Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow
Things get complicated with vegans
There is a new issue that tears families apart around this time of year, and it does not involve the president. It’s even more divisive. OK, that’s a lie. No, this about the battle between vegans and meat eaters at dinner parties.
Years ago, I had a lengthy and interesting conversation with a vegetarian — as the joke goes, I knew that he was because he told me so within just a few minutes of our meeting — about the etiquette of designing a menu at such events.
It came up again this week in a letter to Dear Abby — which is, of course, where I have been getting all of my advice on how to lead my life since I first discovered newspapers as a child. The topic: Should non-vegetarians provide a veggie, or vegan, alternative when hosting a dinner party, and, more pointedly, what happens when the vegan is the host?
Should they, in turn, provide a meat dish for their meat-eating guests? My friend, the vegetarian, argues it is his house, and the family gave up eating meat, or “anything with a face,” years ago for ethical reasons. Therefore they will not be serving meat in their house.
They also do not feel it is OK for guests to bring their own. They don’t want any animal products served as food in their house. This became a real issue around the holidays over whether turkey or ham would be served.
In the past, the proper way to approach such an issue was that when invited to a dinner party, the guests were usually expected to eat what the host planned. You didn’t show up for a barbecue and get all huffy because you got ribs instead of lasagna.
The Dear Abby letter writer argues that she is being forced to do something she doesn’t want to do, and therefore she either doesn’t go to the dinners or leaves before food is served.
Times have changed. Today we have folks with all kinds of issues when it comes to food, including allergies, health and ethical issues that are very real to them, and most hosts know to ask guests about such issues when planning a menu.
But how about when the vegan is hosting? I’ve heard the argument compared to smoking. Just because you smoke, which you have every right to do, doesn’t mean you can smoke in my house. And if you smoke in your house, I probably don’t want to visit or have my children around it.
One difference here, of course, is that smoke is harmful and the stinky smell gets in your hair and clothing. Eating one meal that doesn’t contain meat is not going to harm you in any way.