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Code of cooking when having guests.

(212 Posts)
TwinLolly Mon 05-Apr-21 21:58:11

I don't want to have a moany but it is getting up my nose. So I'm going to ask a question.

Where do I stand when preparing meals? I am a meat eater. Nowadays people are turning vegetarian or vegan.

Ok. In my small circle of lockdown friends, there is one vegetarian and the rest of us are meat eaters. Do I have to cook a separate vegetarian meal for that person/cook separate vegetarian meals for vegan and vegetarian guests, when the majority are meat eaters?

Ok, here's the thing. No matter being a meat eater - our family go to a person's house for a meal. She's vegetarian but cooks only vegetarian meals, no meat. One vegetarian vs a bunch of meat eater guests. (To be honest, the one veggie meal I had was awful because it had every vegetable in it that I don't like - because they taste bitter to me. But I ate it without saying a word.)

So where do I stand? Do I have to bow down to vegetarian eaters and produce a meal for them even though they won't cook meat when I go to them?

It does seem a bit unfair.

Years ago when I left home I gave up being a vegetarian with the viewpoint being that if I ate at someone's house - eat what they have prepared out of the goodness of their hearts (unless allergic to something) - I cannot be fussy and have them prepare something specially for me.

For me it is getting more and more difficult to cope with people stating their dietary preferences. I want to have people around for a meal but don't anymore because I want to cook something I feel like cooking - except in the case of allergies.

Please don't shoot this messenger down in flames! I respect everyone's dietary preferences, and reasons for doing so. I just wonder how they cope or deal with such situations.

Jaxjacky Mon 05-Apr-21 22:03:19

Do a buffet, hot or cold, I’ve done curries before, 2 meat, 2 veg, rice etc

Lucca Mon 05-Apr-21 22:03:57

Sorry but what springs to my mind is to ask how often this situation arises? Surely you can get over your annoyance in order to enjoy the company once in a while? Does it really hurt you to provide a veggie option ? Why not just decline the invitation to the meal at the vegetarian friends house if you feel so strongly about it.

LauraNorder Mon 05-Apr-21 22:07:47

I’m a meat eater but I understand it’s easier for me to cook and eat a meal without meat than for a vegetarian to cook and eat meat.
If you like your vegetarian friends and want their company I suggest you explore some tasty vegie recipes and indulge them.
Otherwise only invite your meat eating friends and miss out on some good company for the sake of a bit of meat.
I do see what you mean but hope you can see what I mean. Good luck

Sago Mon 05-Apr-21 22:14:28

Despite being a meat eater I can totally understand a vegetarian not wanting to handle meat.
I agree with Lucca if she is a friend and you want to enjoy her company then either make a vegatarian meal for everybody or one for your friend.
Lots of fab veggie dishes you could enjoy together.

maddyone Mon 05-Apr-21 22:35:49

We have a vegan and two vegetarians in the family. We cook as normal, they choose to eat, or not eat (just eating the vegetables for example) or we sometimes provide a vegan ‘meat’ or sometimes they bring their own. It doesn’t cause a problem, they recognise that the rest of us eat meat.

maddyone Mon 05-Apr-21 22:37:01

At a barbecue in the summer, we will always provide vegan sausages and plenty of salads as well as various meats.

Oopsadaisy1 Mon 05-Apr-21 22:41:39

It seems odd that you won’t go out and eat a meat free meal!
If you value your friendship you will cook some Vegetarian food, if your friend had Religious reasons or a food allergy surely you wouldn’t be asking the question.

Maggiemaybe Mon 05-Apr-21 22:55:17

If we have any vegetarian guests now, we usually just cook vegetarian meals for all. There are plenty of interesting recipes available online now. The added bonus is that it all costs so much less!

cornergran Mon 05-Apr-21 23:13:17

I do understand, twinlolly, food intolerance and differing beliefs about eating animal products are a minefield sometimes. You’re right, a vegetarian will rarely prepare a meat dish. I understand as it conflicts with their beliefs. A friend simply refuses to have any meat or meat product in her cooking pans, I respect her beliefs and choices in her own home. She has to tolerate me cooking her food in pans that have been used for meat when she eats with us.

Personally I’d happily eat a vegetarian meal as I enjoy the food, my husband dislikes most but eats it out of politeness if we’re served it by a friend. I can feel very anxious if I need to cook a vegetarian meal for guests in the same way I feel anxiety about cooking for someone with severe allergies. Yes, I do cook separately for vegetarians out of politeness as long as I know in advance. Sprung on me on arrival I’m afraid they will need to pick from what is on offer,

My go to is a vegetarian version of a very simple main course served alongside a meat version for the meat eaters. Cottage pie, curry, chilli, lasagne or in the summer often a flan and salad with new potatoes. A cousin is vegetarian, she always tells me to give her supermarket ready prepared food, not to stress or struggle because of her, sometimes I listen, often I don’t.

As you have had a bad experience of vegetarian food why not ask a friend who invites you what they plan to serve. If you think you’d not be able to eat it explain kindly and offer to take your own meat containing food to re-heat. Our lactose intolerant family member always brings her own milk and anything else I’m not likely to have, in my view it’s little different.

You do sound stressed about it, hopefully you can find a way through and keep your good friends, it would be a shame to miss out on their company.

Callistemon Mon 05-Apr-21 23:23:52

I've cooked various side dishes ie vegetables plus a meat dish and a vegetarian dish if catering for vegetarian(s).
Add into the mix someone who is coeliac and another who is lactose intolerant, another who has a nut allergy and then it does become more difficult.

Or suggest going to the pub when they re-open.

Callistemon Mon 05-Apr-21 23:26:05

In my small circle of lockdown friends

There is time to plan as we can't meet indoors yet.
There are some really good vegetarian cookbooks now so it could be interesting finding recipes suitable for all.

welbeck Mon 05-Apr-21 23:32:52

i'm surprised that there is so much meat-eating going on.
do you mean you eat meat every single day. meat rather than fish.
that would be unusual around here.
anyway, just keep a few veggie/vegan quiches in the freezer.
simples. as long as you give them something to eat.
do i detect some antipathy towards non meat-eaters.
if so, be honest and don't invite them.

suziewoozie Mon 05-Apr-21 23:35:29

I would never serve meat if one of my guests were vegetarian nor pork if one of my guests were observant Jews. If one had diabetes or was gluten intolerant I’d make sure everything I served was suitable for them. I always provide what I’d call an inclusive meal. Everybody there can eat everything I serve. There are so many delicious recipes out there to cover all eventualities. DH and I chose what we want most of the time so the times we have to cater for guests with dietary needs are not frequent ( I’m talking outside pandemics of course). We eat vegetarian meals at least once a week simply because we enjoy them and wouldn’t want meat or fish every day.

Callistemon Mon 05-Apr-21 23:41:47

My vegetarian friend serves a meat or fish dish plus a vegetarian dish if she has guests for dinner.

She cooks meat for other members of her family although they eat a lot of vegetarian dishes too.

geekesse Tue 06-Apr-21 00:09:40

The OP is correct that the veggie/ non-veggie thing is not, in general, reciprocal. I don’t think that makes it unfair. One entertains out of hospitality and generosity, not as part of some kind of contract.

I sometimes think the same about other kinds of entertaining. When I did it a lot, I used to put huge effort into producing really well-cooked, beautifully-presented, tasty meals, and I checked beforehand if there were any foods my guests didn’t eat. Then I’d eat at someone else’s house and have a hastily thrown together cold meat salad ‘main course’, followed by a defrosted sweet. I just congratulated myself inwardly on being the better cook.

Teacheranne Tue 06-Apr-21 00:18:39

Am I unusual in that I cannot remember when I last cooked for or went to a dinner party? I cook meals for my family when they visit but tend to go to restaurants with friends. I find the shopping, setting the table, preparation of food, cooking, clearing up washing up and putting things away too much fuss!

suziewoozie Tue 06-Apr-21 02:03:15


Am I unusual in that I cannot remember when I last cooked for or went to a dinner party? I cook meals for my family when they visit but tend to go to restaurants with friends. I find the shopping, setting the table, preparation of food, cooking, clearing up washing up and putting things away too much fuss!

Outside pandemics (!) we eat regularly with dd and family at each other’s and some other friends and there’s one couple who we always eat out with. We eat out as a couple quite regularly as well. But I enjoy having people round for a meal and never find it too much fuss. We make sure we plan meals which can be prepared in advance as much as possible and tend to share out the courses between us. Anyway I wouldn’t dust otherwise as my house testifies at the moment 😀 As for reciprocity of quality and effort I’d say we are all very well matched except my son-in-law does the best Sunday roasts -with -a -twist in the world

nadateturbe Tue 06-Apr-21 03:25:08

I used to love having dinner parties Teacheranne but it's too much to cope with now. We would just in normal times have friends for lunch which is something simple or M&S.
I would never have minded providing a veggie option and would not expect a vegetarian to cook meat.

vegansrock Tue 06-Apr-21 05:35:20

Maybe just expand your cooking repertoire to include more non meat meals, so you feel confident about serving them to others, maybe challenge yourself to a meat free month and surprise yourself. It’s not that difficult, there’s plenty of advice , recipes etc online. You will still be alive and the end of it and may even feel healthier. If you cannot countenance that just buy a vegan quiche from Waitrose and serve that up with a jacket potato/salad. On the other hand, if your question masks a dislike of veggies / vegans then don’t invite them or accept their invitations.

Lucca Tue 06-Apr-21 06:44:37

“Small circle of lockdown friends” ?? What does this mean ?I presume you’ve not been visiting during lockdown....

mumofmadboys Tue 06-Apr-21 07:11:03

Ideally the whole population should be trying to eat some( well, at least one!) veggie meals each week for ecological reasons.

Kim19 Tue 06-Apr-21 07:32:09

Many years ago, when we hosted regular dinner parties, I was asked by a friend 'is it because we're vegetarians we don't get invited?' She was Australian. Very matter of fact and delightful. I truthfully said yes because all I knew of the eating habits then was salad and I didn't want to be singling them out for a separate meal to everyone else. She suggested she bring along their own food (yes!) and we could all discuss this as they really wanted to be included. Sounds absolutely crazy now but I remember it well. Furthermore, in those days a salad was pretty much lettuce, cucumber, tomato and HB egg. So basic that I feel somewhat ashamed. Anyway we all socialised well and learned so much from each other for many years before they returned to Australia. I still squirm at my initial angst. I was in no way unwilling but I sure felt inadequate at the time. I remember it well. Changed days indeed with our eating knowledge/habits. We have indeed blossomed.

janeainsworth Tue 06-Apr-21 07:36:19

Ok. In my small circle of lockdown friends, there is one vegetarian and the rest of us are meat eaters. Do I have to cook a separate vegetarian meal for that person/cook separate vegetarian meals for vegan and vegetarian guests, when the majority are meat eaters?

The simple answer is yes, you do. The essence of being a good host is to ensure that your guests feel comfortable and welcome in your home. If you don’t want to make that effort, don’t invite them.

Not sure what a lockdown circle of friends is either. None of my friends have been inside my house for over a year sad

grandmajet Tue 06-Apr-21 07:54:06

I agree it is difficult if you are not used to preparing vegetarian or vegan food. Two of our children are vegan and two vegetarian. We often eat vegetarian meals just because we have learned how to cook them well.
At Christmas our menu was vegan, and extremely tasty. It really is worth practising and finding dishes which are tasty and easily prepared for guests. For instance, a vegetable chilli or lasagne is nicer than its meat equivalent, and a roasted cauliflower can provide a lovely centrepiece for a roast dinner. Vegan cakes can be really lovely. I was surprised too.
I can understand a vegan or vegetarian not wanting to handle or cook meat - it is often a moral choice for them - and would not expect them to.