Vege Patch: How to handle being ‘that’ guy


James Walker
THERE’S always at least one of them at a wedding. No, not the embarrassingly drunk uncle. I mean the person who isn’t choosing the chicken or the fish.

I had a friend’s wedding on the weekend at a great venue, with lots of good food and good times and it got me thinking about how the majority of weddings I’ve attended have been since I’ve stopped eating meat.

My problem is – and has always been – that I don’t like making undue trouble for people.

James is one of FFPress’ contributors. You can meet the rest of the team [here].

I worry every time a wedding rolls around that I’m putting the bride and groom out. As far as I’m aware though this isn’t the case: from what I understand through talking with my married friends, most venues or caterers will have a mains package that includes two “normal people” meals (thanks, Glen) and a vego option, all at the same cost.

Entrees will usually be vegetarian to avoid being too heavy before the main.

All this is comforting, but I still worry that in other cases the added option will make it more expensive for the bridal party. I guess it really depends who they go with.

I feel old saying this, but I’ve been to at least six wedding receptions in the past two years or so – it seems to be that time for my friends – and, obviously, each one has been different.

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Twice cooked caramelised onion and spinach soufflé, eggplant relish, saffron sauce.

Twice cooked caramelised onion and spinach soufflé, eggplant relish, saffron sauce.

The most recent one was a lavish affair; the menu full of words such as “blackened”, “opulent” and “twice-cooked”, the entrée involving a saffron sauce and my dish of baked gnocchi, wild mushroom ragout and taleggio even coming with truffle. Truffle. How could you say no to that?

One wedding had a delicious buffet, which was perfect for me as a big eater, with loads of salads and vegetables and crusty bread rolls and vego lasagne.

Another wedding included a mouth-watering tofu dish, which the photographer refused to include in her photographs because it wasn’t meat.

Baked gnocchi, wild mushroom ragout, taleggio & truffle.

Baked gnocchi, wild mushroom ragout, taleggio & truffle.

Probably the most memorable one had plates full of steamed vegetables and salads brought out first for each table; we all joked that this was just for me, and after a while it appeared to be the case until my plate came out half way through everyone else’s meals.

This might be the fear for new vegos, that caterers assume you’re good just eating the sides. Me? I’d be okay with that, a little bit out of not wanting to be difficult, but more that I just love vegetables and salad.

Most of the time it seems that the menus will only display two options, meat or fish, with the hidden third option being registered for you when you RSVP.

So I’m “that guy” now – at weddings, parties, and on planes – the one who gets the different option. I choose to see it as being the one who knows there’s the hidden meal, like it’s an achievement in a video game that you have to perform certain tasks to unlock.

Which, in a sense, is entirely accurate: avoid certain foods that are thrown at you along your quest and you gain the knowledge that there is a whole world of different meals out there. In most cases it’s true, you just have to ask.

Either way, I am still forever grateful for RSVP cards when I see that little section down the bottom for dietary requirements. I’m just glad I’m not on a low carb diet, gluten intolerant or have a nut allergy.

Really, all you can do is just go and enjoy yourself and don’t worry about it in the slightest. Making the event a fun time is the least you can do to say “thank you”.

Have you ever felt guilty for your “dietary requirements” at weddings, public occasions and the like?

– – –

A sneaky tip I’ve found (if you’re impatient like me, that is) is that choosing the vego meal is a benefit when flying.

If you register your preference in advance when booking your ticket they usually won’t run out of it, which occasionally happens for other meals and it’s usually more exciting than just the dry meat and steamed, limp vegetables.

The main plus, the big one, is that it comes out first. If you’re like me you’ll always find yourself at the end of the dinner service, no matter where you’re sitting, but now there’s no waiting for half an hour while everyone finishes their food; the carts will still be getting refilled and coming out while I’m finishing up the last of my rich, delicious tomato and roast vegetable risoni – yep, I’m that guy.

– – –

I might not be the drunk uncle at the wedding, but I do enjoy a drink or two, which would be made a whole lot harder if I was vegan.

Beer not as much, as a lot of beers are vegan by default, but cider and wine definitely, as many ciders are fined with gelatine and a lot of wines have milk proteins and isinglass in them, a product made from fish bladders that is used in the clarification process.

While I’m not vegan and will quite happily drink most things put in front of me (except for champagne for some reason), a handy website for vegans who enjoy a tipple is Barnivore. This features an extensive list of beers, wines, ciders and spirits, listed by the manufacturer and denotes which ones contain animal products and which ones don’t.

9 thoughts on “Vege Patch: How to handle being ‘that’ guy

  1. Great description on how it feels to be “that guy”, or in my case “that girl” at an event that involves food. I have been a vego loving lady for at least 6 years now and have struggled with the feeling that your putting the party out both financially and effort/time wise because of your diet choice. Thank fully majority of people I dine with support my choice and don’t belittle it just because the doctor wasn’t the one that told me that I cant eat that meat!

  2. Hi Hayley, thanks for reading. You’ve been doing it for a lot longer than I have – any particularly memorable experiences being ‘that’ person?

    • Not a particular memorable moment more multiple experiences. However I am more of a pescatarian as I do eat pretty much anything from the sea so it is easier for me to avoided many situations. Here’s a few repeat experiences/lessons:

      learning to alert people of your eating habits before attending a dinner for the first time to avoid eating the bread and greens all night or causing adverse embarrassment/stress for the host.

      Becoming the person everyone stares at in a “sharing food out” situation when you ask what dish is vegetarian or non-meant and then getting really good at explaining your reasons for not eating meat in a fast, short and sharp manner to new friends or complete strangers.

  3. I’m what I call myself a “high vegan” – that is I eat a high vegan diet but I’m not strict on it.
    I eat primarily for health and I think a vego diet overall is far healthier (when eating more of the unprocessed stuff) than eating a diet including meat and a heap of animal products.
    I’m fine eating a bit of cheese/egg/milk in a meal on occasion, which makes things sooo much easier eating out – opting for a vego meal if vegan options are non-existent.

    I’m not a big drinker anyway, but again same thing – I wouldn’t mind drinking wine even though it’s not vegan.

    It’d be tough being a strict vegan at functions… Capital “THAT guy”

  4. Hi again GingerNinja: my girlfriend is absolutely okay with everything – she’s amazing and really supportive. Also it means that she doesn’t have to share everything – excellent bonus!

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