Etiquette Advice for Vegetarian Visitors

Dear Ms. Demeanor:

I am a vegetarian and I was wondering: When I am invited to a sit-down dinner, how do I politely announce that I'm a vegetarian? Do I inform the host beforehand? If so, how do I do this without being too forward? I don't want to be a burden and cause the host to go out of the way to prepare anything special for me. HELP!



Dear Vegetarian:

Your host's dining table is clearly not the place to announce that you don't eat dead animals. However, there's nothing wrong with letting your host know in advance that you are a vegetarian. Just call and say something like, "I'd love to come, but I do want to let you know that I don't eat meat. If you prefer, I'd be glad to just come by for dessert."

Tell your host that you're generally fine with everything other than red meat, if that's the case. There are so many kinds of vegetarians that it's not wise for hosts to assume a vegetarian's dining needs -- or for guests to leave their hosts in the dark. Don't take offense if you're asked to come after the main course. You're quite right not to expect a host to prepare something special just for you, although it's usually not too much trouble to whip up an extra vegetable dish. Here, as with most situations, clear communication is the key. Bon appetit!

ARE YOU A VEGETARIAN? Swap recipes with others on the Food Channel's Vegetarian Cooking message board.


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