Dining with meat eaters can be a tricky thing. I’m super lucky that my family and friends are really kind and considerate when it comes to deciding where we will dine. They look up menus to make sure there’s enough veg options, and we’ll have a chat before making plans to make sure everyone is happy. And when they want to dine somewhere really meaty that just isn’t right for me, they’ll arrange to go without me, knowing I won’t at all feel left out or offended. Everyone wins!
When it comes to eating out, especially in a group, there are usually a number of things to consider. Budget and affordability, special diets, food allergies and intolerances, preferred cuisines – and all that before agreeing on a location that everyone can get to.
As a vegetarian, it can be a tad difficult if the organisers don’t know about or consider your food choices.
In my experience, meat eaters who don’t have any vegetarians in their circle, generally don’t realise how few options there may be. There’s no need to be offended! It’s not ignorant or rude, it’s just something they’ve not had to consider.
I’ve found that it’s not until you’re out and about with a meat eater, trying to decide where to eat, that the veg options – or lack thereof – becomes apparent to them. And that’s often when they experience the “AHA” moment and start to see things from your perspective.
On my latest visit family in Melbourne, my Uncle and I were at a trendy new pub / beer garden in the city and after a drink, we decided to get the menu and stick around for lunch. He was shocked, outraged even, because there was only one veg option (and not a very desirable one at that).
I wasn’t at all surprised – unfortunately it’s something I’m quite used to.
For my Uncle though, I think it was an insight into the challenges faced when your eating options are limited. I explained that one or two options was a common experience for me, and it was as if I could see the cogs turning in his mind as he realised that it’s not easy to just walk into any ol’ joint you fancy and take your pick from the whole menu.
It’s certainly not difficult, it just takes a little more thought. With a little forward-thinking, you can make sure the meal is a success and you don’t go away hungry.
Here’s a few simple things you can do before eating out with friends.
- Kindly tell the host you’re vegetarian and be clear about what you don’t eat.
- Look online for a menu to see what options they have.
- Call the venue and ask if they can make a veg dish. They may offer you something that’s not on the menu.
- If the restaurant isn’t veg-friendly and you don’t want to miss out, suggest a compromise! Arrange to meet everyone for a pre-meal drink or dessert afterwards.
So many vegetarians I’ve spoken to, don’t like to make a fuss about their eating choices. I really do get not wanting to cause a scene but believe me, you’re far better off saying something early than getting to the venue and finding out, when you’re sat at the table, that there’s bugger all you can have. Now that’s a cringeworthy thought.
I would love to hear your experiences – good or bad – eating out with friends. Hit me up in the comments with your dining tales.
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