Fear of all young vegetarian, being invited at a friend’s or family’s can be stressful but it is not a fate.
When we become vegetarian or vegan, we can be afraid of not finding anything to eat. If your host is not aware of your diet, you will not always find a lot of things to get your teeth into and that don’t have any meat or fish.
There actually might be many foods that will tempt you but that you don’t want to eat anymore, and if you are at the beginning of your transition, it could increase your frustration.
That being said, it is a necessary phase and it makes part of the learning. Learning how to do without traditional foods and being able to resist them is a real field training (if we assume that you are in transition for ethics and not because of your taste or distaste for meat).
Several strategies are up to you to make this moment much nicer.
You don’t know if you should inform your host about your diet and you are afraid you won’t find anything to eat and will be frustrated ?
Here are different options :
1 Don’t mention it in advance
2 Inform your host and if he is open to it, make easy suggestions
3 Bring your food
4 Bring some vegetarian food for everyone
5 Allow yourself a few exceptions when you are outside
THE “DON’T MENTION ANYTHING BEFORE” OPTION
As a guest, it can be embarrassing for some people to inform others about their diet. We don’t always want to bother people with this subject, or we can be afraid to be annoying mostly if we don’t know the host personally. Not mentioning the risk of launching a debate depending on the person that will be in front of you.
Your host is not a big meat eater:
You will probably find a lot of things to eat then (it is a bet to take).
Appetizers made of cherry tomatoes, guacamole, crisps, salads, humus, vegetables.
For the main course, if there is nothing veggie, you can still go for the side dishes (usually vegetables or potatoes…).
Dessert is your salvation: there is hardly bacon in it
Your host only swears by meat:
Refer to points 2) 3) 4) 5) here below
Take the bet and come without informing your host: just eat whatever you’ll find there, knowing that you might leave the place hungry (but you can still eat a little bit after at home).
Eat a little something before going, to avoid being hungry during dinner
THE “INFORM YOUR HOST” OPTION
If you know your host is open minded, careful or close to you, don’t hesitate to mention your diet. You might as well remove a preoccupation or a stressful moment from him/her.
You can simply explain your diet and reassure that person by offering options 3 and 4 below.
If your host offers you to cook something special for you then let it be! You can make easy suggestions to help.
People often think it is complicated to cook for a vegetarian guest when it is actually pretty easy. Tell your host that you can eat the side foods that are on the menu and that you can eat a lot of things: pasta, rice, all kinds of veggies, pies, salads, lentils etc
Avoid making a too exhaustive list at the beginning if you want to avoid scaring your host. This can seem odd but not everyone is used to cooking chickpeas or lentils every day.
THE “BRING YOUR OWN FOOD” OPTION
You can bring your own meal! This way you are certain not to leave the place hungry.
It can be a good option, but it could be even better to inform your host before, so that he/she won’t prepare something special for you or be surprised. Your host could think that you don’t want to eat his food or that you think he is unable to prepare a vegan meal.
Communication (as in every field) is the key. Talk to him before and seek the best option for both of you.
By doing that, you could face two situations:
You could feel a little bit isolated by eating a meal on your own that’s different from the others, but it really depends on your personality
You could generate curiosity and you could show without intention, that we can eat delicious and vegan at the same time
THE “BRING FOOD FOR EVERYONE” OPTION
Alternative to solution 3, you can offer your host to bring a group sized vegan dish to share with everybody so that you are not the only one to enjoy it.
This fits well in buffets or barbecues when you often share the meals with everyone. Option that is a little less easy to do in a real dinner where the host is the only cook of the night, you could steal the spotlight from the chef of the night.
THE « ALLOW YOURSELF SOME EXCEPTIONS » OPTION
This option works in restaurants too, whether you are a vegetarian or a vegan. You can allow yourself to do some exceptions outside until you are at ease with your diet. It can be an easier temporary option for you and this way you don’t upset your relatives. There is however one risk: your credibility.
If you eat vegetarian one time in two, we bet your family and friends are going to jump on you and question your credibility.
In that case we advise you to adopt a clear and easy-to-understand strategy.
If you don’t feel like eating vegan when you are a guest, then make it a constant. At home, eat the way you want, and outside, do the easiest. If your relatives are starting to bother you, tell them that for the moment, it is easier for you (and them) to do this way outside and that this is your way of doing your transition.
You are free of doing your transition the way you like, but if you eat bacon at grandma’s and not at your best buddy’s, you might as well get questions from them. And we always come back to the same situation: debates! (which we don’t want of course 😉)
– But, what does he actually eat?
Don’t hesitate to go and check our page «Back to basics » everything is explained!
– What can I cook for her?
– Is he going to starve?
– I can’t cook vegetarian!
– It is already stressful enough to be cooking for 12, I don’t really feel like doing one more specific meal (and we can get it)
Several options are being offered to you dear hosts!
THE “I AM FEELING LIKE A TOP COOK TODAY” OPTION
You can ask your vegetarian guest what he eats! It is an attention he or she will appreciate a lot.
Vegetarians and vegans are not always received with specific attentions for dinner (and it is not the goal) but after several meals only eating tomatoes, when an attention like this one comes up, we are the happiest on earth.
For one meal, it is not a priority to do the most balanced meal ever. Just do whatever doesn’t contain animals and he/she’ll be happy.
THE “I AM NOT REALLY INTO COOKING TONIGHT” OPTION
You don’t really feel like cooking more and we can understand that.
If the food you are preparing is mainly made of meat, it is going to be complicated. However, in most cases, you can put the meat on one side and the side dish on the other side. Your guest will be able to eat everything but the meat or separate it himself.
You can also cook them separately from the beginning so that there is nothing to spare afterwards.
OPTION 1 & 2 DON’T SUIT YOU
If options 1 and 2 don’t suit you, you can offer your guest to bring his own food. This way you don’t have to do anything specific and he’ll eat something he likes.
A MATTER OF STATE OF MIND
Before deciding to be vegan, your motivations to join a dinner with friends or family were : the food and the company.
It is not entirely impossible that by becoming vegetarian, you will experiment a few disappointments for a while. In that case, ask yourself what is really important? Is it more important to enjoy your meal at this occasion? Or is it more important to share the moment with your relatives ?
This can seem depressing but on the contrary. This way you change your expectations in terms of dinners and events and knowing that you might not eat the best meal of your life that night but that you are going to have a great moment with your friends is a great mature thing to learn.
And well, we all know that:
1 – Your peanut butter pot is waiting for you at home in case of dinner disappointment, we know you!
2 – You can still have more drinks instead!
However, don’t worry, being a vegetarian guest is something you can learn and it will become easier every time, for you as well as for your hosts