out on any holiday traditions. I've made the same offer to my guests in the past and it was not intended as a "bring it yourself," but rather "please don't feel confined by my lifestyle." If they make the offer, go right ahead. Plus, there's a good possibility vegetarians don't know how to prepare meat in the first place.

                      3. A cautionary tale: A few years ago, a good friend of mine - let's call him "Buck" - was invited to a relative's house for Thanksgiving. The relative's family was vegetarian, but just as your acquaintance did, the host said that Buck could prepare and bring a turkey if he wanted. Buck really wanted turkey, so he cooked a relatively small one, and took it to the relative's home. At dinner, Buck didn't think it'd be polite if he was the first to dig into the turkey (since he had provided it), and since most of the rest of the folks were vegetarian, he fully expected there'd be more than enough to go around. As it turns out, though, some of the vegetarians in attendance REALLY missed meat, and by the time Buck's turn came, there was no turkey left...he had to settle for tofurkey. Buck was not happy.

                        The lesson Buck learned: Either (a) bring a turkey big enough to feed everybody and take the chance of having a lot of leftovers, or (b) get to the turkey first.

                        1. No, it's a load of nonsense.

                          To be invited to someone's house for dinner and then be invited to make your own dinner and bring it with you?

                          It is wrong on any level you choose. The host is wrong for making the suggestion, the guest would be wrong in following the suggestion.

                          If a "host" is so concerned that a guest might not enjoy the dinner they are offering that they encourage the guest to prepare their own dinner and bring it along, the "host" should never have made the invitation.

                          Invite me to pot luck I'll bring something; invite me to dinner, feed me something I will enjoy.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: FrankJBN

                            I disagree - as the OP clarified, the hosts initially offered to cook a turkey, but the OP said she would be happy to do it instead. Seems to me Thanksgiving is about being with people and giving thanks, etc., and that the hosts were trying to make the OP and her husband happy by offering to make the turkey, even though it falls outside their own dietary choices.

                            1. re: FrankJBN

                              I wasn't invited to "make my own dinner". The host offered to cook turkey, but I was the one who felt funny since they are new vegetarians and didn't feel that they should have to cook turkey for me, so we discussed it & they said that maybe I could bring the turkey then....I wasn't told to bring the turkey....I didn't want to put them out by having them change what they were cooking, but I still wanted to enjoy turkey.

                              If this person had not invited me and my husband to Thanksgiving dinner, we would be spending the day alone. Sometimes, it's not all about the food, but the friendship and kindness of others.

                              1. re: ctflowers

                                "If this person had not invited me and my husband to Thanksgiving dinner, we would be spending the day alone. Sometimes, it's not all about the food, but the friendship and kindness of others."

                                I think you just answered your own question. You should go and be happy and eat what they serve and follow their "rules" for the day since it is their house. There's plenty of other days and years for turkey.

                                1. re: valerie

                                  You have a situation here where it turns out that the host offered to cook the meat and the guest was trying to be deferential to the host's preference. Had the host not offered, fine. The trouble I have is where (apparently not in this case) someone in effect tells someone else to bring their own meal when it's not a "pot-luck" situation.

                                  I do agree that the most important part is being with friends and family, but that's not what the original question was and it's rather unkind to imply that the OP should simply suck it up and be grateful to be invited somewhere.

                            2. I don't eat meat.
                              If I was hosting a meal like this and really wanted to include meat eaters (ie try to pursuade them to come) I guess I might say 'bring some meat if you like'. But - if they actually did bring meat I'd be really hurt - I am known for my cooking, and for someone to bring something because they thaught my food would be lacking in some way would be an insult.
                              Of course I'd never really say 'bring meat' these days, but many years ago I did - and on the one occasion someone put a big slice of ham on top of a fabulous salad I'd made I felt really angry.
                              So - just because they said you could do it, doesn't mean you have to.
                              Assuming they are good cooks, that is.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Peg

                                I do think one has to take people at face value - I know that there are social niceties etc., and I appreciate your point of view - but if the host offered to cook a turkey etc., and I then turned around and offered to make it and bring it, I'd have no reason to think that I'd be offending them. I think this may be more of an issue in a holiday meal where one food - the turkey - is sort of the hallmark of the meal in many ways and for most people. I see your point about having a nicely planned meal and someone just adding the meat to it however they saw fit, but I think a Thanksgiving meal might be an exception to this. Just invited an old law school friend and her fiance who've decided to come to NY at the last minute to Thanksgiving dinner, for which I'd already planned a menu for just the two of us. Since it's a non-traditional, non-Turkey menu, I told her what I was planning to serve. I'd forgotten that she doesn't eat meat (Cornish Game Hen), so I'll go ahead and come up with a fish dish that I think will go with the rest of the meal for her. I would never suggest she bring something, but then again, I'm an omnivore, and so have no reservations about cooking something in my home, the way a vegetarian might.

                              2. Since they are "new" vegetarians, they are setting the rules. They may end up being offended later on by meat, but at this point they are cool with it.

                                I have never been invited to a vegetarians home for a meal, but if I was I would be fine with it. My DH, OTOH, would starve, as he will not eat many vegetables at all.

                                Now on the flip side, my daughter brought home 3 people from college for our Thanksgiving one year. I had no idea they were all vegetarians (she didn't either), and boy was I in a pickle! I had bacon in the corn, sausage in the stuffing, ham in the green beans, and lots of turkey. Made me totally rethink my menus after that. Luckily I had a very large tossed salad (no meat, lol!), mashed potatoes, a couple relish trays, and lots of rolls, which they ate every little bit of that! I also had a couple pies, that they devoured. I still have my corn with bacon, and the green beans with ham, but at least my stuffing is meatless! And now I serve a carrot souffle that can't offend!

                                1. We have friends over every year for thanksgiving. We are the only vegetarians. We also have a large comfortable house and everyone else prefers to leave the hosting up to me. One friend is a great cook and he brings a turkey complete with all of the necessary cooking implements. He sticks the turkey in the oven and goes to watch football while I complete the rest of the meal - it works out great for both of us. He gets to have fun cooking a turkey (may even deep fry it this year) and I don't have to attempt to cook meat... I've posted here before about my first (and last) attempt to cook a turkey on Thanksgiving. I may never be forgiven for what I did to that poor turkey.

                                  So in my mind this is a very good deal for all involved.

                                  1. I agree that it's all about the company. Personally, I would not bring the turkey, despite the invitiation to do so. Thanksgiving goes on, even without turkey. I think if you bring food to someone else's home, you should bring something they will eat. Thanksgiving can still be very special without turkey. My sister is a vegetarian and never has a problem eating her fill on T-day. If you want to bring something special, why not bring a nice vegetarian side dish or a quasi-main dish. Lots of good options. Have the turkey on Friday at home if you absolutely must have it!

                                    1. You know, its interesting. I was having a chat recently with a friend who's vegetarian. At first she said she felt that Thanksgiving was the hardest day of the year for vegetarians, and that she was escaping it by going to visit friends in Canada (she lives in a place where a trip to Canada can easily be a day trip). I told her that I didn't think it had to be so bad, if she could just convince family members to make plenty of vegetarian side dishes to go along with the turkey...there should be plenty to eat. Well, her family must be the real meat-and-potatoes types, because that didn't seem to be an alternative. I guess the gravy, stuffing, etc all had to be made with the turkey broth as far as they were concerned. Well, her family all lives far from her, so she has an excuse not to visit. But then she said when she tries to invite THEM to visit her for the holiday, they all refuse, making comments that like "How can you have Thanksgiving without Turkey?"

                                      I was really thinking that the problem was more with her family than with her, but then she went into a rant about how it wasn't that hard to serve Thanksgiving dinner to accommodate vegetarians and non-vegetarians, except that she just didn't understand why people had to make a meal that "centered around a poor, pathetic, genetically empty dead bird" (her words...). Suddenly I felt myself losing my appetite and thinking that compromise has to go both ways......if you wanted Turkey for Thanksgiving would you suggest going to someone's house if that's how they felt? No, of course not. The eating wouldn't be fun. So I guess my point is be glad that your friends are willing to accommodate you, bring or don't bring the turkey, but don't make a big deal about it. You can always have a Turkey dinner the next day......

                                      The primary thing should be enjoying the time with people you love.....

                                      1. I think you've made it clear your host's openness to your bringing a meat dish into their house and if that's what you want to do, go ahead. The one thing that I noticed in your OP however, which I don't think anyone has remarked upon, is that these are 'new' vegetarians. Are you trying to tell us that you think it's possible they might not have figured out anything good to serve??? LOL.

                                        We usually do non-traditional fare for Thanksgiving (although we tend to get a craving for turkey in the week or so following and have to find a resto that serves it). I would have no problem whatsoever with going meatless for the meal - we've never done it but why not?

                                        I think what I would do in your circumstance, however, is get out my Moosewood cookbooks, find some great recipes I've already made, call the hosts and tell them I'm getting in the spirit of their new orientation and bringing vegetarian dishes to add to the table, then show up with maybe 2 dishes. I'm willing to go meatless but not go without good food!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: brucesw

                                          So how do I tell my sister-in-law that Thanksgiving is the one day of the year where she should throw caution to the wind and chuck that whole low-fat/no-fat routine ?

                                          1. re: brucesw

                                            Bruce, I did note the newness factor in a post above:

                                            "Since they are "new" vegetarians, they are setting the rules. They may end up being offended later on by meat, but at this point they are cool with it."

                                            All ctflowers wanted to know is if this is how vegetarians normally do this, but I don't know. That's why I made that statement. Who knows why they have become vegetarians. It could be a health issue, instead of a moral one. If they are heartily opposed to having a dead animal in their home, they would have never made the offer of cooking turkey in the first place. Hopefully they will remain open to that, but it could change down the road depending on their reasons. Oh, and I also hope that they have figured out something good to serve, and not just beans and corn! LOL! I also might make an offer to contribute to the vegetables, myself!

                                            1. re: danhole

                                              i agree with all that this situation seems to be all set, & that ctflowers & co should bring the bird & gravy in this instance. everyone seems cool with this, & the "new" veg folks are putting their guests first for the gathering. i personally would at least consider going veg for the holiday and enjoying the menu the hosts had planned-- will there be "experienced" veg folks attending dinner & bringing dishes? if so it might be a fun experience, and you can do turkey dinner at home on friday.

                                              with regard to the hosts' "new" vegetarianism and future "openness", though, i'd like to point out that for a lot of veg folks it's similar to a nonsmoker/smoker issue-- the smell of meat cooking, which omnivores may find wonderful, is frequently disgusting to vegetarians who have fully adjusted to their lifestyle, similar to cigarette smoke-- smells great to smokers but makes many nonsmokers want to yak. . .

                                              so the turkey issue can be seen as "you can smoke outside/cook turkey at your place and bring it, but please don't smoke cigarettes/cook a turkey in my home" or "i'm fine with it as long as we're both at the bar/restaurant--it stays on your plate, & i'll just wash my clothes when i get home" "the smell of your cigar/grilled meat doesn't bother me as long as we're outside in the fresh air, but i'd have a big problem with someone lighting that up in my house/near my kids. . ."

                                          2. As others have mentioned, I don't think there's one way it's "usually done" at vegetarians' houses.

                                            When I invite people over, I usually warn them that I won't serve any meat. (The main reason isn't that I don't care, as some people suggest, but that I don't feel capable of cooking something I can't taste-test. I'd rather not serve meat than serve badly prepared meat.)

                                            I don't ask them to bring their own meal. But if it was for Thanksgiving or another traditional meal, I might tell them that I understand if they want to go elsewhere for dinner. Besides, if I'm inviting someone for a holiday meal, I've probably invited them before, so they know how I cook.

                                            Unless, of course, it's potluck. Then the solution's simple.

                                            1. Sounds like some surprisingly open minded vegetarian hosts compared to some I have encountered. I would take them and their offer of inviting you to bring a turkey at face value, and bring one.

                                              For me, and most people I know the turkey is the centerpiece of a traditional Thanksgiving meal, and I would miss it if it was not offered. To me roast turkey, mashed potatoes, turkey gravey, and pumpkin pie are the meal.

                                              I am sure the other carnivores will appreciate the option as well.

                                              1. That's so awkward! I think it's nice that you're bringing the turkey especially for the two other people too.

                                                1. to be honest, I would never go to a "new" vegetarians house and eat meat... sorry but to me that is the equivalent of bringing a bottle of scotch to an alcoholics house.

                                                  1. It sounds pretty lovely of them... and you.

                                                    Make your turkey, enjoy and give thanks that you both have some nice friends.

                                                    1. Give thanks that you don't have to eat a Tofurkey and enjoy the meal ;-)

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Panini Guy

                                                        Now *that* would be poor form, imposing Tofurkey on non-vegs (and even on some vegs such as myself, who don't really dig these fake meats)

                                                        1. Cant say that I've ever been invited for dinner at a vegetarian's home, but that doesn't stop me from having an opinion... :-)

                                                          Sounds to me as if your friends are basically hosting a Thanksgiving pot luck, which is quite a different thing than hosting Thanksgiving dinner. I have always been taught that the primary obligation as a host[ess] is to see to my guests comfort and to feed them well. Your hosts are basically saying, "We'll go this far but no farther." Pretty ungracious in my book. These days you can pick up a precooked turkey with gravy at just about any supermarket, and they're not expensive.

                                                          From a more pragmatic view, I wouldn't want to have to find room in my kitchen for platters and dishes that someone else brought. My kitchen is crowded enough with stuff of my own! And room on the table? Forget about it!.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                            You haven't read all of the posts. OP's hosts actually offered to make the turkey, but OP felt awkward about imposing that on them, so thought to do it herself. In this particular instance, both were trying to be gracious. And there is nothing wrong with a pot luck, if that's the way people choose to do a meal. The "unhostlike" thing is to prepare an entire dinner and tell a person or two to bring a particular item because you won't cook it.

                                                            1. re: Shayna Madel

                                                              Yes. I *DO* know the difference between hosting a sit-down dinner and a pot luck. The offer of the host to provide the turkey was not mentioned in the first post. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't understand why it even came under discussion. If you are hosting a dinner, you plan a menu that all can enjoy, even taking their dietary habits into consideration. As I said above, on Thanksgiving, or any other occasion, I don't want to have to contend with other people's dishes in my kitchen or on my table. If I did, I would make it a pot luck from the start. But preferably not for a holiday, when I like to set a formal and festive table.

                                                              Based on your assessment, sounds to me as if too much "After you, Alphonse" politeness has led to an awkward situation.

                                                            2. re: Caroline1

                                                              I think you've got the wrong idea, lol. This is not a potluck dinner. I always ask my host what/if I can bring anything....I was brought up to believe that it's not nice to go to someone's house emptyhanded. If my host had insisted that I bring nothing, then I would abide by that (except maybe bring a small host gift).

                                                              1. re: ctflowers

                                                                That is true, and in my rather impecunious and arty circle, while mismatched potluck suppers aren't the rule, it is polite to ask if one can bring something, or even to suggest that people do. Since I live close by the Jean-Talon market, I always have to fetch something there (in central Montréal, many people don't have cars).

                                                                I've managed to buy and serve stuff for the friends who include Argentineans who pretty much only eat meat and some token bits of greeen salad, and vegetarians. And others in between. Oy Gewalt.

                                                            3. When our family was invited for Thanksgiving chez vegetarians, we ate their meal happily and paid compliments for our delicious meal. We went home to our own Turkey-ful Thanksgiving dinner later.

                                                              I must not understand what the fuss is about.

                                                              1. As I read through the replies above me here, I started with "Why would you got to a veg house on a day like Thanksgiving." Then I started to come around to the "Well, they seem like the okay type." Now, I'm back to the "Why....??"

                                                                All they seem to be doing by trying to make you feel comfortable is make you feel more comfortable. Now you don't know what to do, how much to bring, etc.

                                                                If people would just eat meat the way they're supposed to, all this would be avoided.


                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                                  From your original post it doesn't seem like your mad or insulted about the host letting you bring a turkey, which I personally think is just fine. I do think that it'd be really nice of you to bring a turkey breast or two fully expecting it to be shared with the two other meat eaters and to also make a vegetarian dish (not just a side but an actual dish) just to show them your appreciation. That is of course assuming they're the type that wouldn't be insulted by you bring more food than just the turkey. Being that they have no problem with the turkey it seems like they'd be happy with the extra veg. dish .

                                                                  I think it was very nice of them to offer to have turkey at the meal even though they're vegs. I get the feeling that you'd still have gone to dinner even if it would be a full veg. meal, no meat allowed in the house and I think that would be the proper thing to do on Thanksgiving. I know I'd take a full veg. meal with friends over a lonely holiday with meat.

                                                                  1. re: Davwud

                                                                    Why would you go to a vegetarians house on Thanksgiving??

                                                                    Because Thanksgiving isn't about turkey or stuffing or food really.

                                                                    It's about gratitude.

                                                                    1. re: Jennalynn

                                                                      Yes, gratitude for the bountiful harvest and the foodbestowed on the Pilgrims, at least at the first Thanksgiving.

                                                                    2. re: Davwud

                                                                      If a turkeyless meal for Thanksgiving truly ruins the holiday for you, by all means, avoid the vegetarians' homes. It would defeat the purpose for someone to attend a holiday dinner and be miserable.

                                                                      That said, I really hope that last line is a joke.

                                                                    3. I'm coming at this from a different direction: Among our guests this year are 2 vegetarians. I've made some wild rice/wild mushroom with Sherry cream sauce phyllo packets for them and have frozen to bake later. I'll make them some veggie gravy and will reserve some dressing for them before I add the sausage. All other sides will not contain any meat product. It's kind of interesting to see how many of my customary recipes for this meal contain bacon, bacon fat, oysters, turkey stock, etc. We will be ingesting much less saturated fat this year, so not altogether a bad thing.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                        You are a very gracious and thoughtful host! Only problem I can foresee is that this carnivore would be sitting there wishing she had a phyllo packet too! '-) How many are you making? They sound delicious!

                                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                                          I'm only making two. I want the vegheads to feel like they are getting something special, since they can't eat the "main event."

                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                            Well, if they look and smell as good as they sound, are you ready for a table full of instant vegetarians clammoring for their supper? '-)

                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                              Hey, I've been cooking VEGAN for my daughter's friends, and the food's been so good that I can almost contemplate this as a lifestyle. Almost.

                                                                      2. its way easier to have guests with dietary restrictions, than be a host with dietary restrictions. that's what we've learned here folks.

                                                                        also, that communication between hosts and guests is important. and the more open you are with each other, the more issues are solved.

                                                                        all the people that said that turkey wasnt important, and being with people is more important that's really nice, and i admire your idealism - but how long have you been perfecting your thanksgiving recipes?

                                                                        that's what i thought.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: in_wonderment

                                                                          I'm taking the middle road: people ARE more important, but if you really dig your T-day foods and going without will make you miserable, make sure you get your yearly dose at some point during the weekend. No need to deprive yourself of life's little pleasures.

                                                                          1. re: in_wonderment

                                                                            I've been in charge of the family stuffed cabbage recipe (which is our Thanksgiving starter) for 15 years... but it was passed onto me from my Great Aunt Ethel, who brought it to the same house we've been celebrating this holiday at since 1957.

                                                                            This is year 50. (I've only been in attendance - and on this earth - for 48 of them) and yet I still stand by the "idealistic" attitude that it's the people, not the food. Maybe it's because I live 3000 miles away from the people and wouldn't miss a year... but if there was no Pumpkin Pie a la Julie (circa 1959) or Potato Kugel a la Fanny (circa 1957) or Garlic Green Bean Salad a la Allan (a newbie circa 1975)... I would still call it a successful joyous Thanksgiving.

                                                                            Maybe that's what you thought?

                                                                            1. re: in_wonderment

                                                                              I like both of those answers, and I agree. I don't know I just realized while reading it that people were being very gracious and nice. Which is wonderful. But there is a small amount of hypocrisy if you're saying "it wouldn't be thanksgiving without..." or "ive been perfecting this for years" But then later, that Thanksgiving is just about family. If it was just about family, we could eat whatever we wanted. Heck, the food wouldn't have to taste good *gasp* Haha.

                                                                              But I like both the middle road by piccola, and jennalynn's explanation.

                                                                            2. The side dishes are ALWAYS the best part of Thanksgiving!
                                                                              Skip the Turkey - It won't kill you.

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: GIAD

                                                                                After all the different suggestions & opinions....here's how Thanksgiving was at our vegetarian hosts house...absolutely wonderful!!!

                                                                                I cooked the turkey breast & gravy beforehand at my house, then we made the 45 minute drive to our friends house. They graciously heated the turkey breast in their oven, etc...no big deal to them. We had an incredible dinner...a glass of sherry before dinner, then for the first course, butternut squash soup and homemade rustic wheat bread. Then we had (fresh) brussell sprouts with butter, wild rice with hazelnuts, a potato, celery root and bean gratin (that was fabulous), cranberry chutney, and for dessert, homemade pumpkin pie. For the non-vegetarians, we added the turkey & gravy. Lots of wine with dinner, then homemade raspberry liquor, then decaf. coffee. Our hosts live in a house built in the mid 1700's, and they've fully restored the house...absolutely gorgeous. They had both the fireplace in the living room and the fireplace in the dining room lit....what a wonderful time it turned out to be.

                                                                                1. re: ctflowers

                                                                                  randomly, i mentioned in real life at the table, the difficulties that vegetarians and non-veggies face during thanksgiving.

                                                                                  it generated much conversation, so thanks.

                                                                                  1. re: ctflowers

                                                                                    Thanks for sharing with us how it went. Sounds like a Thanksgiving the way Thanksgiving is intended!

                                                                                    I'm also wondering how many vegetarians were secretly wishing they could just taste your turkey. My mother had a girlfriend who was a vegetarian 364 days a year, but on Easter she would beg an invitation to my mom's so she could have her annual fix of baked ham...

                                                                                    Ever noticed how there are NO roast beef carrots or turkey beets in the freezer section next to the veggie burgers and tofu sausages? '-)

                                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                      I'm sure there were some, considering how the hosts were recent vegs. But it generally depends on the reasons they went veg - whether it's a choice or an obligation (usually health-related).

                                                                                      Although I love the smell of BBQ, etc, I've never been tempted to eat meat. At this point, it's not even an option - almost like my brain doesn't recognize meat as potential food. Then again, it's been about 10 years.

                                                                                2. I just had the chance to read this thread for the first time as had a busy week and am laughing at the memory it brought up. One year, "friends" invited us for Thanksgiving dinner -they were alone and we were alone. I asked if there was anything I could bring- thinking they would say a pie or a side dish, but she said" oh we love your cooking so much, would you bring the turkey?" LOL. We couldn't believe it - came up with a good reason not to visit them on Thanksgiving and went out instead. Thought it took a lot of nerve to ask this!

                                                                                  1. I'm late to the party here but wanted to add my defense of veggies to some of the people here. I'm a vegetarian. Have been since I was 10. That means I never have cooked meat. In fact, I'm terrified of doing it (and, honestly, raw meat turns my stomach. Interestingly enough, when my mom was pregnant with me, she - a meat eater - couldn't look at raw meat ... my dad had to do all the meat shopping and cooking).

                                                                                    We did a small Thanksgiving this year - my SO (a meat eater, but a healthy eater and not much of a cook, so he usually just eats - and enjoys - my cooking), my parents and two recently divorced friends who had no where else to go. I managed to order a ready-made turkey from whole foods. Meanwhile, I made a "main" dish for me that doubled as a side for other people and then three or four sides plus some veggies. My mom brought some oyster dish and the divorced men brought (you guessed it) chips, dip and beer.

                                                                                    Had i not been able to purchase an oven ready bird (which if I lived in the area I grew up, I wouldn't be able to), I would have either
                                                                                    1) not invited anyone but my parents (who I CAN ask to bring one). That would have left two recently divorced men home alone for their first holiday.
                                                                                    2) convinced the SO to make turkey breasts. Questionable quality and skill.
                                                                                    3) told people who presumably care about me/us enough that I am making more than enough food for everyone - but unable to make the meat. And then assure them that if they wanted the "traditional" bird, I'd be more than happy to save a space on the table for one if they'd like to bring it.

                                                                                    The fact is, they're close enough to spend thanksgiving with me. I'd think they'd be close enough to not be offended. And if they didn't feel comfortable, they could turn down the invite. As it was, I was neurotic enough cooking the turkey. I was convinced I'd give everyone salmonella or something from undercooking it. (and ... NO, I didn't - but even with a borrowed thermometer I was still paranoid)

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: alexajord

                                                                                      You've pretty much summed up my stance. I've never cooked meat, I can't taste-test it, so I'd rather not inflict my potentially disastrous cooking on guests. Period.

                                                                                    2. I have been a vegetarian for nearly 9 years now, however i consider myself an open minded one. Last year i had friends over for thanksgiving dinner and i cooked a turkey, as well as several sides. I have also cooked an easter ham on one occasion. Obviously I don't eat it, and any guests know that i won't be taste testing it (i'm cooking from memory here), and that they will be leaving with leftovers in the meat department or it goes into the trash. It was the turkey that was eaten most of all (I was cooking for a very meat and potatoes crowd who would have served plain mashed and a bowl of peas as sides). I sure hope these people appreciate my having shoved my hand up the arse of a raw turkey !! haha. I am also one of those very bad vegetarians that actually still like the smell of roasting chickens and cooking bacon, however the thought of actually EATING them grosses me out.

                                                                                      When i have house guests i'll do my shopping complete with maybe a pre-cooked bird and sometimes cold cuts, things that normally never darken my doorstep. These are usually for family, and I have to say, i have a wonderful family for returning the favors!!! Our family dinners, particularly thanksgiving and x-mas type affairs....always include wonderful and filling side dishes and believe me, i do NOT miss the meat (and i make sure to take care of my protien needs in other ways during the day), and these thoughtful people also, without asking, regularly make seperate stuffings and non-meat gravy.

                                                                                      For regular dinner parties however, guests don't expect to be served meat at my house. They don't starve. Then again, i don't served baked slab of tofu or barley loaf and such. My everyday eating is far weirder than what i'd ever serve to guests.