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"moral" food preferences, as a guest


In the "rude guest" thread, someone said that they didn't eat farmed fish, so if served farmed fish as a guest, he wouldn't eat it, but wouldn't be rude about it, either.

I'd like to ask about food restrictions that aren't allergy-related or religious, and how much of it can you expect hosts to cater to.

For example, after more than a decade of not eating mammals or birds, I started eating them again, but only stuff from butchers or suppliers where I can query the sourcing. If I am invited someplace, would it be rude to tell the hosts I will only eat "happy" meat (for lack of a better general term)? Would that be taken by them to mean I'd consider their meat to be below my standards, or not good enough, somehow? (In this way, this isn't like vegetarianism, I think.)

Now, I am not a vegetarian, and they will usually know this. If they've come to my place for Thanksgiving dinner or for a barbecue, they'll have had free-range turkey or pork ribs from our butcher across the street. So it would be wrong for me to claim vegetarianism when invited to their place. For a while, after I started eating most meat again, I still told people I didn't, and would only buy and eat meat at home. But since I wanted to share my husband's awesome smoked ribs with friends, the secret's out.

Do I get to tell hosts that I will only eat "happy" meat (especially since this is usually more expensive)? Is it reasonable for hosts to have to cater to this, when they have allergies and other "proper" food restrictions to think about?

  1. No, it isn't reasonable to ask people to meet your moral/ethical standards, particularly when it's a significant budget issue, and yes, it pretty clearly says that you don't think the food they offer you is good enough. Everyone has to make these decisions for themselves and their families, and their decision may not be the same as yours -- and yours is no more valid (nor invalid) than theirs.

    You have three options -- a) return to vegetarianism when in public (eat meat only when you're at home and have complete control) and tell people you've returned to vegetarianism, so they know to not buy animal-based protein to serve you-- b) relax your standards when away from home -- or c) don't accept social invitations.

    4 Replies
    1. re: sunshine842

      I agree, those are indeed the (polite) options. I have, so far, chosen b) when I am a guest.

      To play devil's advocate, though, why is this moral choice different from being a vegetarian or vegan? Some choose a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle because of their moral objection to eating animals/animal products. And, to toss myself right into the fire, is not religion a standarised construct for a moral/ethical philosphy?

      Note I'm absolutely NOT saying that my preference for happy meat should be held to the same standards and importance as a religious rule. I'm merely wondering aloud.

      (I may have strayed past the remit of this board, I think.)

      1. re: Palladium

        Vegetables, even organic vegetables, are far less expensive than local happy meats. So, for me, you're asking a host to put a meal on the table for a cost that is orders a magnitude more money.
        In my experience Kosher and Halal are not that much more expensive and are within reach; not budget busters.

        1. re: Palladium

          Why is this different? It's different because most people will have other dishes/ingredients on hand that may be satisfactory to a vegetarian/vegan. Yours is not an ingredient availability issue, it's a sourcing issue. So it would be like a vegetarian or vegan saying "I only eat vegetables/grains/beans that are ethically sourced from farms that I'm familiar with." Placing that extra "ethical" burden on a host is a bit unreasonable.

        2. re: sunshine842

          I think these truly are the three acceptable options. A number of people have very "gray" food decisions for moral/ethical reasons, for religious reasons, for diet reasons, for personal taste reasons etc. But having the most easy to meet "restrictions" is the best social option.

          I think another thing to keep in mind is that when restrictions are "invisible" it opens people up to being sloppier than you'd think. I grew up with a close friend who kept halal, my parents keep kosher-ish so she was always confident that she could eat "whatever" in our house. Well, one day my mom's making a dish and mentions something about sherry vinegar and then this slow thought bubble goes over my head about if sherry vinegar having initially made with alcohol would or would not violate what she would eat. In that dish we swapped the sherry vinegar for something else - but there was this moment of us looking at each other and thinking "have we accidentally served her something else like that in the past".

          Very observant Jews would never eat in the home of a non-observant person. If eating "happy meat" is truly important to you - only eat it from butchers or restaurants where you trust what's going on. Putting that kind of request on hosts is both extreme and very likely of still not getting what you want.

        3. To answer the questions posed in your last paragraph, no and no.

          Sunshine's options are excellent.

          1 Reply
          1. Rather than lying (which is another moral/ethical issue) about a return to vegetarianism, I would suggest saying something along the lines of: "I don't usually eat meat away from home."
            And I think, vis a vis eating at friends' homes, the difference between your former vegetarianism and your present position, is that the latter is a more familiar and probably less expensive one for potential hosts to deal with.

            2 Replies
            1. re: almond tree

              See, I would normally be perfectly happy to have a vegetarian/vegan meal, but I don't want to tell people I'm vegetarian, because I'm not. It only makes real vegetarians' lives more difficult when that person later sees me eating a steak or whatever.

              1. re: Palladium

                So, um, tell them that. Say, "here's what I'm not willing to eat, BUT, I'm not picky. If what you've got is peanutbutter sammiches -- and just for me, that's fine."

                Again, the point is to not impose more than absolutely necessary.

            2. Any proper host should ask about dietary restrictions and prepare a meal with those in mind. Doesn't matter the reason for the restrictions.

              In the first place, meat is not an essential. Specifying a meatless meal is ok and limiting the meal to a certain kind of meat should be accommodated. You are not forcing anyone to buy a really expensive meat.

              27 Replies
              1. re: Steve

                True, just because someone only eats happy meat doesn't mean i have to serve it. Unless of course they ONLY eat happy meat.

                1. re: Steve

                  Then you'd better invite only one person at a time or you will likely end up making a different meal for each person or no meal at all (gluten-free, no meat, no meat that might have antibiotics, no meat that wasn't raised and killed humanely and in an environmentally sustainable manner, no fish - or as one other recent thread had it - fish is ok except for salmon, I hate this and I don't eat that, I've got high cholesterol, blood pressure...).

                  No. Just no. A restriction for health reasons - allergies - is one thing. Personal preferences? Cook your own dinner at home

                  1. re: Just Visiting

                    Thank you for worrying about how much work it will be for me.

                    As I am doing the inviting, I have never found a vegetarian request to be burdensome. I would aways want to prepare a meal for my guests that make them feel welcome.

                    1. re: Steve

                      I think we're talking about making the hosts buy ingredients that are astronomically expensive, not the work involved.

                    2. re: Just Visiting

                      <<Then you'd better invite only one person at a time or you will likely end up making a different meal for each person or no meal at all >>

                      this is a complete fabrication.
                      i've made many, many, meals that could accommodate such folks.
                      a gluten-free vegan meal normally accommodates everyone.
                      truly, it's not even difficult, much less impossible.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        Not trying to be combative here, but I honestly don't think I could persuade my family to attend too many dinner parties where the meal served was gluten-free vegan. We might oblige very occasionally, but I think we'd just suggest we meet those folks at a restaurant next time where everyone not only could be accommodated, but find something to eat they enjoyed.

                        And that's not to disparage your cooking (I'm pretty certain yours is better than most, including mine), I'm sure you put a splendid gluten-free vegan meal on the table. While, I've gotten my family to give up the concept of a big slab of meat at every meal, and we even eat vegetarian frequently, and perhaps vegan occasionally, but a vegan gluten-free meal as the foundation for a dinner party sounds absolutely joyless to me. I understand some folks need to eat this way for health reasons, and we would accommodate that, but otherwise, it's not something I could persuade my family to do with great frequency.

                        By the way, we seldom accept dinner invitations from the other extreme, either, where the meal is giant slabs of meat with meat on the side. And lest you think I'm joking, I was once (not that long ago!) served a meal where the choice of entree was beef or lamb (or both!) and then your "vegetable" was pork and beans. Custard for dessert. I don't accept many dinner invitations at that house anymore if I can help it, either, unless I get to bring a vegetable or two.


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          There are families where meat is the focus of the meal. And, in some cultures, it's the expense that makes it so;;"Nothing but the most expensive, best for my guests" and meat gives the best perception. The host would lose face to serve a vegetarian meal.

                          LOL, we have such different backgrounds but I've been where you are. Dinner was a huge steak (we always shared one or two steaks in my family of four) per person, starch was pasta salad, vegetable was potato salad. I like my vegetables, just like some people like their meats!

                          1. re: chowser

                            Yes,. it's something we have had to work through as we've merged our friends and families through marriage. Sometimes I'm aghast.

                            I will say, the meat served on these occasions is always very very carefully sourced, and raised, finished and perhaps even slaughtered by some of the people present at the meal. The meat itself would meet (ha! I almost typed meat) the OP's current (but not her former) standards, but there would be (in my opinion) too darned much of it.


                          2. re: The Dairy Queen

                            You would then be amazed by a japanese kaiseki meal that's based on the vegetarian temple cuisine. There's a great place in NYC that recently got reviewed by the Times. Read the review and let me know if this doesn't seem at least the tiniest bit intriguing to you.


                            1. re: Bkeats

                              I would be all over that. I don't think my husband would relish it, however, and I'm hoping my toddler would find it intriguing enough to at least try it.


                          3. re: westsidegal

                            "a gluten-free vegan meal normally accommodates everyone"

                            sooo much like our American education system we accomodate to the most needy of the group inspite of the desire pleasure or experince of the the group?

                            1. re: girloftheworld

                              Everybody gets to eat, so...yeah.

                              1. re: Hobbert

                                This is why I like to have different dishes because not everyone has to be able to eat every dish. A host could easily do a meat, a vegetable stew/dish, some good bread, some sides and please everyone. One size doesn't have to fit all.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  Very true. My book club consists of 6 members- one is vegetarian and another does Paleo, yet somehow we all easily manage to eat. I think people are making a far better stink about this than is necessary. Occasionally, yeah, you're going to get a host or guest that's too much of a hassle. Ok, so they're not dinner party friends anymore. I don't do the exact same activities with each of my friends and this is no different.

                                2. re: Hobbert

                                  I am picturing a Saturday NIght Live Skit guest host Gwenth Paltrow," I have prepared a meal to fit everyines specal needs. The beautifull dressed dinner guest go to the dining room The wait staff brings out the ubiquitous silver domed plates and lifts the covers on china bowls of ice. To which Tina Fey responds " Was this ice made from all natural American spring water that only flowed through the Applechian trail?"

                                3. re: girloftheworld

                                  That's what I was thinking. The only person being accommodated is the gluten-free vegan, and the desires of the rest of the guest are ignored. When I have a party, I try to cater to the majority, not the minority. However, if I have a vegan (blessedly almost never) or a vegetarian in the guest list, I will do my best to have a few dishes that they can eat. For example, I'll have some substantial grain/veggie salads that everyone can enjoy, and I always have some veggie burgers on hand.

                                  1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                                    How are they ignored? The omnivores can't eat a dish not containing meat? I think your solution sounds great- a variety of dishes that everyone can choose from. I just don't see how not having meat at one meal is such an issue. I do it pretty regularly and have gotten a pretty regular rotation of vegetarian dishes I enjoy and make for myself.

                                    1. re: Hobbert

                                      I can empathize w/ meat eaters in that I like to go heavy on vegetables (not starches) and they're the bulk of my meals. I've been to parties where there has been no vegetables (outside of corn and potatoes which I consider starch). I would NEVER specially request vegetables when I'm asked by a host but there really is little for me to eat, as I said below, when the dishes are steak, potato salad, pasta salad. But, when you come down to it, it's not about the food, as much as CHs might not believe it. It's about getting together and I can deal with it. This is also why in the OP's situation, it not being such a strict diet, I'd let it go--there are usually some no meat dishes at a party, as I found back when I used to be a vegetarian. I never went hungry.

                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                        Actually, there are plenty of omnivores who eat a low-carb diet (by choice or necessity) who would not be accommodated by a vegan, gluten-free meal. I'm a low-carber by choice, so it wouldn't do me any immediate harm (unlike many diet-controlled, Type II diabetics I know, who would be sent into a sugar rush/crash spiral by a meal of rice, lentils and vegetables), but it is still completely contrary to the way I prefer to eat.

                                        However, if I were invited to dinner at a vegetarian's home, I would never expect them to go to the trouble and expense (or endure the possible moral quandary) of providing meat for me. I would simply make sure I ate adequate protein before I arrived and enjoy the lower carb portions of the meal insofar as possible.

                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                          A very reasonable solution. My husband does the same thing when we eat at friends' houses if we can't politely find out about the menu. Fortunately, he eats every 4 hours or so at the moment so he's never too hungry. When we were dating, he kept protein shakes and peanut butter and jerky in the car when we ate at my parents' house. I finally got him to give me a list of what he wouldn't eat so I could let my mom know. He was too polite to say anything and she was too polite to ask why such a big guy wasn't eating much. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to accommodate and we just have a variety of dishes.

                                      2. re: ludmilasdaughter

                                        Nothing wrong with chowser's approach, providing good options for everyone, even if not everyone can eat every option.

                                        But have you considered viewing cooking for special diets not as the inevitable ruination of your meal but as a challenge to overcome, a learning opportunity, a chance to expand and improve your cooking? Fun, even? If you guys really think nothing delicious is left once you take away meat products and, say, gluten, I suggest your imagination is failing you.

                                        Besides - and this imagined dinner is obviously a hypothetical situation - but in this hypothetical situation your guest is a friend, someone you like, someone you want to please or impress. You resent accommodating them... why? You INVITED them.

                                        Again... hypothetically.

                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                          Yep. I used to think vegetarian cooking was tragic and limiting and meant eating weird stuff like fake meat but once I got over myself, got a few vegetarian cookbooks, and some tips from CH :), its really been an eyeopening experience.

                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                            I am only speaking for myself. It has nothing to with my skill. Nor with my hosting. It really has even moved away from the OP. My take is..and again it is only my perception. That most of us as host do offer choices to accomidate our friends and loved ones in our homes. It is our pleasure it is our heart it our joy as a host... the peevishness comes into play when the "manners" seem to lay with the host and not the guest. When the guest is at liberity to order from the host as if he/she is a private spa with an air of self importance beyond freindship and common curtisousy. When as guest do you have responsibility to your host?

                                            1. re: girloftheworld

                                              "When as guest do you have responsibility to your host?"
                                              The answer to that may depend on your point of view.

                                              Personally, I think the guest has a responsibility to speak up about their restrictions before showing up for dinner and turning their nose up at the offerings. I think the guest has a responsibility to avoid lecturing or sermonizing about dietary choices that the host does not share. I think the guest has a responsibility to be gracious about any honest attempts by the host to accommodate them. And I think the guest has the responsibility not to pressure the host into an unrealistic financial burden, or to unrealistically compromise their own ethics (do not expect vegetarians to cook meat for you, for example).

                                              The OP violated none of these things, so it passes the smell test. For me.

                                              If you think the guest has a responsibility to eat what's in front of them graciously (as long as it won't cause them physical harm), and not make any requests, I may not agree, but that's a coherent set of expectations that others share with you.

                                              If you think that a guest can request ethical dietary restrictions that you understand or sympathize with (vegetarian, perhaps), but should not request ethical dietary restrictions that you do not (vegetarian with less-cruel meats allowed), then I think the cognitive dissonance alarm should be sounding in your head. How is the guest to know?

                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                >>>>And I think the guest has the responsibility not to pressure the host into an unrealistic financial burden, or to unrealistically compromise their own ethics (do not expect vegetarians to cook meat for you, for example). <<<<

                                                You were doing fine up to that line. Is being Vegetarian "higher" on the ethic plane? If a host has to compromise their value system for a Vegan guest, why is not the opposite also true?

                                                1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                  Admittedly, it's a gray area of cooking ethics.

                                                  I suspect that while very few omnivores feel they have an ethical obligation to cook meat, quite a few vegetarians feel they have an ethical obligation not to buy or cook meat. An omnivore cooking vegetables is not really the equivalent of a vegetarian cooking meat.

                                                  Note that I write the above as an omnivore myself. Also of note, I have been cooked meats before by vegetarians who did not partake themselves, so it's not a universal thing. But I suspect the 'opposite' isn't true because there is no true 'opposite.'

                                              2. re: girloftheworld

                                                You're right, that's another thread.

                                                In relation to this one, if the guest has not been forthcoming about their food restrictions, they should not complain about the food provided.

                                                That is why it's best for the OP to be forthcoming about food restrictions.

                                  2. Stay home.
                                    If a person has medical issues, then, yes, but if it is a choice, then choose to not be a guest where someone does not share your particular beliefs over "happy meat," whatever that is.
                                    and yes, you are right when you say, "In this way, this isn't like vegetarianism, I think."
                                    Having vegetarian options is one thing, but getting picky about someone else's food choices as to the happiness of the meat (????????), well, that's ridiculous.
                                    Eat with like-minded folks, and politely decline the invitations if you feel you must judge whether or not their meat is "happy" enough for you.

                                      1. re: chileheadmike

                                        "Shut up and eat the meal."

                                        Apparently "graciously provided" has changed its meaning since my dictionary was printed.

                                        1. re: Steve

                                          You have misquoted me and missed the point entirely. I said I'd shut up. I would eat what was provided and I'd be grateful to my hosts.

                                          1. re: chileheadmike

                                            Yeah, I get that. I was just funnin' with you. I was prompted by the juxtaposition of "shut up' and "graciously". Too delicious to pass up!

                                            Of course it would be easy for you to compromise your ethics in this case, since they aren't yours to begin with. Same for me.

                                            But a host should be very interested in serving an acceptable and welcoming meal, and as a host I'd feel bad if I shamed my guest into shutting up about it. I would want to know about the restriction rather than have my guest grin and bare it.

                                            If I had a friend like the OP, I'd be happy to accommodate the request.

                                            1. re: Steve

                                              I think a reason for a lot of the pushback is that hosting and being a guest is usually about social bonding. Either with friends or family. When there are people perfectly likeminded about food that's awesome - but very often people are likeminded about other things and aren't perfectly likeminded about food.

                                              Therefore there is a delicate balance between the host wanting to give the guest every opportunity to enjoy themselves - and the guest being gracious to the host's hospitality. If the OP was my family member and the meal in question was Thanksgiving, I'd go above and beyond to get happy meat for the meal given the nature of that meal. But for other meals during the year, for me - that would be a high bar to cross for a casual dinner party.

                                      2. I don't think it is reasonable to expect hosts to cater to this. Likewise if I invited a guest for dinner and they said "I only eat organically grown vegetables" I wouldn't cater to that either. If it's that important of a deal-breaker for you, stay home and throw your own parties.

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: Firegoat

                                          I don't like to think of myself as cold or callous, but I think Firegoat has the right of it. Imagine if you had Gwyneth Paltrow coming to dinner. And no damn pizza oven- what's a host to do??

                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                            Obviously you should call her publicist and immediately have a custom ground pizza oven shipped in from Milan. You are such a bad host!

                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                              No pizza oven? You'd fly one in of course, made from clay found at the base of Mt. Vesuvius, procured and forged by virgins who are certified in VPN pizza.
                                              It's Goopy, after all.

                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                she and Chris and Apple would probably go home hungry and disgusted.

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  Not without tweeting about the rude hostessing first.

                                                  1. re: Firegoat

                                                    because, you know, I didn't go out and buy a ranch and feed that cow one blade of organically-grown grass at a time. What a savage.

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      OMG. I made my dairy goats go and pick their own grass. Possibly weeds. I enslaved them for my baser needs. And THIS, THIS is why Goop never comes to visit me.

                                              2. re: Firegoat

                                                I've had that guest over for dinner; a friend of a friend who brought her to one of our regular dinner parties. Her reaction to the meal presented (vegan, to suit the dietary needs of the majority of the guests, and mostly local ingredients) was 'Um, is this ORGANIC? Because, like, I ONLY eat ORGANIC foods?'

                                                She was not invited over a second time.

                                              3. I have my personal ethics about how I shop and eat at home. These are suspended when I'm in a restaurant or at someone's home where I will pretty much eat whatever is put in front of me and do it with good grace and a smile.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  Yay, Harters- a great response as always

                                                  1. I agree, I think it's unreasonable to expect hosts to cater to this. I think that any good host will ask for any allergies or query likes and dislikes but I think it's rude for the guest to specify beyond "guidelines" for the host.

                                                    People invite their friends into their home to share their food. Guests should treat their friend's home as a home and not a restaurant.

                                                    Everyone has different budgets/morals/ ethics as well as differing quality food standards. The line needs to be drawn somewhere....!

                                                    1. The only time I have seen "happy" at a slaughter house is on payday.

                                                      Does your butcher use a capture bolt? Does she feed them grains from a distillery or brewery before hand to make sure they are happy? Have you witnessed the entire process to ensure it meets your standards?

                                                      Having slaughtered thousands of animals in my life, some have been better than others, but happy at the time of the killing does not apply to me. And it is known that if you eat my food, you will get factory meats, veggies, and dairy as well as local and wild caught provender. And I take delight when planning with another's needs or preference in mind. Expands my repertoire.

                                                      But after being invited to my boat, drinking my libations, and sitting at table, do not then tell me about your ethical for you eating habits. I will serve you what I can, but don't blame me for the paucity on your platter.

                                                      And the conversation better be brilliant if you expect another invite.

                                                      1. Seriously? I am sorry to be disrespectful but this is really entitlement gone a bit too far. Are you also going to inquire if their walls are painted a soothing enough color for you? I think your best option is to avoid social situations that focus on food. And if they do how 'bout not having them focus on you? Eat what you feel comfortabe eating and leave it at that. Eat at home before you go so you are not starving. by the by. This "happy' meat thing? Hey if it helps you with your moral ability to meat good for you. The only reason I eat free range is because it tastes better, is better for the enviorment, and better for my body....the animal? Do you realllly think it goes to to slaughter saying "I have had a good life I can die now and be happy that people are eating me?"

                                                        43 Replies
                                                        1. re: girloftheworld

                                                          You really know how to treat a guest.

                                                          'I like you and I want you over to dinner in my house, but your ideas suck and you're a fool.'

                                                          Apparently the pain of making a vegetarian meal for a friend is just too great a burden for you.

                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                            That isn't isnt the issue, steve. The issue goes beyond I am a vegiterian, kosher, vegan.

                                                            It is more compareable to I only drink Dom because the others are made in sub parconditions or use napkins imported made in china.

                                                            as for my "skill" as a host. well that is the thing about jumping to conculsions Steve....so often you leap right over the point of post and miss the mark entierly.

                                                            1. re: girloftheworld

                                                              That's not an accurate comparison, though. Animals are living things and deserve not to be mistreated. Your preference for Dom has nothing to do with ethics. Personally, I'd just eat whatever I liked with a few exceptions such as shark fin.

                                                              1. re: Hobbert

                                                                Thank you, Hobbert. Shark fin is a good example of a moral choice that people might be able to relate to more. It also reverses the price issue that the OP faces. For some people it could be foie gras, or veal, or dog/horse, or endangered species, or live animals. Whatever it is for you, imagine being served that and being told by your inner gracious-guest voice, or by a roving pack of angry Chowhounds, that you have to eat it out of politeness. Wouldn't you wish for a time machine so you could back and inform your host about your preferences?

                                                                1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                  I agree. So much that's in dispute here can be solved by a simple conversation.

                                                                  1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                    I don't think that it is the same thing. She eats meat but from cows that are raised a certain way. That's completely different from not eating foie, dogs, shark fin at all.

                                                                    1. re: dmjordan

                                                                      I don't think it's exactly the same but it's pretty close. The OP's point seems to rest on ethical treatment of animals. Her personal ethics preclude her from eating animals that were poorly treated. My reason for not eating shark fin is the same. Ethics are different for everybody but these 2 issues are relatively similar.

                                                                2. re: girloftheworld

                                                                  methinks you've posted a false equivalency.

                                                                3. re: Steve

                                                                  That's not the right analogy here. The OP's request is not the same as asking for a vegetarian meal, it's the equivalent of "I want a vegetarian meal grown by farmer x whom I trust to grow his produce in a manner consistent with my world view." That's a very different set of expectations.

                                                                  1. re: ferret

                                                                    The OP is not 'like' anything. The OP is stating a dietary restriction for a meal that is meatless or, if it has meat, that it be Raised Responsibly (ok, I'm using a Chipotle term, but I don't eat there). I would have no problem as a host accommodating that. And you would not be a good host if you shamed your guest into eating a meal they'd rather not.

                                                                    Challenging the restriction is not the point of the invitation and is boorish behavior for a host and friend.

                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                      I could get creative and work with it. I have the skills. I think the protein would be a challenge, in that it's quite a bit more $$ to buy hyper-local (and all the righteous goodness that comes with it!), but, I'd stretch the protein.
                                                                      For example, I buy a relatively small amount of spicy Italian sausage from a local purveyor, but I stretch it over a pound of pasta by making a meat sauce.
                                                                      It's absolutely company-worthy.

                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                        Oh yeah, a meal that has some 'guest approved' meat in it to supplement pasta or rice or (insert anything else here) would be plenty cheap. Doesn't have to be the featured ingredient. Good idea.

                                                                        When I was visiting some friends in France, they prepared a big pot of vegetables with potato, fennel, red pepper, and brussel sprouts, cooked with lemon and fresh herbs. They served on the side homemade mayonnaise and slices of saucisson with a crusty baguette. I don't have dietary restrictions at all, but it was a great idea and I've done that in turn for others.

                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                          It does make at least me think about how proteins are treated in other parts of the world, that is, not the main attraction.

                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                            gee, did you ask them whether the eggs in the mayo came from happy chickens or the saucisson from happy pigs? because the issue isn't the simplicity of the meal or the cost of the protein.

                                                                            1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                              Like I said, I have no dietary restrictions, so no reason to ask. I just enjoyed my meal.

                                                                              What I liked is that a vegetarian or vegan can enjoy the vegetable stew and the bread. Some vegetarians will also eat the mayo, with only the saucisson off limits. As it is served separately, that isn't a problem. Works for most Kosher or Halal folks as well, I think.

                                                                        2. re: Steve

                                                                          It's a dietary preference, not a restriction. There gets to be a point where people need to accept that their choices are fine for themselves but need not be imposed on others. In this instance, it's an odd thing to expect your host, who may or may not be in a financial position to do so, to go to the expense of meeting your preferences.

                                                                          We have a family member who does not have any medical need to be off gluten but chooses to do so. After many months of her ever-increasing (and changing) requirements we finally decided to just shop for an array of items for her whenever she visits. We generally end up with about $75 worth of gluten-free crap that she has one bite of and eventually gets thrown out.

                                                                          We'll bend for a family member (given enough prodding) but if I was having a barbecue and someone called to say they only eat ethically-raised meat and someone else called to say "we decided to go off gluten" I'd be inclined to just tell them to bring something they can eat and join us for social interaction.

                                                                          1. re: ferret

                                                                            I think that's a great idea for a bbq. I've seen people bring turkey patties so they could stay with their low-fat diet, vs. eating prepared beef burgers and hot dogs.
                                                                            You are really bending over backward for your family member.

                                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                                              No $h!t. It's my wife who's the peacemaker, I'm the naysayer.

                                                                            2. re: ferret

                                                                              What financial imposition is it to prepare a vegetarian meal for a guest?

                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                You need to read the posts. It is not about a vegetarian option, as stated by the OP.

                                                                                1. re: wyogal

                                                                                  ferret mentioned financial imposition, not the OP. I have read the OP. Preparing a vegetarian meal would provide an acceptable solution to the dietary restriction if buying a few ounces of organic protein is a burden. If it isn't, then I don't understand what the problem is.

                                                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                                                    Actually the OP mentioned it first:

                                                                                    "Do I get to tell hosts that I will only eat "happy" meat (especially since this is usually more expensive)?"

                                                                                    As the thread has evolved there has been discussion of simply preparing a vegetarian meal as an alternativer, which obviously would be less of an imposition.

                                                                                    1. re: ferret

                                                                                      Ah, I did not take that to mean "you must serve me happy meat, and as the main ingredient."

                                                                                      I took it to mean "please don't waste your money buying and cooking a steak I don't intend to eat."

                                                                                      What people are failing to see is "what if the OP does NOT mention the restriction?"

                                                                                      The host could waste money by preparing the wrong meal that will not get eaten, plus, and I believe this is important, he will not be able to share his preference with his friends.

                                                                                      That's quite a burden you're laying on someone just because your sensibilities might get ruffled. Your own friends can't know about this? You have to hide it from people? Claim you're vegetarian when you're not?

                                                                                      Just let your host know that they shouldn't have to go to any great lengths. A smart and sensitive host will be just fine and figure out what to do within their means.

                                                                                      Apparently people on Chowhound are not so understanding.

                                                                              2. re: ferret

                                                                                We have a family member for whom it has been life saving to be on a wheat free diet. To see him restored to health and off all meds makes me delight in finding recipes that just happen to be wheat free and delicious. The key is that he is also a wonderful guest and brings things he can eat as well. We have some dietary restrictions in our immediate family and i will often tell a host/hostess I will bring what my husband can eat. No one has to guess if they are making the right thing. The idea is to get together and so you would eliminate the problem if you offer to bring what you can eat. If that isn't possible, just eat what you can.

                                                                                1. re: ferret

                                                                                  and, ferret, that would be just fine.
                                                                                  i agree with you, the primary purpose of social gatherings is being social.
                                                                                  i've gone to many parties at which i just ate the salad, veggies, bread and dessert.
                                                                                  nobody has ever expected me to eat EVERY item they served.

                                                                                  also, i've never been invited to meals that only served meat. always there are additional items.

                                                                                2. re: Steve

                                                                                  If you tell me you're vegetarian, I'll do that.
                                                                                  If you tell me you're vegan, I'll do that, too.

                                                                                  If you tell me you're Jewish or Muslim, it's starting to get tricky, but I'll find a way to feed you.

                                                                                  If you're going to pass moral judgment on what I put on the table when I invite you to my home to share a meal, I'm done, and you're out the door.

                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                    Nice that. As I said before, it's easy to talk tough on the internet. Nowhere in the OP is it proposed to be rude to the host, insist they serve anything in particular, or demand that something not be served to others. This is not substantially different than a vegetarian except it does give the host more options.

                                                                                    Why not just prepare for your friend a vegetarian meal and not be such a tough cookie? Please explain to me what's so difficult about that.

                                                                                    Life is much sweeter when you're sweet.

                                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                                      I am sweet, and I'm a damned good cook, and I have welcomed just about every variety of food restriction out there to my table - from allergies to religious requirements (more than once combination of two or more of the above.) Everyone ate, everyone enjoyed what they ate, and everyone came back on later dates.

                                                                                      While it's fine that someone eats only "happy" meat, someone who comes to my table where they were invited to share my table with my family is NOT welcome to tell me that my food isn't good enough for them if I don't purchase exactly what they purchase and under the constraints that they have set for themselves.

                                                                                      You seem to be willfully sidestepping the point of the conversation -- which is not vegetarian vs. vegan vs. omnivore, but prescribing to one's hosts where and how they should buy the food that they have offered to share with them.

                                                                                      If they told me they eat meat, then I'll serve meat. If they want to prescribe where and when and how the meat should be purchased, then they can host.

                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                        "If they want to prescribe where and when and how the meat should be purchased"

                                                                                        In no way is the OP telling you when or where or how (with a credit card?) to buy your food. That is more an argument than a fact. Buy yourself and all your other friends as much Sysco meat as you want, the OP is not stopping you or indicating you can't.

                                                                                        Does this ring a bell: Prepare the OP a vegetarian meal. Or a meal in different parts as I've already outlined with my French friends. A simple solution. No vexation needed.

                                                                                        Why is that not a solution? I am proposing a solution, so why are you sidestepping this?

                                                                                        Remember, if the OP (a friend you've invited to dinner) doesn't say something, you'll have wasted your money buying (fill in the blank) when it goes uneaten. What sense is that? Is that what you want? To serve people food they won't eat? I highly doubt you'd treat a friend like that.

                                                                                        You may be sweet, but you can't come face to face with a simple solution. At least not on the internet.

                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                          then my guest needs to tell me up front that veg is fine.

                                                                                          I don't buy Sysco (but thanks so much for the sneer) -- but if my guest doesn't tell me about food issues (and I ask all new guests about allergies/religious restrictions/and "don't likes") then to curl their lip and make judgment on what I serve is unforgiveable.

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            Right there, the major problem with many of the outraged responses in this thread: "if my guest doesn't tell me about food issues". The OP is specifically asking _whether_ she should tell the host (presumably before the event), because she is concerned that the very act of disclosing could be perceived as rude. This strikes me as an extremely thoughtful question, with no hint of the curled lips or the imposed morality or the seeking to control or the passive-aggressiveness that many posters have chosen to project onto it. All of these "not in my house, or you're no friend of mine" reactions are in response to some imagined offensive behavior that bears no resemblance to the OP's stated intentions.

                                                                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          maybe i'm missing something here, but wouldn't vegetarian or vegan food be acceptable to the poster?
                                                                                          just because someone eats "happy meat" wouldn't necessarily preclude them from eating a vegetarian or vegan meal, would it?
                                                                                          the moral issue would be handled if there was no meat at all, yes?

                                                                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                            Not if the moral issue also involved worker conditions, environmental and public health impact. I don't regard animal welfare as the primary moral issue when I choose food sources, and I believe many others feel the same way.

                                                                                  2. re: Steve

                                                                                    "Apparently the pain of making a vegetarian meal for a friend is just too great a burden for you."

                                                                                    In college a philosophy professor taught me that one of the best ways to see if something is right is to reverse it.

                                                                                    Would it be OK for a meat eater to go to a vegetarian's house and expect them to cook them a steak?

                                                                                    If not, then the OP is within their rights not to cater to every whim.

                                                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                      You make a good point.

                                                                                      The question I have for you is: what is the 'turnaround?'

                                                                                      I don't know anyone who is strictly a carnivore, so they really don't have a dietary restriction to be catered to.

                                                                                      Perhaps another turnaround is: expecting a Kosher person to fix pork if you ask. See? Turnarounds are analogies: not all of them are applicable.

                                                                                      Funny, the subject has never come up. I worked on a cabin construction crew on the Appalachian Trail for two years. Vegetarian meals were pretty well accepted by everyone.

                                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                                        I'm not sure I understand how you define "turnaround."

                                                                                        I take your point that carnivores can eat vegetables but most of the time that consists of having a salad before they have their steak. They might view a 100% vegetarian meal as boring at best and want something else.

                                                                                        Speaking personally, I'd try to accommodate a vegetarian if they came to dinner. If they imposed 2 or 3 additional conditions I'd suggest they bring their own meal.

                                                                                        God help me if I was invited to their house for dinner. (The person with the laundry list of dietary dos and don'ts.) What are the odds they'd be a good cook?

                                                                                        "Hey, why don't you come over for dinner this Saturday and have some blanched arugula and beets"

                                                                                        "Golly, I'd love to but we're busy for the next 50 Saturdays."

                                                                                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                          Omnivores (most people) eat meat and vegetables. Humans are not carnivores. Lions, yes, humans, no.

                                                                                          The philosophy professor asked: Is it right to reverse it? My point was that there is no reverse (I used the word turnaround, sorry.)

                                                                                          I further pointed out: what if you invite someone Kosher (your rabbi) to your house?

                                                                                          Even if you don't keep Kosher, the rabbi might accept your invitation as long as you serve a Kosher meal. Fine, you serve a Kosher meal.

                                                                                          Now the rabbi invites you to dinner and you ask him to prepare ham in cream sauce (or similar). It isn't really a reversal... because you have no equivalent of keeping Kosher. Asking the rabbi to prepare something that is decidedly un-Kosher is not asking the same as what you did for him.

                                                                                          That was my point. Your philosophy professor made a good observation, but you have to be careful how you apply it.

                                                                                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                            Bob Martinez:
                                                                                            if you are ever in los angeles, try the food served at the vegan restaurant CAFE GRATITUDE.
                                                                                            with only one exception, every single one of my omnivore friends LOVES the food.
                                                                                            it is not "phoney meat"
                                                                                            their menu is based on cuisines of the world that have good legume-based entrees.
                                                                                            there are MANY good cooks that have NEVER prepared meat.

                                                                                            also, try going to artesia, a part of LA basin known as little india. you'll find MANY MANY terrific restaurants that only serve vegetarian food.

                                                                                            in the san gabriel valley, where there is a huge concentration of chinese immigrants, you will also find several restaurants that specialize in vegetarian chinese cooking.

                                                                                            this statement of yours demonstrates a tremendous lack of knowledge about ethnic food, much of whcih is plant based, and demonstrates how amazingly narrow your palate is:

                                                                                            <<"Hey, why don't you come over for dinner this Saturday and have some blanched arugula and beets">>

                                                                                            wow. really? you really think that this is how vegans and vegetarians cook?

                                                                                        2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                          Some reasonable accommodation gets out of hand Bob. My eighty year old aunt cooks a huge family meal every Sunday for her four children and spouses and grandchildren. Over the last few years she has had to cook a non dairy option, a vegetarian option, she has one daughter that has a diet that restricts carbs and meats, if I were her I'd throw in the towel. Her hospitality is being burdened by such demands.

                                                                                      2. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                        I can understand why OP feels the way they do, so do I. It would be best if animals were well treated and slaughtered as a surprise. I hate the idea of animals suffering, or anybody suffering that isn't in prison on a sex offense conviction.

                                                                                        1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                          I really don't think anybody here is advocating animal cruelty.

                                                                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                            But please give them a nice last meal of oats and tender leaves before their big surprise.

                                                                                            The animals, not the sex offenders.

                                                                                        2. "query the source" "happy meat"....Geeze! All we needed was "free range" to complete the hat trick of hipster doofusness. If you don't like what I'm grillin' get back in your hybrid and go query the tattooed and pierced slack jaw at chipotle about the source

                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                              Wow...did a free-range chicken kill your puppy?

                                                                                              I'm not sure why you think my desire to learn a bit about where my food comes from deserves such an aggressive reaction. But it's your heart rate.

                                                                                              (Here come my hipster credentials: I have the Portlandia "Colin the chicken" sketch going through my mind while I wrote "happy" meat!)

                                                                                              1. re: Palladium

                                                                                                I had to google that one...."heritage" "speak to" more hipster lingo! If you can laugh at yourself, then come back to the grill..I may have a veggie burger somewhere for you.


                                                                                                1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                  Hey, if I can't laugh at myself, who will?


                                                                                                  1. re: Palladium

                                                                                                    oh, we all will dear, but at least if you laugh along, you can pretend you got the joke.

                                                                                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                      Oh, hon, my private jokes are always the funniest!

                                                                                              2. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                Snark 101. Hybrid, check. Tattooed, check. Pierced, check. Chipoltle, check. You only missed Indie Bands.

                                                                                                You will go far, Grasshopper.

                                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                                  Idie bands, doh! Maybe iPhone tot'n too

                                                                                                2. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                  Woa. I thought that the OP's question was very polite. After all, he/she was looking for people's thoughts on the issue.

                                                                                                3. After this thread I can't wait to go to a local restaurant and ask, "How did my cow die? Did it die happy?"

                                                                                                  1. By the time it's served to you on a plate at a friend's home, it's already lived its unhappy life, died its unhappy death and turned a profit for the industrial meat industry. At that point, I honestly can't see where choosing to let it go to waste is a better moral choice than eating it.

                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                      Yes this damn talk of food is sooo bourgeois! And profit turning, GROSS! Lets remove all the ads from this site and just talk about...kittens...maybe sing kumbaya, and roast some soy marshmallows!

                                                                                                      1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                        I am unsure how this follows from what I said.

                                                                                                      2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                        But wouldn't this apply to vegetarians/vegans as well?

                                                                                                        1. re: Palladium

                                                                                                          I suppose, if you're dealing with this all from an abstract philosophical perspective yes, vegetarians could justify eating meat on those same grounds (or hosts could justify expecting vegetarians to eat meat on those same grounds).

                                                                                                          But as a host, it would feel pretty different to me. A vegetarian choosing not to eat meat seems like a choice for them, a meat eater choosing not to eat my meat seems like a judgement on me. Plus, longtime vegetarians often feel somewhat unwell if they eat meat, whereas you presumably don't have that problem.

                                                                                                          Maybe that's me taking things too personally, but I feel like there's a point at which people have to recognize that they can only control their own moral choices and not those of the people around them.

                                                                                                          I'm happy to try to accommodate medical needs and religious restrictions. I'm less happy, but still willing to accommodate vegetarianism. But when we're at the level of 'this steak is not acceptable, but that other one that is coincidentally twice as expensive is acceptable' I start to feel an involuntary rolling sensation in my eyes.

                                                                                                          1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                            I think you have hit the target with the word "control." So often it is clear that people who have stringent controls on what they put in their bodies is a reflection of a sense of lack of control in their lives (see, anorexia e.g.) And imposing it on others as suggested by the OP is an exercise of that personally empowering control over others. A little bit of arm twisting. Passive aggressive, if you will. Whatever, I don't have a degree in that stuff, but it sure strikes me this way. Of course, it is different for health restrictions and spiritual restrictions.

                                                                                                        2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                          The ends don't justify the means. However, I do agree that by the time it's been purchased and served there's nothing really to do. There are a few brands I don't support and won't consume their products but I don't make a big stink about it or demand a dossier on every ingredient I'm served.

                                                                                                          1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                            Obviously, the moment the plate is put in front of you is too late. But it seems to me that the OP was asking about disclosing their preferences well in advance and giving the host plenty of time to decide if and how to accommodate them.

                                                                                                            At that point in the game, I don't see how it can be rude to express a preference. In fact, I would say it's the right thing to do. You may be willing to abandon your principles for one evening and smilingly choke down some food that you don't want and then thank me for the privilege, but if the "happy meat" thing is important to you, I would really prefer to know about it ahead of time so I can plan to serve something (perhaps vegetarian) that you are more likely to genuinely enjoy.

                                                                                                          2. Personally, I don't see a difference between this and the other things you've listed -- it's a religious/ethical choice. But I think you're best off saying that you "mostly" eat vegetarian and leave it at that, because, as you said, ethically sourced meat is more expensive and it could sound snooty.

                                                                                                            I think if you're friends with people, you can discuss this stuff in a context that's not a hosted party -- i.e. where it's not a critique. And make sure they know you're happy to just eat vegetarian. It's like many vegetarians and rennet in cheese -- we don't ask our friends to track down the source of rennet in our cheese; we either don't each cheese out of the home or we don't adhere to our diet when a guest.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: antimony

                                                                                                              Completely agree. I think the part about discussing this topic outside a food setting is key. Communication is important...otherwise you have misunderstandings and Internet ranting :)

                                                                                                            2. As you pointed out "Happy Meat" is more expensive. So much so that it would probably be cost prohibitive for most hosts to comply. I know for me, I can't even afford happy meat for myself and my other half most of the time, let alone for a dinner party, so if a guest asked me if I could only serve happy meat, I would have to tell them no, and (nicely) tell them if that was an issue, they could either not eat the main course, or not attend.

                                                                                                              1. Perhaps you can specify which Bordeaux vintage you will accept while you're at it. And of course the vegetables must be organic and "locally sourced".

                                                                                                                1. I have found the replies to my post really interesting.

                                                                                                                  For what it's worth, I understand - and agree, to various degress - with what most people have said. Listen, when I stopped eating mammals and birds, my Chinese parents rolled their eyes so hard they gave themselves pulled muscles. And the responses here share some of that reaction, I think.

                                                                                                                  Since it's clear that certain food preferences (and I say preferences, to omit those with medical reasons for their food choices) are tolerated and catered for and some are not. I started this thread to ask was where that line is. I suspect it's changed- would a vegan asking this question 30 years ago have gotten the same answers? I used myself as an example because I'm most familiar with me!

                                                                                                                  I sure as hell don't judge what others eat. As I noted below in reply to sunshine842, when I'm a guest, I simply relax my standards and eat what's served if there's no polite way to not.

                                                                                                                  (And I forgot that, on the internet, it's impossible to see how firmly one's tongue is in one's cheek when writing "happy meat".)

                                                                                                                  28 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Palladium

                                                                                                                    I got that you're putting the questions out there. It's an interesting topic to discuss.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Palladium

                                                                                                                      It has to do with morality, and imposing your morality on your hosts. That is where the line is drawn and I think we've been pretty clear about that.
                                                                                                                      If your morals don't allow you to eat meat that doesn't fit your criteria of "happy," then politely decline the invitation.
                                                                                                                      You are the one who raised the "moral" issue, which does involve judging others.

                                                                                                                      1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                        Maybe I should have used the word ethical?

                                                                                                                        Isn't vegetarianism- sometimes- an ethical/moral chioice? But that is normally accepted and catered for.

                                                                                                                        Do you feel vegetarians judge you/us? Presumably, a "non-judgy" vegetarian would ask, politely, if you were serving something he would eat, but wouldn't judge you badly if you then ate a hamburger in front of him. Similarly, I wouldn't care if you ate fried battery-chicken.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Palladium

                                                                                                                          You yourself said this was different from vegetarianism. Like others have pointed out, it would be different if the vegetarian turned up their nose at a vegetarian meal because the vegetables were not "good enough" for them, not grown locally from a farmer that is kind or whatever.
                                                                                                                          You can't have it both ways. You asked. You put morality and ethics into the equation, not just the type of food.

                                                                                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                            Practically speaking, The OP is only different from a vegetarian in that it gives the host more options. The OP eats a wider variety of food than a vegetarian.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                              You are still missing the point.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Palladium

                                                                                                                            I was just thinking, where does it end? Where did the wood come from for the dining room table? How about the flooring upon which it sits? How about those clothes? Where/how were they manufactured? How about the plates and cutlery? What about the glass production? Is it all fair trade?

                                                                                                                            1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                              ... and down the rabbit hole we go!

                                                                                                                              1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                The invitation is made, the invitee states their dietary restriction, and the host accommodates or not. That's where it ends. it is silly for the host to debate the guest or to come up with hypotheticals.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                  A preference for "happy" meat is not a dietary restriction, it is a preference, and brings to the table a set of moral judgements.
                                                                                                                                  You are missing the point.

                                                                                                                            2. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                              "imposing your morality on your hosts."

                                                                                                                              Geez, it's just making one vegetarian meal. You can eat meat all you want. Lighten up.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                Excuse me?
                                                                                                                                No it's different, as the OP has clearly stated.

                                                                                                                                1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                  I stated a fact: it is indeed making one vegetarian meal. That is the only thing the host needs to do to accommodate the OP's request.

                                                                                                                                  For me, it would be no biggie and I would not feel insulted or stressed or that the OP was being rude. Like I said before, I'm not into shaming friends for their personal choices. Go ahead and avoid mushrooms... and just because you don't like them!!!! I can make a meal without them! People make personal choices all the time, I am all too happy to please my friends in that way. Don't like the way they treat cows, fine, I can cook a meal without.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                    you're stil turning the question in the direction you want it to go rather than answering it. If your friend says "i won't eat the kind of meat you buy but only locally sourced happy meat" and your friend is fine being offered a vegetarian option and you are not insulted, life is good and guest/host relationships mellow. If your friend discusses his or her protein position during your dinner while your guests are eating beouf bourgignon and he or she is moping over a tofu and steamed veggie platter, it's not fine. I accommodate my friends with allergies, my friends who are vegetarians or vegans, and even the friend I know hates red peppers. But I'm not a farm to table restaurant so I have no interest in accommodating my friend who only eats Berkshire acorn-fed free range hogs though as long as he doesn't grouse I'll make him the veggie burgeer.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                                                                                      "If your friend discusses his or her protein position during your dinner"

                                                                                                                                      I don't recall anyone proposing that. Furthermore, I have no idea why the subject would come up as I would not call attention to the dietary restriction. My solution to the question would be to prepare a meal that everyone can enjoy together. It's never failed me.

                                                                                                                                      Why are you dealing with hypotheticals? Why are you making up the idea that anyone is moping? Seriously, your imagination is way too vivd for me. My reality is that I have fun with my friends, relax, and enjoy it. Nobody makes a fuss.

                                                                                                                                      I try to make life easy enough for my friends. The more different they are, the more easing they probably need as few people want to be made to feel like an outcast.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                        But this thread isn't about you. It's about the OP, and she wants to have meat, and discuss her preferences, definitely before and maybe even during dinner. Please go to the top and read again. She doesn't seem to want a vegetarian meal as an option.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                          She is OK with having a vegetarian option. To me, this is completely clear from the original message, but instead of telling you to "go to the top and read again" (which is obnoxious, even if you put "please" in front of it), I'll link to this post for confirmation:

                                                                                                                                          1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                                            No it's not in the original message, but thanks for pointing out the later message; I know she backtracked and did mention vegetarian later on, but as I said that's not the original question. On the other hand, I don't care as much as you, so carry on, and I will admit defeat ;-)

                                                                                                                                2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                  The thing is, I've been reading and participating at CH for long enough to see so many convoluted dinner party dietary needs/requests that make my head spin, but, these CH'ers take the challenge head on.
                                                                                                                                  I love following these threads to see what ingenious things CH'ers come up with.
                                                                                                                                  There's a lot of people here with big hearts and a healthy appetite for a challenge.

                                                                                                                              2. re: Palladium

                                                                                                                                "Sigh"............ One may discover a shrinking number of invitations are coming one's way.
                                                                                                                                When one is the host, then, the authority shifts. "No authority, no responsibility"

                                                                                                                                1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                                                  "Our first course tonight is Laughing Cow cheese..."

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                    From California, where all the happy cows live.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                      They are all on Xanax. I have a former friend in CA whose DOG takes Xanax. You can't make this stuff up.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                        Yep. The cows in Colorado just hang out, being groovy. ;)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                          Prescribed by the dog's pediatrician, of course.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                            My Katrina-traumatized dog takes puppy Prozac and eats an organic home cooked diet EXCEPT when a guest at another home or kennel, where she eats what is served. And, yes, she lives in California.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                            To further the stereotype, I am, of course, from California!

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Palladium

                                                                                                                                        Don't feel bad about the non-recognition of your TFIC. I am a prime example of having been misconstrued at times. Some of my witticisms have been so tangential, I have left trigonometry behind and embrace topology.

                                                                                                                                        I have enjoyed this post and the thought problem.

                                                                                                                                      3. Perfectionism and extremism are rarely productive strategies. You can't fix the entire world by not eating unhappy meat; you can make it only a tiny bit better. So if you deviate from that laudable goal a tiny bit, it really won't make a difference and you have (I assume...or you wouldn't be worried about this) other admirable values, such as valuing friendship and being polite. So go enjoy the company of your friends and don't stress out about what they are serving.

                                                                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                                          Well said. I buy local a lot. LOVE farmers markets, but I am NOT a locavore and have no shame in saying that.
                                                                                                                                          I do a little bit for me, for my local farmers and producers, my foodshed region and Mother Earth.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                                            So, is this what you'd say to your guest?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                              I would say, as I have before, "Let me make you some pasta with olive oil and fresh herbs." I have had the pleasure, and internal chuckle, of preparing meals for gluten free, raw, paleo, and there are others I cannot recall at this moment.

                                                                                                                                              Vegan, Halal, and Kosher are mainstream in my book. And having a few issues of my own, conch and beets, I ensure that it is known when I am invited to other peoples' home for a meal.

                                                                                                                                              And conch was on the menu once. I got a slab of tilapia.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                                                                Is there an ethical component, about which I am unaware, about consuming conch?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                                                                                                  No, but queen conch in Florida are scarce and would be overharvested in no time and are a protected species. Conch is available in the Yucatan, Belize, the Bahamas, and Turks & Caicos, which has the only conch farm in the world. It exports to the U.S.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                    Indeed. I try to only buy farmed conch, but if we're at someone's home for dinner, I don't ask.

                                                                                                                                                    No matter how you look at it, that conch can't go back into the water at that point and NOT eating it wastes the meat and makes me an ungracious guest.

                                                                                                                                                    There is no win in pointing out that it's not farm-raised.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                      My body rejects conch due to a near death experience due to ciguatera poisoning in Antigua. The other guests at the hotel had a lottery on when I would die. The doctor they called in rightly said there was nothing he could do.

                                                                                                                                                      After injesting it, my body reacts in about 2 hours. If you want to see projectile in action, hide some conch and feed it to me without my knowing.

                                                                                                                                                      I have never liked unpickled beets. And yes, I have tried them cooked that way.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                                                                        which moves you to the "allergy/sensitivity" column, and therefore exempt from having to eat it just to be nice.

                                                                                                                                                        I have the same reaction to flounder and sole (thankfully, round fish don't bother me in the least) -- so I can empathize 100%.

                                                                                                                                                        (unusual, to end up with ciguatera from conch...not doubting you in the least, but knowing where you hunt for conch and where ciguatera originates, it's quirky!)

                                                                                                                                                        Can't stand beets in any way, shape or form, but I choked own an entire bowl of the damned things so as to not embarass/hurt the feelings of a friend who had prepared them from raw herself (a first for her)

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                        If you are not in the Caribbean, it is farmed conch. That is not a dirty word as it can be with tilapia and shrimp. One can tour the farm in Providenciales (for a fee, of course) and be quite comfortable with the operation and its product.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                          and that farm is a really interesting visit.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                            There is a backstory. The original conch farm burned down under mysterious conditions during an acrimonious divorce. But the rebuilt one is bigger and better. I used to keep up with the Provo gossip.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                              Provo has a special brand of weirdness. When did the original go up in smoke? We were there in 96. Had a great time parasailing and bouncing around the island in an open Samurai, visiting the Scottish doctor to mend the damage done by kicking a buried coral rock (yowza.) and drinking stellar rum and enjoying mindblowing food.

                                                                                                                                            2. I hate it when people talk about food choices as moral or ethical. Unless there is a religious component, its purely a preference. I don't think there are moral or ethical issues involved in our food choices as long as there isn't a "thou shalt" preceding the point. If you disagree with me, that's fine. But by couching food choices as moral or ethical, you are implying that the choice you make is the "moral" or "ethical" one and those who are not doing the same are less moral or ethical. If you think you are more moral or ethical person based on the food you eat, then I don't think we need to break bread (gluten free for the celiacs) together.

                                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                                I disagree only because I think health issues are imperative.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                                  You don't think vegetarianism is a moral choice? Not to kill for your own pleasure?

                                                                                                                                                  When my daughter was a certain age, she decided she did not want to eat rabbit. She liked it, but she did not want to kill bunnies. She was making a moral choice. You (or I) may not like her logic, but it is a moral choice of course. She was wiling to give up something she liked so that bunnies wouldn't die.

                                                                                                                                                  And why do people with a religious component get off the hook? Oh, I get it, because maybe they're part of a club and they'd have to give up their membership.

                                                                                                                                                  I'm ok with the limitations of my friends, medically imposed or not.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                    Unless you are a plant, something must die in order for you to eat. Whose to say that plants don't have a higher awareness or consciousness that we are unaware of? There's a short story I read when I was a teen that had the central character suddenly become aware of plant consciousness. A Jain might say your daughter is killing by feeding her bunny carrots. Beyond a few fundamental things, its all preferences, not morals, IMO. There's a large spectrum. I recognize people can make choices and have valid reasons for them. But its still just a choice. A preference. If someone else chooses something else, is that person less ethical or moral in your view? Not in mine.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                                      "Whose to say that plants don't have a higher awareness or consciousness that we are unaware of?"

                                                                                                                                                      The Kirlian Witness was a pretty good movie. The only witness to a murder was a potted plant.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                                    "Unless there is a religious component, its purely a preference."
                                                                                                                                                    The practice of any religion is itself a choice based on a preference for that religion's theology. Being religious is a choice to live by a set of rules. Nothing more, it has no intrinsic value and confers no special status to it's adherents

                                                                                                                                                    My conceptions of ethics and morality are derived from personal reflection. They define the rules I set for myself and those rules are just as valid as the rules others get from any other source, religious or otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: caganer

                                                                                                                                                      I don't agree that religion is always just a preference. Depending on the religion, you are born into it and it will be identified with you even if you express your preference and choose not to follow it. But i get your point. I won't say anymore to avoid veering way off topic.

                                                                                                                                                  3. My sister-in-law just came back from a trip to the Canary Islands where she has family. She brought back a cookbook that had a recipe for Gofio, which I had never heard of. It is a toasted wheat flour. The recipe calls for a half pound of panceta to make a huge pot of soup/stew/porridge with the flour. Other ingredients are dirt cheap. Buying regular panceta cost me about $2.50, but an organic version might be double. Nobody needed the organic, but honestly the extra $2.50 would not break the bank.

                                                                                                                                                    Voila, no need to challenge anyone on their values, no need to start an argument, or for hurt feelings.

                                                                                                                                                    I know the internet makes it easier for people to be uncaring and judgmental with no repercussions because no real friendship is at stake and nobody has to go out of their way for anyone. But sometimes it's nice to admit that it's ok to go out of your way or do something special that you don't have to do or weren't planning to do, even if it is an imposition or you do not share the same ideas.

                                                                                                                                                    If someone can go their entire life without eating X, it's clearly more important to them than me, and by golly I can fix one meal like that.

                                                                                                                                                    1. My answer to the original question is No.

                                                                                                                                                      1. I guess you could always do what some of my guests did last year when I invited them to a 4th of July barbecue and they showed up with their own hamburgers "because we get them from Whole Foods." Of course, they also brought copious quantities of other stuff -- potato salad, etc -- to share. Still, I didn't invite them back this year.

                                                                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: medrite

                                                                                                                                                          That actually seems thoughtful to me - good guests.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                                            The implication is the guests felt the hosts burgers were not good enough for their delicate palates. Not that they brought their own food to eat to say, fulfill an allergy restriction.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                                                                                                              The implication could also be that they want to ensure that their beef is antibiotic and hormone free. Or grass fed with the associate healthier benefits that comes with it.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                It would be fine to me... I'd just hope they brought enough to share!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                                                                                  I totally agree! I think this is another polite way to go - to say that now that you're reintroducing meat to your diet you've been really particular about its sourcing and that since that often is connected with extra expense you'd love to treat everyone to the meat for the dinner (and would work with whatever menu the host was planning). If it was me I'd also add that it's fine either way and that you still love to eat vegetarian too. I think tone and context here count for a lot.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kazhound

                                                                                                                                                                      I would feel like a turd if I let my guest buy the meat.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                                                                                                                  Bringing food to work around and allergy is a good topic on it's own. I do it often (after asking the host) because wine can trigger horrific migraines in me. I'll ask if there is a beer or liquor that would go well with the planned dinner and bring some for me, and enough to share.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: medrite

                                                                                                                                                                Pretentious douchebags....was your beer good enough for them to drink?!!

                                                                                                                                                              3. Wow, what a topic. :-) Interesting read for a Monday morning. As many others have said (some politely, some TFIC, and some not-so-politely), it isn't reasonable as a polite guest to expect your hosts to accommodate your happy meat preference, particularly given the economic aspect of the issue. (BTW, I love the term "happy" when describing food and am now going to borrow it shamelessly. Maybe my husband will actually believe that the organic CSA veggies I get for him are indeed "happy.")

                                                                                                                                                                It doesn't sound like you expect people to accommodate your preference as much as you are wanting to be polite and not have to explain why sometimes you eat meat and other times you do not. If it were me, I would probably go with the not-quite-the-100%-truth-but-not-really-a-lie answer, or "While I eat meat occasionally, my diet is primarily vegetarian and I'd better pass on the meat today..." or something like that. Pretty much the truth, but not the whole, entire truth, which honestly doesn't need to be shared.

                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                                                                                                  I think that's probably the best way, claim I'm not on my "meat night" of the week!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Palladium

                                                                                                                                                                    As a wise boss I once worked for said, "you don't have to tell everything you know or think in order to be an honest person." Sometimes less is more.

                                                                                                                                                                2. This posting could've been written by my wife. She buys only at WFM. I buy at Bottom Dollar.

                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ChiliDude

                                                                                                                                                                    Do your meal components get cooked separately?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Palladium

                                                                                                                                                                        Until I read this, I was was reading you, OP, as a male poster. Wonder why my head went to that assumption.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. This indeed has been in an interesting thread, but degeneration always happens when terms like "ethical" and "moral" are tossed into the mix.

                                                                                                                                                                      To answer your question: No. You should not tell your hosts that their food isn't moral enough for you.

                                                                                                                                                                      To expand- we buy only grass-fed organic meat from our farmer's market. We also don't eat a lot of meat as a general rule. But we know that we cannot, and will not, impose our penchant for happy meat onto our hosts, just as we cannot on our fabulous ethnic dives that we love and frequent despite knowing full well that neither of these share our perspective. But we will feed them happy meat when we host.

                                                                                                                                                                      However, I do appreciate that it is becoming more common (i.e. Colin the chicken), for restaurants to take pride in their sourcing. This is a good thing for food, imo.

                                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cheesemonger

                                                                                                                                                                          I would never think to ask my host/hostess where my meat/veggies came from unless they wanted to brag "We grew these tomatoes" or "this is the cow we slaughtered last year.' (I doubt the cow was happy about that.
                                                                                                                                                                          I bought a side of pork from a local farmer, free range, happy I guess. I got used to the texture/taste. Almost no guests enjoyed the taste or texture.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cheesemonger

                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, I see maybe that was my mistake- I wasn't sure about the wording and put "moral" in quotes. I wanted to convey the idea of the spectrum of food preferences being a range of choices, influenced by something that is not medical necessity. Some are religiously-influenced (no pork, kosher, halal, etc.), some are culturally-influenced (no "pet" animals, for instance), some which are generally, in the 2010's, accepted (vegetarianism, veganism), some which are maybe crossing over to being accepted, and what's absolutely not accepted. And why the range of acceptances, when they are essentially all choice and preference?

                                                                                                                                                                            It seems that some people think my choice somehow reflects upon the host, that I'm judging them or their food as being not "good" enough, and that is where their line is drawn.

                                                                                                                                                                            (I think we all know or have heard of people who roll their eyes at, or are hostile to vegetarianism/veganism. Is that also because they feel somehow that the v/v person's lifestyle is a judgement on themselves? Or does something else enter into it?)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Palladium

                                                                                                                                                                              Vegan/vegetarian are choices that no one should have problems with but when it comes attached to a philosophy that anthropomorphizes farm animals (or bees, for that matter) it escalates choice to a different level. A simple "I prefer not to eat meat" is innocuous but "I refuse to exploit animals" is another thing entirely. I don't feel judged by my food choices but I do feel that the level of arrogance that some people have about their food choices is off-putting.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                                                                "when it comes attached to a philosophy that anthropomorphizes farm animals"

                                                                                                                                                                                This an exquisite example of perlocution.

                                                                                                                                                                                This thread should be required reading for anyone studying Linguistics.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Palladium

                                                                                                                                                                                It's also how much of an imposition you're being.
                                                                                                                                                                                The person who says, "I probably won't eat the main if it's meat" isn't being much of a bother.
                                                                                                                                                                                Lecturing is never good etiquette.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Sorry if this has already been addressed, but as a practical matter, even if your hosts were happy and willing to accommodate you, how would you go about informing them which meats are happy enough for you? Is buying it from Whole Foods sufficiently happy (it isn't for a lot of people, actually, who take an ethical stance on how their food is produced) or do they have to drive out to the farm, watch it be slaughtered, then buy it direct from the producer? What about Smart Chicken from a conventional grocery store--they make certain claims on their label that seem pretty ethical--is that happy enough for you? Would you provide your hosts a grocery list of acceptable products from acceptable sources?

                                                                                                                                                                              You're right, it's very complicated to lie, especially since you presumably are well-acquainted with your hosts. I would tell them that since you've reintroduced meat into your diet, you've done so only very deliberately and under very specific conditions and circumstances, the details of which you do not want to impose upon them in the context of this particular gathering. And then ask if it would be too much trouble to provide you with a vegetarian meal as in the old days.

                                                                                                                                                                              And, I'm not trying to be combative or rude here, but I'd be a happier as a host to accommodate someone who had been a vegetarian for a decade than someone who had been on a restrictive (for ethical) reasons diet for a decade who has now changed their mind (for ethical reasons) and lifted a restriction on something that used to be completely off-limits. It just makes me wonder that, if in a few years from now, unhappy meat will also be okay with you and my efforts to accommodate you were for naught, other than trying to be a gracious host to accommodate your ethics as they were at the time. I understand people and their thinking evolve, but when you evolve to become less restrictive over time, it can begin to feel a little like wolf-crying and hard to take too seriously.

                                                                                                                                                                              This is also the reason why I wouldn't lie to your friends. It might make you seem very arbitrary and hard to take seriously. Before, all meat was off-limits. Now it seems to be okay (as far as I can tell), except when I'm hosting.

                                                                                                                                                                              ETA: by the way, after you ask for a vegetarian meal, if your hosts press you and say, no no no, please tell us the details of your restrictions, we want to know. Well, then, go for it!


                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                The slipperly slope argument did stop me from returning to eating mammals and birds, for ages. For a couple years, I thought to myself, Yeah, sure, I'd say happy meat NOW, but what if, a year or two down the line, I'm stuffing my face with Chicken McNuggets?

                                                                                                                                                                                The thing is, I really do like meat. I grew up in a Chinese household, I'm not at all squeamish about it- I'll happily eat most parts of the animal, and will happily try all parts of one. So, for me, the slippery slope seemed like a distinct possibility. So I get your point.

                                                                                                                                                                                But a combination of several factors (too tedious to go into here) convinced me to change.

                                                                                                                                                                                In the event, I find I have no desire for Chicken McNuggets or chicken salad sandwiches from Tesco (yet!) and find that, after a decade, I habitually scan a menu for the veggie options, anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. I want to be brutally honest here since we are on a moral stance......How can you tell the meat was Happy???????????? It still died.

                                                                                                                                                                                And frankly as a host, you get what I serve you. If my chickens were deliriously jumping for joy before the axe descended, then so be it. I neither care nor want to know.

                                                                                                                                                                                Vegans and Vegetarians I can deal with.i know what ingredients................but If one ever asks me for a "Happy Carrot" I'll gladly fix them another organic glass of wine before finding their coat

                                                                                                                                                                                37 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                                                                                                  Are you familiar with Temple Grandin's work on the subject of cattle (and other animals), stress and slaughter?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                    but if you think about it which chicken would be happier? the one that sat in an house with a bunch of other chickens never knowing anything else except sooo this what is all about? Or the one that ran around and played on the farm with other animals? then suddenly Holy crap???? what do you mean farmer joe? what are doing with that ax? I mean lets face it there really isnt a a CHarlie Tuna begging to be pulled and made into a can of tuna.
                                                                                                                                                                                    so whe it comes ddown to it it about what is better for you and tastes better. but hey if it helps someones " I use to vegatitarian but now I only eat "happy"meat moral concscience then power to them.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                      Am I???? NO.and frankly could care less. You wanna eat, you eat what I serve. If I know you have ethical or dietary considerations(and maybe religious) I will try and accommodate you on ingredients. But Happy MEAT??????????? Give me a break!

                                                                                                                                                                                      since this whole thread has gone over the top, I think the whole idea is pretentious and BS. Just another way to call attention to one's self ("I can't eat the butter unless the cream was massaged from the udders by a shy virgin"). when I go somewhere, I try and respect my hosts' wishes.if they don't drink, I don't. If they are of certain backgrounds, I don't ask that Bacon or Pork be served, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                      If the stuff that is there is not to your "choosing".don't EAT it! get a PB and J on the way home....if you can stand the fact that peanuts are yanked from the ground in their prime and grapes are mauled and squished.

                                                                                                                                                                                      sorry.the whole thing sounds ridiculous to me. but since the question was asked, I responded with my opinion

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                                                                                                        Now you are calling the friend you've invited to dinner pretentious instead of preparing them a meal that might please them. Why are you choosing the path of most resistance?

                                                                                                                                                                                        Life is sweeter and easier when there's less friction among friends.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. The degree to which people are taking food preferences personally and aggressively is stunning. I'm not sure that anyone is ever saying that a host's food is not good enough for them. In fact, I've heard this sentiment far more from the hounds digging their heels in, and for what could be a more disturbing reason. (Steve, I'm replying to your post, but I appreciate your even-keeled approach to this debate. Apparently some of us do not have the same fraught relationship with our friends.)

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. The number of people trying to poke fun at the notion of 'happy' food without consideration of humane slaughter methods (as per Temple Grandin) or the ways in which animals are raised (free ranging v. caged; hormone and antibiotic free or no; attention to feed or no) suggests how well interpellated people are by agribusiness. I can't believe that people here are scoffing at the issue of how animals are treated in the business. One only need look at a chicken breast in an American supermarket to see something of an impossible size that would render a chicken unable to stand on its own and to start thinking about what humane raising means. Yes, we can note that for the omnivores, these will still have the same end: in our bellies, but to declare that the path from birth onwards has no meaning? I don't know.

                                                                                                                                                                                          However, whether I judge or not, I will be a well-behaved and appreciative guest and an attentive host. (That said, I seem to be much more fortunate with my friends than so many people here.)

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks, Lizard. if an intelligent and thoughtful friend has put a lot of care into eating that is healthful and (at least in their opinion) takes away some of the sting of cruelty in the world, then I don't mind making them feel comfortable as my guest.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't feel compelled to share all their opinions, nor do I disregard what they have to say. My guess is that listening to them -and you- would teach me a lot. Lord knows I am pretty much unschooled on agribusiness.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                                                              I know I shouldn't be surprised by how...er, excited...people get about food (after all, this is a site about food), but I confess to being so at the aggression. I guess it's because people feel they *are* being judged, so their reaction is somewhat understandable.

                                                                                                                                                                                              And a lot of the "poking fun" reminds me an awful lot of the kind of things you used hear (not so often, nowadays, thank goodness) about vegetarians/vegans, back in the day. Which actually makes me feel better, because those are now fairly broadly accepted!

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Palladium

                                                                                                                                                                                                To be honest, when you used the expression "happy meat", I thought you were expressing a willingness to have a little fun with the topic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Otherwise, it would be somewhat naive to think the animal that gave its life for your meal had a happy life and a happy slaughter unless you (and in turn your hosts) go to a lot of effort to do some research to find out exactly how the animal was handled. I think there is a huge range in care and slaughter practices of animals that are marketed as "humanely-raised" and unless one really interviews the producer about his or her practices, one may think one is eating happy meat when one is not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Nevertheless, I think you are trying to be a thoughtful friend and guest and consumer by thinking through these issues in advance. And I am assuming that, for the most part, you're talking about being hosted by friends, not by co-workers or someone like that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I think what's especially complicated about your situation is that you were a vegetarian for a long time and now you have made a shift in your preferences/lifestyle. These people are your friends--they've probably seen you eat meat and even if they haven't asked you about it, are probably curious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                When I'm hosting a guest for the first time (or if I'm sending out written invites) I always try to ask about dietary restrictions. But, I may not do that for someone I've known and hosted for many years. Since your friends have maybe noticed (or heard through the grapevine about) you eating meat now when you previously had not, hopefully, your host will be curious enough to ask what's up. If they don't and it's a close friend, I think you can offer the information that you're now only eating humanely raised meat and then say that you'd be happy with a vegetarian meal if it's not too much trouble or that you'd be happy to bring a dish to share, if they were open to that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                If it's someone other than a close friend and they don't ask, I'd probably just do the best you can with what's put in front of you. If a portion of meat of uncertain enlightenment is served to you, I'd eat it so that the animal did not give its life, unhappy or otherwise, in vain. To me, that is the most ethical choice.


                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                                                                This entire thread puzzles me. Thanks for your thoughtful response. To me, it's simple. Animals are living creatures. We, as humans, are stewards of the earth. Subjecting animals to cruel treatment just because we can is awful. After a lifetime of having animals as pets, dealing with livestock, hunting, putting down injured animals, etc I can't understand this frankly evil attitude many claim to espouse. I love to eat meat. I also love animals. To me, these are 2 facts that can be in harmony. No one is saying chickens should live their lives filled with glee and eating from silver platters; they should just be basically pleasant. That's all. Thanks again, Lizard and Steve, for calm and thoughtful responses to all this chaos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                                                                  If a host asks for my preferences, I tell them that I eat clean (and I give a few examples or specifics). I mostly dine with people I know, so it is not completely unexpected. Food preferences and special diets these days are more common than not, at least where I live. However, it is not "all or nothing"for me, I chose to eat crap sometimes too. I still state my preferences when specifically asked, then choose accordingly at the time of the meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  If a host doesn't ask, then I don't volunteer the information. I just choose to eat the preferred items at the table. On occasion, I have had a host ask why I am not eating something, but normally it really isn't very noticeable. I answer honestly and I have no intention of making anyone feel "judged" because they don't have the same preference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  There isn't all this animosity about it all..... in real life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                                                                    i sincerly hope your "honset" answer to your host is not " I eat clean" because I know the implication that my food was "dirty" and not clean enough for you would seem kind of rude to me.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    maybe no anmiosity but I know there would be some eyerolling at the dishwahing during cleanup that night.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                                                                                                            It's all about pleasing the guest which should be the reason you are having them over for a meal. If you don't want to prepare a vegetarian meal and you want to make sure you are buying something the guest is ok with, then ask them in advance.

                                                                                                                                                                                            "I go to the farmers market on Saturday, and I'll buy some bacon from Eco Friendly Farms. Does that work for you?"

                                                                                                                                                                                            See, no mystery involved. Life is simple.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                              (EF is the spicy sausage I alluded to upthread!)

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                                Good choice. it's worked for me in the past.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                  For anyone who wishes to be as sure as they can about the "happy meat' they're buying (at a premium, yes), I wish they could talk to Bev Eggelston.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am not a 'happy meat' person. I have bought the bacon because I like how the fat has a more pleasant nature and mouthfeel from the supermarket stuff. I can tell the difference, easily.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                It is about pleasing the guest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                However, when the guest asks to be pleased and you are not a bed and breakfast it comes across self important...

                                                                                                                                                                                                as most of the posters here have stated..we go out of our way to make our guest comfortable.... but this idea that a guest comes into your home with a contract rider fit for a rock star means it is time to say enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                  "this idea that a guest comes into your home with a contract rider fit for a rock star means it is time to say enough."

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Well you certainly have your Straw Man Argument down to a T.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                    oh but Steve, Strawman and Auant sally entered this thread long before... lil'ol me. and yet you still cling to the illussion all the host has to do is make a nice veggie meal and everyone is going to sing" Kumbayah" while you have other posters saying "only eat clean" and "will tell the host that is not why I am eating" " I will bring my own food" The hyperbolic nature of these post shifted the topic from your sald alonnnnng time ago sir.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: girloftheworld


                                                                                                                                                                                                      Someone invites OP to dinner and asks about food restrictions. OP says she's mostly vegetarian, and though she does make the occasional exception for well-raised meats, vegetarian would be great. OP and host share a nice vegetarian meal, maybe homemade pizza. No one sings Kumbaya, but after a bottle of wine or four, they do manage to belt out an enthusiastic but unlovely version of "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Why is this scenario illusory?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                        "is it ok to tell my host that I only eat happy meat"
                                                                                                                                                                                                        On another thread " I dont eat farmed fish"
                                                                                                                                                                                                        " I only eat clean"

                                                                                                                                                                                                        When asked... she should say...Vegiterian would be great ! and leave it at that.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        If she wants to have people over her house for her great ribs and someone brings up " I thought you were vegitterian" then she is free to bring it up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I see no reason to lie. Frankly, it seems like it would create more problems than it solves since the cat's out of the bag about the OP eating meat anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          What's so offensive about saying "vegetarian is fine, but I'm picky about what meats I eat"? If the host wants to serve meat, they can still inquire further. If they're cool with vegetarian, then let's get on with dinner with no more questions asked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                            That's an excellent way to put it - there's no offense implied about clean vs. dirty meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I guess maybe i am a bit old fasioned where sommmmmetimes all of this " my life, my preferences, my feelings, and my beliefs" Are sacrosanct above all others. Perhaps I think sometimes you should just walk into a persons home and say " thank you for having me into your home. Thank you for taking time out your busy lives to have peopl over and the extra expense it takes to have guests. I know you love to cook and thank you for sharing that pleasure with us" Sometimes it it is ok to swallow your moral, politacal high horse and break bread and enjoy the company of live people rather than make the issue of dead animals. Should eat a peanut and die? No. but reallllllly people. This is your waterlooo?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Your post is a bit hyperbolic, and begs the question of who is making a bigger deal out of a small issue here. But that's ok - Anthony Bourdain, for example, has expressed more or less the same views in the past, and though I disagree on some of the minutae of dining etiquette, I still can respect that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                But let me ask:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Given your viewpoint, why would you respect the wishes of a vegetarian but not the OP? Clearly, the case of food intolerances and allergies is a bit different due to the risk of real harm to the eater, but it makes no obvious sense given your last post to respect one kind of ethical food choice but not another.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                (please don't respond with a 'slippery slope' argument - I promise you this discussion will be more interesting if we avoid those. It's debating's equivalent of a loud fart during a eulogy)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  if I may paraphrase another poster I keep vegiterian but only buy vegtables by farrmer joe who grows them in specail dirt rained on by filtted water from iceberg water. ia more of an accurate comparrison...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think that this person would more than llikely get the same level of accomidation questioning

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's not really, since that would be far more restrictive and harder to accommodate than a vegetarian diet, while the OP's leanings are actually a bit less restrictive than a vegetarian diet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (I might add you're also dancing with that whole 'slippery slope' thing, albeit without saying the words. But then we all do fart now and again)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Queen doesn't fart, I have been told.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Common misconception. Who would look to her when Prince Charles is around? Find me a picture of the man in which he doesn't look like he's about to pass gas, is in the process thereof, or is relieved to have let one loose.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Can't do it, can you?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Queen doesn't fart. For any nearby malodorous odor of uncertain origin, some servant will take the fall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Doesn't she make like a southern belle and just have the "vapors?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I assumed that's why she always keeps a corgi or two near. I know mine has taken the blame for questionable emissions before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                lol- that makes sense! and then there are those ladies in waiting..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Kiddo, you are wise well beyond the years you claim on your profile.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I do not detect the attitude you are describing from the OP in any way. Furthermore, I would minimize my contact with people like that however I willingly adjust my cooking for great friends who have dietary preferences. I'm an omnivore but often make vegetarian meals when I know vegetarians and "happy meat" eaters will be present. No.Big.Deal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A guest offering to bring their own food sounds unnecessary to me, but not hyperbolic. I understand the impulse, especially considering the vitriol shown on this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. It. All. Depends. If I don't know the hosts well, I might let them know that when I'm out, I generally avoid meat. The potential hosts may or may not inquire for details, to which I might respond with further info about sourcing philosophies. If I am friends with the hosts, we've probably already talked about such topics as food sourcing. In a situation where I am an impromptu guest, and don't know the hosts' sourcing, I might just decline the meat component of dinner. seems pretty easy to me...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. At home I'm picky about what I buy like humanely certified meats, or at least know where the meat is (supposedly) coming from. The same goes for dairy and eggs. I also try not to use a lot of overly processed food, eg., no cake mixes, cream of whatever soup, I buy organic produce if it's one of the "dirty" dozen but not for everything. My sister said it was exhausting shopping me with me but I have it down to a science.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            That said, when I go to friends' houses, I would not think to impose how I choose to shop on them. I eat what I can, if it's a big slab of meat, I can choose to eat it or not. I can't imagine asking a host to buy enough "happy" meat for everyone. If you want to warn your host, just say you're picky about your meat but that you'll be fine. I just let it go. Overall, I think the feelings of my live hosts take precedent over the feelings of a dead animal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. For me, the answer is no. I am also a "happy meat" eater (and never a vegetarian). When eating out at restaurants that don't list sources, I will generally get a vegetarian dish, or something like mussels. At banquets, I usually ask for the vegetarian meal. At parties where there is a big buffet, I usually go for the less meat intensive dishes. But at a dinner party ... even a casual dinner at a family members house, I happily eat what ever they serve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: firecooked

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Do you distinguish between happy mussels that grew up clinging to rocks in the surf zone, or ones that spent their whole life hanging from ropes under a smelly raft? :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No. I just avoid smelly mussels.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: firecooked

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    smelly muscles aren't very appealing, either. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. As a host, I try to provide a variety of delicious, healthful food to my guests. If I know someone is a vegetarian or chooses not to eat some particular food, I try not to make it the "centerpiece". So, I wouldn't serve crown pork roast with potatoes cooked in pork fat to a Jewish or Muslim or vegetarian friend. But I might serve a side dish that had a forbidden element with the understanding they can avoid a side dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                As a guest, I eat anything offered, maybe in very small quantities if I find it repugnant. Eating light for 1 meal won't kill me, I can always scramble some eggs when I get home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I would never question the source of the food, whether it is "happy" meat or organic vegetables or wild fish. It is just one meal, for goodness sake!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dkenworthy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But it's one meal that your host was hoping that you would enjoy. If someone eats light in my house, they have failed as a guest, and I have failed as a host. I appreciate having advance knowledge of anything I can do to avoid this unfortunate situation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But I can enjoy an evening and "eat light". After all, someone at almost every table is "watching what I eat" or "dieting" or whatever. I never, ever, push people to eat more than they take (I always serve family style for this reason) or comment on what they eat at my table or any other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dkenworthy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But I think that there is a difference between eating light and not eating the main course at all. If my guest didn't take/eat any of the main course, I would wonder what was wrong and I would think I somehow failed as a hostess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dmjordan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Methinks thou dost worry too much! If they don't eat, ask and offer an alternative. It's their "philosophy" not yours. If you didn't provide bare breasted serving wenches when the biker gang comes over for a BBQ would you feel you had equally "failed"? To totally steal and corrupt the wonderful saying..... "You can please all of the ppl some of the time and some of the ppl all of time" That one person rejects your presentation is not a failure. Ask if you can help; but not be stressed if they have significantly different visions than yours

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I'm a happy carnivore... but my personal preference is not to eat milk-fed veal or fois gras for ethical reasons... and I'm squicky about lobster because of the way it's treated before consumption (the thought of those poor live lobster stuffed into a dirty tank waiting to be bought just squicks me out). But if you invited me to dinner and put a platter of veal stuffed with fois gras and lobster sauce in front of me, I'd suck it up and eat it without making a fuss.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  On a more mundane level, I avoid MSG wherever possible because I have a tendency towards heart palpitations and it makes them worse - but I don't cross-question the chef before I eat. I just taste it and if it has that very particular salty 'msg' flavour, I push it around the plate and eat the rest of the meal. But if you offer me caffienated beverages or alcohol I'll just turn them down in favour of water because it's not going to put you out to turn on the tap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Absolutely not. One of the highest moral decisions, I think, is to be flexible enough to consider the needs and concerns of others as paramount to one's own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Are you saying this for the guest (the OP) or the host?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The OP is the one who asked the question, that's who I responded to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But as a moral principle, wouldn't it also apply to the host?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If the host were asking the question, yeah.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I always make every effort to accomodate guests in every way possible, and I have very similar priorities in food purchasing that I don't impose upon my hosts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Sometimes, when invited to the hospitality of someone's home, it isn't all about you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. How this conversation would come off in real life. "Are these fish sticks farm-raised?" I would say. She would say "Would you like a hot dog?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Grins......that's one alternative! I might choose another shorter sentence....like 2 words

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            well I did tone down the likely language for the children if they are tuning in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bless you, my child! I am old and curmudgeonly, so I get to have the brevity of age

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                hell, never watch you language on my account!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  LOL I'd never tone down my language for you my dear. I think you can handle anything I'm throwing out!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Sigh. First world problems.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: BostonLover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Well, if it comforts you a little, addressing matters of agribusiness can be global as well. What of those who wish to support fair trade? I could go further in depth, but that would be more than I have time for, and more importantly, more detail than people deserve to be bored with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              (But yes, getting bent out of shape over a guest whose preferences seem to be read as judgement OR being able to refuse/be selective about food are all matters of privilege.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. When you purchase your own food you can put whatever restraints on it that you wish. When you choose a restaurant you can use your restraints to limit your food venues. When someone invites you into their home and makes you a meal and invites you to eat with your family you eat what they cook. That's how I was raised.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              34 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So you would not accommodate Halal, Kosher, or vegetarian? Really? You would insist on serving ham in cream sauce to a rabbi? Even if a life long friend decided to become vegetarian?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That's a strong position to take, Easy to say on the internet, but quite frankly I don't know anyone who behaves that way in real life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Maybe you will have a child someday that marries a vegetarian. Your attitude could create a rift which you might have trouble mending. I suggest toning down the rhetoric. Burning bridges over one meal is not a happy course to take.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  All 3 of those possibilities are a far way from "I just prefer to eat happy meat."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And for at least two of your options we'd be going to a restaurant because I wouldn't have the first clue how to property cook a correct meal to meet their religious guidelines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If a lifelong friend suddenly became vegetarian, I imagine she would handle it the same way I handle it when I do low carb dieting. A simple, "hey, I'm eating "x way" right now. Does that work with your menu or do you care if I bring a dish?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Edited to add that eating low carb isn't a moral thing, just a preference. If a friend is making dinner for me I'll eat every carb placed in front of me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    FYI, if someone accepts your invitation, a vegetarian meal will satisfy all three of those dietary restrictions. They'll let you know if there's anything else involved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Well when my friends come over to eat they generally know what they are in for. They get an email or a text of "hey, we're throwing some steak (or burgers, or brisket) on the grill (smoker) tonight. Food will be ready about 8 if you'd like to come by. That makes it very simple for everyone. I may get a response "can I bring anything?" to which I would reply, "anything you would like to bring would be a welcome addition. here are the sides I am making" It's just simple communication. Now if my guest responded with "how was your steak sourced" that would be a whole new ballgame.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Vegetarian is one thing, but the Kosher/Halal scenarios would almost never come up. Anyone who is truly observant would likely politely decline a dinner invitation. An Orthodox Jew would probably not expose themselves to that situation because the dietary laws are about much more than Kosher meat (they may politely eat a fruit plate or plain salad).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm protestant, but I had the privilege and pleasure to have been invited to several Shabbat dinners in Denver. Fun experiences, although I had to lip-sync a bit...:)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have two Muslim friends that would have no problem as long as I didn't serve pork. If I invited either over for dinner (they don't know each other), I would go the extra step and buy Halal meat if I served meat. The market where I buy it is a lot cheaper than Safeway and I often buy it for my family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't know anyone who keeps Kosher right now, but I grew up in a community where a vegetarian meal would suffice for my friends who kept Kosher. Later as an adult, I worked at a Jewish Community Center where that was the case for almost everyone I knew.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I do not claim that my friends are representative of the world at large, but I am sure that any aware person would either decline the invitation if their dietary restrictions are complex or let me know about them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Not true -- I have several Muslim friends that eat halal and all of them have eaten at my house. They do not eat meat at my home, but will happily eat all the non-meat options. They are all OK with me serving meat if I choose, but do not partake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My specific example was about Orthodox Jews not simply walking in and saying "you bought Kosher meat? Let's dig in!" because there's more to it than that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was responding to this part: "Vegetarian is one thing, but the Kosher/Halal scenarios would almost never come up. Anyone who is truly observant would likely politely decline a dinner invitation."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My response was to point that that not everyone observant enough to eat Halal only would decline dinner invitations in non-halal homes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I was thinking the same thing. Kosher is more strict than Halal. You can't just "prepare" a Kosher meal in a non-Kosher kitchen on non-Kosher cookware - and even if you bought take-out from a Kosher restaurant your friends wouldn't be able to eat it off your dishes or using your flatware.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  BUT the point is that it just isn't all that difficult to make it possible for Orthodox guests to share a meal. (Disposable dinnerware makes the dishes issue a non-issue. Have nice disposable dinnerware on hand for everyone, and no one is flagged with "different" dinnerware)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've done it many, many times -- the first couple of times I asked a *lot* of questions, but my friends appreciated my efforts, and that they wouldn't be relegated to hummus and carrot sticks at my table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Not trying to nitpick, just curious, but don't all of the prep tools (pans, cutting boards, knives etc.) have to be kept separate meat vs. dairy etc?


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, they do. Of course some folks are "more kosher" than others, but pots, pans, all utensils, serving spoons,dish drainers, kitchen towels and sponges...even salt shakers, are separate.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is almost impossible for people not keeping a kosher kitchen to serve a kosher meal to an orthodox guest. The statement that it isn't all that difficult is not true at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh vey... most conservative and reform kashrut will accept your invitation without the ritualistic restrictions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        An Orthodox Jew will probably not accept the invitation or will let you know in advance of how to meet their restrictions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As I said, there are many levels of kosher, to make a blanket statement that it "isn't all that difficult with orthodox guests", is not true. It could indeed be very difficult and the guests determine the comfort level in deciding to eat or not (just like the OP issue).It is a moral and personal one and IMO not rude to inquire or let a host know in advance, without judgment, so as not to have any misunderstandings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My ex mother in law would never have just accepted a dinner invitation without asking 20 questions, then likely deciding to just drink wine....Oy vey, back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You're right, being Orthodox is a pain in the tuchus.... don't think I didn't notice she is your ex-mother-in-law.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              you seem to have missed the part where I asked a lot of questions and did an enormous amount of research.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The three basic principles of keeping Kosher have to do with ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The ritualistic aspects are not followed by many, and I imagine the guest would let you know about those restrictions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My experience having grown up in Long Island and Miami Beach is that the host will probably not have to worry about the ritualistic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There are two extremes here--completely disregarding food issues and completely catering to preferences. Most take something in between. I host in-law events w/ some really picky kids. Picky as in the last time we got together, I made sure to have hamburgers and mac and cheese for kids but still ended up, last minute, making chicken nuggets and white rice for one and ramen noodles for another. That was on top of having special dishes for adults, eg. no cheese, no starch, sugar free dessert. When you're hosting 25 people (especially multiple times a year), catering to everyone can be a PITA. How far do you have to go to please all your guests?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The question is, would you want to know about these preferences, so that you have some opportunity to take them into account, even partially, or would you prefer for your guests to keep it to themselves and take their chances with whatever you decide to prepare?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The OP wanted to know if simply informing the host about her "happy meat" preference would be rude. Not asking for "happy meat" to be served, but just mentioning her preference. I don't think that would be rude; in fact it's exactly what I want my guests to do. And then I don't think it would be rude to respond "OK, I can't promise that you'll be able to eat the meat, but there should be plenty of other things for you to eat. Do you still want to come?" And the guest should then be able to say yes or no and neither decision would be rude.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Of course, at every step in this exchange, people can express themselves in a rude way, or choose to look for implied judgment and hidden insults in everything the other person says. Fortunately, friends usually manage to communicate more successfully…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    the issue here is that it then puts the host into the position of having to admit that meat that's up to the guest's standards just isn't in the budget.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Especially in the economic climate that's still tenaciously hanging on, it would be far more preferable to just say "vegetarian would be great" than to back someone into the rather uncomfortable corner between admitting you just can't afford it, and buying something you can't afford and cutting some other corner later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ugh, more conjecture. Again, it is more an argument than a fact. Nobody has to talk about cost at all. And nobody is backed into a corner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The host does not have to do anything for the OP, but it would be nice and I am sure the effort will be appreciated even if the host spends not a penny more on the meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        the iorny being the most conjector..reading between the lines and half reads .. have come from you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I agree that the vegetarian solution should be put prominently on the table, as certain posters have been saying all along. Whether or not it is worth the OP's while to go into the details about her meat preferences depends on her relationship with the host (or the relationship she hopes to develop with the host).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There are many ways to fill in the details of the general scenario that the OP outlined, so it's easy to stack the deck however you like with speculations about the host's precarious financial situation, assuming that the OP is going to express herself in an entitled, judgmental way, etc. The point is that bringing up the issue of "happy meat" is not inappropriate or rude in all situations, and it should not be automatically taken off the table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You know, to be honest, these days, I almost always have a vegetarian, whole grain option when I host people because I think there are a lot of people who are either vegetarians, light meat eaters or on weight loss diets. Also, it's just more the direction my household is heading in terms of how we eat. That dish is likely to satisfy anyone who is vegetarian, Halal, gluten-free, nut-free or on a weight loss diet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There'd probably be something at the table for paleo/low carb folks and that something would probably work for the OP as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Vegans would have to give me a heads up, as would folks keeping Kosher. Actually, if someone was very strictly Kosher, I probably wouldn't serve them something from my kitchen because I don't keep a Kosher kitchen. I'd probably bring it in from the outside, a local deli or something like that, and serve it on newly acquired inexpensive dishware.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "bring it in from the outside"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And ding-ding-ding -- with research, just not all that difficult.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Not my preference as I like to cook...but it means that my Orthodox and Muslim (for whom I don't substitute Orthodox, btw) friends have no problem sitting down to a meal at my house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              They would have no problem sitting down to a meal at my house, but it might not be a homecooked meal if it also has to be strictly Kosher. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Seriously, though, how do you get around the fact that your cookware, knives, cutting boards, serving ware and dishes have not been kept Kosher all these years if you're hosting Orthodox guests? Do you borrow? Buy new? (ETA: I guess you could serve everything cold? http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We have some famous stories in my circle about entire sets of dishware and flatware being discarded because of a Kosher violation.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                in bigger cities you rent Kosher cookware.. if you have occassion to...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                the house where my grandfather grew up had a seperate kitchen in the basement ( they didnt keep Kosher) but it was a Jewish neighborhood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ah yes, renting would be one way to go, certainly.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      When I ask my guests about food restrictions, I take them into account. As I've said earlier, I've never had a problem serving a vegetarian meal, especially if some components come separate. Add a plate of cheeses and saucisson on the side and you can feed the whole crowd, even those that would sorely miss their quota of meat and fat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It might be a cultural thing. My parents would be mortified to tell friends what they should be including or excluding from their dinners and that's how I was raised. You're invited to dinner, you either accept or decline but don't treat the invitation like a restaurant (or in one of my favorite Miss Manner's lines, "I see the problem here. You've mistaken their kitchen for a restaurant."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My husband was served a vegetarian meal at a friend's house (this was decades ago) and he did comment on the lack of meat. I was mortified and told him, in private, how rude that was. He used to think of meat as the meal and the rest were just useless accessories. I think he was rude to comment, not that the host should have asked and served him meat. And, he no longer does; and meat is no longer the meal for him, if I'm cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I also think parents who cater to their picky children and expect hosts to do the same are causing problems. If your child is in a phase when he only eats ramen noodles, then make it before and feed him but don't expect the host to prepare a special meal. We had that problem at a kids function recently where one girl would only eat cheese, no sauce, on pizza. This was a group order where they expected the girls to eat 2 pizzas and charged accordingly. They ended up having to order a whole pizza for her. If your child is that picky, it should fall on the parent to take care of the child.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          When I was a small child I was a picky eater. My biggest fear was going into a meal and not being able to eat anything. However, good manners instilled by my mother allowed me to coast along, try everything, smile, and never expect and certainly not demand special treatment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "he no longer does; and meat is no longer the meal for him, if I'm cooking."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Good for him, Adapting to others (and the times) makes things more fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The landscape has changed so much in the last decade. And changes are coming faster and faster. You can drift away... by simply standing still.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Wasn't there a debate like this 2000 years ago? Something about where it was ok to eat meat that had been offered to idols or not?


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The surest way to avoid 'moral dilemmas' like this is to only socialize with people who share your standards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. My wife's mother and sisters are all on horribly restrictive diets; different horribly restrictive diets I might add. I am fully aware of all of their diets but when we host a gathering we cook what we cook. We always have some healths options such as grilled chicken or fish and a green salad along with the more decadent offerings but there is no way I could accomodate each person's preference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If I was hosting a gathering and someone told me that they only ate organic pasteure fed animals raised within a 100 mile radius of their home, I would encourage them to bring enough to share.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. We made a similar choice a few years ago and started buying our meat from a farmer who raised his meats in a sustainable, humane manner. I was able to convince him to set up a meat CSA in my area for a while (which, sadly, he discontinued about six months ago!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, people do feel judged when you tell them about choices you've made for yourself that they haven't made for themselves. My feeling is that there are a lot of people who go around this world looking for things to be offended by, and it's all on them if they want to perceive your choice as meaning that you are trying to make a judgement on their choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What I would do in these situations is let the host know in advance that I had an excess of meat taking up space in my freezer (often the truth, but since I have a chest freezer, it wasn't really a problem in the way I suggested it might be) and they would be doing me a favor if they'd consider using my meat in their dinner prep.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It gave them a chance to say no, they've already purchased their meat, in which case I would go and eat the food. I wasn't so strictly married to my food choices that there was never room for compromise in certain circumstances. More often than not, they'd say yes, and I'd drop off the frozen meat in advance, and we'd all enjoy the meal. And more than one of my friends really appreciated the taste of the meat and realized that there are taste benefits to buying, for example, heritage pork vs. supermarket pork and decided to join the CSA or at least consider paying the cost of this type of meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Personally, I do the whole "Eat well-raised when I can and when I'm cooking, but don't sweat it when I'm eating at someone else's place" thing. If someone invites you over and doesn't ask about restrictions, I think it's implicit that anything goes and your accepting the invitation should reflect that. But if someone asks beforehand...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think it's somewhat hypocritical to be fine with catering to vegetarians but to object to someone eating meats only in some situations. It's all in how you phrase it though - "I'm mostly vegetarian. I'll make occasional exceptions for meats that were treated well, but vegetarian is fine by me also." It's less restrictive than vegetarianism anyway. The important thing is to not make the host feel obliged to spend more than they can afford.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As host, if you don't want to cater to someone's dietary restrictions, don't ask about em. I've made many meals for people who are picky about what meats they eat. It's easy, and doesn't have to be expensive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Exactly! That is a nice way to put it, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I know someone who won't eat anything "cute." It was a pain trying to figure out what that would be, when we were making potluck meat courses or ordering out. She was also adamant about having only brown rice but would eat white bread. It's polite to ask about dietary constraints but it is hard when people are super picky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I guess my view is that ONLY IF ASKED about preferences, you can say "Well I prefer to eat _______ if at all possible," and leave it at that. To say(or imply) "I won't eat it unless_______," is rude and imparts restrictions upon the host that they may be unable to accomodate (maybe they're on a budget, or have already purchased the ingredients.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am a person who was tormented by vegans in the past, so I'm touchy when people try to impose their choices upon others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "I'm touchy when people try to impose their choices upon others."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Just to recap the first 200 posts on this thread: nobody on this thread is imposing you to eat anything yourself, to dictate what you can serve to others, or buy anything you don't want to buy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If you invite a friend to dinner, you are not obligated to do anything, but it would sure be nice of you to make your friend feel welcomed in your home and consider their dietary restrictions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For most Chowhounds, making a vegetarian or even a vegan meal for a friend is not out of the question. Hopefully you invited your friend to dinner in order to enjoy your friend's company. If that's not the case, you can politely deny the request.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am delighted to prepare vegetarian or vegan meals for guests, and always ask if there are allergies or religious restrictions. I'm not sure what the lecture is for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Neither the OP nor anyone else on this thread is "imposing their choices on others," hence my response.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      True, and perhaps "impose" is too strong a word, but assuming the main dish will be meat based, and requesting "happy meat" (I love that term, BTW), it would be logical to assume that all the meat served would be "happy" - one would hardly serve 3 normal burgers and one happy one, or a large roast with one smaller happy roast. All diners would then be eating according to the choices of the OP. Polite and well-meaning though they may be. And nowhere in my post did I indicate that I would be unwilling to accommodate friends' dietary restrictions, nor would I want to be anything less than a gracious hostess, hence my bewilderment at the tone of your reply.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I suppose there are many ways the host could take into account the OP's dietary restriction. Going through every possible scenario may be fascinating to some, but the bottom line is that the host can keep it as simple and inexpensive as possible. I've already delineated how I might handle the request.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        At that point, it's up to the host to decide how much trouble to go to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "..tormented by vegans" Funny...didn't know that could be possible

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Believe you me, it's possible. It is not all vegans - I would never generalize like that - it was two particular vegans who delighted in tormenting me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ha! Their lack of protein gives you the upper hand in strength brains and stamina. Rock on!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If only it came down to feats of strength...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am comfortable preparing vegetarian meals but vegan, somewhat less so. A vegan prone to tormenting would probably not be on my guest list unless he/she had other exceptional redeeming qualities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Unfortunately these were coworkers, not guests, so uninviting was not an option. Also I was the cook and they were waiters, so the tormenting was almost daily and centered around their diets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            sounds like a good opportunity for giblet gravy. From industrially-farmed birds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I wonder if I can start responding to invitation asking if the beef is grain fed, because grass fed beef offends me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Somehow I get the feeling you are being a wee bit facetious.... but the honest answer is: of course you can. All this has been well covered. if I invited you for dinner and you asked, my response would be: I am happy to avoid your restriction. That's what friends are for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And when you come for dinner....actually before,... we'll go out on the water and catch some really nice fish to accompany it...... Those fish had such a happy life destroying other fishies up until those last 15 minutes when they got hooked and thrashed in terror as they got reeled in. Or maybe some lobster than went along the bottom eating the detritus of the day until captured a few days ago and got to laze around before being doused into a pot of boiling water or subjected to a steam bath of Dante-an proportions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ah hell, just come over, we'll crack a cple of beers and order pizza.no meat of course

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sounds good, any of those. I love eating fishies, lobster, pizza, and meat of any kind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. This whole thread is reminding me of the wars that would break out on the parenting boards. Breast-feed or Bottle-feed? Breast milk vs. Formula. No one ever wins those wars either because in the end everyone thinks their way is “right” and the both sides end up feeling judged.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Maybe I am lucky that this “moral” dilemma about what food we put in our bodies never really comes up. I rarely entertain or am entertained by people who I don’t know pretty well. Gone are the days of being invited to the bosses house or to some random neighbors for the first time. Also, at least around here, social norms have changed to the point that on the rare case you are invited by someone you dont know well the host inevitably asks about preferences. This is where the guest has to decide if their “preference” is worth mentioning. In my life, most aren’t as I don’t see how eating one meal will make a huge difference in my diet. (again talking preference here, not allergies, religion, etc.) I

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Requesting “happy meat” is no more whack-a-doodle than requesting accommodations for being vegan, vegetarian or even <insert latest diet craze here). Vegan before 6, Atkins, Low Carb, Paleo, “Eat Everything you want but only 2 hours a day”. If it is that important to you (general you) you will make it a priority and adjust your life accordingly. Will you be judged? Sure but if it is important, why does it matter? Good way to weed out your friends or look at as an excuse to entertain more in your own home. Now your family… that’s another story, LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I also think the “just make a vegetarian meal” is a red herring of sorts. If someone told me they only “happy/clean/humane” meat I would assume that philosophy would carry to all their foods and I would be just as uncomfortable serving them a non-organic veggie lasagna. So now the simple “just make a veggie meal” becomes more complicated. Do I worry about just the dirty dozen? Or all veggies? What about the dairy? Humanely raised cows or is regular ok? I find it hard to believe that a person who believes it is “morally” wrong to eat certain meat would be open to drinking milk, eating cheese from unhappily raised cows/goats or eat veggies treated with pesticides.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If they're going to be that picky, they can bring their own damn food (or contribute to the pot accordingly).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          again, the principle of "don't be a pain in the arse" applies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Can I hear an "AHMEN, Children"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't expect threads like this to be 'solved' in the moment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It takes some introspection to affect substantive change, and not everyone who reads the thread posts about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Though I am disappointed that your takeaway is so confused. If a dietary restriction is not stated, then no need to worry about it. You are overthinking it. However, when in doubt, ask. The OP would probably tell you that any vegetables or cheese would be fine
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            . Communication is the key.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. You might say something like "fatty meat gives me indigestion" (leaving out why), and say "but I don't mind just eating mashed potatoes."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Alternatively, if they must have you eat the main, you ought to offer to cover the difference (if they're having ten guests, that might be a lot. but hey, it's your morality, and not your hosts').

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I only eat products from suppliers who pay a LIVING wage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Clearly, I stay home... a lot. And slowly starve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My favorite New Yorker cartoon:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "I can't afford to buy products made under humane conditions."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Remind me never to invite you over for dinner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                All of my meats are unhappy. They suffer from severe schizophrenia, esp. since that "The Other White Meat" campaign took off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But that spreads the risk among more cloven-hoofed critters, like being third in Russian roulette.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I would say that I am a "vegetarian who cheats sometimes." And then ask them to treat you as a vegetarian. If they are good enough friends you explain when and why you choose to 'cheat'. After a long time of keeping a kosher home and eating out as a vegetarian, I too have expanded to poultry under certain circumstances that make me comfortable. My friends are used to seeing kosher chickens served at my home and my being a vegetarian in theirs. As long as you aren't asking them to provide you with kosher/organic more expensive meats, I don't see the problem with stating that you are still "basically" a vegetarian.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. As a host I try to accommodate most reasonable requests/dietary needs, which is why I have a gluten free/nut free/veggie friendly super bowl party every year. (SIL has celiac, my daughter is allergic to nuts, and good friends have been veggie/vegan for a long time.) It's a challenge, but one I like to rise to. Partially cause I know that all groups are dedicated to their restrictions. It's not just a "fad" for them, it's life and I've watched them live it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now as to the OP, if someone were to present that situation to me, I would make a veggie meal. Easier that way for me as the host. I'm assuming people are friendly with those they are going to dinner party with? So use your grown up words and let them know what might not be so peachy, but be prepared to smile and nod and eat if things aren't quite perfect (if they won't kill you, see celiac SIL and nut allergic child)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. My etiquette take on this is you cannot accept an invitation and put limitations or demands on it as you may well alienate the person who invites you. Fill your plate with the vegetables offered, take the meat if forced on you and eat around it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Of a little take a little,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Manners so to do;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Of a little leave a little,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That is manners, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (from a children's book of rhymes)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Were we taught, as children, to politely take at least a little of everything offered at the table?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I am also particular about the meat that I buy - in particular chicken which has to be free-range. I buy most of my meat from the farmer's market, where it's all free-range. I don't insist that my friends have these standards though - but as I rarely get invited to other people's houses for dinner it's not really a problem! I'm usually the one entertaining.... In your situation, I would just be honest and stress that vegetarian is fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As an aside, it always surprises me how downright hostile SOME people are on Chowhound to the issue of ethics in food. Apart from anything else, free-range chicken and pork in particular tastes a hell of a lot better than the cheap, mass-produced stuff. I'd rather eat less meat than large amounts of the factory-farmed stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree it does taste better, and is better for the planet but to impose it on your host crosses the line for me. I think an invitation is a compliment and would never risk losing a friend over food. Once the poster comments about expectations and standards there is a risk of hurting the hosts feelings or insulting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I think its perfectly acceptable to tell your host (ahead of the event) that you do not eat factory farmed meat products on moral grounds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You are not dictating what they prepare but expressing ahead of time that you will not eat certain things.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Your host has the ability to work around that and should be capable of coming up with something. say a cheaper cut of meat or trying something with less meat involved. or making enough non-meat options.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Its perfectable acceptable for people to say I don't eat fish or shellfish or whatever so I don't see why people are so outraged.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I think when you make your food restriction known to the host, you should hew close to the facts as possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A vegetarian invitee would probably not say: I'm a vegetarian on moral grounds. They would say simply: I'm a vegetarian.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In your case, you should say: I was a vegetarian until recently, when I started to eat meat that is raised free range or cage free. Or whatever is true in your case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It seems to me that many people on this thread are getting upset with the "on moral grounds" phrase, so you should respect that and stick to an ingredient-centric request.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. What are your views on "happy" vegetables?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Woh!! I responded to a much lengthier reply from Wyogal, This now seems out of context but I am still curious...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That was the point I was trying to make earlier but was basically told I was “over thinking” the situation. However I have a hard believing that anyone who would only eat “happy/humane” meat would not also have the same preference in other foods. In my neck of the woods I know a number of moral/ethical eaters, probably a dozen or more and these folks apply the “rules” to all their foods, preferring organic, local, etc. Knowing that, in good conscious, I would have to think about the implications and how it would impact my meal plan. If asked how would the OP respond?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The OP has yet to come back and clarify any of the many posters who have asked the question..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And it isn't addressed by those with the simplistic, "serve a vegetarian meal," either. I'm truly wondering how far does the OP take "happy."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You know, I read a book that's several years old now by Peter Singer called, "The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter." He said there are so many ways of looking at the question of ethical food consumption. Humane treatment of animals? Environmental impacts including water use and clean air? Exploitation of workers (including those in developing nations)? Protection of marine ecosystems?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There are so many variables and so many ways to look at the question of food ethics. If I recall, the authors concluded that the most ethical diet taking in ALL of the considerations examined in the book was vegan, but they also acknowledged that the vegan lifestyle might not be acceptable to everyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    They basically said that 80% of of the "ethics" concerns could be solved if you stopped eating factory-farmed meat and dairy. Also, I recall an important tip was to eat local but ONLY in season.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So, everyone has to decide where to draw the line for themselves. (And this, of course, only addresses the food choices. There are lots of other lifestyle decisions we have to make, too). Are you going to be a vegan who only eats local foods, in season at one end of the spectrum? Or somewhere a little more relaxed than that?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Everyone has to decide for themselves, of course, but the key, I think, is to make your own choices while taking care not to belittle everyone else's choices. I'm not saying the OP or anyone in this thread is belittling others choices, but it is the problem you risk when you say, "I'm making this choice for moral reasons" that whomever you're communicating this to doesn't finish the thought in their own minds as "And I'm telling you about it because I fear you're not that moral and are going to serve me something immoral..."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I do believe the OP asked this question so that we could help her avoid upsetting her hosts.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      " Also, I recall an important tip was to eat local but ONLY in season."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ha! I guess we starve until a few gardeners are ready for the markets next month.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Or do we all move to areas where gardening is possible year 'round?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Interesting ideas, though. But, I still wonder if the OP has these same concerns about the vegetarian options as others have suggested.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Well, I live in Minnesota so that is a serious consideration. The ground freezes in Nov and thaws sometime in May... Very short growing season. I think canning and cellaring is a way to eat in season. But those lovely "locally grown" hothouse tomatoes we can buy in MN all winter long? I'm sure the energy required to grow those when it's not only sub-freezing, but subzero, is astronomical.