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I fed a vegetarian lard by mistake. Do I tell her?

I made a big 7-layer taco dip thingy to take to movie night at a friend's house. Because a couple of people in our circle are vegetarians, I also made a smaller casserole of the same dip, without the meat. Anyway, people loved it, particularly my vegetarian friend who was really happy that someone had made something special for her.

When I got home and was cleaning up, I realized that I had used the can of traditional refried beans, not the can of veggie ones. And when I looked on the ingredients, LARD.

So do I tell her, or not? She's not allergic to meat, so it won't hurt her, but she has been a vegetarian for 20+ years and I know she'll be upset. On one hand, she has a right to know, on the other hand, it will really upset her, and it's something that can't be changed now.

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  1. I would leave it alone. Recall the lyrics of a Chad and Jeremy song: "that was yesterday, and yesterday's gone". Or Bob Seger: "turn the page"

    1. I am absolutely with Veggo. It was an honest mistake.

      1. While discussing my friend's position here where he considers himself to be vegetarian, I remember getting spanked on here for not knowing the the difference on why he and others could choose to eat dairy items such as cheese or butter. Others chimed in saying he was really an omnivore, then others would chime in and say he was actually a pescetarian. Anyhow, whatever he is, I have been out to dinner with him where he has ordered New England Style Clam Chowder and he enjoyed it very much. After he had finished the soup, I later realized that Pork Fatback is often used to make the soup and I informed him as such. He said *really* and simply shrugged it off as a lesson learned and did not excuse himself to do anything drastic to have it removed from his insides. In fact, he said he had been ordering and eating it for years without knowing. Although your situation is not quite the same, I would treat it as such. It was not intentional on your part. Leave it alone and hopefully you will remember next time to alter your recipes as needed.

        I don't know if this means anything, but every vegetarian I have ever known still loves the smell of bacon when it's being cooked......you committed no crime in my view.......but if you had used margarine, that would be a different story.

        4 Replies
        1. re: fourunder

          fourunder: What's your opinion on margarine?

          1. re: naturelle

            Other than the food police trying to ram it down people's throats instead of butter over the years, I really do not have an unfavorable position on margarine. My comment above was really just an attempt at levity. Personally, I do not purchase it or similar items for my home use, although I will admit to trying Shedd's Spread and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter in the past. If I'm out of the home and it's the only option, I'll use it sparingly on a bagel.....but really, I am a fan of butter. My decisions regarding use of margarine or butter has to do with taste, and not with any health concerns. I really do not use much of either, so it's a non issue for me, but when I have bread, I want real butter, not margarine or even Olive Oil. When I cook, I always use real butter when called for, never margarine, it's simply what I prefer always.

            The only time I could use margarine where I see a beneficial purpose in general is to grease a pan to fry an egg..... there are some commercial butter blends available to restaurants that are pretty good as an alternative to the high cost of real butter. tastes good and would use or have on hand in my home....and recommend to others. A company named James Farms makes a product in a four pound tub called Buttery Blend that I find is pretty good as a real butter alternative. I do not know the make up of ingredients, but from recollection, it does contain real butter and buttermilk solids.....I'm sure there are some vegetable and or canola oils with other things I cannot pronounce used to make the product....but I find it to be a good product overall and much better than olio/margarine.

            1. re: fourunder

              It's usually 40% butter and 60% margarine. Great economical choice in a professional kitchen. Not sure if you can find it retail. The one I'm familiar with is Sunrise brand: a chef I know thought for the longest time it was called Surprise brand for obvious reasons. I finally had to set him straight, but I thought that was kind of cute.

              1. re: coll

                For cholesterol reasons, I switched to Smart Balance (contains mild solids)instead of butter as a spread several years ago. Although it has salt (I prefer unsalted butter), it is not as salty as salted butter, and the flavor is really rather good. Not great for greasing a pan, and I never tried baking with it.

        2. As a long-time non-meat eater, I agree that this was not intentional on your part and the effort to create separate dish was appreciated. I would not worry about it at this point.

          1. The only time you might have an obligation is, for example, if the person has a religious belief that eating something taboo renders them ritually impure in some way, regardless of intentionality/knowledge.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Karl S

              Even for a religious belief I feel the same rule applies. What if the person was kosher and had never knowingly eaten shrimp their entire life... and then you inform them that you accidentally fed them real crustaceans? I would leave it alone because the only person you will be helping is yourself by relieving your guilt. If the knowledge is only going to hurt your friend, it serves no purpose in telling.

              1. re: NicoleFriedman

                Perhaps the deeply religious observer might appreciate the chance to make penance/ask forgiveness/confess etc. . . . If they truly believed the consumption made them ritually unclean, then they need know so they can take steps to purify themselves.

              2. re: Karl S

                I wouldn't tell the religious observer if it was an honest mistake. I remember a friend who arrived from a Middle Eastern country (he is Muslim) and liking sandwiches made from something called "ham". He thought it was a specific meat and didn't realise it was pork. We did have a good laugh about that; fortunately he didn't feel sinful for such an honest error. Of course he never ate ham again.

                People's ethical beliefs about no meat, if they are serious about them, are just as important as a religious belief system. But I don't see any reason to make people feel bad if they aren't allergic and it was an honest error.

                1. re: lagatta

                  These concepts of 'sinful' combined with 'atonement' and 'confession' seem to me a very Christian lens to use on other practices.

                  At least in practising Judaism, there are regular procedures for washing and cleansing the body so this need to remove the sinful food item through ablutions is not really something I'm familiar with.

                  For instance, in NYC, it was discovered that there was a microscopic crustacean that inhabited the water supply, The orthodox and chassidic communities didn't go into a 'we're impure' meltdown but instead looked to find ways to stop the crustacean from coming through (rules on water filters ensued).

                  1. re: Lizard

                    lizard, christians have the *fewest* food proscriptions (and i could argue that they have none).

                    1. re: alkapal

                      Well, you didn't grow up Catholic,

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        Really. I always thought that the prevailing sentiment in the highly Catholic Philippines was that if you could really taste it, feel it, or enjoy it, it had to be a SIN.

                      2. re: alkapal

                        That wasn't my point,

                        Please re-read: These concepts of 'sinful' combined with 'atonement' and 'confession' seem to me a very Christian lens to use on OTHER practices.

                        Not about Christian food proscriptions.

                2. I was under the impression that if a vegetarian eats a meat product, they get sick to their stomach, because they're not used to eating meat.

                  Obviously the OP's friend didn't have that problem. I say, if no harm was done and no religious rules broken, say nothing and keep the peace.

                  I recall a very concerned vegetarian couple who'd come to our restaurant shortly after it opened, years ago. I placed their order for two all-vegetable dishes, after asking our new chef if there was any meat used in either dish. He said no.

                  After they were served, I went over to the table to see how they were doing. One dish, greens sauteed with garlic, they said was lovely. But they were *really going to town* on a dish that was a mushroom ragout with winter vegetables. They poured this very saucy dish over their rice and couldn't say enough about how good it was.

                  I asked the chef what was in the sauce. Ack! he'd reduced our lovely, rich, chicken stock to make the sauce! I chose not to say anything at that time.

                  The couple returned, and ordered the same dish. I asked the chef *not* to use chicken stock. He used an amalgam of miso and condiments. The couple sent the dish back, saying it was nowhere near as tasty as the last time. I *had* to come clean, at that time. I told them that their first time, the dish had contained chicken stock, and that I found out too late and was anxious about telling them, and I chose not to.

                  They forgave me -- and kept ordering that mushroom dish, *with* chicken stock!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: shaogo

                    30-year vegetarian here. My view:
                    1. yes, ingesting beef products makes me ill. I noticed this within 5 years of becoming vegetarian. I can also tell by taste (it's subtle, but distinctive, like the taste is 'off' in a noticeable way) if ingredients include beef products, such as in soup bases or crackers made with lard. That said, tiny amounts will not be enough to cause illness, so perhaps the amount of lard in the refried beans was so small that it didn't bother your friend. For me, I've had some nausea in the past from quantities such as soup broths made with meat. My sense is that something in one's body chemistry changes and is not able to tolerate beef after a few years as vegetarian.
                    2. I've not had any problem with chicken products (like unknowingly eating chicken-based broths, for example). Different chemistry.
                    3. No illness problems at all with fish products, even fish itself. I don't eat fish normally, but for a short period about a decade ago, whilst traveling in Korea (where it was very difficult to find/eat enough dairy or other non-meat protein), I did eat a few meals with fish in them for the pragmatic reason that I really needed some protein. No illness at all - again, different chemistry.
                    4. It's uncommon for hosts to make entirely separate dishes for vegetarian guests. Being a dinner guest, even at many restaurants, can be discouraging for vegetarians and others with diet and/or allergy restrictions, and, depending on the attitude of the host, deeply alienating (you'd be amazed how callous, rude and passive/aggressive-hostile some hosts can be about this!). Makes you feel like you're imposing on your host and would be better if you weren't there. My point - I'm sure your friend was really touched and appreciative that you made a special version of the dish just for her. That in itself is such a wonderful thing that I suggest you definitely *not* tell her about the trace amounts of lard, as it was unintentional on your part and evidently not enough lard to cause her any problems at all. Not worth ruining the happiness and pleasure for her of a friend who cared enough to make a special vegetarian dish for her. Compliments to you!

                    1. re: kim500

                      great pov, & i agree with most of your post, but just fyi, lard is from pigs/is pork fat, it has nothing to do with beef or cows at all. i don't know if this makes any difference in how your body process the offending food (pork-based product vs. beef-based product). i do know that some folks would find that accidentally ingesting a pork product would be automatically more troubling than ingesting beef or chicken. to others it would make no difference.

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        kitten, thanks for catching this. I realised my silly error too after posting and also that I hadn't mentioned pork and lamb. Rarely encounter lamb, but pork gives me same reaction as beef (perhaps lamb does too, unbeknownst to me).

                  2. I see no reason to upset her. You error was an honest mistake and since she doesn't have health issues, no harm no foul.

                    1. Hmmm hard to say really. If it were me, the guilt would probably eat me up, but at the same time, your friend sounds like a very serious vegetarian if she is likely to get really upset over knowing this; my thoughts were that it's kind of odd that she didn't ask first anyway.

                      I don't eat meat, and I can't say i'd be overly upset if I found out I had inadvertantly eaten chicken stock or I suppose lard (and sometimes don't ask in restaurants), so telling me after the fact might bother me a little, but i'd also probably have a good laugh about it and i'd be sure to ask next time. My mother did this once by accident with beans (not the refried type though) . I don't trust everyone to know that just because there is not visible meat in a dish, that it is vegetarian. But i do take it as a learning experience.

                      I think this depends on how close of a friendship and how it might affect it. It should really be a learning experience for both of you. You, to check, if cooking for vegetarian friends, and she, to ask before eating something prepared by someone else if she is truly that serious about it.

                      If she's a close friend, i'd lean towards telling her.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: im_nomad

                        I disagree. Coming clean will only make the poster feel better. It'll cause their friend harm. Take one for the team and learn from your mistake.

                        1. re: im_nomad

                          She didn't ask, because I specifically told her that it was vegetarian. :-(

                          She would get upset, because she is the kind of person who gets upset. Everything is serious with her. I am leaning towards not telling her, not because she would get upset with me, but because she does take things so seriously, and there is nothing to be done to fix this.

                          1. re: lulubelle

                            then let it go.

                        2. Thank you everyone! It seems unanimous that I should not tell her, and just be more diligent about reading labels in the future. That was my gut reaction, but I didn't know if I felt that way because I didn't want to upset her, or didn't want her mad at me. :-) I'm glad other people feel the same way.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: lulubelle

                            Maybe a minor point, but in what position was the lard as an ingredient? If it was way down the list, I certainly wouldn't lose any sleep over this mishap.....after all, you did not add the lard yourself.

                            1. re: fourunder

                              It was pretty minimal I would guess, although the can only listed beans, lard, salt and maybe one other ingredient, so it's hard to tell.

                              1. re: lulubelle

                                lulubelle,

                                A question for you. Does your friend know, or would she recognize your username, tipping her off you are the OP of this thread? If not, why don't you direct her to this thread and ask her what she think of the dilemma........If yes, why don't you direct her to this thread so she can see what dilemma you have placed yourself in and the anguish you feel. By reading the thread, she can see there is no easy answer and hopefully you can both put it past you and move forward without any incidents other than regret.

                                1. re: fourunder

                                  that's a very tricky approach. she'd figure it out, i'm sure.

                                  i wouldn't tell her. she'd feel bad (maybe). as long as there's no health issue, i don't think there's any good reason to tell her, ritual impurity possibilities aside.

                            2. re: lulubelle

                              I have not intentionally eaten any pork products since 1989, and I can tell you that if I had eaten your bean dip with lard in it, I would have had a mildly upset stomach and diarrhea for the rest of the evening. (It's happened to me many times when I inadvertently end up eating a bite of vegetarian egg rolls that aren't, or hash browns that were cooked where some bacon was just cooked.) Maybe your friend didn't feel ill. Or maybe she didn't feel like announcing it to you or other guests at her party. But I wouldn't assume that she was OK.

                              1. re: laurielynne

                                This is exactly what I was going to say. I have not intentionally eaten any pork products in over 25 years. The few times that I've had something cooked with lard, or someone slipped some little bits of pork into something, man, did I know it a couple of hours later (and for the rest of the night). I think a tiny bit of lard might not give this effect, but she may already have realized what happened, and also realized that you made an honest mistake. This stuff happens.

                            3. I don't eat meat - and if someone 'came clean' that i'd eaten lard (that I assume i'd not have tasted) then I'd be grateful that the friend had made a point to let me know, just in case it DID matter.
                              On the other hand, if I couldn't taste it then not telling me is not a problem.
                              On the other OTHER hand - if I did taste it ad nothing was mentioned then I'd not eat at that person's house again.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Peg

                                Good points Peg. On yet another hand (foot?) , the OP friend might not have tasted anything, but might have been wondering why their belly was "off" or something the next day. While the friend might not have allergies per se, for all we know one of the reasons for stopping eating animal fat may have been that it didn't sit well with them (my sister is one of these, she gave up pork years ago, and only recently took on a pretty much vegetarian diet for a number of reasons).

                                Eating the OP dip would not send my sister into anaphylactic shock, but she might not have a pleasant day the day after without really knowing what the culprit was.

                              2. I guess I'm in the minority, because I would tell her. It's easy to say "no harm, no foul", but *I* am not the one to say there's been no harm...she is.

                                45 Replies
                                1. re: ricepad

                                  I disagree, ricepad. "Let sleeping dogs lie." Sage advice. Telling her accomplishes nothing positive and only upsets her to no good end. It could even spell the end of your friendship if she can't get past the incident ("You poisoned me and didn't tell me!")

                                  I've been in lulu's situation. I fed a vegetarian some stir-fried broccoli in oyster sauce and she loved it. It wasn't until she was done eating I realized what had happened. By then, I figured she'd already eaten it so nothing to be done.

                                  Lulu, you've made the right decision, IMHO. Keep quiet and read the labels more carefully in the future.

                                  1. re: KenWritez

                                    The positive it accomplishes is that she'd know I'm an honest person and I try to respect her wishes as much as I can....and when I can't, I'm responsible enough to admit to my mistakes.

                                  2. re: ricepad

                                    Ricepad, that's well put. I'm with you: I would most certainly tell the friend.

                                    I don't understand the distinction some have made between religious convictions and other strongly held, principled beliefs. A principle is a principle and if you have caused someone to violate a principle she believes is important, I think it's your obligation to let her know.

                                    If this is a true friendship, it won't suffer for the honesty.

                                    1. re: cimui

                                      That's exactly the point I was trying to make, but it was deleted. Go figure.

                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        Guess all the mods went home by the time I posted. :)

                                        BTW, I'm really surprised by those who say that no good can come of telling the truth. I strongly believe that when you tell the truth, even (or especially) if it is difficult to do so, you often improve trust in the long term. Lulu, if you value this friendship and don't think the truth will destroy it altogether, I would consider disclosure a means of making the friendship stronger. Friends do not lie to friends, IMO.

                                        1. re: cimui

                                          There is no lie involved here.

                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                            pika, i really respect your opinion and certainly do not want to play the uncomfortable role of a goody two shoes, but many, many people other than me understand lies to include failures to disclose material facts.

                                            1. re: cimui

                                              there's nothing material. not even close

                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                I don't think this is different from the McDonalds French fry case, where Hindus who had unwittingly eaten fries that included meat powder in the seasoning sued for, and won, damages.

                                                It is certainly material, as I understand the term, to a vegetarian whether or not a meal she eats / has eaten include(s/d) meat. How would you define the term "material"?

                                                1. re: cimui

                                                  During my youthful fascination with science and the element mercury, I undoubtedly absorbed more mercury transdermally than the OP's friend ate in lard in the 7-layer dip. Years later I had 1500 SAT's and was Ivy educated. I am an example that most things that fits in a thimble may not be material. And I debate in good spirit. What is material to you?

                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                    Hmm, maybe I'm not clear on what you mean by material, then. Would you say that if I have a relationship outside of a marriage and neglect to tell my spouse about it, it's not material for him to know? I mean, it hasn't given him the runs or anything, yet.

                                                    You do have me convinced that mercury might actually make one smarter.

                                                    (*sigh* I can't believe this is what I'm doing on a Saturday night. Packing for a move and having nutty discussions on Chowhound. I really ought to get a life. :)

                                                    1. re: cimui

                                                      But if you fess up your infidelities he runs.....to the divorce lawyer :)

                                                      1. re: cimui

                                                        An affair isn't comparable to this because knowing would cause the person to do something in response/ And intent is important. If my husband accidently brushed up against another woman in line and touched her breast, I don't need to know. He intentionally grabs another woman's breast, there's a problem.

                                                        I do think the OP should tell because it's bothering her and will clear her conscience. Having been a vegetarian in the past and having good friends who are vegan/vegetarian, I think she's spending more time worrying about than is necesary. If her friend is at all reasonable, it won't be an issue and has happened in the past. I don't think anyone who is vegetarian/vegan for 20+ years and eats out of her own home thinks he/she has never injested animal products. It could be as simple as someone not cleaning out a pan thoroughly. Intentionally serving someone an animal product is wrong. Accidently, forgiveable to any reasonable person. And, someone who would hold it against you isn't worth stressing about.

                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                          Of course you're right about the affair being a different scenario because of the difference in intent (though I have actually heard some people say they couldn't help themselves and didn't really have intent in having an affair... for whatever that's worth....). I should've made a better argument and emphasized that I was talking about materiality, there.

                                                          The key to our disagreement might be that I think feeding a (principled) vegetarian meat products is far worse than accidentally brushing up against someone's boobs. I can't think of a better analogy right now, but I'll let it percolate while I pack and get back to you....

                                                          Good discussion!! I like your points.

                                                          1. re: cimui

                                                            As I said below, I'm a principled non-cannibal. If someone accidently fed me human meat, I'd rather not know, well after the fact. I'm sure others might feel differently, though. I choose happy ignorance in this case, over thinking "eeww" the rest of my life.

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              Fair enough, but not everyone prefers to live in ignorance. If there were a decent chance that you'd unwittingly eat humans, again, wouldn't you want to know the circumstances in which you ate humans, before, so you could better avoid it?

                                                              1. re: cimui

                                                                No, head firmly planted in the sand in this case.:-)

                                                                But, I'd guess, after 20+ years of being vegan, the OP's friend has seen most scenarios. If I lived in a cannibal society, if I cared that much, I'd probably just never eat outside the house. My friends who are vegan have said they know they've eaten animal products in the 15-20 years they've been vegan. They do what they can but they don't live in a cave. Every time they eat out, it's a chance they know they take. I mean, even eating vegetables, you never know if a rat or bug of whatever fell in at some point. That's why I think the OP should tell her friend, to appease her mind. If the friend were a true friend, it won't matter. If it matters, nothing lost.

                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                  You raise a tough scenario, then! I guess you can't very well ask the friend, hypothetically speaking, whether she'd rather know or not know that she'd eaten a meat product... :)

                                                                  Assumed risk is an interesting point. I'm not sure it completely applies to this case, though, given that Lulubelle told her friend the food was vegetarian (maybe more of a reliance scenario?).

                                                      2. re: Veggo

                                                        But the Hg would explain the low SATs.

                                                      3. re: cimui

                                                        The difference is significant. McDonald's knowingly included the meat seasoning and failed to disclose. In this case the friend did not knowingly serve the lard.

                                                        1. re: HDinCentralME

                                                          Yeah, I may have to agree with you and Chowser that intent is important to the calculation in some way, but I brought up the McDonald's example in the context of materiality. Materiality is a separate determination from intent completely. It was never a question in the McDonald's case whether or not the fact that vegetarians had unwittingly eaten meat product was material or not. It's clear that it was.

                                                        2. re: cimui

                                                          But in the case of Mc Donald's, no disclosure means that you will continue to eat the fries cooked in beef fat. In this situation, it was a one shot deal. The OP realized her mistake. To tell the friend would serve no purpose.

                                                      4. re: cimui

                                                        I was not a lie in the most common form: Nothing was said that was false.
                                                        It was not a lie of omission, because no information was requested. If there was no request, then how could anything be omitted? It's not a lie because information was intentionally withheld; there was no request for information. For the same reason, there was no deception.
                                                        A "failure to disclose" only occurs when a request is made and you withhold. Then I could see it construed as a form of a lie.

                                                        When you know something another person does not, when does it become appropriate to disclose it, of your own free will, so as not to be a "lie"? How can knowledge be a lie if it has no conception?

                                                    2. re: cimui

                                                      "disclosure" could likewise introduce doubt and distrust indefinitely, and harm the friendship. The friendship is fine today. Let it be.

                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                        Lack of disclosure means doubt and distrust is already there.

                                                      2. re: cimui

                                                        You have a friend who is extremely modest. You see her naked, briefly, by mistake (say walk in on her changing). Do you tell her? If you don't, is it lying?

                                                        If the friend in the OP asked and said she thought she tasted lard, then it would be lying to say no.

                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                          Agreed. Need we share every innocuous detail and every twitter of our thoughts? "Hey, thanks for the birthday present, but it really sucks."

                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            You make excellent arguments, chowser. I suppose I do think of vegetarianism as an often-principled belief system that goes far beyond just a desire not to have someone see you naked. Maybe what we're really disagreeing on is not only the question of how 'bad' it is to have caused someone to violate a principle she believes in, but how important this particular principle is. I've heard a number of arguments that since she didn't become violently ill, there was no harm done. To me, though, there is harm done in causing the friend to unwittingly violate the principle in the first place precisely BECAUSE this principle is so obviously important to the friend.

                                                            I also want to go back to ricepad's very good point about autonomy and who ought to have the power of decision. I also believe it should be the friend's determination whether there was harm done and how to react. If you don't tell, you violate her right to autonomy in deciding what to put into her body.

                                                            1. re: cimui

                                                              IMO, the vegetarian in this instance did not "violate a principle," as she did not knowingly consume an animal product. A friend mistakenly fed he something containing a trace amount of a meat by-product. I imagine this happens quite often. Many people don't realize that some things are not vegetarian (e.g., Worcestershire sauce, miso soup). As to "violating her right to autonomy in deciding what to put into her body," unless the veggie person can time travel, there is no decision to be made here; it's over and done with, so I see nothing to be gained by bringing it up. BUT the OP needs to be more diligent in the future.

                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                I think many vegetarians consider the prohibition against eating meat an absolute principle. You can violate it without intent or knowledge. [To play fast an loose with the analogies, Oedipus killed his father and married his mother without intent or knowledge, but he still violated a principle in his mind.] And anyway, she should be the one to decide whether or not she's violated her principles, right?

                                                                Good point in noting that there are at least two autonomy issues, here. One is the autonomy to decide whether there was harm done; the other was to decide what to put in her body in the first place. Since you bring up the issue of being able to take greater care in the future, the friend should know about the instances where she unwittingly ate meat products in the past so she can also take greater care in the future.

                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                  In order to violate her principles, I firmly believe she must have had knowledge of the situation at hand. Since she didn't, she didn't violate her principles. In my view, since principles by definition involve one's thought process, a violation cannot occur unless one is made aware of the situation and then acts according to or against that thought process. No awareness, no violation.

                                                                  1. re: dagwood

                                                                    Isn't that an issue for your friend to decide, not you?

                                                                    1. re: cimui

                                                                      The friend is not the one who has to make a decision; the OP is. She must decide what's right for her to do, based on HER principles, not her vegetarian friend's. If the OP places a premium on not causing distress, she won't tell. If she believes that honesty is always the best policy, she will. (And I'd just as soon leave the Greeks out of it -- always thought Oedipus got a bum deal.)

                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                        Yeah, maybe that's a good approach, distilling the issue down to the OP's values, but I'm not sure that answers the question easily, either. In addition to the desire not to cause distress and the desire for honesty, a value that I see as being at stake, here, is respect for other people's autonomy / respect for other people's principles even if they are different from your own.

                                                                        1. re: cimui

                                                                          But she did not disrespect her friend's principles - she honestly thought she'd made a pure vegetarian dish and only later found out she hadn't. Telling the friend now can change nothing, and has no upside - at best the friend shrugs it off with a smile, at worst she feels miserable and/or their friendship is diminished because of something that was unintentional and cannot be changed.

                                                                          And please, keep it in perspective - making comparisons to cannibalism and Oedipus is just over the top.

                                                                  2. re: pikawicca

                                                                    miso is vegan. miso soup is also vegan unless you put something non-vegan in it. most of the time ime it is vegan.

                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                      Not if you get it in a Japanese restaurant.

                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                        "Not if you get it in a Japanese restaurant."

                                                                        huh. don't many japanese restaurants offer a vegan miso soup similar to the traditional staple of japanese zen monastaries? or maybe this is only common where there are many vegetarian customers who would demand it. lots of japanese places offer the vegan version only, since it's cheaper and there is less labor because you don't have to make dashi.

                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                          I've eaten in lots of Japanese restaurants, but I've never seen vegan miso soup on the menu.

                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                            :) well--it generally wouldn't say "vegan miso soup" on a menu-- just as it wouldn't say "vegan lentil soup" or "vegan cauliflower soup"-- it's up to the diner to ask. but many japanese restaurants have vegan miso soup specifically as a veg option. i would never assume that a miso soup was vegan in a japanese restaurant, but i wouldn't assume that it couldn't be, either, and the odds would get better that it *would* be vegan, the closer i was in proximity to a college campus or berkeley.

                                                                      2. re: soupkitten

                                                                        If prepared traditionally, miso soup is made from fish stock.

                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                          It is what, dashi miso (made with fish) that is not vegan. I was reading the labels on Japanese miso pastes the other day - the others were definitely vegan. It is up to the vegetarian to ask if the soup contains dried fish, if that is common in the cuisine.

                                                                          1. re: lagatta

                                                                            Miso is vegan, dashi is not. They are two different ingredients.

                                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                                              Yes, I know pika. But I saw a little tub of "dashi miso" that did indeed include fish in its ingredients. It was lined up beside two other misos that were vegan - I read all the ingredients thoroughly as like the OP, I'm scrupulous about respecting guests' dietary convictions.

                                                                              1. re: lagatta

                                                                                Relax everyone!
                                                                                "MISO": soy, water, salt, and preservatives. YES it is vegan.
                                                                                "DASHI": stock. in its most traditional form, it is typically made of EITHER fish OR shitake mushroom. it MAY or MAY NOT be vegan depending on where in Japan and who you talk to.
                                                                                "DASHI MISO": dashi + miso mixed together, because they're typically used together, so it's convenient this way.
                                                                                "MISO SOUP": tyically contains miso, dashi and other ingredients. whether it is vegan or not depends largely on what type of dashi was used.

                                                          2. You didn't mean to have animal products in your taco dip, in fact you went out of your way to be sure people didn't have any if they didn't want any.

                                                            Please forgive yourself, and I hope you don't put yourself at risk of being wrung through the wringer by a "serious" person. If you're Catholic, go to confession, though you really don't haven't done anything to forgive in this case. Seriously. Put your energies into not doing it again, if you like, but please don't beat yourself up over this.

                                                            1. I definitely agree not to tell her. As another poster said, telling her would only serve to alleviate any guilt on part of the OP, and could make the friend feel bad, which makes me think telling would just be a selfish act on the part of the OP.

                                                              Now that we know the friend would probably make a scene over it, all the more reason to not tell her! ;)

                                                              1. No.

                                                                1. I was vege for 15+ years - when I started introducing meat I had no digestive issues whatsoever. I agree with the posters who said to keep it quiet. I don't think anything is going to be helped (except guilt) by telling her now. I'm glad you came here to discuss it rather than with the same people from the party. The only thing worse than telling her now after the fact is her hearing about it second hand.

                                                                  I would chalk it up to a lesson learned. :)

                                                                  1. As a vegetarian for about 12 years, I think it would be fine either way. As long as someone did not intentionally feed me meat, and would do their best to not do so in the future, I wouldn't be upset either to know or not know. If I were in the middle of eating something when you realized, though (which I know wasn't the case here), I'd rather you come clean about it rather than letting me continue to eat meat. It's only when people sneak meat into my food intentionally (and you'd be amazed how often that has happened) that I would be upset.

                                                                    1. Dr. Laura used to say that if you knew something bad, like a secret that could be hurtful, why would you reveal it if the only result would be negative (or hurtful)?
                                                                      What positive effect would there be gained (now), from disclosing what you have inadvertently done?

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Scargod

                                                                        I have once or twice had someone tell me that they accidentally fed me a meat product, and it actually did have a beneficial effect. I felt that they took my choice to be vegetarian seriously, and was reassured that when they cook for me, they do their best to respect my vegetarian diet. It made me trust them more rather than less. I recognize that this wouldn't always be the outcome, but I thought it was worth mentioning that sometimes being honest about it does have good effects.

                                                                      2. I vote firmly for no, do not tell her.

                                                                        I was a vegeterian once upon a time, and I believe that no matter how careful I was, at restaurants or parties, I am sure I came across some meat items unknowingly from time to time. I'm sure she has as well.

                                                                        I'm sorry you feel badly about it. Your intentions were admirable, and it was an honest mistake , and I really don't think she was harmed in any way.

                                                                        1. You shouldn't tell her at this point. It's in the past, and you have learned from your mistake.

                                                                          But the real question is, let's say you had made this special "vegetarian dish" for her, and just before she was about to dig in, you realized you had used beans with lard. Would you be obligated to tell her at this point, to prevent her from eating something she thought was vegetarian, but you knew wasn't? I am leaning toward yes here, since I think you have a responsibility as the cook to tell her.

                                                                          But I have run into similar situations with vegetarian friends, particularly at Thai restaurants. A friend orders something (or the table orders something) that appears on the menu to be vegetarian....for example, a "vegetarian" papaya salad. The friend, who perhaps hasn't eaten as much Thai food as me, tastes it and says how good it is. Then I taste it, and also find it delicious, but immediately realize that there is fish sauce in it. If I know that my friend does not eat fish sauce (again, not because of any allergy), should I inform him that I taste fish sauce? Or should I just let him enjoy his "vegetarian" salad?

                                                                          21 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Dave MP

                                                                            Yes, you should tell your friend that he is right now, at this moment, eating fish sauce. That gives him a chance to stop, should he choose to. Otherwise, you're concealing information from him that might be useful. The OP isn't - the information that her vegetarian friend has unwittingly eaten lard a few hours ago is not actionable intelligence.

                                                                            I don't eat meat on purpose. I'm pretty sure I sometimes eat it by accident, and when dining partners tell me that hey, these french fries were fried in lard (I can't always tell), I am appreciative.

                                                                            1. re: small h

                                                                              I agree with you. But to play the devil's advocate a bit more....

                                                                              what if you were talking ALL DAY about how you really wanted french fries, and then we finally got to the restaurant and you were REALLY enjoying them, but then in the middle of the meal I somehow realized before you did that they were fried in lard. Should I tell you then?

                                                                              So I guess the question is: are you ever MORE appreciative of a "what I don't know doesn't hurt me" attitude which allows you to enjoy a delicious food, versus knowing that something you enjoy is actually something you shouldn't eat. You say you appreciate knowing....but you clearly don't appreciate it so much that you ask before you order. So when is it a friend's responsibility to tell you?

                                                                              Also, while I'm at it, does my original question change at all if the friend in question ISN'T a vegetarian? Just simply an omnivore who "claims" to not like fish sauce. Where do you draw the line (like Veggo hints at below) between legitimate diet restrictions and perhaps-inaccurate personal preferences?

                                                                              (by the way, I realize the answer to these questions are extremely dependent on the individuals involved, and the relationship they have, so I know there are probably no wrong or right answers here - I'm mainly posing the question since I think it's a very interesting ethical question, both in terms of the responsibility of friends to tell each other the truth, and also in terms of the ethical reasoning behind being a vegetarian. So, I'm not looking to start a debate...just a friendly discussion for any who find this topic interesting :)

                                                                              1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                There's nothing I enjoy more than a friendly discussion (except maybe french fries).

                                                                                <Should I tell you then?>

                                                                                In my particular case, yes, you should. I would like it to be my decision, not yours, whether to say, oh, hell, lard, whatever, I'll keep eating, or scream and run from the table with my finger down my throat (this is not likely to happen, but one never knows). By concealing something from me that - and this is important - does you no harm to disclose, and might benefit me, you do me a disservice and violate my trust. There's no downside for you in revealing that I've eaten something I might not want to eat.

                                                                                <Where do you draw the line (like Veggo hints at below) between legitimate diet restrictions and perhaps-inaccurate personal preferences?>

                                                                                I would never presume to tell someone whether her diet restrictions were legitimate or not - I don't share a stomach with anyone, so it's not my business what anyone else eats. And pray tell, what is an "inaccurate personal preference"? I like what I like. Of course, it's possible that some people relish the "gotcha" moment, when they can say ha HAH! you thought you didn't like fish sauce, but you're eating it! and you LIKE it! I would rather not associate with people like that. It's a personal preference.

                                                                                1. re: small h

                                                                                  Interesting....I find it fascinating that people that have such restrictions ever eat out or anything cooked by others...I mean how do you ever really know?

                                                                                  1. re: LaLa

                                                                                    One never *really* knows for sure, but one does deserve to know all avaliable facts, wouldn't you want the same?

                                                                                    1. re: enbell

                                                                                      No I am one of those who really doesn't always want to know.

                                                                                      1. re: LaLa

                                                                                        :) Cool. It really does take all kinds?! Glad there is room for all of us :)

                                                                                        1. re: enbell

                                                                                          lol...me too

                                                                                  2. re: small h

                                                                                    >>There's nothing I enjoy more than a friendly discussion (except maybe french fries).

                                                                                    I'm going to embroider this into a sampler and put it on my wall.

                                                                                    1. re: cimui

                                                                                      If you do, take a picture of it, and I will use it as my avatar.

                                                                                    2. re: small h

                                                                                      I was thinking of a friend of mine, who does not eat any fish or seafood, mainly because he doesn't like the taste or the idea of it. However, he loves Chinese food, especially chicken dishes.

                                                                                      This summer, after I returned from a trip to China, I invited him for lunch and made chicken with cashews. The recipe I normally make includes a small amount of oyster sauce, which really adds to the overall flavor of the dish (mainly adds umami), and I considered making this for him and not telling him that there was oyster sauce in it. However, I decided it really wouldn't be right to do this, so I made two batches - one for him (with extra soy sauce instead of oyster sauce) and one for me, with oyster sauce.

                                                                                      He was willing to give mine a try, and he admitted that the addition of oyster sauce did add something positive to the overall flavor. But knowing that it was in there, he chose to stick with the non-oyster sauce version I had made him.

                                                                                      So, what I meant by "inaccurate personal preference" is that if I had given my friend a taste of both chicken dishes, but not told him the ingredients, he would have liked the dish with oyster sauce better. So I guess by "inaccurate," I really mean "not based on taste." The preferences are based on something external to taste.

                                                                                      I certainly am not looking for a "gotcha" moment....but for some people (like in shaogo's example above with the chicken stock in the green vegetable dish), deliciousness trumps normal eating preferences. This is especially true if you adopt a "what I don't know can't hurt me" attitude. Even for me, it is sometimes easier to not know what something is, so I can more fairly judge if I really like the taste or not. For example, I had pig ears when I was in China, but didn't know till afterward what they were. If I had known before, I probably wouldn't have even ordered it, but I actually liked them quite a bit.

                                                                                      I encourage all of my friends, most of whom are less chowhoundish than I am, to try new foods. So while I would never want to knowingly trick someone into eating something they didn't like, is it my responsibility when ordering at a restaurant with a vegetarian friend to make sure that every dish contains no fish sauce? No ground shrimp? No chicken stock? Or is it the friend's responsibility, and his alone?

                                                                                      1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                        It seems to me that everyone behaved honorably during the oyster sauce incident. You were respectful of your friend's preferences, even going so far as to make him an oyster-sauce-free dish. And he was game enough to try both versions before deciding to continue living a fishless life. Not all preferences are based on an objective appraisal of the way something tastes. As a kid, I couldn't bear to eat mayonnaise, because I'd heard a disgusting joke about mayonnaise, so the very idea of mayonnaise grossed me out. Who knows if your friend had some awful fish-related experience that soured him on our finny friends forever? Just because it's not an aesthetic decision doesn't make it any less valid.

                                                                                        As for whether it's your responsibility to run interference between your vegetarian pals and the myriad animal products that might infest their restaurant orders, no, I don't think so. It's their responsibility. If it's a big deal to them, they will ask. But a casual "There might be fish sauce in that, if you care," would be a nice gesture on your part.

                                                                                        1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                          FYI, for the future, there is a vegetarian Oyster Sauce made from Mushrooms available. While not a directly comparable flavour, it is a much closer substitute than soy sauce.

                                                                                          1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                            Do you recall the name?

                                                                                            1. re: enbell

                                                                                              Widely available under a number of brands. Lee Kum Kee has both bottled and canned versions as do many other labels.

                                                                                              A link I quickly googled: http://www.passionatevegetarian.com/r...

                                                                                              Another (purchase site): http://importfood.com/sadf2001.html

                                                                                              Another: http://members.iinet.net.au/~yongcorp... (near bottom of list

                                                                                              )

                                                                                              HTH

                                                                                              Ian

                                                                                              1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                Thank you! I should have done my own google query, sorry!

                                                                                        2. re: small h

                                                                                          I had a friend who claimed a fish and a nut allergy. I would constantly warn her of nuts in her pesto sauce and fish in her miso soup... but she always told me she was fine with them and not to worry. I don't doubt her allergy- some foods I'm allergic to affect me in different ways. However, I only told her prior to consumption- not days after the fact.

                                                                                          1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                                            There are many people who claim all sorts of food sensitivities for attention, whether they realize it or not. Part of the reason I quit vegetarianism is that I realized it was at least partially a way to attract attention to myself, to distinguish myself. I don't mean this pejoratively to others, but I'm certain that was a good deal of my own (largely subconscious) reasoning.

                                                                                    3. re: Dave MP

                                                                                      Why would it be your job to protect your vegan friend from eating a few molecules of fish sauce? Let him figure it out for himself. The amount of lard the friend of the OP ate in the 7-layer dip would not fill 1/4 of a thimble. Vegans may stone me to death, but there are limits to how far I will go to accomodate what can be quasi-neurotic behavior. If you can't taste it and are not allergic to it , where's the foul? The hyper-vegans are only 100% secure in vegan restaurants and in homes of the like minded. In the rest of the real world, the beat goes on.

                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                        My sister, a vegetarian, is pretty laid back about minute amounts of things, for seasoning, let's say, that get into food.
                                                                                        To dine out, or to eat with friends, and fret over every little thing seems obsessive. Aren't you sealing your fate for misery if you do this? Aren't you going to negatively impact your relationships with friends and relatives who are not vegetarian or vegan (if, like others have said, this is a conscious choice you have made and not a risk to your health)?
                                                                                        If we are talking quasi-neurotic behavior... (just love it when braniacs start throwing high-falutin' word combos around), then people who obsess about restaurant cleanliness, food safety, water safety, safety of their car outside, and the like, will all do well together.

                                                                                      2. re: Dave MP

                                                                                        I'm my small world of experience with fellow vegetarians, they tend to know that there is fish sauce in the thai food and just about all the "hiding places" for stuff like that. The vegans even more so.

                                                                                      3. No, there's nothing good that can come of it. It was unintentional, she didn't get sick, it won't matter. I have no doubt that in 20+ years, she's injested some animal parts, whether in a restaurant, or inadvertently. Honestly, if I ate at a friend's house and she was a cannibal and accidently served me human, I'd rather just not know and be happily ignorant. If I knew, I'd be disgusted but couldn't change anything about it.

                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                          HA! "accidentally served me human" made me literally LOL. Nice one, chowser. :)

                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                            There's varying degrees of sick, and not all friends will willingly voice the fact that they spent the day with a little too much bathroom time.

                                                                                            1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                              I can't fathom how 1/4 thimble of lard, or less, could provoke a major gastro-intestinal calamity in a species that evolved with omnivorous capabilities.

                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                It DOES affect me, having been (to the best of my ability) beef- and pork-free for 20 years. Simply eating food that was cooked where pork was recently cooked causes me to have diarrhea for a few hours.

                                                                                                1. re: laurielynne

                                                                                                  For me it only happens when there is pork product in the food itself. But it definitely happens.

                                                                                              2. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                "There's varying degrees of sick, and not all friends will willingly voice the fact that they spent the day with a little too much bathroom time."

                                                                                                We live in Bangladesh. We all spend too much time in the bathroom, and people have no problem discussing this fact--it fact. it's one of the major topics of conversation among expats. :-)

                                                                                                1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                  So in the next iteration of "Clue" , there should be the possibility that "the lard " did it?

                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                    More likely that "the dirty ice cube" did it, but yes!

                                                                                                2. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                  Blame it on the beans!

                                                                                              3. don't tell. the only upside . . . it sounds like . . . is upsetting her. this is a bad outcome because you acted with good intentions. life happens. move on and don't risk getting her in a tizzy about nothing. this way - you can make the dip again (w/the veggie beans) and she won't be afraid to eat it.

                                                                                                1. Wow, I am asurprisedat the number of hounds who support the DADT mentality. As someone who does not eat meat, I would very much like to know. I wouldn't hold it against you in the least. Your disclosure would benefit our friendship though, and I would likely trust you more in the future. Mistakes happen all the time in life; it is how we react to them that defines us as individuals. I like to gather as much information on a given subject as possible before forming a decision. You are not allowing this person to examine all the evidence before forming an opinion (ignorance may be bliss in your opinion but who are you to determine that?) While I do not believe that you intend to come off as superior, what makes your opinion more valuable than the vegetarian's opinion. Put all the information out on the table so that the most educated decision can be made. Perhaps I am taking this too far, but part of me wants to say that without full disclosure, you are preventing full development as a chowhound. Since we are all adults here, wee all deserve access to the same data set.

                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: enbell

                                                                                                    "I am asurprisedat the number of hounds who support the DADT mentality."

                                                                                                    You are overlooking some of the information provided by the OP. When we are evaluating whether to tell or not to tell, I feel many are reacting to the OP's information saying she will get upset, if not angry; "because she does take things so seriously".

                                                                                                    You, obviously, say you would not be upset... and would not hold it against a friend. Big difference.

                                                                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                      It's kind of a strange view to say that the info should be withheld if the veggie friend really strongly cares about being veggie (e.g. takes things so seriously) but should be told if said veggie friend does not strongly care about being veggie (e.g. does not take things so seriously). Hrm.

                                                                                                      1. re: akq

                                                                                                        First it's NOT a matter of withholding the info, it is a matter of NOT VOLUNTEERING it; regardless of veggie's feelings.
                                                                                                        You are downplaying the potentially really seriously angry veggie. She hasn't thought anything of it, but you want to make her really upset by bringing it up? Be my guest!

                                                                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                          OP assured her friend it was vegetarian and later realized her mistake. The friend didn't grill her at the time because of OP's assurances, so there's no real chance the friend is going to bring it up again (no reason to, OP already told her it was vegetarian). In that case, I don't think the distinction between not volunteering the information and withholding the info makes a lot of sense. I think that if you give someone information that they rely on, and you later realize the information was false, you should fess up, even though it sucks.

                                                                                                          My point is that it seems like an odd stance that you'd be less likely to tell the info to someone who would really care to know the info, and more likely to tell someone who wouldn't really care. Seems backwards to me. I get it, but it seems like a really self-serving attitude ("Well, if I knew they'd be cool about it, I'd tell them I messed up, but since they might actually care that I messed up, too bad...they don't get to know!")

                                                                                                          I agree it may be a difficult situation, but I'd tell the friend. Own up to my mistake and hopefully (as others have volunteered) it will increase my friend's trust in me next time.

                                                                                                          1. re: akq

                                                                                                            My point is that it seems like an odd stance that you'd be less likely to tell the info to someone who would really care to know the info, and more likely to tell someone who wouldn't really care. Seems backwards to me. I get it, but it seems like a really self-serving attitude ("Well, if I knew they'd be cool about it, I'd tell them I messed up, but since they might actually care that I messed up, too bad...they don't get to know!")

                                                                                                            The issue with this friend is not that she would care more than another person, it is that she gets upset very easily. She's very type A and when things are not going well, she gets very stressed out and frets. I don't want to cause her undo stress when there is nothing I can do that is going to change the situation, It's done.

                                                                                                            1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                              You say you don't want to cause her undue stress, but only she can decide whether the stress over what she unknowingly ate is undue or justified. I don't think it's your call to decide what is an appropriate amount of stress to allow for food choices, etc. It's her body and she should get to decide what she puts in it and she should know whether she can trust assurances of a friend. NOTE: I believe you had awesome intentions and you went above and beyond in trying to make her special veggie-friendly food, but even with the best of intentions, people make mistakes. Sometimes the dietary restriction is important enough that a lesson of "don't trust food someone else makes, even if they assure you the offending ingredient isn't there" (e.g. a severe nut or shellfish allergy, or religious restrictions). Sometimes a dietary restriction is more of a preference (e.g. I try not to eat too much meat, but I won't make a big deal about it if I am dining out or at a party). It's up to the person herself to decide which one of these categories her own restriction falls into. I have a difficult time, personally, equating an allergy with a moral or religious-type dietary restriction, but that's my own bias. Since I work with several people who have religious dietary restrictions, I have tried to get better about it.

                                                                                                              Also, while I agree that you can't turn back time, I disagree that this is "done." Maybe she'd learn something if you come clean: Always ask twice about the beans? Don't worry about stuff that is substantially vegetarian at a party? Don't trust party food? Don't trust food from non-veggie friends? Who knows...but it's her call, not yours. Just my two cents.

                                                                                                  2. a person can actually get ill from ingesting an animal protein or by-product that they have lost the ability to digest, which does happen to long time strict vegetarians. so if simple honesty is not enough of an impetus (and i do agree it should be), than you should tell her just in case she experienced stomach cramping, diarreah, etc - she should know since it is her body.

                                                                                                    i think that is the bottom line, that it is HER body and should be HER decision whether or not this matters to her...personally i would forgive you, even if it did made me sick. friends can make mistakes, good friends are honest and REALLY good friends are understanding and forgiving! : ) don't feel bad, you care about her so tell her.

                                                                                                    1. If she's vegan it might be an issue but if she's vegetarian, lard/butter what's the diff?

                                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: hsk

                                                                                                        like i said..its really up to HER to decide whether it matters or not to HER.

                                                                                                        1. re: hsk

                                                                                                          butter is not a product of killing an animal; lard is. there is a big diff.

                                                                                                          1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                            I think that hsk was referring to the effect it has on the body if you don't eat it regularly. i.e. would someone who regularly ingests butter really risk getting sick from ingesting a small amount of lard?

                                                                                                            1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                                              Yes, I was referring to the discussion of animal protein causing problems with vegetarians who are not used to it. I know lard comes from dead animals, but I know a lot of vegetarians that avoid meat for health reasons, not animal-welfare reasons.

                                                                                                              1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                                                I eat butter all the time, but gave up pork (and beef) 20 years ago. Pork, lard, bacon fat, etc., DO affect me. Badly. (Can't be far from a bathroom for a few hours after ingesting a very small amount.)

                                                                                                            2. re: hsk

                                                                                                              lol hsk...did you think that they just squeezed the pigs really hard to get the lard out of them? hehe.

                                                                                                              1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                to mix up the paradigm, porcine liposuction might actually work.

                                                                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                  or breast reductions for chickens.

                                                                                                                  1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                    anathema to Frank Perdue's heirs!

                                                                                                                2. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                  Pig butter? It could happen.. I wonder what pig's milk is like?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                    How about pig cheese? Or cat cheese? Ewww.

                                                                                                              2. lulubelle, in this case there is no "right" answer. There is only what you decide to do. And you'll be condemmed and condoned either way. I tried but couldn't come up with a response to you.

                                                                                                                All I know is that I would tell. But that is just me and how I am.

                                                                                                                A real conundrum.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                  Wise words... perhaps the wisest on this thread.

                                                                                                                  Probably all of us start with a gut reaction of what we'd do and then try to justify it using reason and logic. Not always easy to identify why we have that gut reaction in the first place.

                                                                                                                2. Don't tell her.

                                                                                                                  Telling her won't benefit her at all and will just upset her. I disagree that she has a right to know after the fact.

                                                                                                                  It serves only one purpose: to assuage your guilt.

                                                                                                                  You can probably find other ways to achieve that goal like, maybe, posting on a food discussion board.

                                                                                                                  Hopefully you have accomplished that.

                                                                                                                  Edited to add:
                                                                                                                  I also don't believe there is any truth to the claim that vegetarians get sick when they eat meat-products. If you can find scientfic proof to the contrary, please share it.

                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: taos

                                                                                                                    I was a vegetarian for 5 years. For my first go at meat after that, I had a big fat cheesesteak (nothing like easing into it, right??)

                                                                                                                    And I was fine.

                                                                                                                    1. re: dagwood

                                                                                                                      My experience was the same as dagwood's: I was a vegetarian for years. Then one day, I had a large burger. It was lovely. I did not get ill in the slightest.

                                                                                                                      1. re: dagwood

                                                                                                                        I had the same experience. I wonder if people think they might get sick and therefore, if they do, for any number of reasons from bad meat to stomach virus to anything that might cause an upset stomach, they attribute it to the meat product.

                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                          I don't get sick when I eat the occasional piece of beef. For me, pork is a real problem though.

                                                                                                                      2. re: taos

                                                                                                                        As i've mentioned, it's not being a vegetarian that could cause people to get sick as such, but unless you know someone inside and out, they could have given meat up in stages. My sister hasn't eaten pork (or beef) in well over a decade, and while it didn't land her in hospital, it sure made for a miserable couple of days for her, even if she just ate the fat. She still ate chicken and fish, and could also tolerate wild game for some reason, so she ate those for years. She only decided to go veg in the past year or so and mostly for dietary reasons. I doubt she gets into all the fine details of her food history with friends or at parties. She is a vegetarian who would most definitely get sick from eating certain meat products. Lard would be one of them.

                                                                                                                        1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                          One case of one person, or even a few anecdotal cases, is not a scientific study.

                                                                                                                          I'm talking about a double blind scientific, controlled, study.

                                                                                                                      3. HA! Agreed.

                                                                                                                        1. I haven't read all of the responses but I think whether or not you tell your friend depends on her -- is she a person who would want to know or would it cause her so much anguish that it would end up doing more harm than good? You would think that most people would understand that it was a mistake and totally unintentional. But I find that not everybody operates that way.

                                                                                                                          My ex-boyfriend and I frequented this Vietnamese restaurant often where he would order crab spring rolls (6 rolls for the grand price of $5). He refused to eat mammals -- so that meant no pork. I always thought that it was a little fishy that crab spring rolls were so cheap. Then I realized that it was probably pork combined with some crab. So I told him my hunch, thinking he would be grateful for that information. No! He got pissed off at me. He wasn't pissed off that he's been eating pork for all this time. He was pissed that he wouldn't be able to eat the dish again, and that I was the person to deliver that news to him. Yeah, he ended up shooting the messenger. Even though I didn't say it at the time, all the went through my head was a whole bunch of curse words directed at him. So my act of letting him know the truth ended up getting both of us pretty angry. I realize now that I should have kept my mouth shut because he was the type of person who couldn't handle the truth.

                                                                                                                          So I think you know your friend better than anyone else here, and feel that you need to decide what is the most appropriate course of action. She may be grateful that you thought so much of your friendship that she needed to know the truth. Or she may be pissed off that you "ruined" her 20 year streak.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                            I have a good friend who is vegan who says the same thing as your ex. She said she'll never forgive someone for telling her Guinness is not vegan (tongue in cheek, though, because she is thankful).

                                                                                                                          2. Tell her.

                                                                                                                            You'll fee better about yourself. You're friend will fee better about not being deceived. And, in the process, you'll (hopefully) build a stronger friendship.

                                                                                                                            1. Getting back to the original premise, the OT says "but she has been a vegetarian for 20+ years and I know she'll be upset."

                                                                                                                              I was a vegetarian for seven years. If this had happened to me while I was a vegetarian, I don't think "upset" would have been my reaction. I would have appreciated my friend's honesty but I wouldn't have been upset either because she fed me lard (even accidentally) or because I ate an animal product, or because she told me about it.

                                                                                                                              1. After being a vegetarian for 10 years, i accidentally ate a piece of pork sausage in a side dish that I thought was vegetarian. I swallowed it but felt it left a track of grease from my throat to my stomach that didn't go away for a day.

                                                                                                                                Few more years of vegetarianism after that incident, and then I went back to eating meat because a dear 80 year old woman threatened with her life. The first time I ate a Church's Fried Chicken I enjoyed it so much, and then promptly fell asleep for a few hours.

                                                                                                                                I didn't get sick both times.

                                                                                                                                I still cook for my vegetarian sister. If I were the OP, I would tell the vegetarian if I accidentally got something into the dish she ate. It's a matter of trust. Personally I would always prefer not to second guess someone else's reaction. It's simpler to be truthful and take the consequences as they come. I'd rather do that than live in a "what if" world.

                                                                                                                                1. WOW 115 comments on this thread?! (Plus a few that were moderated) Hard to believe that people have such strong opinions about a a little pig fat!!

                                                                                                                                  Thank you to everyone who weighed in on this--People had really thoughtful, helpful, and completely conflicting opinions. I changed my mind at least 1/2 a dozen times while reading peoples' thoughts.

                                                                                                                                  I've decided not to tell her. I really think telling her would do more to clear my own conscious than it would to anything helpful for her. She can't undo the past, she's not mysteriously sick, there is no purification ritual she can do to address the situation. And because she is a pretty tense, high-stress kind of person, I think it would really just upset her for no good reason.

                                                                                                                                  Yes, she certainly has a right to know what she is putting in her body, but after the fact I am not sure what the point would be. If someone accidentally fed me bugs (which has almost happened to me)I would not want to know after the fact, because I would just be disgusted with no way to change it.

                                                                                                                                  Also, I decided to ask one of her friends, who is closer to her than I am, was at the party, and is also a vegetarian (but one who has bacon-induced relapses occasionally, so I wasn't worried about telling her) and her first response was "Oh God, don't tell her, she'll be so upset.".

                                                                                                                                  So that's were it stands. In the future, I will certainly do a better job looking at cans before cooking!

                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                                    Even though I wouldn't come to the same conclusion, good on you for putting so much thought into this (and for starting a very interesting discussion).

                                                                                                                                    1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                                      I just read through the thread, and agree with your decision.

                                                                                                                                      My ex-step-son-in-.law and his then-girlfriend are vegetarian, and Mom and I tried really hard to cook almost everything vegetarian for dinnar parties for them. Our slip-ups (not admitted) were Caesar Salad, Harry and David frozen desserts (gelatin) and fondue (Mom put in Worchestershire sauce). They happily ate each of these, but I'm not sure how upset they'd be if they knew. The son-in-law went to a Thanksgiving dinner once at his mother's and 3 different dressings were presented. He was assured they were vegetarian, but on asking, they'd all been cooked with chicken stock. I think they appreciated our efforts and attempts at research more than anything.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: tracylee

                                                                                                                                        I think you were very diligent! I suspect very few vegetarians are 100% about avoiding things like Worchestershire sauce. It would become very difficult to eat out. I know with my best friend who is vegetarian, there's a certain amount of willful ignorance about ingredients such as fish sauce and chicken stock, because otherwise she would never be able to eat out in restaurants with her friends and family.
                                                                                                                                        Gelatin is a tough one. There's a lot of muslim families & businesses in my area and I have heard storekeepers telling kids they can't buy this or that candy because it is not Halal. Even something as simple as daycare staff making rice krispie squares with the kids becomes an issue.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                                        I've already said that I would tell her, but I also submit that you know your friend much better than I, so ultimately the decision is yours.

                                                                                                                                        Here's another way to look at it. Once you tell her, there's no turning back. So save it for a time when you REALLY need it...like when the two of you have had a few (too many) drinks, and she's telling you what an awful person you are for eating meat, and lording her vegetarian diet over you with moral superiority. Wait until she says, "I haven't had any meat in over TWENTY YEARS!" THEN you can tell her! ;oP

                                                                                                                                      3. I was vegetarian for 17 years, and I would DEFINITELY advise you not to tell her. As many others have pointed out, it would only cause her stress (as it sounds likely to be quite possible with her personality).

                                                                                                                                        And although we don't admit it, all but the most, well, ignorant vegetarians realize in the back of their heads that every time they're eating any food they didn't prepare themselves, there's a chance of getting animal products. As VERY seriously as I took it back then, I think I used willful ignorance, especially when it came to eating things out like sour cream and other ingredients likely to use gelatin.

                                                                                                                                        1. This topic has already been picked over and picked over, but I'd like to add a few words about graciousness:

                                                                                                                                          I was a vegetarian for years and one day went to a thank-you luncheon given by a local senior center where I volunteer. They served a rice dish that included shrimp. I ate it because they were offering me the best that they had, a special "company" food that they could most certainly not afford on any "regular" occasion. They were honoring me as a guest, and thanking me for my contributions for their work. It would have ungracious, not to mention a little sanctimonious, for me to have refused a luxury food that was no doubt chosen especially for the occasion.

                                                                                                                                          It isn't a perfect analogy, but you, lulubelle, also went out of your way to honor your friend and what you know to be her beliefs. You've already made a decision to not tell her, so I won't offer advice there. But I will say that if I were the person for whom you made the special dip, I would have accepted it in the spirit in which it was given if I later found out that a bit of lard had been accidentally mixed in.

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Erika L

                                                                                                                                            You sound like a very nice (and sane) person.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Erika L

                                                                                                                                              Erika, what a gracious thing to do. Today, years after leaving vegetarianism, I'm truly horrified to think how many times people changed their menus or added dishes just for me.

                                                                                                                                            2. A very weighty matter. Sounds like a case for Rabbi Ari Ben Flanken, whose specialty is lard.

                                                                                                                                              1. I saw enough dietary transgressions when I was in college: a seemingly-observant Jew in my first dorm who couldn't resist BLT's, a strict vegetarian who reached for the meat lasagna one night and when we pointed out "Dennis, you're vegetarian!" he said "Tonight, I'm not" (not sure who ended up eating the vegetarian lasagna made especially for him), and the head cook at one of the international students dorms who would tell the Muslims that breaded pork patties were veal patties (he had some major issues, and a really sharp knife, so I didn't feel like correcting him). I feel kinda bad about that last one, but the other two were by their own personal choice.
                                                                                                                                                My thought - you didn't do it intentionally, it did her no physical harm, in the future read the labels more carefully.

                                                                                                                                                1. True confession time... I once brought a pecan pie to my parents for a dinner with old friends. The prepared crust I used was made with lard (it's actually the most commonplace brand of frozen crust around here; they do have a vegetarian alternative, but I doubt most people even realize they are buying/eating a lard crust when they choose the standard package). When I made the pie, I don't think I knew exactly who was showing up from the other family, or that this one couple were vegetarian - my best friend is vegetarian and I am generally very accommodating if forewarned of dietary issues. I think the dinner served was somewhat lacking in options for them; they saw the pie and made much noise about how they were looking forward to it.
                                                                                                                                                  I never told them the pie had a lard crust. They enjoyed it very much.

                                                                                                                                                  1. Well you're better off than me. We have a friend who became vegetarian, and then recently vegan, and I'm very careful what I make when she stays over (from out of state). She's my husband's oldest friend and he doesn't care, he'll eat a hamburger right in front of her, and offer her some fried calamari at a restaurant, but not me, I research recipes and go crazy for her. But last time she was here, I had a bunch of different gourmet Chinese apps in the freezer, all labeled except one bag that I thought was an assortment of vegetarian dim sums, and I'd been saving for her visit.. So we're eating them, and she says "These taste like chicken, are you sure they're vegetarian" and immediately I knew she was right, I could taste it because as I said, they were good quality so of course solid meat. Turns out I had TWO unmarked bags in the freezer and picked the wrong one. So I put out the marinara pasta and whatnot right away, and she had that. But she hasn't been back to visit since then, and I hope that's not why. Probably not, but still. She's a very cool person in general.

                                                                                                                                                    Then I was telling someone I know who's vegetarian a few days later, and sort of laughed at how stupid I was, but she got really mad at me that I did that and could laugh about it, so two different reactions. I definitely have bad memories of that one.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Interesting topic. My husband is vegetarian (but eats fish) so I deal with this often. We eat out alot, and I haven't had the heart to tell him how French Onion soup or Clam Chowder are made. It is almost like a don't ask don't tell policy.

                                                                                                                                                      And to everyone posting here - I worked in restaurants for years, and chicken stock is basically like water in restaurants. It is used in everything, from sauces, to soups and everywhere in between.... Good luck.

                                                                                                                                                      Oh and by the way - don't tell your friend.

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: croissantkelly

                                                                                                                                                        It wasn't until I actually worked in a restaurant that I realized how many things I must have eaten back when I was a vegetarian thinking they were "safe". We made our homefries with the leftover bacon grease. I wouldn't have even thought twice about homefries.

                                                                                                                                                      2. I accidentally fed lard to a bunch of vegetarians last Christmas. I baked mince pies made with my usual pastry recipe, which is half butter, half lard. The lard makes the pastry very crisp and short. It wasn't until someone asked me what made the pastry so flaky that the penny dropped. I was *very* embarrassed but luckily they took it in good part.

                                                                                                                                                        1. You are not confessing an affair. It was a simple mistake, and you had very good intentions. Just let it go.

                                                                                                                                                          1. I am most bothered by the use of canned beans. That is how this whole mess came to pass.
                                                                                                                                                            ;D