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Etiquette: on potlucks and vegetarians [moved from General Topics]

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I'm having anywhere between 5 and 10 people over for a Thanksgiving potluck this coming Sunday. 3 confirmed guests are vegetarian. Everyone seems to bringing some sort of side (pie, squash, cranberries, what have you). My plan was to try and offer some sort of main dish, but I can't decide whether I should make it vegetarian or not. I don't criticize other people for their eating choices, but vegetarianism doesn't jive with my own training diet, and meat is delicious.

Do I offer an animal-based main dish at the risk of making the veggie guests feel alienated, or do I proceed as I normally would, given that I am the host, and let them adapt?

  1. I would probably do a meat based main dish and substantial vegetarian side that could help fill out the plates for those who don't eat meat. That plus three vegetarian guests at a pot luck means you should have at least 4 vegetarian dishes. Most of the adults (vegetarians and omnivores alike) in my life are mature and polite, and at a potluck will eat what they can without making a fuss about what they can't.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mpjmph

      Agree. It would be considerate, however, to let the omnivores also know that a significant number of the guests will be vegetarian and encourage them to bring sides that are vegetarian -- e.g., use vegetable rather than chicken broth, omit bacon, etc.

      1. re: masha

        How do you cook without bacon?

        1. re: MakingSense

          That's like cooking without butter.

    2. Ha-ha, try hosting a kosher, vegan Thanksgiving celebratioon like me. I think vegetarian is so much easier than vegan. Why couldn't you try something like a 4 cheese vegetable lasagna? Lots for everyone to eat, and that ought to help you bulk up if you are training? If you feel compelled to serve meat, you could add some Italian sausages, chicken piccatta,or something like that.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Diane in Bexley

        I, too, might go with something like a butternut squash lasagna for a main. You can either make two pans -- one with meat, one without -- or serve a meat dish on the side. If you take care of a veg main, you don't have to be as concerned by what other guests bring.

        1. re: maxie

          Veggie lasagna is always my go to when vegans or vegetarians are in the house. Even the meat eaters will (and have) gobbled it up and loved it.

        2. re: Diane in Bexley

          My Aunt is veg and we always have an Italian course for my dad we always made veg lasagne for our second course and she would fill up on that and eat sides during the turkey part, and all our sides are veg except for one of the two stuffings (if we happened to make two).

        3. As a former vegetarian (10 years) I'll add that in my experience, carnivores are more likely to be peeved that they're sitting down to a vegetarian main dish than vegetarians irritated with a meaty meal. While I was always grateful for anyone who made a special meat-free main dish, I was pretty used to enjoying a meal of sides. It was no big deal. Now, of course, I want meat. [jokingly bangs fork and knife on table]

          Could you do some kind of a main dish recipe that calls for the addition of meat @ the last minute? Then you could pull out vegetarian servings, add meat, and make everyone thrilled.

          1 Reply
          1. re: muirne81

            "carnivores are more likely to be peeved that they're sitting down to a vegetarian main dish than vegetarians irritated with a meaty meal"

            Yes, this is my experience too. People whose diet excludes a whole category of food are used to having to take what they get, so any gesture in their direction is appreciated!

            Now, for non-holiday meals, I will absolutely make a (hearty, substantial) vegetarian main for everyone including meat-eaters, but for holiday meals, where people are expecting certain things, I'll do a traditional meat main (like a turkey or turkey breast) PLUS a hearty vegetarian dish that works as a side for the meat-eaters.

          2. Do I offer an animal-based main dish at the risk of making the veggie guests feel alienated, or do I proceed as I normally would, given that I am the host, and let them adapt?
            ______________________________________________

            Eh, aren't those two the same thing? :-)

            Anyhow, here's my 2¢ for what it's worth.

            It is completely appropriate to simply offer an animal-based main dish and let the vegetarians fend for themselves. After all, this is a potluck, right? So, if you are a vegetarian and want to ensure that you have some good grub to chow on, bring a vegetarian dish, or entree.

            That said, the über-considerate thing to do (one that would make Emily Post herself smile from her grave) is to offer both a vegetarian and meat entree because the rationale is you, as the host, not only knows that there are guests who will be vegetarian but as a host it is your obligation to make your all of your guests feel not only welcomed and accommodated, but part of the festivities.

            1. I was also a vegetarian for 8 years 17-25, I never expected anyone to make anything special for me, and even now not eating pig or shellfish, I still don't expect. I made do with side dishes and dessert if I was still hungry and I still would if I went to someone and they made a ham. Since it's a potluck get one of the vegetarians to make something they could all eat.

              1 Reply
              1. re: smartie

                What always astounds me are the vegetarians who choose not bring a hearty dish to a potluck and then complain there's nothing to eat! Conversely, I used to belong to a group that had a monthly vegetarian potluck, and as a carnivore I always planned to bring something that would be hearty and satisfying to me (and still be vegetarian), just in case everyone else showed up with salad.