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When you're invited to a BBQ

I am not a vegetarian, but got into an argument after a Facebook post that somewhat called out vegetarians and vegans. My father had thrown a small BBQ and bought, burgers, dogs, chicken kabobs, salads and chips and salsa. Ten minutes before the BBQ he was reminded that one of the kids coming was a vegetarian. So he called her father and asked him to grab something. Problem solved.

My question is, what is your personal protocol when going somewhere and someone might or might not know you don't eat meat? Do you bring your own food to be cooked (which I said was rude) or do you call ahead to remind them of this (which I feel is fine, but a minor inconvenience) or do you just bring something to nibble on?

I should add, 90% of the BBQ i go to have grilled veggies readily available, but this one was small (4 adults 2 kids) and we didn't consider it. Should the responsibility fall on the person throwing the party or the vegetarian?

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  1. I dunno, usually if it's the BBQ of a really good friend who already knows how I eat, they will have already told me they have a vegan option for me. I can't speak for going to BBQs for people I don't know well because unless it had something to do with my life professionally, I probably wouldn't go.

    That said, it couldn't to ask your host if there's the off-chance they will have anything available for you. If not, you can politely ask if you can bring some veggie burgers. And after that, it's completely up to them to give you permission. If they aren't comfy with that, I would probably go ahead and eat before I go that way I can sidestep the issue altogether.

    1. Random Person: "Hobbert, would you like to come to my BBQ this weekend?"

      Me: "Sounds great. Do you mind if I bring some veggie burgers (or whatever) since I don't eat meat?"

      Problem solved.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Hobbert

        Totally agree with Hobbert! And you can easily bring a salad such as International Quinoa Salad (fatfreevegan.com) which others will love and you can eat that too if there aren't vegan options. I like the idea of bringing your own veggie burger...a bean salad is great too if you don't HAVE to have a burger type of food.

        1. re: Val

          Love that salad.

          Whenever I host a BBQ, the only meat dishes are the hamburgers, hot dogs, steak. Sides are almost always vegetarian

      2. I think a proper host would ask and accommodate the dietary restrictions of his/her guests. These days allergies and vegetarians are so common I know to ask.

        I would prefer that a guest let me know his/her preferences, and Id feel bad if a guest didn't have enough to eat. I would not be insulted if a guest brought their own food to meet a dietary restriction. I might give them a little ribbing about it though if they were good friends.

        1 Reply
        1. re: AdamD

          Better said than I could. But the vast majority of posters here say it better than I usually do.

        2. I have a vegetarian daughter, and people often forget, so i will just remind them and ask can i bring something vegetarian. Usually if at a BBQ, it will just be boca burgers, or a nice salad. It's never a big deal.

          1. If you have a special request, you should ask the host in advance whether you should bring or will there be choices. Cooking at home is not a restaurant so the expectation that there will be something for everyone isn't realistic and a bit self-centered for anyone with a special dietary desire or need.

            I'm not a vegetarian, but I eat so little meat that my close friends and family take it into account. People who don't know me as well, at all, or when I formerly was Carnivore King, have no reason to think they should have to adjust.

            As a host, I think it's nice to let people know if you can. It's not a requirement though. No more or no less so than not letting people know exactly what/if alcohol will be on hand.

            Want to see people get bent out of shape? Watch the alcohol drinkers flame hosts that don't serve because they don't drink. And the hosts that don't allow alcohol at their homes at all.

            If there's anything though, never go negative on Facebook unless it's in a positive way to help or resolve a customer issue with a company. Individuals, especially friends, family, and acquaintances, don't need the strife even if they deserve it.

            1. we always have a good vegan option.. a vegterian can eat a vegan option but not always vice versa... it usally solves the gluten free issue people and is a pretty good coverall for restrictions ..

              7 Replies
              1. re: girloftheworld

                Yeah, me too (and most hounds, i suspect), but the OP's original question is what do you do when you are "going" to BBQ, not "giving" one.
                It could be awkward with some folks. As stated before, my daughter is a vegetarian. Once my Dad, who was in his late 70's at the time grilled some fish for her when the rest of us had steaks. His heart was in the right place, but he didn't realize that fish counted as meat, too.

                1. re: TroyTempest

                  ahhh back when my sister would not eat meat... mom use to make her a meal before we left... so she wouldnt faint or get get grouchy if there wasnt anything she couldnt eat. Now she eats shimp and squidishthings...

                  1. re: girloftheworld

                    that was a good idea on your mom's part.
                    squidishthings, i love it. That would be your squid, cuttlefish, octopi, but not fish i suppose?

                    1. re: TroyTempest

                      Yes no "fish"..though I told her she seemed to following some sort of evloution pattern back to the omnivors

                  2. re: TroyTempest

                    Troy Tempest:
                    your story makes me think of the scene in the movie MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING
                    where the bride to be tells her aunt that the groom to be is vegetarian.
                    the aunt says something to the effect that it won't be a problem, they'll just serve lamb..

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        I'll tell you, this is no joke. When we were in Barcelona last year, most people couldn't wrap their brains around it. "oh, but you can eat ham, right?" One of our host's wives was insisting that we couldn't leave without sampling the famous Iberico jamon. It took several tries, with my fairly comprehensible Spanish, to get her to understand that if it was any type of animal, we don't eat it.

                  3. In general, when invited to a "Dinner Party" type thing (BBQ or not) I consider it "my job" to feed myself. I'll load up on salad and bread and any possible sides. I enjoy the company and the conversation; the food is secondary.

                    For a more casual event (we attend a yearly post-MTB race BBQ) where I know the host well, I'll bring some veggie burgers to pop on the grill. Oddly enough, I have found these to be ~very~ popular (calories?)-- I now bring extras to share.

                    To answer your question succinctly, the choice-and thus responsibility- of what to put in one's mouth falls firmly on the eater.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: pedalfaster

                      I couldn't agree more. It's the people and the time shared. I love food, or I wouldn't be on this website, but it shouldn't always be the focus. I always think about the MFK Fisher story in which she simply describes being happy to be an invited guest. Come prepared to be a possibly a little hungry but happy in the glow of friends' company.

                      1. re: pedalfaster

                        When I helped plan a company picnic, we had veggie burgers for a couple vegetarians in the group. We learned to keep a close eye on them so they weren't all snarfed up by the meat-eaters. I think the omnivores were eager to try them out where they didn't have to take a chance on buying a whole package themselves. Now I just plan on extras for the samplers.

                      2. As I said before, I'd never "expect" the host to prepare something just for me. I take sole responsibility for what I eat regardless of the setting, and I don't complain when my options at someone's house are limited. Homes are not restaurants.

                        As a host, I can always make something meatless and have enough sides and options that vegetarians and vegans can't go hungry, but I won't make a separate meal for them. Remember, they're choosing not to eat what I have available.

                        I don't think of it any differently than I have a few friends who I don't like they way they cook (not sanitary enough for me) so I simply don't eat at their events. I don't make a fuss about it. I just eat before I go.

                        1. I'm not vegetarian but I just feel that if a host invites a guest to a event, be it at home or in another location, and they know that the guest is vegan or vegetarian, they should at least provide something comparable to the other dishes they are serving to their other guests. And by that I mean more than a skewer of grilled veggies.

                          Now, if the host didn't know beforehand that the guest was vegetarian, that's different. But how can you invite someone for a meal and not have something just as substantial as what you feed your other guests?