Lunchtime Poll

Lunchtime Poll: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Since it’s a meal time, I’m asking a meal-related question.

What do you serve if a dinner guest has a dietary need?

If you’re an omnivore and a vegan is coming for dinner, do you do an entirely vegan meal?

If you’re a vegan and an omnivore is coming for dinner, do you serve a dish with a face?

I don’t think there’s a right answer; discuss amongst yourselves.

12 replies on “Lunchtime Poll: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”

I never expect anyone to cook for me something they typically restrict.  But I bet that goes for most all of our Persephoneers.

If I’m having a big group, I make sure that there’s stuff for everyone.  I often cook mostly vegetarian out of economic reasons when I have big groups, but I’ve learned a few vegan/GF main dishes that I can serve alongside any non-veg dish (eggplant parm casserole and rice+veg stuffed pumpkin are two go-tos).  I really don’t want to make anyone have to subsist on carrot sticks or bread.  Also, I’m a huge fan of potlucks so that people can make sure that they have something they *can* eat.

That being said… I see it as a fun challenge to limit myself to dietary needs, because suddenly “No, things can’t get fixed with cheese.” or “No, not everyone will have pasta AND bread.”  I do realize I’m privileged to not HAVE to follow rules like that every day out of a risk of not feeling well or worse, but I don’t want my guests to hesitate in the least when they can’t eat something.

If I have very few guests, the entire meal is adjusted so everyone can enjoy the whole thing.

It all depends on how many people and what kind of restrictions there are. Deadly allergy is in a different category than “I don’t care for mushrooms” to me. If it’s a real crowd, a vegetarian vat of beer-based chile with a few non-veg fixins is usually great. I could put out chorizo and cheese for those who want more to their meal. Also probably add some cornbread, but I also don’t have many friends who don’t eat flour and/or butter, so YMMV.

I’m a vegetarian, and anyone who comes for dinner gets vegetarian fare.  I’m up front about it, and since rates of vegetarianism are high in my circle of friends, it’s never been an issue.  I’ve got a few crowd-pleasing vegan dishes up my sleeve, so if there’s a vegan in the crowd, I cook some of those and don’t make a big shindig about it.

As for dietary needs other than eats critters/doesn’t eat critters/eats only some critters, I ask and accommodate.  I have a family member with celiac disease, and it’s been eye-opening to see how ubiquitous wheat is, and how hard it can be to eat away from one’s own kitchen.

I try to accommodate restrictions when I can. If I’ve invited just a vegan over, then it wouldn’t kill me to not eat cheese for ONE night. But if it’s a larger group composed of mostly omnivores, I’ll try to make the entree something everyone can eat and then have a variety of sides or whatever.

1.  Depends on the restriction, but I will accommodate it, as along as I know about said dietary restriction.  If I don’t know about it, I may try to serve hazelnut coffee to someone w/a severe nut allergy. (Yes, this almost happened, as the coffee was almost at his lips!  Scary.)

On that note, please tell people you’re staying with/eating with if you have a severe, life-threatening allergy.  Please!  I have weird allergies and things that I will not eat, so I understand that other people do to.  I try to take it all into account when feeding folks so someone isn’t left just eating celery or lettuce.

2.  Honestly, I probably wouldn’t do entirely vegan….  I like cheese too much.  And cooking with soy-based milks/cheeses/tofu doesn’t always work in my hands.  (Husband was vegan for a while, so I did my best for a year or so.)  However, there would definitely be more than one option for a vegan, and it would be entirely vegetarian.

3.  Nope.  I’m a pescatarian, but I don’t cook “things with faces”.  I’ll eat fish if it’s served to me, but I don’t cook it.  (Exception:  I will cook ground meat up for my puppy.  Yes, she IS spoiled.)  And the omnivores that have eaten at my house don’t complain about being served veggie meals.  …even the ones who want bacon with EVERYTHING.


I’m accommodating, as long as I know about the guests’ dietary needs and preferences in advance. It is a bit uncomfortable when, say, you’re having a garden party featuring fresh home-smoked ham and it turns out a guest is a vegetarian.

Whether I’d make the entire meal vegan if one guest is vegan, depends on who else will be there and how many people altogether. I do like a challenge, so it’s possible I’d give it a try.

Because I’ve befriended a lot folks with different food preferences/allergies, I’m always very careful to ask about those kinds of details when planning to have someone over for dinner. It would suck to serve a carb heavy meal to someone with gluten intolerance or to serve lamb to a vegan. My mom taught me a lot about hospitality, and it seems to me that if you are inviting someone into your home for a meal, it is only polite to be as accommodating as possible. I’m an omnivore who enjoys dairy, meat, and wheat, but giving any of those things up for a meal in order to show guests that I care about them is totally worth it. I wouldn’t even call it a sacrifice.

Depends on the size of the party. I’m a pretty big fan of feeding my friends all the things, so I would want to make it so that as many people can eat as many things as possible. There are quite a few diabetics in my life so I have a collection of low sugar content desert recipeis, for example. Still if it was one vegan in a large crowd of omnivores I would probably make something that had a reasonable amount of vegan friendly eatablity, but not a 100% vegan meal (something with the cheese and meat on the side or similar). If it was just me and the vegan, then I’d probably go whole hog and make a vegan meal.

That said, I wouldn’t expect a vegan to cook me meat in cheese sauce or anything. Eating a animal free meal will not hurt me any.

I guess my feeling would be that it depends on the size of the function and the amount of guests with restrictions. Ordinarily, I’d tell people what I’m making, and if they have an issue with it they can plan accordingly (eat beforehand, bring a dish themselves). If I’m going somewhere, it’d be nice to know in advance what they’re making so I could plan accordingly too (even if it’s just food I don’t like). I don’t expect someone that’s being gracious enough to make food to bend to my whim for a party or large-ish social function.

If it’s a smaller function, or with people that I’m closer to, then I’d probably enjoy the challenge of trying to make something for a guest’s needs – but they can decide if they want to bring something instead (especially if it’s something like a gluten allergy, where stuff may accidentally get contaminated if I make it).

My diet restriction is needing to restrict salt, but I don’t expect anyone to know that or care. It’s a lax enough restriction that I can just suck up and deal with it, especially since that’s what I have to do any time I eat anything I don’t make myself. I know that other restrictions are more strict, so it never even seems worth mentioning.

As a veggie-friendly omnivore, if a vegan friend was coming for dinner I’d make an effort to make a vegan meal. Though cooking is not my strong point, so if I found it easier to have one side-dish that wasn’t vegan, I’d let hir know. I wouldn’t expect a vegan friend to cook non-vegan for me. Plus, if it’s just two people, it’d be weird to have to cook two separate meals.

Risotto! It’s one of the most adaptable meals there is, I think. And since we eat a lot of vegetarian and vegan meals, I’d do an entirely vegan meal – isn’t it more pleasant occasion where everyone can share (just about) everything? And, since I’m not vegan, I can’t say how I’d serve a dish but when Mr. Juniper has meat, I do have a habit of crying, “Meat is murder!”

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