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Veg*n What would you do?

Susan W

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What would you do in this situation? Your significant other is from Europe, and when you go visit family there, sometimes you meet his old friends/family and go out to restaurants. You're vegetarian, he is not, and it doesn't look too common in europe either, judging by what you see on the menus. He thinks you're being kind of a fanatic by not eating even a LITTLE meat because it seems like a natural thing to do to him, but you agreed to disagree on that point and you can both live with that and you don't talk about it much.

However, the big problem is the restaurants I've been to there all have set ups such that you choose your courses and you're expected to choose something for each course, and I've never been to one in which meat wasn't in all the main dishes, and possibly in the appetizer.... and often on the salad. Choosing just a small thing like a dessert or something at such a restaurant is not culturally acceptable, and you are likely to be insulted by the waiter if you try to pull that one. Am I supposed to try to avoid eating at restaurants? If we're on a road trip this is going to be difficult. I also don't want to take away any of my significant other's fun on the trip (we both usually enjoy restaurants. And I also hate to draw any attention to myself for my vegetarianism). I suppose I'd be tempted to order the least meaty stuff and eat around it. As for now it doesn't look like we're going back anytime soon - but since I know I'm going to have this problem I'm pushing for not going back and flying his family over here instead. What would you do?
 

Wildjem

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Even though it goes against your principles, I would go with the 'less meaty' choice, eat around it and keep a Milky Way (or your personal fave) in my purse for later. I have learned after 15 years of vegetarianism that I am not going to change the world and in some situations it is just easier to fit in. I would not have done that when I first became a vegetarian but I have bigger issues these days. As long as I am happy with my choices, then that is that. Even after all of these years I still have people who are close to me make a big issue out of my beliefs. And then I have others who just quietly go about making sure I have something appealing to eat. If not, there is always another meal a few hours away. Good luck! I hope that when your partners family gets a chance to visit you they gain a bigger and better respect of your views.
 

Susan9608

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I would say to hell with the waiters ... let them be rude. I wouldn't compromise my belief system to fit and keep other people from being uncomfortable. Waiters should be polite to you becaues that's their job, not because of what you do or don't eat. If they don't like it, then tough. And if your partner and his family don't like it, I'd say to hell with them, too. They don't have to believe what you believe, but they do need to respect your beliefs. If you let them eat what they want, they should let you eat what you want ... or not eat what you don't want, as the case may be.
 

TheQueen

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I hate eating out sometimes. It's all got meat. For each course, get the option with the least meat, and then kindly ask the waiter if the chef could possibly leave out the meat. For meaty, main courses, ask if they could substitute tofu. They usually will. If the waiter is rude, then just eat around the meat. Good luck!
 

Susan9608

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If the waiter is rude, complain to the manager ... don't just eat around the meat to avoid a run-in with a rude waiter. There is no excuse for a waiter - a *service* person - to be rude to a patron over what they eat. It's none of the waiter's damn business what you eat or don't eat; his/her job is to take your order and bring you the food, period. If they are rude about it, that's their issue, not yours, and needs to be addressed with their superior.

There is nothing to be ashamed about for not eating meat ... and skulking around, trying not to offend people, especially the people *serving* you food, makes it seem like you are ashamed or embarassed about being a vegetarian. There's no reason you have to be in everyone's face about it, but there's no reason to try to hide the fact either.

I tell waiters to leave meat off my food all the time; no one hassles me or pays very much attention. No one even seems really surprised ... not even when I go to Chili's and order the chicken tacos without the chicken.
 

Susan W

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Thanks everyone. I agree about the waiter, and in the states I'd definitely complain, but when I'm in another country, the language barrier keeps me from bothering with seeking out superiors and complaining. It's just too dang difficult to have a conversation...I speak a little of the language, enough to get by, but not enough to be sure that I always make sense. I'm pretty sure they don't serve tofu there either, and I've never seen even one vegetarian dish on any menu in any restaurant I've been in over there.

Here I do just fine, and we don't avoid restaurants. I have no problem just ordering fries or a side dish here, and sometimes the waiters chuckle, but never in a rude way. There are even quite a few places around here with at least one vegetarian dish, so I'm doing okay in the states.

Actually, his family and friends are understanding (I didn't mean to imply that they weren't - my boyfriend thinks its a little weird like I said, but we have an understanding and he's the only one who ever said anything about it). The friends and family don't mind if I don't or do eat whatever, I just know with the restaurants there its impossible to choose one where I'm going to find anything to eat. And with the language barrier I don't feel I can properly defend myself to a rude waiter (and let me say, I've had waiters over there accuse me of stealing a pen, and joke kind of rudely if you order water instead of the usual wine....so that's why I'm sort of expecting it - and I didn't steal the pen either!).

I suppose after considering your remarks, I will either try to order the stuff with the least meat and eat around it, or ask that they leave the meat off. Thanks again!
 

mom to cujo

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Why not have your husband convey your needs to the waiter. I realize it is another country, but I am sure most restaurants deal with tourists on a fairly regular basis, anyway. Your husband can feel the way he wants about the way you choose to eat, but he is your husband and should come to your defense and help you order food the way you want it. I am a waitress and get special request all day long. I really shouldn't be a problem. Just don't accept rude treatment. You don't have to.
 

Susan W

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Yeah, I suppose I could ask him to do that. I'm so used to trying to do things myself that hadn't even occurred to me! Thanks!
 

Alanas

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Susan9608 said:
If the waiter is rude, complain to the manager ...

In many European countries the manager would take the side of the waiter, it is as though you have insulted the whole place, they are quite radical. I was in a clothes shop with my friend in Italy and I said quietly to my friend "That top is pretty ugly" and the manager came up and said "Your face is ugly!" It is pretty funny when I look back now, but at the time I was like "How Rude!" Restaurants are the same over there. I would eat around the meat, it solves problems with standing out, causing any commotion, having to explain yourself, and ultimately prevents his family from thinking that you are strange.
 

Susan W

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Thanks! Yeah, that's the kind of thing I was worried about with waiters. His family is nice and they don't mind, but I really hate having to deal with rude strangers.
 

elspeth

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Personally I would never order a meat dish & then leave the meat, just eating the veg. I don't see why I or anyone else who is veggie should have to do that just to get a decent meal at a resturant!

I went to amsterdam recently & it was so easy eating veggie there...admittedly that is because there are a lot of Italian places but I also went to a Dutch resturant & although there were only a few choices of veggie food I still had a choice & it was lovely! Basically I always checked the menu before going into any restaurant & if there was nothing veggie I fancied it was a no go area...my boyfriend was ok with that too, eventhough he is a meat eater & a butcher he understands I don't want to touch the stuff!

You don't say what country it is that you visit with your boyfriend but surely he could ask the waiter to prepare you a veggie meal, or you could even learn how to ask for a veggie meal in that language as it would show you were making a real effort & at the same time show you are serious about being veggie.

Good Luck!
 

VoodooJoint

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If I doubt a restuarant is going to take my vegitarianism seriously I tell them that I have a severe allergy to animal flesh and byproducts. If they think there could be a chance that you could be on the floor having seizures they usually go out of their way to make sure you get a true vegetarian meal.

You also have to make allowances for other cultures (in my opinion). When I was in Haiti I stayed in the poorest community there (and one of the poorest in the world). The people in Bellaire Pot-Au-Prince are desperate and food is a big deal. While they knew I prefered not to eat meat and would do all they could to accomodate me sometimes I would get a plate of rice with chicken or dove in it. It would have been disrespectful to refuse the food so I ate it. After all these people are practically starvng. If I didn't finish food that was given to me there were about 20 children nearby ready to fight for my leftovers. I wasn't about to be rude and get insistant about my vegetarian diet among a bunch of loving people that were caring for me despite their poverty.
 

Susan W

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elspeth: I didn't say because it is France. I didn't want to perpetuate any dislike for the French by discussing rudeness (which is a cliche for them in movies and such). Sure, some waiters there have been rude, but some have been very nice, and his friends and family have been not only very nice, but more hospitable than anyone I ever met. I don't remember seeing anything on any menu that was a vegetarian main course though (and you have to pick all the courses and have something in each one). I do speak enough french to order for myself, just not enough to get in a disagreement or defend myself to snappy comments.

voodoojoint: Is it possible to have an allergy to meat? I didn't think it was possible, and I'd hate anyone to catch me in a lie! I agree, in a place where people are starving and food is very valuable, things would be different.
 

VoodooJoint

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Acyually it is possible but there are other allergies that go along with it.

A good friend of mine is Vegan for 2 reasons 1 she does not believe in eating meat to live and 2 she is also allergic to animal flesh, oil, plant extracts, dairy, and a whole host of other things. She breaks out in hives if this stuff even touches her skin.

I have used the allergy excuse many times and no one ever questioned it. They seemed to feel sorry for me that I couldn't enjoy a hamburger but went out of their way to read the labels on all of the pre made food they used. I doubt anyone will go calling a doctor to find out the truth just because you request soup without chicken broth.
 

Susan W

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I probably won't tell anyone I have an allergy, just because I don't. (I don't want to get caught forgetting my lie later, my memory isn't so good!). But thanks for the info. I had no idea people could be allergic to such things.
 
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