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I don't want to be rude...need advice please

I don't want to be rude...need advice please

Old Apr 24th, 2002, 10:01 PM
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I don't want to be rude...need advice please

We're visiting an old friend in Europe whom I haven't seen for more than 10 years. We are suppose to stay for approx. 4 nights (Switzerland). I just found out that since I last saw her, she and her husband have become "ardent" vegetarians. I'm at a loss since my husband and I are anything but...
My husband things it will work out that we can take them out to dinner a couple of nights and they'll order what they want and we can order what we want. I feel that this might not be too polite to be chomping on a side of beef sitting across from 2 vegetarians. This wouldn't be a problem at all if it were just 1 night, but 4 nights....what should we do? I don't really have much experience with vegetarian friends here in the USA and I don't want to be rude. Should we just consider staying in a hotel? If you've had any experience with such a situation, I'd love to hear from you. They are so gracious to invite us into their home and I really don't want to do the wrong thing. Not even sure what an "ardent vegetarian is...?? no cheese, no eggs, no fish etc.??? Thanks! Mary
Old Apr 24th, 2002, 11:34 PM
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Can't help you with the "ardent" part of your question, but why not just ask them ? This is not a topic that's considered as taboo in Switzerland. Do you really think you wouldn't survive on 4 nights of vegetarian food ? as one of my favourite British authors, Terry Pratchett, character says: "you can very well survive on health food, provided you have had a good lunch beforehand" ("Good Omens") ;-)
Old Apr 24th, 2002, 11:58 PM
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I'm a vegetarian and certainly wouldn't want to serve guests meat. I've been veggie from a child and the idea of going into a butcher's shop turns my stomach. The smell is revolting.
I'd just be gracious and enjoy what your friends give you. Some vegetarian dishes are delicious.
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 12:20 AM
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I'm a vegetarian and wouldn't fix meat dishes for guests, but if they want to eat meat when we go out, that's fine with me. If it's that important, just dine out every night or bring home takeout.
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 12:59 AM
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I'm not sure what ardent vegetarians are ... but vegans (to my knowledge) are vegetarians that don't take animal products like eggs, cheese etc .. (correct me if I'm wrong)

Will you be with them every hour of those four days? I'm sure you could easily grab your lunch and other meals outside and then sit down to a pleasant vegetarian meal - vegetarian meals can be quite nice (example vegetarian lasagne with aubergines, pasta). This would give you a view into another way of life

In any case you could always grab pre-dinner somewhere, if you find that vegetarian meals aren't as filling.
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 03:45 AM
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I think a lot depends on whether "ardent" means that they are strict with themselves, vs means that they're evangelists about it. You'll probably get a strong sense of which version it is, afer your first meal with them!

It's really impossible for the rest of us to guess how your friends will feel, you should just ask them. Some vegetarians I know are so repulsed by meat that they can't stand the sight or thought of it (my daughter wanted me to keep the meat in a separate part of the fridge, yet married an enthusiastic carnivore).

IMHO it would be presumptuous of them to expect you not to order meat in a restaurant because of their beliefs. One possible compromise would be for you to order meat that isn't quite so gross to vegetarians. The vegetarians I know seem to find that meat that's already cut up and/or mixed in something, like stews, cutlets, etc., seems less repulsive than things with bones or a big slab of prime rib.
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 03:52 AM
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I'd say nothing and just eat what's put before me. Is it really worth risking a friendship for the sake of your stomach.
Four days of vegetarian fare isn't going to kill you.
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 04:11 AM
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Mary, I think you need more information from your hosts. There is nothing rude about expressing that you would like to take them out to dinner and asking them if they would be offended if you ordered meat.

I'm guessing they'll say "No problem." Even if they would be offended (thus at least settling that issue), you can ask your other questions, too. You can very politely ask them what type of vegetarians are they?...Do they eat dairy and eggs or are those out too?

Quite frankly, it would not be hard to be a vegetarian who ate cheese and milk in Switzerland because there are so many great cheeses. One of the Swiss national dishes, raclette, is mainly cheese. Conversely, it would be hard to do without dairy (think about all that chocolate they'd be missing).

Some vegetarians, by the way, are willing to eat fish.

Although we as a family certainly eat meat, when in Switzerland, our idea of a well-balanced diet became cheese, bread and chocolate. So I don't think you will be suffering!
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 04:25 AM
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So if I'm a staunch conservative Republican, but visiting my liberal Democratic friends, I am supposed to just sit there and "survive" listening to their rantings? If they were polite hosts, they wouldn't impose their "political" beliefs on me. The same is true of their "dietary" beliefs. If they are gracious hosts they shouldn't expect me to alter my personal habits and lifestyle to match theirs.
I think you need to be upfront with them. After all your vacation is a time for you to relax and enjoy, not suffer through the personal wishes of friends. Support them in their decision to become vegetarians, but make it clear to them you would enjoy meat even if it means going out to enjoy it.
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 04:38 AM
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Whoa, xxx, I think you're confusing the issue! The polite thing to do , which I think Mary wants, is for neither party to impose their wishes on the other. But I think that extends to not expecting your vegetarian hosts to provide meat for you. Mary will have to ask her hosts just exactly how ardent they are.
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 04:42 AM
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Another consideration is WHY they are vegetarians. If it's for health reasons, then they're less likely to be offended by meat eaters than if it's for ethical or esthetic reasons.

You might be surprised at how satisfying vegetarian food can be. Why not just go along with it for the meals you have with them, it won't hurt you and you might even learn something new. For sure, you should not expect to have meat in their house, whether served by them or takeout.
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 05:00 AM
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If you didn't know they were vegetarians, you might not even notice when you sit down to dinner. Many popular dishes are (or can be) secretly vegetarian (Pizza, Lasagna, Pad Thai, Hummus, burritos, Eggplant Parmesan, grilled cheese sandwiches)

I often lunch with a group of young mountain-bike guys and I've learned that if I just don't mention that the restaurant is vegetarian, they happily consume their bean burritos or spaghetti w/ marinara. But if they find out in advance, they will hold their noses and refuse to go.

Now, if your friends are *vegan* (no eggs, no cheese), that's a little tougher. You may be eating Tofu. No offense, but unless you are one of those few lucky people who couldn't stand to drop a few pounds, it might do you good. Think of it as a spa vacation!! HAVE FUN!
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 05:59 AM
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Suggest you take your own animals over to slaughter and cook yourself. That way your veggie friends can't possibly be offended.
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 07:07 AM
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Thanks guys. I do feel much better and will ask questions. Eating as a vegetarian for a couple of days will be fine and hopefully, we can go out at least one night. We will be with them 24/7 most likely since we don't have our own transportation. It will all work out fine....I hope they eat chocolate and cheese...yummmm! Thanks, Mary
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 07:13 AM
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I don't want to sound like an etiquette manual but these people have kindly asked you to their house. You will be their guest. If the bed has springs sticking out of it and their dog barks all night, when they ask you how you slept you say, "Like a log, thank you".
If they set before you a meal of witchety grubs and sheeps' eyeballs you eat it up and tell them how delicious it is.
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 10:50 AM
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There's a difference between politness and hypocracy.

I wouldn't consider as "friends" people to whom I couldn't tell I don't like sheep's eyeballs. I would expect my friends to tell me that my dog barked all night long...
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 11:08 AM
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Vegetarians suck. Charred flesh rules!
Old Apr 25th, 2002, 08:27 PM
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All my best buddies at work are vegetarian mostly by spiritual reasons. I am having lunch with them for >2 years now and never had a problem. It is easy in NYC, where most places will always have both vegetarian and non-vegetarian choices. As for more vegetarian-oriented places, they problem that they do not prepare meat good enough. Once I ordered a lamb chops in such a place, and order their special vegetarian platter ever since - tastes much better.
As for staying in your friends house, you cannot really expect them to serve you meat. They should not try to convert you into vegetarian, but if your hosts were religious jews, you would not expect them to serve you pork.
You can have a vegetarian for breakfast and dine out. If you will have one dinner at their house, you cann forego meat for one night, you might not even notice, if food is good enough. Anyway, people used to stay away from meat every Friday and had fast few times an year. Really not a big deal.
Old May 3rd, 2002, 08:54 AM
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I have vegetarian friends - they know other people eat meat, they are not shocked by this. We eat meat in front of them, we just don't serve it to them and they are fine with that. I'm sure your friends would love it if you took them out to dinner. Order as you usually would and so will they.
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