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20-40-60 Etiquette---Still working on the menu!---Vegan choices?


 By Callie Athey, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: I'm a vegan. What are the best ways to approach group meals? During the holidays I usually bring a dish that is vegan and that everyone is welcome to enjoy, but what is the best way to approach my family about including vegan options in what they bring? I think this question is also applicable to people who are vegetarian and gluten free.


CALLIE’S ANSWER: Is this a new thing for you to be vegan? If not, I am sure your family knows to incorporate a few vegan options. If not, ask the menu planner and decide if there are ways for some dishes to be vegan.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I think if you entertain people at your home, then you can serve a vegan meal, although potluck might be even better, where people can bring their choices while you supply yours. That way your family might be able to try the foods you like. If you are going somewhere, it’s OK to ask if there will be vegan options and offer to bring one or two if not. Most hosts understand special diets and are supportive of them, and people don’t want to exclude those who eat differently. However, while it’s OK to ask for some accommodation (or to bring one yourself), I don’t think it’s OK to expect a host to change the entire menu for everyone else for your diet. If they want to, great! If they ask you for some of the dishes you like, that’s great, too. It is nice to be inclusive of everyone, and thoughtful for a host to be aware. But it can be difficult to accommodate everyone; sometimes a host falls short.

An exception to this that requires a lot of sensitivity on the hosts’ part involves those who have airborne allergies, such as to nuts. Those who have these allergies often have to stay away when there will be nuts served, as exposure to nuts is a life-or-death situation for them.


HELEN’S ANSWER: There are some vegan food dishes that are very tasty and everyone might like even more than regular foods, so you should probably incorporate one of those in your food choices that you bring to the table.

It is hard to ask others to cook accordingly, but you might ask the cooks if they plan any vegan choices. If not, and there are no other vegan eaters, take your own, and enjoy the company of the people at the dinner.

GUEST’S ANSWER: David Cathey, Food Editor, The Oklahoman: Perhaps you could invite the primary cooks in your family over to your house for an informal tasting to show that your vegan food is delicious on its own merits. Then state your case about the holidays and offer to contribute dishes to the family celebration. If you offer to take the lead, perhaps you can garner support more effectively.


Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email helen.wallace---


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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›

Lillie-Beth Brinkman

Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman Read more ›

Callie Athey

Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a... Read more ›