Your Thoughts Thursday: Serving Non-Vegan Guests

August 12, 2010 by Keri

Ever since vegetarian Chelsea Clinton’s wedding, non-meat eaters serving their guests flesh has been a hot topic.  Many people, vegans included, have been claiming it’s rude to serve vegan food to your non-vegan guests, and the polite thing to do is slap down that steak for which they were really hoping.  The argument on the pro-meat-serving side is if a vegan went to a wedding they would expect to be accommodated, so the same should be done for omnivores.  The anti-meat-serving argument is no one would go to a Jewish wedding expecting pork chops or and Hindu wedding hoping for a steak.  So my questions is, should vegans feel obligated to serve non-vegan food at their wedding, party, or event?

  • Would you serve meat or serve vegan?
  • Would it bother you that, whether you’re eating it or not, lives are being ended in your honor?
  • Or do you think it’s one meal and no one is going to die without animal products?
  • Is it hypocritical for vegans to be serving people flesh?
  • Do your parents’ and family’s wishes matter?
  • What about if your soon-to-be spouse isn’t vegan?
  • As a vegan, do you even expect to be accommodated at an event?

(Feel free to copy and paste your answer from one of the 7,000 other blogs and sites asking these questions right now.)

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  1. Jennifer (It Ain't Meat Babe) says:

    Since my wedding only had the two of us involved this wasn’t an immediate issue 🙂 However, my mom is throwing us a post-elopement party which will be full of omnivores and one of my (very few) conditions was that the food be mostly vegan and all vegetarian. I don’t think it’s a big deal for people to go without meat for one night. And since both of us are vegetarian, it seems only right that a party celebrating our marriage would not have meat on offer!

  2. cleaninggirl says:

    I personally wouldn’t have meat at my own wedding or an event I am holding. My brother is getting married next year his partner and her family are all vegetarians but I do think they will be serving meat at their reception as many of the rest of both of our family’s are meat eaters from my side of the family I’m the only vegan and my aunt is a vegetarian on my brother’s partners side of the family it is only his partner and her parents who are vegeterian so they will be having meat.
    I wouldn’t have meat or dairy at my wedding there are many great meat substatutes as well as tons of non-meat meals available I even have my Dad who is a big meat eater eating less meat and he loves my vegan chocolate cake as well as my vegan peanut butter cookies since I went vegan a little over a year ago I have been encouraging them to make better choices with their foods we all use vegan marg as well as cutting down on the meat they eat.

  3. Sarah S. says:

    I’m in the very beginning stages of planning a vegan wedding 😉

  4. jalin says:

    A lot of vegetarians don’t believe in the way animals are raised/slaughtered… they would not want this to be part of their celebration and shouldn’t be obligated to serve meat.

    As a vegetarian, I had to recently ask a waiter at a wedding if I could substitute my plate (chicken) for a vegetarian meal.. luckily they had something for me, but it was not planned. I felt honored that I was included in the celebration but I did not expect to be accommodated and therefore had no complaints.

  5. Claire Gosse says:

    When people come to your home for dinner that aren’t vegan do you serve them meat? Probably not. So why would you serve meat at your wedding? I can understand if only one of you is vegan that you would serve both options, but if you are both vegan and don’t want to support the meat industry then you certainly shouldn’t feel obliged to serve meat to your guests. I just don’t get why is it such a big deal for meat eaters to go without their precious meat for one meal. If you have a good caterer then the food will be tasty no matter what is served.

  6. SporksorChopsticks says:

    Oh, this is a topic I could write a thesis on. There was an interesting article in the NYT on this subject last Sunday: .

    If I ever decided to get married I would hopefully marry someone who shared my same eating habits and commitment to this earth and(human and non-human) animals and it wouldn’t be an issue. I would serve only vegan food since the wedding is really about the couple getting married. However, if I happen to fall in love with and decide to walk down the aisle with a non-vegan than I maybe (and that is a very minuscule maybe) consider serving non vegan items. This is only because relationships are a compromise (including the wedding day). However, I don’t really see myself marrying a non-vegan that would feel it was absolutely necessary to serve meat at our wedding (obviously not open-minded enough for me).

    I think I would love to use my wedding as a platform to show omnivores out there that vegan food can be ethereally delicious and amazing beautiful to look at.

    And as for non vegans getting huffy at vegan only weddings (dietary restrictions aside but I don’t see a lot of people who are walking around with dietary restrictioning vegan food), it is NOT about them, it is about the couple, so get over yourself.

    My humble $0.02

  7. Bess @ I Dream of Greenie says:

    I have pretty strong thoughts on this. The idea of a couple forking out money at THEIR event in order to serve food that violates their core belief systems is ludicrous!

    Plus this is a great opportunity for us to dispel myths that all we eat is bland food.

    It’s one day people. If you can’t go that long without meat, then I probably wouldn’t want you at my wedding.

  8. veganistmum says:

    my day, my way. well thats my motto anyways 🙂

  9. kate says:

    i would definitely not serve meat (or dairy) at my wedding. but then, i don’t expect people to accomodate me at their weddings. i love cooking. and i love having dinner parties and inviting non-vegans, because they’re always pleasantly surprised by how much they like the food i cook, and how little they miss the meat.

  10. nina says:

    I think it is so crazy that people are making a big fuss out of this. Seriously these anti-vegan people act as if they are starving to death or something by eating one meal without animal products. First of all, it is a wedding and it is about the love between the bride and groom, not what everyone else feels they need to eat. I have NEVER been to a wedding where my vegan needs were catered to. I never expected it either. I think it is such a reflection of what a spoiled, indignant nation we are that people want CERTAIN foods at someone elses wedding. I mean, this is REALLY a concern? Don’t people have better things to worry about? Yeesh!

  11. Christina says:

    I’m lacto-vegetarian (very, very little dairy) and I’m moving back to veganism for a lot of reasons that I won’t go into (switching back to a lacto-diet was such a huge mistake). I wanted my graduation party in May to be completely vegetarian – I thought I deserved to call the shots after 4 years of hard work! At first my mom (a recent veggie convert) said okay, but then said we “had” to accommodate the omnis. I still don’t really get…but I told her I wasn’t going to help prepare anything that wasn’t vegetarian because I don’t enjoy handling hunks of dead animal and don’t agree with the meat-eating obsession our country has! In the end, having that Italian Beef was a total waste because we had so many other fantastic veggie options (including two cheese-less pizzas!) that people didn’t scramble for the beef.

    As for whether or not I expect to be accommodated…I guess not. My family does make sure there are dishes I can eat (meat and egg free), but they only started that after my mom became veggie, and they almost never prepare vegan options. After the Thanksgiving debacle (I ended up with vegan stuffing that I’d brought from home and frozen vegetables from the bottom of my aunt’s freezer because someone HAD to put prosciutto in the green beans, blech) I ask in advance what we’re having, and make sure to bring a dish I can eat (and share!). I know my family loves me, but they don’t love how I choose to live my life food-wise. Instead, I try to work around how weird they think I am and I provide healthy and flavorful options at meals.

    And at my wedding they’ll have no choice…vegetarian/vegan all the way on MY day, hubby willing 🙂

  12. Kelsey says:

    It would have been a great opportunity to serve amazing vegetarian food and show everyone “hey, this isn’t bad”

  13. Michelle says:

    It’s interesting that I stumbled across this article today because I’m in the middle of this exact situation right now! My fiance and I are both vegetarian, and eat dairy/eggs very rarely. We’ve been planning on a vegetarian wedding from the beginning, but we’re still debating over whether to make it completely vegan. I’d love for our wedding to be vegan, but since neither of us are actually vegan my fiance thinks that’s like pushing views on people that we don’t even follow ourselves. I just think that I try my absolute hardest to not eat any animal products (I hardly ever actually buy them myself) and despite my own failings at cutting out animal products completely in my personal life, it’s still not something I really want to support. We actually just decided we’re having a teacher of ours cater, and she’s an AMAZING cook and totally willing to do vegan, so I think we’re going to go with it since we know the food’s going to be delicious!

    Other than that debate…we’ve gotten a few sly comments about the meals at our wedding being veggie, but for the most part, people have been supportive and really not at all surprised that we’re doing this. After all, it’s our wedding; why should we have to pay hundreds of dollars to an industry we don’t support?

    I never understood the argument that, “If you came to my non-vegetarian wedding I would accommodate you, so you should accommodate the fact that I eat meat.” If someone was gluten-free, allergic to something, or had some similar issue, I would of course accommodate, because I wouldn’t want them to go hungry. But I’m pretty sure none of us have any friends or family members who absolutely REQUIRE meet in their diet at every single meal, or they’ll get sick. That would be ridiculous. I actually get pretty fed up when people take this sort of stance. It’s one night, it’s my night and it’s my husband’s night, and if we don’t want to serve flesh at our wedding, I think everyone else should be able to live with that for one night.

    And like the person above me said, maybe it’ll show people that veggie food is food too! Our friend who is catering is seriously incredible, so hopefully no one will miss the meat 🙂

  14. VegMuffinMan says:

    A vegan wedding should, in my opinion, accommodate the couple. It is their special day and therefore if they are vegan, they should be able to eat what they are serving. Instead, i would simply add vegan dishes that even the most carnivorous of family and friends can enjoy such as some of that tease-cake. MMnnnnn. Or one of the cookies from my website.

    -Andrew “VegMuffinMan” Morrison-

    Vegan bride & groom health freax unite!!!

  15. Tiffany says:

    I definitely agree with most of what everyone else has already said. It’s about the bride and groom and what they want. I can’t understand people getting pissy over having ONE meal that doesn’t have meat in it. There’s no reason to freak out over it. Likewise, I wouldn’t expect anyone at their own wedding to accommodate ME for being vegan, so there you go.

  16. vegmom says:

    Interesting… And NO, now that my Hubby is Veg too, we are a meat free house.
    So any event here would not have meat. And any event I paid for elsewhere would not have meat.

    When he wasn’t veg, I’d have had to do a 50/50 thing though, as long as I wasn’t cooking it.

  17. R says:

    I think a couple should do what they feel comfortable with. Just because someone eats meat doesn’t mean they have to eat meat (or dairy, or eggs) at every single meal. I eat fruit with most meals, but if I went to a wedding and wasn’t served fruit I wouldn’t feel disgruntled.

    As for people accommodating me (I’m a vegetarian), I don’t expect it, but I do really appreciate it. I will say, every year I attend a formal ball for my significant other’s work, and the years I there hasn’t been a vegetarian option, it has been very awkward to sit there while everyone else eats, but I deal with it. Also, I once attended a wedding where I was told by the bride that there would be a vegetarian option, then when I arrived at the reception there wasn’t. I did think that was somewhat rude, because, had I not been specifically told I would be accommodated, I would have made other arrangements, such as eating before hand or having a nutrition bar I could slip away and eat discretely.

  18. Jenny says:

    Interesting topic. I did have meat at my wedding, but that was 13 years ago. I had only been a vegan for a few years and didn’t have as strong of feelings about it. And my husband wasn’t a vegetarian then (he is now!). If I was getting married right now, there is no way I would have meat at my wedding. It would be my day, and I would expect people to respect. Just like I expect people to respect that my home is a meat-free zone. I DID have a vegan wedding cake (because why would I have had a wedding cake I couldn’t eat?). I don’t expect to be accomodated at a wedding – it rarely happens, but it HAS happened, sometimes from people I least expect. I think it’s crazy, though, to compare meat eaters not having anything to eat – of COURSE, they can eat everything there. I guess it would be kind of rude to make every dish overt, consisting of tofu or whatever. I think they could survive, though. 🙂 I wouldn’t judge a vegan who served meat at his/her wedding, though. There are just different comfort levels.

  19. Michelle says:

    Great discussion here! I think that since it is the bride and groom’s day and it’s their money (or their parent’s), they should be able to serve whatever they want! If they want to serve only bacon, so be it. Only kale? So be it! No guest should be offended if they can’t eat or don’t enjoy the one meal.