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Old 07-30-2007, 05:15 AM   #31
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Elaine, I do the same thing when cooking for people I don't know. I do NOT try to make a meal that will fit all needs, though, I just try to make sure that there is one dish that the "special needs" person CAN eat. For example, a holiday meal. It is NOT going to be vegetarian, but a vegetarian, yes, even a vegan, WILL be able to get a decent meal out of it by simply avoiding the meat and asking me about the sides. I have young, type 1 diabetic friend who visits, and her parents always were thankful that I had food for her (in fact, I'm not a sugar-aholic, and wasn't doing anything special). Once a guest was prowling the kitchen. I asked what he needed. He wanted to know if I used anything peanut. Huh? I was a little peeved that no one told me he was allergic, but took stock. Went to the pantry, went through the menu in my mind, and told him with complete confidence that I hadn't used any peanut-related products. The fact is that you cannot meet every dietary need every time, and if you try to, you will start to hate cooking and entertaining because it will become a test rather than fun. Once I threw a big party for my folks, and one of my mom's dearest was the vegan I've mentioned before. I was watching her eating croissants. "Mom, she does know that croissants are about half butter?" It was a laugh, because Mom replied "You bought them at Sam's, right?" Yes. "They never saw a stick of butter" HOW TRUE!!!

I agree with many; once you are an adult, your food intake is YOUR problem, you should not expect others to cater to your special needs. In my experience, people who have a bunch of special needs never host! Note I said in MY experience. Plus there is a big difference in being a vegan or any other sort of vegetarian, and being someone who will go into anaphylactic shock (or a diabetic coma), and being someone who is simply a fussy eater. If you are going to need 911 care if you eat something you aren't supposed to, I definitely need to know that. If you choose not to eat certain things, I'll make sure there is something on the table for you, but no, the entire meal won't be catered to your preferences, and I believe it is unreasonable to expect that.
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Old 07-30-2007, 08:31 AM   #32
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As a vegetarian ( not a vegan), I think thats all i expect when going to a dinner , party or whatever, that there is something to eat. Having been a vegetarian for 20 years, I have learned to make the best out of a situation, and I never complain. Although it is much easier and much more accepted now, then it was 20 years ago, eating at a dinner function requires some kind of strategy. For example, loading up at the cocktail hour, doubling up on the side dishes, or even having something to eat at home prior to attending a function. I cant and never will expect an occasion to revolve around me or my dietary needs. That would be selfish. On the other hand, I am a vegetarian ( not a vegan, or health freak) and my dietary needs are not religious or health motivated, so being open minded, I am able to make the best of what is offered. For someone who is kosher, or diabetic and have stricter guidelines when eating, this creates a more difficult situation. Sure, if they are a guest, then it is the responsibility of the host to provide at least something for them to eat. Anyway, just voicing my opinion i guess. And more importantly, learning how to cook and taste more things, so i have less limitations :)
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Old 07-30-2007, 12:40 PM   #33
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My cousin's wife is a vegetarian, so they had a vegetarian wedding reception, although they did have Chilean sea bass. It was in 2000, so I don't remember specific dishes, but I do remember that the food was wonderful.

Also, she's Jewish and it was the first Jewish wedding I've been to - it was the most fun wedding I've ever attended, and I mean the wedding, not the reception (although that was fun, too).
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Old 07-30-2007, 03:52 PM   #34
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Hmmm. It can be a real problem living with a vegetarian, but there are ways around it.

The saddest part is that vegetarian food is so poor with good wine.

Could you imagine a nut roast with a Château Margaux?

Not me...


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Alex R.
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Old 08-02-2007, 06:45 PM   #35
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I'll preface my comments by saying I've eaten a mostly vegitarian diet (I would sometimes include a little fish) for around six years, and recently switched over to a vegan diet.

To the OP, well, I think a lot of good advice has already been offered. One technique that might be helpful is to look at it like this: List of every type of food (not a prepared dish, just a basic food) you can think of that's not flesh... all the legumes, nuts, vegetables, dairy, fruit, grains, and so on. Now, list of all the meats you normally consume.

Which list is longer, and which gives you a better palate to work from? The key to a vegetarian/vegan diet is imaginging everything you CAN prepare, not bellyaching on what you cant

Quote:
Originally Posted by Claire
For example, a holiday meal. It is NOT going to be vegetarian, but a vegetarian, yes, even a vegan, WILL be able to get a decent meal out of it by simply avoiding the meat and asking me about the sides.
This brings up a pretty good point, in that often "we" (those that eat typical American dishes) often regard a meal as a "featured" slab of meat with somewhat-less-meaty to meatless "sides". This probably has something to do with why so many people find it so difficult to go veg, as opposed to someone in, say, India.

As for the "sides" there is of course the issue of whether the soup was made with beef stock, or the potatos with butter, or whatever. When it's not a situation where I feel comfortable doing a little friendly interrogation on the ingredients (like with a good friend), I just shut up and avoid eating anything that looks blantantly meatlike. You win some and you lose some, and I don't want to be "that guy" and inconvenience everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Claire
In my experience, people who have a bunch of special needs never host! Note I said in MY experience.
I wasn't clear from your post if you considered a vegan or vegetarian diet "special needs", but for what it's worth, one of my biggest joys is to host dinners for friends! (and my friends include vegans, meat-eaters, and vegitarians) And let me assure you, they don't seem to mind the lack of meat, and they DO ask ask for seconds!
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Old 08-02-2007, 06:48 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexR
Hmmm. It can be a real problem living with a vegetarian, but there are ways around it.

The saddest part is that vegetarian food is so poor with good wine.
Ah, but maybe you forgot about pasta dishes!

Also, I always portabella mushrooms to be nice too... oh, and I didn't even mention cheese!
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Old 08-02-2007, 07:31 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Little Penguin
Ah, but maybe you forgot about pasta dishes!

Also, I always portabella mushrooms to be nice too... oh, and I didn't even mention cheese!
But as a true vegan, you wouldn’t be eating cheese would you?

Also, why is it a lot of vegetarians consider fish ok? Is it because they’re ugly? As a comedian once said (paraphrased of course): “Oh, that Lamb is sooooooo cute, let’s keep him and make him happy. That ugly *** crab though, boil his *** alive!”.
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Old 08-02-2007, 07:53 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keltin
But as a true vegan, you wouldn’t be eating cheese would you?
Now that I'm vegan, no, I don't eat cheese. The suggestions was for vegetarians.

I have to say I will miss that bit of asiago on top of pasta too, but I enjoy the challenge. Iy means I need to really work on making the sauce special.


Quote:
Originally Posted by keltin
Also, why is it a lot of vegetarians consider fish ok? Is it because they’re ugly? As a comedian once said (paraphrased of course): “Oh, that Lamb is sooooooo cute, let’s keep him and make him happy. That ugly *** crab though, boil his *** alive!”.
Well, just speaking for myself, my main motivation for my diet is my abhorrance of factory farming methods. I wasn't confident enough in my knowledge of nutrition to totally eliminate meat/dairy, so I'd eat a very small amount of wild-caught fish (or, VERY occasionally, free range beef or lamb)

I don't believe you have to be absolute about these things, rather, I was trying to find a balance between my view on the ethics of eating and my desire to be healthy.

My knowledge of nutrition and my spiritual path (sorry, that sounds really new-agey and I assure you I'm not actually that kinda guy) has developed and I'm taking the plunge...

...into a bucket of hummous!

Yum...
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Old 08-05-2007, 07:02 PM   #39
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Oh, dear. "Special Needs" to me is anyone who has to "clear" it with a restaurant or their hosts when they don't eat at home. For example, my husband and I can go to anyone's home and eat dinner there, or any restaurant. Whether it is medical (diverticulitis, cancers, allergies), religious (Muslim, Jew, 7th Day Adventists), or simply preference. That is my definitition of special needs. If you have give me a list of what you can and cannot eat, you are in my mind, special needs. I do not mean this to be derogotory. As we age, this is becoming more and more a fact of life.

And I did say in my experience, and certainly didn't mean all (for example, vitually all of those I know who have what I am referring to as "special needs" because of religious reasons have entertained me very, very, very often. The others not. )

I did have the great experience of going to a vegan picnic. It wasn't at her home, though. It was a challenge she put out to her TOPS club (which Mom was a member of) for their annual picnic. Everyone was to make a vegan dish and bring it, along with the recipe. I was just passing through town so did not have any advance notice, Mom just asked that I come along and make something. I had interviewed the woman for the local rag, and had read all of the lit she'd passed along, and had entertained her a few times. So I made up some dishes (hummus and baba ganoush with pita and chips, carefully reading the ingredients for the pita and chips, and using my own recipes for the dips, which contain absolutely no meat or dairy; eggs, worcestershire sauce, etc), and they were the hit of the party. Most of the attendees were older women from New England (this was in Florida) whose husbands would have probably divorced them had they ever prepared a meatless dish. My dishes were the hit of the picnic. Everyone else assumed the dishes had to be flavorless, I suspect some were afraid of garlic or of "Foreign Foods". But there wasn't a drop left when I left, and my recipes were requested most often (and I hadn't written them down because of time constraints, so was spending the picnic with my notepad trying to remember the measurements!).
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Old 08-05-2007, 08:21 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claire
I did have the great experience of going to a vegan picnic. It wasn't at her home, though. It was a challenge she put out to her TOPS club (which Mom was a member of) for their annual picnic. Everyone was to make a vegan dish and bring it, along with the recipe. I was just passing through town so did not have any advance notice, Mom just asked that I come along and make something. I had interviewed the woman for the local rag, and had read all of the lit she'd passed along, and had entertained her a few times. So I made up some dishes (hummus and baba ganoush with pita and chips, carefully reading the ingredients for the pita and chips, and using my own recipes for the dips, which contain absolutely no meat or dairy; eggs, worcestershire sauce, etc), and they were the hit of the party. Most of the attendees were older women from New England (this was in Florida) whose husbands would have probably divorced them had they ever prepared a meatless dish. My dishes were the hit of the picnic. Everyone else assumed the dishes had to be flavorless, I suspect some were afraid of garlic or of "Foreign Foods". But there wasn't a drop left when I left, and my recipes were requested most often (and I hadn't written them down because of time constraints, so was spending the picnic with my notepad trying to remember the measurements!).
Great anecdote!

I'd love it if you shared your hummus recipe (if you did indeed remember it!)... mine tends to be either too thick or too runny, and I got
frustrated, so I just buy it- but someday I hope to be able to make it well.

One thing I've noticed since I went vegan is that I'm using a lot of different, new flavors, and it's making me more creative. I think I was using butter and cheese as my crutches, and now withouw them I have to think a little more!
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