A Vegan at a Dinner Party

by:

AllStories

It is rarely enjoyable to be the ‘odd one out’ in anything. When it comes to diet and lifestyle, it can be a very lonely journey.

The Dreaded Invitation

I was invited to a dinner party a few weeks ago by an old friend. I had recently reconnected with this friend after 20 years. Back then she knew me as a person who ate animals. Since my diet is 100% plant-based, I asked myself:

“Should I call her and tell her about my food preferences beforehand?”

I decided against it. Since I had not seen her for a long time, it is best I go there without making any demands, I asked myself again:

“Surely there would be at least one thing I could eat or drink, right?”

With such uncertainty on the horizon, I had to pull out my bag of tricks.

Pre-dinner butterflies

Whenever I am invited to eat some place where I am not certain of the menu, I have to eat before hand. I take this precautionary measure just in case there is nothing there for me to eat or drink. That way I don’t have to talk at length on why I became a vegan on an empty stomach, and – whilst witnessing devouring teeth and jaws crackling animal flesh and bones with pure joy and delight!

I must confess though, that I did once eat animals in this same way, for the first 32 years of my life. That was 14 years ago. Seems like a life time ago now. But I digress. Must be those butterflies…

Today I almost exclusively eat at home. I prepare all my meals. I follow a vegan diet, so no one else can really prepare my food except me? I enjoy vegan food. What is not so enjoyable is having dinner where there is so much food, but I can not eat any of it. I know at such occasions I have the option to just – not eat. However I think most would agree with me, that it is straight up rude when you are invited to a friend or family dinner party, and then you do not eat or drink at all.

Before I left for dinner, I ate a light meal – fresh home made hummus with some ancient grains bread. The goal was not to eat to be full, but rather, to leave a little room to eat, and not be the straight up rude dude at the dinner party!

Then in the bathroom mirror, I spent a few quick moments in thought, imagining conversation at the dinner party that had yet to take place…

Some concerned person, upon finding out that I am vegan, will start to question me about being a vegan, and this and that, and me responding like I have a 1,000 times before. It’s like getting ready for a school exam. Nerve-racking. Hope I pass my test tonight. 

I then took a shower, dressed and left to arrive at the dinner party just in time.

You can not be late for a dinner party.

Wait for it…

four-tables-set-for-dinner

It was a cozy, relaxed dinner party with about 5 adult guests including myself. We all had a drink and were having great conversations. Not too long afterward, our beautiful hostess, in extremely high red heels with a matching red leather short skirt, announced “dinner is served everyone!”

As we entered the dining area, to my surprise, there was a real feast laid out in front of my eyes. I thought: What a spread? I scanned the dishes displayed, eagerly searching for a dish that I could eat. I saw every type of the common animal food you could have imagined. What looked like dishes of beef, and fish, and eggs, and chicken, and prawns, and others I could not easily make out.

It was wise of me to have eaten before the dinner party. But I had to put something on my plate. No way in the world was I going to let any of the guests know that I was vegan or vegetarian. This would draw too much attention to me. I would have to explain myself and I just did not want to be bothered about all that.

I finally came across one dish that appeared to be vegan. It was rice and beans. It looked like something else was in it though. I asked myself:

What is that reddish thing in rice and beans? Bacon???

My host who hovered near me at that moment said, “That’s rice and beans with chopped sun dried tomatoes”.

“Yes!!! But I never had it with sun dried tomatoes before..oh well at least it is a plant food.”

I put a good amount of the rice and beans on my plate. I noticed there was a salad with a lot of broken up feta cheese splashed over it. I delicately picked out the vegetables while avoiding the cheese.

“Now my plate looks full and no one can say I did not eat. No straight up rude dude tonight!!!”

Another looking in the mirror moment

Once everyone was seated, one of the invited guests got up and said a prayer over the food:

We thank you for the food dear Father.
Bless this food and the hands that prepared it,
may it nourish our bodies, Amen

Everyone, including me, then dug into our plates of food. No one had seen my plate. I ate just like everyone else. That night, for once, I became invisible. No questions about my food choices. No secret judgements. Not having to hear things like, “You don’t know what you are missing.”

I was one of them. Just people gathered around the table enjoying a meal together. It felt good to me. I was enjoying my rice and beans with chopped sun dried tomatoes with my feta-less greek salad! It was really dope.

As we all sat there at the table eating our meal, I looked at the others as they ate their food.  They were too busy eating to notice me observing them. Then I had another one of my bathroom mirror thinking moments…

monkey-looking-into-mirror

I grew up enjoying eating certain animals. I learned this habit in my mother’s womb. It is what it was.

  • Eating is vital and social.
  • It is the thing that brings our friends and families together.
  • It is the thing that comforts us.
  • It is the thing that we can enjoy no matter how stressful life is. 
  • We enjoy ourselves when other people eat and enjoy eating. 

Food that tastes good and makes us feel satisfied is personal.

When you challenge someone’s food choices, they take it personal.

We are what we eat.

 


 

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39 Replies to “A Vegan at a Dinner Party”

  1. Derek says:

    A very interesting topic. I’m a meat eater, I have tried vegetarian food but it just didnt Jel with me. I love the way you described how you felt and how others would conceive you, spot on.

  2. Great content and great imagery, this really addresses some of the issues that vegans face in our society. I really enjoyed reading this!

  3. Melinda says:

    I was 32 when I went vegan for about a year. I remember the challenges of eating out when eliminating a certain food group. A decade later and I’m carnivore and pick out the vegetables when I’m served them, so I can really relate to this post. It is interesting how perspectives change in life.
    I’m glad you have this resource for people trying out veganism.

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Melinda great comment! Sounds like YOU need to write something about your vegan experience. I’m glad I have a good support like you.

  4. Patty says:

    I absolutely love this article. I love entertaining and hosting dinner parties, and I always make sure that I ask about food preferences when I call to invite, (I never use to).
    A close friend of mine turned vegan a few years back, kept turning down my invites and I asked her why. I felt really bad when she told me. Since then, I make sure I ask and always to cater to everyone’s food preference.
    I appreciate your honesty in this article, giving us a closer look what it’s like and how hard it can be.
    Thank you

  5. Kay Dee says:

    Thanks for this great story Dwyan, I totally feel your pain and frustration – I’m also vegan, and will be for life. The small sacrifice such as forgoing the banquet at a carnivore dinner party is worth the cruelty free lifestyle – I applaud you and wish you well in your endeavour.

    Also, vegan food is delicious. Since going vegan I’ve never eaten SO much delicious food – I never need, nor want, nor replace, nor miss out, I simply eat and cook with my head and heart in mind.

    All the best,

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Thanks Kay – you’re my new best friend. LOL. Great comment. Yes I think vegan food is delicious too!! All the best to you as well.

  6. Sue Marriott says:

    What a great read. Humorous and genuinely honest.

    I’m a veggie of 35 years and totally get where you are coming from. Even now people still perceive veggies/vegans as living on nutloaf and lettuce leaves yet there’s so much choice there now. I think in your shoes I probably would have to have let the host know just to save her any embarrassment. At least you did eat.

  7. Sarah says:

    What a great read! Although my diet isn’t heavy on meat in general, I’m not a vegetarian. I have given some serious thought to becoming a pescatarian though, I think that might be the way to go for me. 🙂 I especially loved the first image on your article, it’s beautiful!

  8. Jackie says:

    I feel your pain brother. I’ve not eaten red meat for almost 20 years, but did eat chicken and fish… until recently. My husband and I watched the documentary ‘what the health’ and that was it for us. We went total VEGAN the very next day. We’ve been moving in this direction for over a year, but now that we’ve made the final move and cleaned out our home of all animal products, it feels good. It will take some adjustment, but I’m not looking back. Meat and dairy are a thing of the past and I don’t think we’ll miss it.

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Hey Jackie, thanks for your comment. Congratulations on your move and I saw “what the health” also and its the kind of movie that can really have an impact. I have heard a few stories similar to yours. It’s especially good when you and your husband moved together at the same time, must have made things easier. Thanks again.

  9. Karissa says:

    This is an interesting take for sure, I loved your point of view and I understand having stringent dietary restrictions, it can make eating out hard. When going out or throwing a party I try really hard to ask ahead to make sure all dietary restrictions are covered so everyone has something to eat!

  10. Jill says:

    Hi Dwyan,
    What an interesting post. Thank you for the insightful way you explained about being a vegan. It is really important for the Hostess to ask about food preferences as it makes for a comfortable dinner party.
    As you say there is so much variety now for vegetarians and vegans which is a blessing.
    Years ago when a newly wed, I had a very embarrassing experience as I invited someone home for Sunday lunch after Church. His wife was in hospital and I couldn’t bear to think of him home alone. Well I had cooked pork which he couldn’t eat. Since then I always ask the important questions.

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Jill, thanks a lot for your comment. Sorry you had to learn that lesson the hard way! LOL. While I agree its probably best for the host or hostess inquire about the food preferences of their guests for dinner, it can also be challenging especially since a lot of people have allergies as well. It can become complicated. Thanks again.

  11. Hi Dwayn,
    I love the way you’ve written this post. You made me feel as though I was there with you. I wouldn’t know how to live without meat, but I think you handled the situation very well.
    I can’t relate, but I enjoyed reading what you had to say. I will definitely plan my dinner party food to include vegan dishes. I would’ve never thought about it without reading this.
    Thanks for putting me in your shoes.
    All the best, Devara

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Hi Devara – Great comment!! That’s exactly what I wanted to do – put people in my shoes. All the best to you.

  12. Tony says:

    I don’t think I could ever be vegan, but there isn’t anything wrong with being vegan. I have a lot of people in my life that are either vegan or vegetarians so it has always been around and those people usually operate without any extra attention but I can see where you are coming from and people just love to ask questions. Great article!

  13. Thanks for the read! I am vegan too and I am lucky to have friends that are more encouraged by my way fo eating than are against it but I have friends that have had similar struggles and it sounds exhausting trying to defend yourself all the time haha

  14. shirley says:

    I really liked reading your post-Dwyan. I admire your dedication and self-discipline to be able to eat vegan. I know I could not do that myself – I do not have the self-discipline even if I wanted to become a vegan. It was interesting how you prepared yourself to attend a dinner party. I learned from this to always make sure I serve a food that someone who is vegan can eat if I want to be a good hostess. Nice post. – Shirley

  15. Thabo says:

    I always face the same situation when I am invited to dinner party by people who eat all sorts of food.
    Since I focus more on a Mediterranean/vegan diet ( I eat vegan food but only add fish and chicken) I do tend to feel like I am the outcast, But i have learnt to adapt in these conditions because I learnt my health is my responsibility so pleasing other will never help me.
    Thank you for a great and relate-able article

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Thanks Thabo and you raise a good point about your health being your responsibility. And its not possible to please everyone!

  16. Philip says:

    Hi Dwyan,

    Personally, I have real trouble being in such intimate surroundings and being comfortable, feel like there is a spot light on me or something. Horrible.

    I tried hummus before and I didn’t like it. I may try it again and see if my taste buds have changed enough to tolerate it because I know its good for you.

    I went off of meat for a while and found the perfect substitute. Its a product that is called Quorn. Its a fungus but they shape it into burgers – guess what – it tastes just like meat! No one knows the difference if you served it to them they would 100% believe that was a beef burger. Great way to get someone you love onto that diet they just won’t take – just don’t tell them its a fungus, haha.

    It sounds like a lovely Dinner Party you went to Dwyan so perhaps I am missing out on such occasions. I think its great you are a vegan but unfortunately I slipped out of the habit of eating the Quorn, it just seemed to get more and more expensive every time I went to buy it. Things got too pricey here in Ireland for those kinds of ‘special’ foods so I refused to pay it anymore. Shame really.

    I am huge fan of growing my own food and something I would encourage all to do as there are no nutrients lost from garden to table.

    Thanks for your article as a vegan at a dinner party, I’d be a little fed up as well, if people were constantly asking me about my diet. Geezze already, LOL!

    – Philip.

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Hey Philip thanks for your comment. LOL. I tried Quorn for the first time about 4 weeks ago — it is really very much like a chicken nugget. I was surprised. I am not too fond of the meat substitutes but it definitely shows the popularity of such foods as well as the ingenuity that’s happening in this area. Being a vegan is really not expensive especially if you are cooking all your meals. Thanks again and all the best to you.

  17. brad says:

    I recently stayed with friends in which the husband, is vegan. They have a great system worked out so that both of them can enjoy a meal together. They cook together, but tend to keep food stuffs separate, so as not to contaminate each others meal. I was very surprised at how they do this in the kitchen together, but it seems to work for them. I never once questioned his food choices, nor did he question mine. It’s a personal choice and it is respected.

  18. Ruben says:

    Very interesting reading. I see now how important is to ask beforehand the preferences of your guests, for a dinner or reunión. You can make a friend of yours feel bad because he or she doesn´t fit, like with the food preferences or even activities that are common for the majority of us but not for a very few, be it for their beliefs or their lifestyle. Imagine you invite an alcoholic to a party where all the drinks contain alcohol. You need to try to have something for everyone, and that means that you must do some research on your future guests.

  19. Jenny says:

    I loved this story! I kept wondering what will happen next!
    To be honest, I’m the one who would have asked you why you are vegan. Even though I have felt how it is to be on the side where you’re asked to explain your life choices over and over again, sometimes I forget myself.
    I’m so glad you’ve had a nice dinner!
    Have a great day!

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