What do you do when there are no vegan options at a party? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 01-18-2014, 10:45 PM
 
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Tonight we were invited to a neighbor's party.  They served ribs, chicken, pasta with alfredo sauce and tossed salad.  I was just going to take some tossed salad.  Right as the food was being served, my stepdaughter announced to the hosts (a married couple) that I was vegan and asked if the pasta was vegan.  AHH the husband said not to worry that the alfredo did not have chicken (he didn't even know what vegan meant apparently), and the wife was very apologetic.

 

I was hoping not to mention it to them at all!  They are acquaintances, not close friends, and I was happy to have been invited, the last thing I wanted was to be a pain....  Really, who wants to that type?  The type to complain, make special inconvenient requests, or insist that a whole group of people change their plans because of his or her diet?  God not me!  I am not a victim of this diet- it's a choice that I've made and feel good about, so I don't want to be the type to complain like "poor me, this restaurant/ party/ etc doesn't have anything I can eat." I don't want to meet a group of new people and rather than chatting and getting to know them, to have a conversation that focuses on my dietary "restrictions."

 

I assured the hosts that everything was great and I ended up eating a small amount of the alfredo pasta with salad, I didn't want to draw attention to myself by just having salad after all that fuss was made, I felt like it would have been rude to sit around a table with them and just eat the salad, after how hard they were working to be good hosts...  It was not the end of the world to eat the alfredo pasta, though I would prefer not be in a position again where I feel like I must eat a non-vegan item.  (its one thing if it's a non-vegan item that I Really want and decide to break my plant based diet to eat)

 

I don't know what's going on with me right now because this is a relatively small issue, but I am upset.  I did feel like a bit of an outsider to be vegan, it felt uncomfortable to be different in a group of people who I do not know well but want to develop friendships with (there are other reasons to feel "different" in this group-- they're older and much wealthier than my DH and I for starters). 

 

Any ideas for me fellow vegans?

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#2 Old 01-18-2014, 11:30 PM
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Ask if you may bring your own food to a party or gathering. Many people don't mind. Most pasta I've come across is vegan, I'd ask if they had any marinara sauce or tomato paste to go with it.
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#3 Old 01-19-2014, 12:46 AM
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First I'd like to say how much I respect this comment --

 

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I am not a victim of this diet- it's a choice that I've made and feel good about, so I don't want to be the type to complain like "poor me, this restaurant/ party/ etc doesn't have anything I can eat."

I wish more people had the same guts. :)

 

In that type of situation, I would probably do just as you intended to do; have a little salad and try not to make an issue.  If it was already brought up like that, however, I would not have eaten the alfredo;  I would have strongly expressed thanks for the offer, yet taken that opportunity to explain just what vegan does mean.  That's just me, I don't want to judge you, and you are correct that such a small compromise is not the end of the world.  You may find that you have opened more awkwardness in the future, though; should these people become closer friends and eventually learn about your actual practices, they could end up feeling guilty about accidentally having made you feel guilty this time.  My advice at this point would be to have a talk with your stepdaughter.  She probably had good intentions, so be sure to say that you appreciate that, but then I would ask her not to assume that you want someone to intervene for you in any more social situations.

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#4 Old 01-19-2014, 02:38 AM
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All good posts above.

I think that at a sitdown meal, when you have something in front of you on your plate, it's not as awkward. I think people get visceral feelings when seeing empty plates in the face of such apparent abundance.

I bring food whenever possible when I'm invited. My favorite thing as a procrastinator and fast cook, is to ask the host the day before or even the morning of, if there's anything she was going to pick up last minute that I could get for her. So I just make or buy vegan whatever she needs in that way. I also put a lot of bread on my plate if there is any available, it fills up the plate. smiley.gif
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#5 Old 01-19-2014, 04:00 AM
 
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Personally, I like the view that you can use those situations as a chance to teach people about veganism.  If you let them know ahead of time, or even ask to come over early to help out and teach them something about vegan cooking, most hosts will be really excited about that.  

 

It's not preaching or anything like that, just answering questions and showing them what vegan food really is.

 

 

After the fact, if there's nothing ready for you ahead of time, it's really awkward.  If you don't eat, your hosts feel bad, which totally sucks.  

 

At that point, it's hard to solve- except possibly ordering a pizza if you're going to be there for several hours for playing cards or Carcassonne or something (leave off the cheese and get some good toppings- don't forget to tell them not to slice it... those slicers get nasty sometimes and might drop meat on your pizza which could be gross) or other delivery food (sometimes Indian places deliver and may have vegan options).  

 

Just a matter of calling around and knowing the area.

 

 

I've tried to convince hosts that I'm perfectly happy with something simple and on-hand (like saltine crackers and peanut butter), but people will insist it's not a meal so sometimes it's a tough sell.

 

But if you're a really good salesperson, that's always an option too.  I've never been able to convince anybody that I was satisfied with something like that (although, personally, for one meal it doesn't bother me in the slightest).

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#6 Old 01-19-2014, 07:14 AM
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The book Being Vegetarian for Dummies suggests trying to bring a dish to share and not making a big deal of it as you did.  As you said, you don't want to be a finicky guest or make your hosts feel bad for not providing you with hospitality when they didn't know your specifications ahead of time.  You can also try informing the hosts ahead of time and saying something like, "Don't go to any trouble--I am quite happy eating any breads, fruit or vegetable dishes you prepare." Hopefully that will be a hint not to put bacon and sausage in every blasted thing.

 

Of course, etiquette would tell you not to force the issue of you bringing a dish, or to secretly bring one. In my culture, it's assumed you'll bring something, but my understanding is mainstream American culture deems it rude without the host's permission.  It implies you don't believe they have sufficient hospitality skills to meet your needs.

 

I usually snack ahead of time, to be honest.

 

I think the context of the event makes a difference on how to handle it.  Once, for example, a tiny company threw us employees an appreciation lunch. It was known I didn't eat meat. The lunch was homemade by one of the board members. She put meat in every single dish--bacon in salad dressing (already coated salad so I couldn't remove it), side dishes with sausage, gelatin in fruit salad.  I quietly ate a roll and a brownie and did not complain.

 

Totally different situation than the OP--this was a lunch thrown in our honor, kind of like an employee benefit almost, and vegetarian situation was known. Kind of like giving a gift of a turkey to me with my annual bonus and knowing I won't eat it.


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#7 Old 01-19-2014, 02:35 PM
 
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My mother in law likes to announce to everyone at every opportunity that me and and my wife are vegan. It puts us in a really ****ty position because a) we don't want to make a big deal of it and b) it ends up looking like I didn't have the balls to tell people myself.

She is vegetarian and simply cannot wrap her head around how someone consider milk, egg and dairy to be wrong to consume so she likes to bring that up to every other vegan we ever meet which again is uncomfortable because I have already told her about the arguments against it.

I think you handled the situation really well and like others have said I usually ask if I can bring my own batch of food to share with others rather than to be a pain to them. Be aware this is risky and in the past I have done this but all the food I made was eaten by non-vegans due to it being the tastiest option haha!
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#8 Old 01-20-2014, 12:45 AM
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On one hand, I can understand you not wanting to make waves at this get together. On the other hand, if I were hosting, I would like to know in advance, so I could make something vegan for everyone, without making a big deal out of it. I would've said something the day before and asked if I could bring something to share. Trust me, I've done it before, and no one the wiser. :shifty:


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#9 Old 01-20-2014, 03:37 AM
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I think you handled the situation really well and like others have said I usually ask if I can bring my own batch of food to share with others rather than to be a pain to them. Be aware this is risky and in the past I have done this but all the food I made was eaten by non-vegans due to it being the tastiest option haha!

This has happened to me countless times also lol.  I bring my own vegan dishes to potlucks at work or family get togethers and it all disappears before I have a chance to eat any.  I've gotten smarter and keep a separate stash for myself now.

 

I actually had an issue recently at work that is somewhat related.  There is this particular club that raises money for fun events at our work site.  They are having a late Christmas meal for everyone this coming week (the email was sent a few weeks ago).  As usual, the catering involved a menu that had absolutely NOTHING that was remotely vegan or could even be made vegan.  There was a salad listed that was going to be premade with ceasar dressing.  Usually I just ignore these company wide catering events and go about my business.  If it is just for our particular department I bring my own dish to share, but for an event for over three hundred people, I just don't participate.  But for some reason, this time I decided to email the coordinator about offering vegan items in the future.  She did say at the end of her email announcement that if we had any suggestions or comments to email her.  So I started by thanking the club for all they do bla bla.  Then I mentioned the possibility of adding vegan menu items in the future.  I listed examples, such as a fresh fruit platter, or tortilla chips and salsa etc.  She wrote back and said that there was actually a survey conducted a few years ago asking vegans and vegetarians to respond about what they would like to see on the menu.  She said the people who responded said not to make any special effort and they would just eat around what was available.  So they don't take vegan options into consideration.  I thought to myself, wow, really?  I guess from my point of view, sure, I don't want to make a huge deal out of it, but at the same time, it is a way to bring awareness that not everyone shares the same choices in food, and having some vegan dishes out there means less animal food served.  Also, the menu items at these events are so terribly unhealthy and usually involve things like breaded fish sticks, sausage, macaroni and cheese.  Everything is doused in cheese and sauces.  Vegetables and fruits are rare.  So why not offer something a little simpler and healthier?  I wasn't even asking for rare expensive designer food.  

Still, I thanked her for the information and for at least considering it.  She said they can't please everyone.  I wished I would have just kept my mouth shut like all the other vegans.  But then I ran into her in the hall and we talked some more and she said if I had any ideas on something I would like to see, to please let her know and she would talk to the committee and see about having it approved, because after all, she said I had a right to be a part of the employee gathering also.  I didn't really make the effort on my own behalf and frankly could care less about participating in it (I am not the most social person), but for me it was a way to bring awareness to being more conscious about the vegan movement and also offering healthier options etc.  She said she really had no idea what vegans eat and I could understand that.  Nowadays there is so much  confusion about what is vegan, what is vegetarian, and what isn't.  But that's another subject.  :)  She said there used to be a raw vegan on the committee but he said he wouldn't eat anything offered anyway so he didn't push the idea.  I am surprised at the lack of advocacy but maybe I really am making too big of a deal of it so I just let the whole thing go and haven't responded with anything more.  It was an interesting experience.  I don't really know why I spoke up in the first place.  When it comes to food events I usually just bring my own to share, but this is a huge event with a lot of people and homemade food can not be offered due to licence issues and the number of people being served.  Oh well, live and learn.


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#10 Old 01-20-2014, 11:00 AM
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I think you did pretty well. Like others said, talk to your stepdaughter and gently correct her. If no one knew you were vegan, no one would think twice about you eating only salad. If anyone did question, you could say you've been eating really unhealthy lately and it has you feeling off, so tonight you just want to stick with salad. I think most people think I have an eating disorder until they find out I'm vegan. It's hard when everyone sits down at a table, I always bring something like an apple or raisins or nuts. I think it looks worse to sit and eat nothing than to eat something you brought.
I always eat before gatherings and if there is nothing vegan I assure them I am fine and I already ate. You can't help standing out a little when there are no vegan options. Veganism won't win you many popularity points. It stinks but you move on.

I totally understand why you ate the pasta. The problem is that if you become better friends with these people you might be setting yourself up for more awkwardness if you sometimes break your vegan rules. They will then wonder why you can't just break them again, "just this time." Every time you refuse something that isn't vegan they might wonder why you couldn't just make an exception like you did that other time. It might make you look more finicky and picky than being vegan does on its own because they no longer understand your rules for eating or not eating something. At least with veganism there are rules they can understand if they want to. Maybe I'm wrong; that's just my thought.
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#11 Old 01-20-2014, 12:36 PM
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When I know food will be offered I invariably eat something beforehand, and then choose whatever little bit of their food that is vegan and arrange it in a well defined pattern on the plate so it looks like gourmet food.

People can still notice the low quantity tho.

In some meditation circles, like vipassana, theres a concept of 'mindfulness of eating meditation'. Most people eat so fast, and while so distracted, that they barely even register the experience of food. If food is ate slowly, with careful mindfulness, and setting the fork and knife down between each bite the full character of the food can be experienced and appreciated. And it markedly slows down the eating of six grapes, a few carrot sticks, and eight string beans arranged in a fancy pattern ;)

If used as an excuse its usually a novel enough concept for people that they switch from potentially offended to intrigued. They might even be impressed that someone is so intent on enjoying their food.

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#12 Old 01-20-2014, 02:17 PM
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If it's a party or work thing that I have no control over, I just take something to eat before/during/after or just in case. Last week at a work do I had forwarned the catering company that I was vegan but had a gut feeling that it wouldn't be a filling, balanced meal (and lo, there it was - a small plate of salad with a few raisins, no dressing) so I had a sandwich from my bag afterwards. If its a meal at a friend's place, I offer to bring my own if it makes it easier on them. Most of the time they say its cool and make something vegan for everyone, or at least for the vegetarians plus me.


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#13 Old 01-20-2014, 02:39 PM
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I won't go to extremes to hide the truth.  Sometimes things just happen that I don't expect.  It shouldn't be a big deal all the time.  I hate that not eating the way somebody else does makes them feel bad.


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#14 Old 01-20-2014, 02:40 PM
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Sometimes I bring a little tub of hummus and a little bag of chips, and stow them in my car (in cold weather) or in the host's refrigerator if there's no need to bring them out. When salad is all there is, there's usually never quite enough salad. If there's plenty of salad, a huge bowl of that plus drinks will get me through anything. At one funeral, I made a coleslaw (vinegar-based) sandwich at the cold-cuts table because that was what there was to work with. After awhile you worry less about whether something looks odd.

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#15 Old 01-20-2014, 02:54 PM
 
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I know what that's like.  I once got trapped in a government building (funny story) and ended up surviving off condiments.

 

Edit:  It's really good to be creative, though.  That will get you through almost anything.

 

Just think outside the box, and you can usually whip up something vegan-macgyver style.

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#16 Old 01-20-2014, 03:04 PM
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For a dinner party, it really is a good idea to ask ahead of time, especially if it is a small group where people will notice if you aren't eating. Usually I might send an email to the hosts, let them know I am vegan (with a brief explanation if needed, such as "I don't eat meat, dairy or eggs"), and let them know I would be happy to bring a vegan dish to share. If it's already a potluck, then there's no issue -- I'll just bring something vegan (and feel very lucky if there is something else vegan to eat). I mostly go to parties to socialize and don't expect people to cater to my dietary needs without advanced warning.

On the rare occasion I've had to go to a dinner without being able to investigate vegan options in advance, I may just have a drink and a bit of salad. If anyone asks I have no problem explaining that I'm vegan and didn't make prior arrangements, or if I don't want veganism to become the topic of conversation I might just say I'm not very hungry right now. It's really ok not to eat -- it's not rude, just be polite ("no, thank you") and try not to make a fuss. People have all sorts of reasons for not wanting to eat a particular thing at a particular moment - personal, medical, etc.

I'm going to a party that isn't focused around a meal, I usually won't worry about having something to eat and just make sure not to leave my house hungry. If I'm particularly organized I might bring a plate of vegan cookies. smiley.gif

It's a good idea to carry Clif or lara bar in a pocket or purse, in case of "emergencies."

Being vegan can be awkward socially, especially at first, but it does get easier!
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#17 Old 01-21-2014, 05:47 PM
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I treat my veganism like an alergy
.. I am allergic to cruelty, rape and murder. It makes me sick. It is also, to me a moral believe as strong as any religion. Wouldn't you want to know if your friend/attendee was unable to have certain things due to allergies and or religion? Same thing.
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#18 Old 01-22-2014, 03:03 PM
 
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Tonight we were invited to a neighbor's party.  They served ribs, chicken, pasta with alfredo sauce and tossed salad.  I was just going to take some tossed salad.  Right as the food was being served, my stepdaughter announced to the hosts (a married couple) that I was vegan and asked if the pasta was vegan.  AHH the husband said not to worry that the alfredo did not have chicken (he didn't even know what vegan meant apparently), and the wife was very apologetic.

 

I was hoping not to mention it to them at all!  They are acquaintances, not close friends, and I was happy to have been invited, the last thing I wanted was to be a pain....  Really, who wants to that type?  The type to complain, make special inconvenient requests, or insist that a whole group of people change their plans because of his or her diet?  God not me!  I am not a victim of this diet- it's a choice that I've made and feel good about, so I don't want to be the type to complain like "poor me, this restaurant/ party/ etc doesn't have anything I can eat." I don't want to meet a group of new people and rather than chatting and getting to know them, to have a conversation that focuses on my dietary "restrictions."

 

I assured the hosts that everything was great and I ended up eating a small amount of the alfredo pasta with salad, I didn't want to draw attention to myself by just having salad after all that fuss was made, I felt like it would have been rude to sit around a table with them and just eat the salad, after how hard they were working to be good hosts...  It was not the end of the world to eat the alfredo pasta, though I would prefer not be in a position again where I feel like I must eat a non-vegan item.  (its one thing if it's a non-vegan item that I Really want and decide to break my plant based diet to eat)

 

I don't know what's going on with me right now because this is a relatively small issue, but I am upset.  I did feel like a bit of an outsider to be vegan, it felt uncomfortable to be different in a group of people who I do not know well but want to develop friendships with (there are other reasons to feel "different" in this group-- they're older and much wealthier than my DH and I for starters). 

 

Any ideas for me fellow vegans?

 

 

I try to be as accommodating as possible when I visit someone's home and have occasionally eaten a small amount of animal product when refusal would have been embarrassing or socially insulting to the host. Communication is the best way to avoid these situations.

 

However, I have to disagree with you when it comes to restaurants. I believe restaurants should always accommodate vegetarians/flexitarians and that the default dish should always be vegan or veganafiable. If a restaurant is unwilling to do this they are hurting their own business model and showing disrespect to a significant fraction of their customers. I've even been known to purposefully seek out restaurants that do not offer vegan options, visit them, pretend dismay, and ask to speak to management/FOH. Pleading/complaining on yelp also helps.

 

 

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#19 Old 01-22-2014, 07:36 PM
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I treat my veganism like an alergy
.. I am allergic to cruelty, rape and murder. It makes me sick. It is also, to me a moral believe as strong as any religion. Wouldn't you want to know if your friend/attendee was unable to have certain things due to allergies and or religion? Same thing.

I would also like to add that I always bring food of my own. Not just for me; enough to share. Any oppertunity to spread interest in vegan eating while being curtious and showing gratitude to my host is one that shouldn't be missed. Not making a big deal out of my choice in life of course, but showing them it's not a difficult or depriving one in a peaceful and kind way.
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#20 Old 01-22-2014, 10:06 PM
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I treat my veganism like an alergy
.. I am allergic to cruelty, rape and murder. It makes me sick. It is also, to me a moral believe as strong as any religion. Wouldn't you want to know if your friend/attendee was unable to have certain things due to allergies and or religion? Same thing.

Funny you should say that. It was allergies (or, at least, allergy testing, anyway) that brought me to veggieboards. My grandniece who was 5 at the time, developed an allergy, and two of the things that were verboten were eggs and dairy. Since I do a lot of baking, I had to figure out vegan baking--et voila! Here I am.

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I know what that's like.  I once got trapped in a government building (funny story) and ended up surviving off condiments.  I ate way too many plastic tubs of relish.  Never again v_v

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#21 Old 01-23-2014, 03:57 AM
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I always eat something before I go to someone's house - just in case there's nothing I can eat.  I usually just load up on drinks if there really is nothing vegan there, black coffee, soda, juice even water (I don't drink alcohol).  Coffee in particular suppresses appetite so you can last until you get home.  Thank goodness for fruit platters when it comes time for dessert.

 

There is almost always salad, but if there is creamy dressing sometimes I've had to put seeded mustard or some other kind of condiment, onto a few leaves that didn't have the dressing. Not the best meal ever, but parties are about the company not the food! I personally think it is a bit rude to bring your own private food to a party unless there is enough to put on the table for other people to share.

 

The key is to do whatever you're doing quietly and always have a glass in your hand so you're a part of the party :)

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#22 Old 01-23-2014, 07:50 AM
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I had the same issue at a party just recently - the only things they had were pizza, pasta w/ vodka sauce, buffalo chicken wraps and salad - so I had the salad.

There are a few things that I do when I'm in these situations..

 

If I don't have a lot of time to prepare, I'll just eat a Cliff bar or drink a protein shake before I get to the party. That way, no matter what they're serving, at least I'll have something in my stomach to get me through the night.
 

If I do have some time to prepare, I'll usually bring a dish with me that everyone can eat. In my experience, people will always welcome more food and this way, you know that you'll have something to eat too.

If I don't have time for any of that - which is what happened this past time - I'll just eat the salad and then have something else to eat when I get home. A few people made comments about me only having salad but it wasn't really a big deal. I basically was like "Yup, I'm eating salad..." and then it dropped.
 

What I've learned over the years is to never apologize for not eating something that I don't feel comfortable eating. I just explain to the host that I'm vegan and there weren't really many options for me but it's not a problem - I was happy with whatever I ate and that I was there more for the company anyway :)

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#23 Old 01-27-2014, 11:42 AM
 
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I had a similar problem tonight. It was a gathering. I was hungry as hell. But there was no vegan food ať all except for some veggies. I did not makeba problém of it because I am now trying to go vegan. I ve been a veggie for over 2 years. I think it ll be a problém to transition to a vegan lifestyle.
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#24 Old 01-27-2014, 04:03 PM
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I had the same issue at a party just recently - the only things they had were pizza, pasta w/ vodka sauce, buffalo chicken wraps and salad - so I had the salad.


There are a few things that I do when I'm in these situations..

If I don't have a lot of time to prepare, I'll just eat a Cliff bar or drink a protein shake before I get to the party. That way, no matter what they're serving, at least I'll have something in my stomach to get me through the night.

 
If I do have some time to prepare, I'll usually bring a dish with me that everyone can eat. In my experience, people will always welcome more food and this way, you know that you'll have something to eat too.


If I don't have time for any of that - which is what happened this past time - I'll just eat the salad and then have something else to eat when I get home. A few people made comments about me only having salad but it wasn't really a big deal. I basically was like "Yup, I'm eating salad..." and then it dropped.

 
What I've learned over the years is to never apologize for not eating something that I don't feel comfortable eating. I just explain to the host that I'm vegan and there weren't really many options for me but it's not a problem - I was happy with whatever I ate and that I was there more for the company anyway smiley.gif

This is all gold, great advice. grin.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anny Mey View Post

I had a similar problem tonight. It was a gathering. I was hungry as hell. But there was no vegan food ať all except for some veggies. I did not makeba problém of it because I am now trying to go vegan. I ve been a veggie for over 2 years. I think it ll be a problém to transition to a vegan lifestyle.

It can seem hard at first but it does get easier! It just takes a little forethought and planning and the right attitude, see teebee's post above. smiley.gif

"If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others... why wouldn't we?" - Edgars Mission
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