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Ask a SuperVegan: Julia Child Potluck

(The first in a possibly ongoing series, in which we give advice in response to reader mail.)

Dear SuperVegan,

A friend of mine is throwing a party this Saturday night that is sort of a movie screening/Julia Child potluck. Everyone will go watch “Julie and Julia” together, then return to my friend’s house to eat dishes everyone has prepared from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” I am the only vegan in this circle of friends, and the thought of this particular pot luck horrified me. I generally don’t have a problem with people eating meat and dairy around me but the idea of getting together to celebrate the use of meat and dairy in food does not sit well with me. I declined the invitation. In fact, I half-jokingly suggested that I would show up in a cow costume (not my normal party attire). But did I do the right thing? These people are good friends, despite their meat lust. I don’t want them to think I’m angry at them, though I am somewhat disgusted by the focus of the get together. Should I have just sucked it up and sought out a veganizable recipe to make?

Please help,
Not Wanting To Use Butter Or Cream

Dear NWTUBOC,

Bottom line top: If you are at all concerned that you’ve given your friends an angry impression when you are not, you should communicate this to them post haste! Nip! Bud!

Let’s assume that you declined the invitation gracefully — the cow costume joke is funny, and that these people, being your good friends, are understanding of you and your special needs eating.

Why would you attend something you have had an oracle-style vision of and know you will be miserable at? You’re under no obligation to be there and you wouldn’t be doing anyone any favors. Nobody wants a disgusted and hungry guest at their dinner party. If you really feel this way, then no, you shouldn’t go, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s why there’s a ‘yes’ AND a ‘no’ option on an RSVP card.

That said, I seriously doubt your friends are purposefully celebrating the use of dairy and meat. That would be weird. I’m betting their aim is more along the lines of: hey, let’s have a fun dinner party. Sometimes people need excuses to do things, and Julie, Julia, and the art of French cooking, all worthy causes, are theirs. Julia Child was an ah-mazing woman and French food has a thing or two on lots of other country’s cuisines (looking at you, UK). The dairy and meat part of this equation are innocent by-standers that most people (your friends included) don’t consider one way or the other, at all, ever. Don’t over-think it, NWTUBOC. Every party these friends have ever thrown has been a celebration of dairy and meat. Every meal most people eat is a celebration of dairy and meat. What’s the difference this Saturday, really? Why not be a Super Vegan about it and view it as a personal challenge to make a dish equally as delicious, if not more so, as the carnivores? Further the art of meatless technologies! What a perfect way to promote our cause and dispel myths about bad vegan food! The point of Julia and that cookbook is to make things that are foodgasmic, and you and I both know that can be done without animal sacrifice. And how much of a dark-horsemeat hero would you be if you made the night’s most popular dish with said handicap? Or, if you really can’t stand in the middle of a pet plate cemetery, just send a dish over with a note that says ‘sorry I couldn’t be there, hope you have a blast!’ There’ll be no hard feelings and you won’t get a bad rap.

Bottom line bottom: Vegans almost never go to parties for the food. We go for the company. I think that actually makes us better guests as our intentions are pure and people appreciate that. Have you ever seen those ladies who don’t say a word they’re so busy stuffing face and extra helpings in their purses? Bad form.

Signed,
A SuperVegan

4 Comments

  1. Comment by

    Kim

    on #

    I would imagine that all people who are following diets that are outside of the norm must deal with similar issues frequently. Someone should write an article about vegan etiquette or some such thing. Personally, I would have taken up the challenge and transformed some of Julia Child’s recipes into vegan delights. (I just fell in love with the frog to my left.)

  2. Comment by

    CarrieM213

    on #

    This post is quite timely for me, as I’m confronting a similar issue. My friends are planning a “crab fest” wherein they will procure lots of live crab and shrimp, etc., and boil them and eat them. Now, these are good friends and I very much enjoy hanging out with them, and this should be a lovely afternoon party in a backyard. I know they will provide veg options, as they are considerate. (Plus, I can bring my own.) But as a vegan, I feel particularly uncomfortable with the idea of purchasing an animal to take its life and consume it. I try not to be a “militant” vegan, whatever that means, but I also want to share the message of nonviolence, and especially to stand up for what I believe in.

    So, I think I’m going to respectfully decline this invitation. I worry that if I’m there I will be seen as a stick in the mud, ruining their fun by reminding them of what it is they are doing (even though I think they SHOULD be reminded).

    The question, I guess, is: Is it better to suck it up and go, even if I disagree with the activity, or to quiety bow out, or to use this as an opportunity to open their eyes?

  3. Comment by

    missteenbuffalo

    on #

    CarrieM213, seeing as hindsight is 20/20 and other such sayings, I’ve asked NWTUBOC to reply to your comment on here, and give you some advice!

  4. Comment by

    NWTUBOC

    on #

    Hi CarrieM213,
    In the end, I decided that I was not going to be comfortable enough at the “Julie and Julia” party to be enjoy my time there. I didn’t want to be in the middle of this particular “pet plate cemetary.” After all, they served a roasted duck, the thought of which brings to mind the Christmas dinner scene in “A Christmas Story”. And having grown up along the Chesapeake Bay I have witnessed many a crab feast. It’s not pretty and I think many omnivores find it moderately disgusting–smashing crabs with a small mallet and ripping them apart–if not immoral.

    So I would say bow out gracefully, as I tried to do. But do not worry about trying to “open their eyes.” Some will likely take notice of your absence and in their own mind make the connection. In my case, in the week following the party someone from that group proposed a happy hour at a vegetarian restaurant and bar that I previously turned these omnivores on to. (You could propose an all veg event.) The two “J&J” party hostesses made sure to come. Of course, it doesn’t mean that they are giving up their meat eating ways. But I do consider it a small victory any time omnivores seek out vegetarian and vegan delicacies.

    Bonne chance!

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