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Vegetarian Need Not Serve Meat to Guests

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

My children and I are vegetarians. I am very respectful of the choice others make to eat meat, and don't try to convert anyone to my eating style. When asked to relatives' homes for meals, I have never indicated my lack of comfort when meat is served.

Recently I invited some relatives to my home for a meal. I was told by one relative that according to etiquette, I must serve meat at the meal since my invited guests eat meat. When my children and I eat at a relative's home, we are able to eat side dishes that are being served. They're not the most complete meals us, but we have a more nutritious meal at another time during the day.

Could you please offer some advice on both the issue of whether a vegetarian must serve meat, and whether it is appropriate to serve meat at a meal to which a vegetarian is invited?



Dear Vegetarian,

If someone has a dietary restriction whether it is vegetarian, no salt, low fat, or restriction of certain foods due to religion, ethnicity, etc., the host should welcome being informed in order to accommodate their guests. However, the entire meal need not be catered to the one(s) with dietary restrictions. But, there should be at least one other selection to the main entree, and not just side dishes of alternatives from which to choose. For example, when you visit your relatives, they could have a meatless pasta dish. Actually, many people who eat meat would enjoy a meatless pasta dish as well.

On the other hand, the relative who feels that you should serve meat because it is the preferred cuisine of your guests is wrong in his assumption. He does not have a dietary restriction, only a preference. Therefore, he should be gracious and enjoy whatever meal you prepare.