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I am a new vegetarian (almost 2 months), and it's been so easy to avoid meat products while I am at home. I can even avoid meat products when eating out, although the options at many restaurants are very limited. The only problem that I can foresee is when I'm visiting others. I have no problem telling my parents/close friends that I don't eat meat anymore, and letting them know that although I am flexible otherwise, I will need some kind of non-meat option.

But..I have a feeling that when I am visiting people that I am less comfortable around (e.g., friends of friends, my boyfriend's family, etc.) I will feel horribly awkward and rude telling them that I won't eat what they've made for dinner, particularly if it's a last minute "hey, why don't you stay for the meal" type of thing. How do you long term vegetarians deal with this?? How can I gracefully decline a meat-based meal without offending the cook?
 

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You'll just have to be honest and tell them you don't eat meat anymore. If you know in advance, you could offer to bring a salad to share and that you'll be able to eat their meatless side dishes, but not the meat main dish. Offer to bring a dessert, too. If you show them that you're willing to go out of your way to make it as easy as possible for them, they'll less likely be offended.

If it's a last minute thing, just explain that you don't eat meat, but are willing to eat meatless side dishes. If you don't feel comfortable with that, find a way to politely excuse yourself. Like maybe it's getting late and you really need to get home and do laundry. Just make sure, it's truthful. People know when you're lying to avoid them.
 

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I just make sure that people are aware of my dietary needs beforehand. If I'm close enough to someone to go to their house for dinner, then I'm close enough to them for them to know I'm veg*n. You can offer to bring a dish if that will make you feel more comfortable (it might also take the pressure off the host, who may not know what to cook for you.)

If it's your boyfriend's family, he should help you out with informing them beforehand. My husband always lets his family and friends know of my restrictions for me.

If you're invited for a last minute meal and you want to partake, I would just eat whatever you can, even if it's just bread and salad. If someone asks point blank why you're not eating the meat, or offers it to you, you can politely say you're vegetarian and that you'll be fine with just eating the side dishes.

ETA: In 3.5 years, I have never had someone get offended (that I know of) by the fact that I don't eat meat. As long as you're polite and not running around calling all the omnis murderers or anything while they're eating, lol, there should be no reason why simply stating you're a veg*n should cause offense. If you handle it gracefully then so will they.
 

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If it's friends of friends or boyfriends family I would just ask your friends/boyfriend if they could inform your family. Offer suggestions of foods they could cook, it may sound silly but some people really have no idea how to make a meal if they aren't using meat I've never had friends get offended at my dietary choices but they often have to ask me what to cook if I'm coming over. If you offer suggestions that most people will like, such as spaghetti with no meat in the sauce instead of some fried tofu dish which most omni's won't even touch, or offer to provide some a side dish or two so you can expand your options and they can still cook meat for everyone else they will probably find it helpful rather than offensive.
 

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"thank you for the invite. I'd love to stay for dinner if it's no hassle. I'm vegetarian though, so can I help you get dinner ready?"
 

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when i went to my friend's parents for dinner he told them that i am vegetarian. it wasn't really rude, people do eat different things. and they didn't have to cook anything extra for me, i just ate side dishes, salads etc.

oh and if you are uncomfortable for now with telling that you are vegetarian in the last minute kind of situation, just tell that you can't eat now because you have something with your stomach, or that you are on a diet etc.
 

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As many others have said, giving notice in advance is a good idea. You can even to bring over a vegetarian dish to share, just make sure they know about it.

For last minute things, you may end up eating side dishes or having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or something like that. Most of the time, I find that people are pretty willing to provide me with a vegetarian option and are nice about it. After you've been a vegetarian for a bit longer, you will start to feel more comfortable with telling others about your dietary needs.

When eating out at a restaurant, don't be afraid to make your own vegetarian option. For example, I'll for fettuccine Alfredo, but ask for them to leave out and add vegetables that are included in the list of side dishes, such as mixed veggies, peas, mushrooms, etc. A lot of the time when I do this, people will tell me how good my dinner looks! Plus, it isn't any more trouble for the cooks or servers.
 

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Everyone's already suggested great ideas, but I just wanted to say that it DOES get easier. After a few months I no longer worried about things like this.
 

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ElaineV "I'm vegetarian though, so can I help you get dinner ready?"

Huh? That's like saying "I'm not a licensed driver, so can I borrow the keys to your car?"
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by spveggie View Post

How do you long term vegetarians deal with this?? How can I gracefully decline a meat-based meal without offending the cook?
I've been a vegan for over 40 years and I don't know how to do this. I don't think there is any way to do it. What i do is I try to avoid associations with non-vegans and seek associations with vegans. When acquaintances offer me food, I just say no thank you, and offer no further explanation. As an ethical vegan, the choice is providing a limited, not particularly friendly answer, or telling the truth. The truth is that when people slaughter, butcher, and eat animals, I am offended by such actions. If I want to avoid having them hate me, I don't tell them this. There is no way to get them to be anything more but neutral toward me, without sharing the kind of food they eat, with them. The only way there is any possibility they are ever going to like me is if they first go vegan of their own volition, and stop keeping animals as concubines. And even then they may hate me for other reasons, for example because my eyes are closer together than average.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by LindafromR4V View Post

When eating out at a restaurant, don't be afraid to make your own vegetarian option. For example, I'll for fettuccine Alfredo, but ask for them to leave out and add vegetables that are included in the list of side dishes, such as mixed veggies, peas, mushrooms, etc. A lot of the time when I do this, people will tell me how good my dinner looks! Plus, it isn't any more trouble for the cooks or servers.
Once I said "could you just boil some pasta for me, spaghetti is fine, and toss it with little olive oil and garlic; nothing else." It came drenched in a sea of some kind of oil that didn't taste like olive oil, and with garlic, mushrooms, and lots of salt. I consider mushrooms to be non-vegan (very often grown in animal feces rather than in soil) and like any sensible person who values his life, I limit my salt intake to much less than is commonly used. Not that I can eat any apprecialbe amount of pasta that is not made from a whole grain, without becoming constipated.

I am not happy in most vegan restaurants either, as they use too many fungi and too much fermented stuff and too much salt.
 

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I know exactly what you mean. I have the same problem. I dont want to offend people. People are so easily offended these days :S It sucks.
 

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If you have a directory of restaurants that are in your area, I would sit down in front of a computer one day and start researching the menus of main restaurants you are most likely to go to when invited out.

Most restaurants have online menus, so its not hard to find them by google-ing the restaurant name, which will show you their website, which will most often have their menu right on there. Proper menus will also display what is in the dish, but the dish name can also give away if there is meat in there. I find that a lot of chain sit-in restaurants will have a veggie burger on the menu. Stir-fries, spring rolls, maki rolls (in Japanese restaurants), sandwiches (if they have a veggie option, or they could make you one. Avoid mayo if vegan), Indian food (mostly veg-friendly), falafels, veggie soup (make sure broth is veg not chicken or beef).

Salads with oil based dressings are another option, even though you might not want a salad, the whole point of eating out is socializing, so you'll have to suck it up.

If you have a question about a certain dish, or if you're wondering how/if they could make it veggie friendly, or asking if the restaurant has any veggie-dish, call them, ask questions, or ask them if they can make a veggie-dish for you when you get there. Always call before-hand if you want them to make something veggie for you, not all places going to do this, but I hear many places are happy to do this.

Armed with this knowledge of what's available on their menu, or what could be tweaked to be veg-friendly, or if they are happy to accommodate your needs, you can go to these restaurants on a whim, having already done your research. If there is a restaurant your friends or family wants to take you to that you know has nothing for you to eat, tell them and suggest a similar restaurant that does have an option or two for you. I'm sure they wont argue (much).

Happycow.net can show you any veggie-friendly restaurants in your area, so you can chose where you go next time with your friends, after all, if they can chose their restaurant, why can't you?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by spveggie View Post

But..I have a feeling that when I am visiting people that I am less comfortable around (e.g., friends of friends, my boyfriend's family, etc.) I will feel horribly awkward and rude telling them that I won't eat what they've made for dinner, particularly if it's a last minute "hey, why don't you stay for the meal" type of thing. How do you long term vegetarians deal with this?? How can I gracefully decline a meat-based meal without offending the cook?
I'm just honest and tell them I'm a vegan because people need to get used to hearing that from people so it becomes something normal and not weird. If they're good people they won't dislike you for it.
On the rare ocassion that you might be stuck in a weird situation, like for example, you unexpectedly find yourself at the clubrooms of an outlaw motorcycle group at four in the morning and they're handing around donar kebabs, just so you don't get your knees capped, it might be a good idea to cop out and say something like "thanks, but I'm not really that hungry, I just had some tiger blood about an hour ago."
 

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When dining out I have found that a lot of places have veg*n options but they are not listed on the menu, or that if I ask for the meat/cheese etc to be left off a dish most places are pretty accommodating.

As for friends and acquaintances, I am just honest and tell them I am veg*n MOST people are fairly understanding...the silly questions about what i DO eat aside, and I make do with side dishes ...some friends have taken to keeping some frozen veggie burgers just for when I come over
Sure surrounding yourself only with people who are also veg*n would make life easier but for most of us I wager thats not realistic. I am th eonly one in a sea of omnis and I am not about to leave my husband, children, family and long time friends just because I changed my diet....they will have to adapt and so will I and perhaps over time I can sway some of them to my way of thinking
 

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Nishani "if they're good people thy won't dislike yo ufor it."

If they're really good people, they would have gone vegan long ago. I assure you, they dislike vegans, they just have the the manners not to show it. It isn't good people that you would have to rely on, to be treated respectfully, it is people with good manners that you would have to rely on, to be treated respectfully.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freckles View Post

When dining out I have found that a lot of places have veg*n options but they are not listed on the menu, or that if I ask for the meat/cheese etc to be left off a dish most places are pretty accommodating.

As for friends and acquaintances, I am just honest and tell them I am veg*n MOST people are fairly understanding...the silly questions about what i DO eat aside, and I make do with side dishes ...some friends have taken to keeping some frozen veggie burgers just for when I come over
Sure surrounding yourself only with people who are also veg*n would make life easier but for most of us I wager thats not realistic. I am th eonly one in a sea of omnis and I am not about to leave my husband, children, family and long time friends just because I changed my diet....they will have to adapt and so will I and perhaps over time I can sway some of them to my way of thinking
We shouldn't have to "make do," while everyone else is being catered to.

It is not enough to simply leave your friends behind, and leave your husband, and take your children with you. If they are unwilling to follow your lead, you must also punish them. There is no reason to leave your self-esteem behind, and allow yourself to be treated like a second class citizen. If punishing them doesn't work turn them into vegans, we may have to take stronger measures. I would suggest that this is medical problem as well as a legal problem. There are drugs that decrease the appetite for meat, and increase the appetite for vegetables, as well as various kinds of psychosurgery (brain surgery) that can help. If people don't go vegan voluntarily, they should be remanded to a hospital and be treated involuntarily. This is the kindest thing we can do for them. Otherwise - they will have the deaths of 1000's of animals that they killed, on their conscience, for the rest of their lives. This will affect their well being. If you love them, it is important to intervene early.
 
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