Vegetarian Etiquette

With an estimated 6 to 8 million American adults following a vegetarian-based diet, chances are you know several people who don’t eat meat. But what happens when you don’t know an invited dinner guest is vegetarian? There are steps hosts and vegetarians can take to prevent awkward situations.


Don’t be disappointed. It is not a statement about you or your cooking when a vegetarian passes on the meat. Being vegetarian is a lifestyle chosen for health, religious or ethical reasons. Honor your guests commitment to being vegetarian and don’t take is personally.

You can be proactive by asking new friends about their food preferences when an invitation is extended. This not only helps you identify vegetarians, but also any food allergies an invitee may have.

Once you are aware of a vegetarian guest, you don’t have to cancel you plans to serve meat. Just make sure to serve a couple of side dishes that are vegetarian. If you choose to eliminate meat from the menu, there are a lot of ways to use protein substitutes in your favorite recipes. Vegetarian Cuisine

Here are some quick and easy vegetarian recipes.

Cooking Light: Quick and Easy Vegetarian Recipes

Real Simple: 41 Easy Vegetarian Recipes

Pita bread with a variety of hummus is a great vegetarian option.


Etiquette experts offer a variety of suggestions to vegetarians when it comes to accepting dinner invitations. A common thread is to let the host know you are vegetarian when you accept the invitation. It is suggested to take it one step further and offer to bring a vegetarian dish to the party, or make is clear you are happy eating side dishes. This takes the pressure off the host to try and prepare something special.

If you arrive at a party without the host knowing you are vegetarian, politely say “no thank you” to the meat but emphasize how delicious the rest of the meal is and a how much you enjoy the good company.


On the flip side

If you are a vegetarian planning a dinner party, let the guests know ahead of time they will be getting a tasty vegetarian meal. Just as you may suggest brining a vegetarian dish to a party, allow your guests to offer a meat dish as well.

Serendipity's Cherry Tomato Caprese Bites are great vegetarian-friendly appetizers.

Working with a caterer

Serendipity strives to accommodate all guests at your party, including vegetarians. When working with us, let us know in advance that you have vegetarian guests and we will ensure they are well fed.

Serendipity has a collection of savory vegetarian options that even meat lovers relish!


When in doubt

There are hundreds of resources available to answer vegetarian etiquette questions. Here are a few to check out. You can also consult with a Serendipity event coordinator. All of our coordinators are experienced with vegetarian menus and would be happy to help you plan your event.

Vegetarian Times: You Eat What?

The Kitchen: Vegetarian Etiquette


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