Guess who’s coming to dinner

Samantha Bridges

The date is marked in your calendar. Your friend is having a dinner party on Saturday night. You can’t figure out whether to be excited or dread it because they’re making their famous pot roast, and as a vegan you can’t even stand the thought of looking at it. For most vegans, this is a common scenario.

Knowing your table manners, bringing the host or hostess a gift are typical examples of polite dinner etiquette when going to somebody’s house. But for a vegan, a large dinner crowd can feel overwhelming, however it’s important to make your dietary restrictions known. Whether you’re invited out for dinner, or going to a party, as a vegan don’t make your friends cater to you if you haven’t helped prepare yourself first. There are certain steps you must take when being a dinner guest.

When someone invites to you dinner, let them know what you can and can’t eat. That way your host will have plenty of time to prepare something separate for you. Toronto etiquette specialist Louise Fox believes common courtesy can go a long way to help vegans enjoy a dinner party.

“Sometimes vegans think that it would be more trouble to tell the guest of their restrictions, so they wait till they’re at dinner to say anything. You can’t expect the host to accommodate you if you don’t say anything before,” Fox said.

When you have dietary restrictions one solution is telling the person, “It’s okay, I will just bring my own thing,” Or simply eat before you go to the party so you don’t starve. Los Angeles vegan chef Brian Patton learned this the hard way.

“In my first month of being vegan, I was at a fancy dinner party at a friend’s house and they were serving a bunch of hors d’oeuvres. None of them were vegan, and since I was inexperienced at being vegan I didn’t eat anything before hand. So I ended up eating nothing that night,” he said.  “My stomach felt like it was eating itself.”

Help the host during busier times of the year such as holidays. Often the host has a signature dish they want to perfect, and preparing a vegan option may seem like too much work. But there is still a way for everyone to be happy. Kristin Lajeunesse, a vegan blogger of “Will Travel for Vegan Food,” believes that both parties can meet in the middle.

“If the host wants to do all the cooking, ask them to send you their favourite recipes,” she says. “There are a bunch of great vegan options for the holidays. It won’t seem like extra work if it’s done ahead of time.”

She says it’s important to keep in mind that dinner is about enjoying time with family and friends.

The trick to being a great dinner guest is knowing what to do before going to the party. Let the host know about your restrictions immediately or bring your own separate meal. Also help the host research some quick, delicious vegan options for everyone, so next time you’re invited to a dinner party, you won’t dread being that pain-in-the-butt guest. Embrace the company of your friends and family with a little communication and planning ahead.

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