HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

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

LOCKED DISCUSSION

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.

              2. It all comes down to: What type of host do you want to be?

                When I am the hostess I run along the lines of Diane in Bexley, in that I want *every* guest to feel comfortable, included and cared for. I also want *every* guest to be able to eat and enjoy the food(s) that I've made for them. That's why I invited them. Sometimes that means a vegetable "lasagna" with Italian sausage on the side and sometimes it means bending over backwards ala Diane of Bexley. They're my guests and the effort is always worth it and if its not I don't invite them back :-)

                1. As a vegetarian I say first make your meat dish. Second, if you have time, make something vegetarian that will complement your meat dish and what others are bringing — you don't have to make a "main" (honestly, not sure what this means, but then I rarely cook more than a one pot meal!)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: odkaty

                    I agree, my partner is vegetarian, I'm not. We eat mostly vegetarian at home but when invited to a potluck, we are used to bringing vegetarian items even if it's just a salad, It's the spirit of the potluck and being with friends that's more important.

                  2. I agree with the majority of the posters here and would make two mains, one meat-based and one vegetarian. If you are planning on turkey, there were some interesting dressings on another post this morning that could probably be made as vegetarian with a few tweaks.

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7439...

                    I would probably also add a nice big salad unless you are sure that someone is bringing one and I think you would have a meal that everyone will enjoy.

                    1. Since almost 50% of your confirmed guests are vegetarian, it would only be courteous to provide them with a main dish that they can eat too. Could you do two smaller ones, one vegetarian and one for the carnivores?

                      1. I haven't read all of the responses, but I'll remind you this is *your* Thanksgiving and you have named it "potluck" which indicates everyone does usually bring a dish.

                        Under that guideline, everyone typically will bring something they can eat and enjoy, which means that with 3 vegetarians, there likely will be plenty for all to eat. As the host, you cannot ignore the fact that others are meat eaters and as one yourself, you should have no qualms in providing a meat dish. I would be surprised if your non-meat eaters would expect less, so don't alienate one group to accommodate another. With that said, it certainly wouldn't be offensive to remind your meat-eating friends that vegetarians will be in attendance and if they include a non-vegetarian/vegan ingredient, to so note it.

                        Your dinner party is relatively small, so I would imagine there will be much conversation amongst all for each member to relate something interesting about their dish - in fact, that may be something fun to do anyway.

                        I would strongly suggest that if you decide to NOT provide a meat, you inform all prior to their arrival, lest you offend your meat-eating guests.

                        1. I also don't eat meat, and it's one meal, as long as there's some potatoes and great sides, I'm typically pretty happy (and stuffed!! ). It's the dishes that sneak in things that can be trouble (aka the non-meat dish with bacon bits), but even then. So it's nice to see those things at a meal. Speaking for myself, a plate of sides satisfies me, I'm not used to eating "meat and potatoes" type meals anyway, so it's not like there's ever anything missing off the plate.

                          It's a very nice gesture to consider the likes of your guests, especially as there are a good complement of them there. As there are three veg-heads in my family now present at dinners, we usually have a great mix. There are savory items like cheese and onion pie or a mushroom torta, which everyone eats and loves, not just the vegetarians.

                          At potlucks, I always bring something I can eat myself. People always want me to bring dessert though... which sometimes leaves me lacking.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: im_nomad

                            there seems to be a sense that vegetarians are a "problem" for dinner parties because they need to be "accomodated".
                            Would you serve a big pig as your main if you knew that 3 of your guests were Jewish or Muslim and expect them to bring other dishes "they" can eat??

                            That said... never go to a vegan dinner where the main is Tofurkey!!!

                            1. re: chickenbruiser

                              It varies from region to region but I'd guess that vegetarians/vegans are not the majority of the population anywhere outside of Berkeley. I don't think anyone here is insinuating vegetarians are a problem - heck many of us are or were veg-heads - but seeing as how Thanksgiving is a holiday by and large centered around a feast that features a giant roasted bird, non-veg hosts face a challenge... We value the company of our vegetarian friends and family, and we also value meat.

                              And yeah, if 3 of my guests were Jewish or Muslim, and I was having a celebratory potluck on a holiday centered around a giant roasted pig, I'd expect them to expect the presence of pork. I wouldn't force them to eat it and I'd definitely prepare something equally delicious (and pork-free) alongside Pumbaa but I think there's something to be said for a bit of accommodation & understanding on everyone's part.

                              Like I said, former vegetarian, and daughter of a vegan household here. I feel the Tofurkey pain. (If only vegans were as accomodating as omnivores, lol!)

                              1. re: muirne81

                                I do think that it would be good for those making those other sides to be aware that vegetarians will be there so that as far as possible, simple things like using water or veg. stock instead of chicken stock in an otherwise "vegetarian" dish is done. It's a bummer when many of the sides turn out to not really be "vegetarian".

                              2. re: chickenbruiser

                                Vegetarians are problem for dinner parties.. my friend who doesn't eat shrimp is a problem for dinner parties - there are lots of things that make being a host tricky. If I had a large party that included two conservative Orthodox Jews over that held kosher, basically I'd tell them they better bring what they wanted to eat, because everything in my kitchen has been defiled by pork.

                                What's especially tough about people who practice themselves vegetarians is that they are all over the place in terms of what they can or will eat - from a vegan who won't touch butter or a "vegetarian" that will eat eggs, fish, but no red meat or poultry.

                                That being said, you try to accommodate, by making sure there are options, but Thanksgiving is a holiday with some traditions, and a turkey is one of them.

                                1. re: chickenbruiser

                                  we have 3 vegetarians in the family and always have a Tofurkey along with the turkey

                              3. Make a turkey (or the meat of your choice) but also, as the host, it would be nice to do a vegetarian main also. This could be a vegetarian lasagna, as previously mentioned (spinach lasagna is great) or something as simple as a ravioli with a vegetarian sause. I think that a good host provides for all their guests.

                                1. I don't understand why none of the veggies are bringing a main dish for them to share - I don't eat meat and if invited to a pot-luck I'd ask who else was a veggie and I'd contact them to agree a plan. I would definitely not arrive with a side dish and expect to get a balanced meal.

                                  1. Many of my relatives are vegetarian. When they invite me over, they never cook meat dishes just for me, but I don't expect them to do so. If it's a potluck, I'd just bring my own food. Otherwise, I eat what they eat. I'm sure your vegetarian friends realize that you like eating meat.

                                    If you want to, go ahead and make two main dishes. But I wouldn't worry about it too much.

                                    1. As I understand it, a potluck means the guests are bringing food. Why not ask one of the vegetarians to bring something suitable as a main dish (lasagna?) and you cook a turkey. It sounds like there will be lots of vegetarian dishes.

                                      37 Replies
                                      1. re: John E.

                                        As I've always understood it, when one is hosting they provide the main(s) and others bring sides. Sometimes this is beautifully coordinated and other times its an interesting or some times, rat nasty mix.

                                        What I do find interesting and just a tad sad in this thread, is the vegetarians (sometimes ex) encouraging the BS that they don't care (count) as guests! They're just happy to be invited and maybe they are - but I want ALL of my guests to feel Yummed! To know that they were thought of and not just counted! I may not always get it perfect but Yummed! is what I'm after and that is what they deserve! While I would never encourage anyone to make there host feel less than, anymore than a guest, I think it is a disservice to *everyone* to encourage any host to not care about and expect the guest to just make do or bring their own. Unless of course they are one of the few that is allergic to all and sundry or too picky to be invited but somehow you have to invite them. Even then I will make the effort for them (CODB I suppose)- I just don't expect that good feeling back of having probably got it right, when there are more rules then I know what to do with. Honestly though vegetarian. vegan, high protein, gluten, nut/seed, crustacean and fish free can all be dealt with deliciously and for dinner reasonably easily. Its dessert that will get you :-) Still nobody is a second class guests. They are all my guests (no matter how encumbered) and I want them to eat, not make allowances just so they can be invited! Oh and yes I am a *lover* of pig and nuts and pretty much everything I think ;-P

                                        1. re: just_M

                                          Asking the vegetarians to help get 'their' food right doesn't seem like a problem to me. Potluck means all attending bring food. I don't think there are rules set in stone as to who makes what. The vegetarians should be lucky they were even invited. Now I don't really feel that way, but I have run into a few militant vegetarians who seemed to want the chance to be offended by what others choose to eat.

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            <<Asking the vegetarians to help get 'their' food right doesn't seem like a problem to me.>>

                                            Problem? No, but that just goes back to what I said up-thread about it all coming down to what kind of host the OP wants to be. There are many dietary restrictions/belief systems that I would need help with or at least educating in and some I probably could not provide for. I should still be at the invitation/planning stage when I discover these challenges and I can still change things with my guests.

                                            << The vegetarians should be lucky they were even invited>>

                                            As should *every* guest. Because the host took the time to show they care enough about the person that even if they don't agree with the guests POV they want them to feel comfortable and hopefully have a good enough time to come back for seconds (pun intended ;-? I suppose this could backfire if the guest turns out to be a crud but right now its too early to tell.

                                            <<Now I don't really feel that way, but I have run into a few militant vegetarians who seemed to want the chance to be offended by what others choose to eat.>>

                                            I do know how you feel. My parents were hippies, and I have known and often been related to some truly militant cranks! Well beyond vegetarianism and very much in your face about it. Now I live far, far away and get to be a guest at their house and act like I wish they would. I don't think most people intentionally invite a PITA guest and if they already knew that person was a PITA why did they invite them? That would be the reason I would use to force myself to make them something nice to eat, unless they can only eat their own food for what ever reason. By contrast a normal vegetarian is cheap and easy. Hahaha, oh how I make myself laugh!

                                            1. re: just_M

                                              The host of a pot-luck coordinates the meal so that dishes are not duplicated. Asking the vegetarians to provide vegetarian foods for a pot-luck is not unreasonable and certainly does not make the host any less gracious or less of a host in any shape or form. It's ridiculous to assume otherwise.

                                              1. re: John E.

                                                John E. the host of a potluck normally provides the main entrée(s) and coordinates the remainder of the meal. Unless its at an office or something where there really is no host. I know I have had more then one discussion with my husband when he has volunteered me for host when he neither understands or cares about the duties of a host. In my world guys overwhelmingly don't and its left to the wives to make it palatable and make sure no one has been unintentionally offended. The guys do not care and if that is the type of host someone wants to be then that is their issue. Don't care = not good.

                                                There was also a discussion that was later locked and I can't find it now about an omnivore couple being invited to an omnivore house for dinner and being asked to bring the main (famous lasagna I think) all the other guest were asked to bring food (not youngsters). The OP of that thread (the tiffed lasagna maker) could not believe she had been asked to bring the main and neither could the responders to the thread. If I remember correctly the thread was closed because the trashing of the host had become repetitive or as the Mods said "we think everything has already been said here and things have become repetitive" or something like that.

                                                Bottom line the host's job is to think of the guest's needs, not just to provide a space. To leave that to some unpaid person? Well I hope that person has at least been informed how they are being relied upon and how thankful the "host" is.

                                                1. re: just_M

                                                  The rules of a potluck can vary as much as the number of potlucks. We attend a family reunion and everyone brings something. To say that a host of a small gathering like the OP to not request the help of the vegetarians attending is ludicrous. If someone was 'tricked' into something well then that's between them and the person with whom they are annoyed.

                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    Your family reunion is one thing, and the make up and expectations as set out by the host are unique, and I'm guessing hugely different in scale. The OP is hosting a small party and has requested etiquette for a (I'm assuming good) potluck. The OP did not indicate if there are any additional issues such as financial problems or first time or whatever other then that the OP is not a vegetarian and 3 confirmed guests of the 5-10 expected are vegetarian. This puts the vegetarians at 50% if the other two expected guests as well as the OP are carnivores. The ratio obviously could change but that is of little matter. What matters is the communication of the host to the guest. My thoughts are all based on the OP hosting in the most general fashion, as they did not provide any other info about requests to others. If the OP made requests to others my thoughts would be different. What I am responding to is the general question in the context of what I've been taught regarding generally accepted etiquette and what I feel as a host.

                                                    For what its worth my husband says "have the vegetarians bring the food. Its probably better, if your younger you'll probably meet women and if nothing else you'll get your fiber!"

                                          2. re: just_M

                                            While it is true that the host should do their best to make their guests feel welcome, there should be reasonable expectations. As I mentioned earlier, I've been invited to eat at the homes of vegetarians, and many times, I was the one of the few omnivores there. The hosts never even offered me a meat dish. I would have brought my own, but they didn't like the smell of meat in their homes. Some of them refused to have any meat touch their utensils or plates. But I didn't raise a fuss because I knew what was going to happen when I got there.

                                            For me, it's not worth it to go through the extra effort to accommodate them when I know they would never do that to accommodate me.

                                            1. re: raytamsgv

                                              Wow. I am really shocked at your feelings. If I was invited to a vegetarian home there is no way I would expect meat. None at all. And for me to bring meat would feel unspeakably rude. If they don't want meat on their plates that's their choice. Their plates.

                                              1. re: raytamsgv

                                                Unless you're a carnivore, you can eat everything at the dinner, despite it all being meatless. I'd never bring a bottle of wine to teetotaler's house, or expect them to have a bottle of wine to accommodate me. And, if they came to my house, I'd be sure to have non-alcoholic drinks for them, and food cooked w/out alcohol. It's worth the extra effort, IMO, to make sure my guests are comfortable.

                                                1. re: raytamsgv

                                                  So, if you were invited to the home of a Jewish family that kept kosher, you would expect them to serve you some pork, and if they didn't, you'd would make sure when you invited them over, every dish had pork in it ?

                                                  1. re: dump123456789

                                                    So, if you were invited to the home of a Jewish family that kept kosher, you would expect them to serve you some pork, and if they didn't, you'd would make sure when you invited them over, every dish had pork in it ?

                                                    ________________________

                                                    Sorry, dump123456789

                                                    That's apples to oranges. Dietary issues based on religious beliefs are different than dietary choices based on personal (non-religious) beliefs.

                                                    There is respect and accomodations for reilgious beliefs. And there is respect and accomodations for personal beliefs. The former is required by law; the latter not so much.

                                                    Don't conflate the two.

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      There is respect and accomodations for reilgious beliefs. And there is respect and accomodations for personal beliefs. The former is required by law; the latter not so much.

                                                      _____________________________

                                                      Don't conflate the individual with the state.

                                                      U.S. law doesn't require you to offer kosher meals to your guests who keep kosher when they visit your home. Governmental institutions are different; a prison, for instance, must provide appropriate food to inmates with sincere religious beliefs.

                                                      Anyway, the original question concerns etiquette, not legalities. And in this instance, why wouldn't a good host should accomodate his vegetarian guests, especially if they constitute half of the party?

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        How am I conflating anything ? As an atheist, I don't care what your dietary choices are based on. I will respect and accomodate those choices as I can, as long as you're not unpleasant about it. Why are you suggesting that those choices be treated differently by hosts, just because the government treats them differently ?

                                                    2. re: raytamsgv

                                                      I think that there is a little difference between the omission of something at a dinner table, as opposed to expecting an addition.

                                                      btw, the ones you know might never accomodate you, but please don't assume that every non-meat eater will never accomodate an omnivore, because it's just not true.

                                                      1. re: im_nomad

                                                        The point I'm making is that the host should do their best to accommodate their guests, but it is unreasonable for ask the host to go out of the way for that. The guests know what type of meal will be there. In my case, I knew that the meals would be vegetarian. That's fine by me. I don't expect them to cook meat nor to provide it.

                                                        But you can draw the example further. I generally stay on a low-sodium diet. I certainly don't expect the hosts to provide low-sodium dishes for me. If they do, great. If they don't, it's their prerogative. As a guest, I'm not going to complain about the food in any case.

                                                        If the people have the time, energy, expertise, and money to make special dishes accommodate their guests, more power to them. If not, there's no need to give them a guilt trip.

                                                        For the record, I usually am able to accommodate my vegetarian friends. I even grow veggies in my garden for them. But I don't expect everyone to be able to do so.

                                                        1. re: raytamsgv

                                                          I accommodate people w/ diabetes if they come to my house and if someone were on a low sodium diet, I'd also not load everything up with salt.

                                                          But, leaving out an ingredient isn't the same thing--I mean, I love chocolate but that doesn't mean I expect the host to make something with chocolate every time they entertain me. It's the same with meat.

                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            Saying you'll use less salt is like saying you'll use less meat for vegetarian dishes. It's not just about adding less salt. It's about taking hours to make things from scratch because almost everything pre-made (including almost all cheeses, sauces, ham, bacon, broths, seasonings, breads, baked goods, etc.) have too much sodium.

                                                            Many recipes, such as breads, won't taste right if you simply remove the salt, so you would need to rebalance the recipes.

                                                            Despite your efforts, I would most likely not be able to eat your dishes because your low-sodium standards are different than mine. As a guest, I would say that you should cook as you would normally do so. If your food has too much sodium, I'll eat at home first or bring my own dish.

                                                            That doesn't mean you are not a good host.

                                                            1. re: raytamsgv

                                                              I'd find out the health restrictions first, before venturing forth and it doesn't mean that I'd make EVERY dish accommodating, just make sure the guest has something to eat. So, yes, if I knew you had health problems and could have no salt, I'd be accommodating w/out acting like it's an imposition. FWIW, my MIL likes to have plain white rice with every meal, and does not like cheese. So, when we have her over, I have plain white rice ready and make non-cheese versions for her. As with your example about how unaccommodating vegetarians are not to have meat for you, my MIL has never made a cheese dish for me when I go to her house. And, it doesn't bother me in the least. I don't think, well, she doesn't accommodate me at her house, why should I accommodate her, as you said.

                                                              "For me, it's not worth it to go through the extra effort to accommodate them when I know they would never do that to accommodate me."

                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                Perhaps it is the definition of "extra effort" that we cannot agree upon. I will always have veggie dishes for vegetarians, but they won't be fancy unless it's part of my original menu. They might find the food very plain. Would having these simple dishes indicate "extra effort"? Or does "extra effort" mean that fancy dishes are to provided?

                                                                As for me, I've probably gone through more "extra effort" than most in order to accommodate my certain extremist vegetarian friends and relatives. I've grown organic vegetables from seed, harvested, and cooked them specifically for them. While they loved those dishes, I will never do that again because they won't even let me bring my own dishes and utensils to eat in their homes. From now on, their vegetables will be store-bought.

                                                                1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                  I guess my thinking is, if you're going to invite vegetarians, why not make vegetarian dishes part of the "original menu"? It's not as if the other guests won't eat and enjoy them!

                                                                  I think it's weird that your "extremist vegetarian" friends and relative won't let you bring your own dishes and utensils, but I also think it's weird that you want to -- clearly there's more going on than them being vegetarians and you not being vegetarian.

                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                    In this particular instance, they are clearly outside of the norm. Before I even had a chance to eat their dishes, they said that they would never allow meat in their home even if I had brought my own stuff. I let the issue drop, because I don't want to impose on them, and I never insisted on bringing meat nor did I ever bring meat there.

                                                                    While I certainly have my disagreements with them, we should not lose sight the real issue: what it means to be a good host. As you wrote:

                                                                    "I guess my thinking is, if you're going to invite vegetarians, why not make vegetarian dishes part of the "original menu"?"

                                                                    Fair enough. But if they invite omnivores over, why not make meat dishes part of the "original menu"?

                                                                    Some posters (including myself) have answered "No" to the second question. In that case, then there are different standards for being a "good host".

                                                                    I don't see why I should be held to a stringent standard to be considered a "good host" when others are being held to a more lenient standard. If people want to hold themselves to different standards, it's their choice. But it is unwise to insist that others should measure themselves by the same standards in determining who is a good host.

                                                                    1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                      This just seems obvious to me. If they are ethical vegetarians, they feel it is immoral to kill animals for food. By providing meat to a guest, they have (at least indirectly) killed an animal for food. So asking them to do it is asking them to act against their moral code.

                                                                      While there certainly are kind significant others, moms, etc. who while vegetarian, will cook meat for their loved ones, considering it "poor hosting" if one doesn't seems a bit unfair.

                                                                      1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                        I'm holding everyone to the same standard: provide food that all of your guests can eat.

                                                                        I agree with chowser: resentment stemming from your relationships with "extreme vegetarians" is causing you to insist on your right to eat meat at every occasion. If you think about it objectively, I think you'll see how ridiculous that position is.

                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                          Please review all my responses. Where have I ever stated it was "my right to eat meat on every occasion?" This is a straw-man argument. I never said that. If you carefully review my arguments, you will see that my position is that omnivores should NOT expect to eat meat at a vegetarian's home. Here is one such statement:

                                                                          "...I knew that the meals would be vegetarian...I don't expect them to cook meat nor to provide it."

                                                                          That statement is very clear.

                                                                          I don't think you would intentionally misrepresent my position, so I would assume that perhaps you have misread them incorrectly.

                                                                          My arguments have been on the principle of the matter--about the level of responsibility of a host and how much accommodation a host could be expected to make to be considered a "good" host.

                                                                          1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                            Okay, how about a person can be a good host without compromising their morals and beliefs? A teetotaler doesn't have to serve alcohol, a vegetarian for ethical issues doesn't have to serve meat, someone whose religion prevents them from eating cow or pork doesn't have to serve it. Taking it further, a person who doesn't believe in adultery doesn't have to invite a married man and his girlfriend. If you believe that to be a good host, you need to compromise your beliefs then I can see why you resent your friends who don't. There are many foods I don't serve, even though others I know enjoy them, like shark fin soup. I appreciate my guests' respect for my beliefs enough not to be bring it. If they want to serve it at their house, fine but if every course is going to contain it and they're making a point because they weren't invited to bring it to my house then that's a friendship I'd easily live without.

                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                              I DON'T ever expect a vegetarian to compromise their morals and beliefs just for the sake of feeding my prodigious gut. And I think they can be perfectly good hosts, too. They should not expect me to go the extra mile for them. For example, if I invite them over, they will have food they can eat cooked as best as I can. But I won't spend a few days practicing making a dish just for them.

                                                                              It is up to each individual host to determine how far they wish to go to take care of their guests, but I don't think we should be so judgmental in thinking that a vegetarian host or an omnivore host has to act in a certain way to be considered a "good" host.

                                                                              1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                re: "spend a few days practicing making a dish just for them".

                                                                                I think as a general observance, people who go way above and beyond tend to be put out when someone doesn't make the same effort. You mentioned going to the extent of planting seeds in your garden and growing organic vegetables etc. I see this as less of a veg/non-veg issue.

                                                                                This is sort of the equivalent of someone knitting a sweater for a friend for x-mas, that took months and months and extra care to track down that special wool...while they dropped by the nearest gas station for a gift on the way to the gift exchange. I have been around people who grumble about having spent $$$ and hours cooking for a workplace potluck, while people popped by a corner store to purchase a 2 litre pop or chips and dip.

                                                                                I'm not saying I haven't been there, grumbling about having taken extra care while others don't pull weight (altough most definitely NOT at potlucks)...but really, it's not worth the energy or the spike in blood pressure.

                                                                            2. re: raytamsgv

                                                                              I've read your posts. You are claiming that in order to be a good, accommodating host a vegetarian should feed you meat or allow you to bring meat to eat at their home. Your statements imply that the only way you can feel your food needs have been met is to have meat, otherwise why would you care whether they allow meat in their home or not?

                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                I am not implying what you think I am.

                                                                                As for my extremist relatives, here is the original context:

                                                                                "While it is true that the host should do their best to make their guests feel welcome, there should be reasonable expectations. [deleted stuff about not allowing meat in their homes]. But I didn't raise a fuss because I knew what was going to happen when I got there. "

                                                                                The "reasonable expectations" mentioned in the first line is restated in last sentence of the paragraph: "But I didn't raise a fuss because I knew what was going to happen when I got there. " It would be unreasonable for me to expect to eat meat there.

                                                                                My point is that both omnivore and vegetarian guests should have "reasonable expectations" when they go to a home where the hosts have a different diet. In response to the OP, the vegetarian guests know that the host is an omnivore and possibly that most people will be omnivores. As such, they should have a reasonable expectation that they may not have a full vegetarian feast and thus plan accordingly for it.

                                                                                The same is also true when I visit those relatives. I need to plan accordingly for it and not expect them to meat available for me.

                                                                                1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                  We seem to be talking past each other.

                                                                                  Other folks are saying the host should provide a vegetarian main for the ~50% of the guests who are vegetarian, along with a meat based main for the non-vegetarian guests.

                                                                                  Your post above seems to say the vegetarian guests should not expect an all vegetarian meal.

                                                                                  Those two viewpoints are not in contradiction with each other.

                                                                                  What other posters may be addressing is this:

                                                                                  "For me, it's not worth it to go through the extra effort to accommodate them when I know they would never do that to accommodate me."

                                                                                  and

                                                                                  your response to "I guess my thinking is, if you're going to invite vegetarians, why not make vegetarian dishes part of the "original menu"?" was "Fair enough. But if they invite omnivores over, why not make meat dishes part of the "original menu"?"

                                                                                  The first point above sounds almost vindictive, not a mark of a good host. You've clarified since then that you do prepare some vegetarian dishes.

                                                                                  The second point is a false parallel. If a host doesn't have vegetarian dishes, then some of his guests will have little or nothing they can eat - a bad host. If a host doesn't have meat dishes, then all of his guests will still have plenty to eat - not a bad host. (Unless, of course, some of the guests have real dietary restrictions which absolutely require them to eat meat.)

                                                                      2. re: raytamsgv

                                                                        It sounds like you have more issues with your friends than just dinner. Your resentment is coming through loud and clear.

                                                                2. re: raytamsgv

                                                                  A good guest should not impose expectations on a host.

                                                                  A good host should reasonably accomodate their guests.

                                                                  If you wish to drop the directions above, you should also drop the "good".

                                                                  (I have students in my class who almost never read their textbooks, and their grades show it. I won't stop calling them students and I won't guilt trip them, but I'm sure not going to call them good students.)

                                                              2. re: raytamsgv

                                                                It's not the same thing: you can eat (and hopefully enjoy) a dish without meat, but a vegetarian can't eat a dish with meat. Thus, there's no reason to "accommodate" you by serving you meat.

                                                                1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                  "I've been invited to eat at the homes of non-durian eaters, and many times, I was the one of the few durian-eaters there. The hosts never even offered me a durian dish. I would have brought my own, but they didn't like the smell of durian in their homes. Some of them refused to have any durian touch their utensils or plates. But I didn't raise a fuss because I knew what was going to happen when I got there. For me, it's not worth it to go through the extra effort to accommodate them when I know they would never do that to accommodate me."

                                                                2. re: just_M

                                                                  @just_m: I love your attitude toward making ALL your guests feel welcome and happy -- I'm not a vegetarian, but I too find it sad that so many people feel the need to say, "Really, it's totally fine for my host to ignore my dietary constraints! I'm happy nibbling on this cracker!" (NOT implying in any way that the OP is ignoring his/her guests, just speaking generally.) It's great that vegetarians or other people with dietary constraints are often accommodating and rarely make a fuss, but at the same time it just seems wrong for a guest in someone's home to feel that they have to assure everyone in advance that they don't expect anything to eat.

                                                              3. I am hosting Thanksgiving where 50% of my guests will be vegetarians (Indians, Berkeley doesn't have sole rights to vegetarians : ) We will definitely have turkey as well as a veg. main dish...wouldn't have it any other way.

                                                                Made the following dish a week ago & found it soo flavorful, I am planning on a veg. version as my main dish (in addition to turkey) for Thanksgiving. BTW, looking forward to using poblanos more often!

                                                                http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                Tofurky? Ugh, perish the thought!

                                                                1. I'm a vegetarian who hosts Thankgiving - the entire menu is meat-free except for the turkey and gravy (I also make a vegetarian gravy for me). I guess I'm one of those accommodating vegetarians, but I'd rather compromise and get to host Thanksgiving than not at all because my guests wouldn't fight a turkey-free holiday.

                                                                  I have always made one "side" that I would consider the vegetarian main - last year it was a squash tart, this year sweet potato gnocchi with truffle sauce.

                                                                  If you could make that main dish two smaller dishes - one meat, one veggie - would that work? If you were only planning to make one thing, go ahead and make the meat dish. If you know the potluck is going to have enough vegetarian options that they can have a filling meal along with the carnivores, then I think you're good.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: nonie1000

                                                                    "I do think that it would be good for those making those other sides to be aware that vegetarians will be there so that as far as possible, simple things like using water or veg. stock instead of chicken stock in an otherwise "vegetarian" dish is done. It's a bummer when many of the sides turn out to not really be "vegetarian"."
                                                                    ______________________________________________________________________

                                                                    I totally get where you are coming from here, but this can turn into a slippery slope if guests feel they have change/modify their recipes. Asking folks to just identify if they used any 'non-veggie' ingredients in what they brought is totally reasonable, particularly if it is not obvious by just looking at the item, but asking them to substitute ingredients is, I think, asking too much. The point of a potluck is for everyone to bring an item that they are genuinely excited to share. It should be as fun and stress free as possible. I agree that it would be great for the host to provide a simple but hearty veggie option to supplement whatever other veggie items will be brought. Perhaps a great seasonal soup, a big salad, and bread. I don't, however, think that any guests should be asked to do anything other than bring something they want to bring. Just my two cents.

                                                                    1. re: aes1968

                                                                      This sounded like a fairly small group (10) with something like 4 vegetarians. I certainly wouldn't expect people bringing stuff to a church potluck to follow this rule, but with a small group it seems "polite" as long as it doesn't completely change the character of the dish.

                                                                      1. re: aes1968

                                                                        When I go to a potluck, I can't enjoy myself if I know someone else doesn't have anything to eat! I ALWAYS ask the host if there are any dietary restrictions (for example, I bring a gluten-free dish to every single work-related event because I know a colleague won't have any choice unless I'm the one who brings the second gluten-free dish), and I would NEVER be offended if someone asked me to bring a dish that adhered to someone else's dietary restrictions (well, as long as they didn't actually clash with my own vegetarianism... I wouldn't cook a meat dish). The only time I'd be pissed off is if the host asked at the very last minute.

                                                                        1. re: aes1968

                                                                          I don't think making other contributors aware of how they might make their dish loved by more is a problem. They have the option of where to take it. If it were me I'd want to know that I could make my dish available to one more person by subbing vegetable broth or not using alcohol. Just a little heads up of some of our guests are veg or GF or whatever puts me in the drivers seat of without the blinders. As a contributing guest I'm not obligated but if its an easy substitution why not?

                                                                      2. I often make stuffed shells. I make the shells vegetarian but make a meat sauce. Since I often make two pans, I would just make one meat sauce and one veggie sauce. I usually make a ricotta/artichoke/spinach filling and use an Italian Sausage red sauce. But stuffed shells are easy to switch up. Maybe a ricotta and butternut squash filling with an alfredo sauce or zucchini and cheese filling with pesto cream sauce. Easy dish.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: myst

                                                                          And it sounds delicious, myst. Both of them.

                                                                        2. Many years ago I provided 3 whole BBQ hogs (200#+ each) for a big event. There were sides but I didn't make them. One of our U. S. Senators showed up and he surprised me by eating three of the pork sandwiches. My mother was helping out and she made them for him. He obviously not only didn't keep kosher but even ate pork BBQ. I knew I could cook a mean pig, but I didn't expect that.

                                                                          1. My friend just had me over for Thanksgiving Dinner (in Canada) and I was the only vegetarian. She served:

                                                                            - A turkey with gravy and stuffing
                                                                            - A little dish of stuffing on the side for me
                                                                            - Mashed potatoes
                                                                            - Cranberry sauce
                                                                            - Gingered carrots
                                                                            - Minted peas
                                                                            - Rolls

                                                                            And I brought my favorite holiday potluck dish - http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sa...

                                                                            The meal was definitely starch-heavy but that's fine with me once or twice a year! I definitely didn't think I needed an alternate main course. We're also in our mid-twenties and it was her first ever full holiday meal outside her parents' house, so I appreciated it even more.

                                                                            1. I think Thanksgiving is one of the easiest meals for vegetarians, even when there is no veggie main dish. Even if you don't want to make two main dishes, it would still be kind to use attractive labels to indicate which dishes are meatless. Stuffing, for example, can be made vegetarian or not, but it's not always apparent unless it's actually in the bird.

                                                                              1. If this dinner were not a potluck the host would have an obligation to provde a complete vegetarian option for the vegetarians invited. Since it is a potluck it is silly to not ask the vegetarians to provide vegetarian dishes that they would enjoy.

                                                                                1. It seems like everything there is to be said on this subject has already been said, and now the conversation is just going in circles, and growing increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock it now.