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May 10-16, 2006

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By Elisa Camahort

Last week, my carnivorous significant other (CSO) said, out of the blue, "We should have some parties this summer." I'm not sure what inspired him; it certainly couldn't have been the condition of our unkempt backyard after 40 days and 40 nights of rain. It made me consider, not for the first time, how vegetarians feed a crowd.

At home with just the CSO, this is a nonissue. If he wants meat, he buys it, cooks it and serves it. I have no problem with this, although I confess, if it's a particularly pungent meal, and there's a little too much lip-smacking going on, it makes me a little queasy. But what about when we have guests? Another example: I have three friends who are currently planning weddings. What if we had to plan such a large catered event?

When the carnivores of the world think about certain holiday meals (Thanksgiving, Easter, Passover, etc.), I'm well aware that certain foods are part of the tradition. When most people think about summer get-togethers, they probably think barbecue--and not barbecue portobello mushrooms.

Am I, however, obligated to prepare those foods? Or even serve those foods as prepared by someone else? I think I am not. When I host a potluck in my home, I am not offended if someone brings a meat dish. Most people don't, though, which I appreciate. But if I were paying for catering? No way my money is going to pay for meat.

I can accept that I will likely never host a family holiday meal. We'll get to a ripe old age, and my family will be well-used to my vegetarianism, but it will never mean that they'll want to come to my house for Thanksgiving tofu pot pie or Christmas veggie casserole.

But would they be able to accept if I threw some catered event and didn't provide any meat dishes? I actually don't know. I suppose it could be argued that my CSO would be partially paying for any such event, and that his portion could be allocated to the meat dishes. Luckily the CSO is very supportive of my vegetarianism, and I don't think he would consider such a solution necessary.

As for everyone else? I'm not so sure. I'll just hope they can deal, for one day, with an "alternative" meal plan.

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