The Vegan Wedding Guest: A No-Win Situation

Flower Basket Reverse Appliqué Quilt, ca. 1830-50. The Shelborne Museum, Shelborne, Vermont.

Flower Basket Reverse Appliqué Quilt, ca. 1830-50. The Shelborne Museum, Shelborne, Vermont.

Yesterday, I attended a wedding. And while this particular wedding was too big for anyone to confront me about the lack of food in front of me, I know from past experience that such confrontations usually turn into general aggression towards my veganism or into accusing me of being unappreciative of the buffet or demonstrative about my „ideology“ and just a general nuisance as a guest.

Vegan party guests have three options. But no matter which strategy they go for, they‘re judged.

Option 1: You could eat the non-vegan food. People have often told me to stop being so dogmatic, „suck it up,“ and eat the vegetarian options. I don‘t. Why would I? Non-vegans may think that the difference between vegetarian and vegan food is minimal, but to me, they‘re worlds apart. When I refuse to eat the vegetarian food, people are annoyed by my „inflexibility.“ I suspect that if I did eat the vegetarian food, they‘d glee about the slip-up and call me a phony vegan. Or maybe they would say: „See, what‘s the big deal?“

Option 2: You could bring your own food. My mom actually brought some vegan cake and salads with her to the wedding, just in case I wouldn‘t be able to find anything. I didn‘t end up needing them, but I can‘t imagine people would have appreciated my potluck for one. Had someone seen me get out my own slices of cake and tupperware of salads, they surely would have thought I was being demonstrative. That‘s the thing, people find the mere sight of a vegan eating vegan food demonstrative.

Option 3: You could attend the wedding with low culinary expectations, but the hope that there‘ll be enough to tide you over. This was my strategy yesterday. I ate a decent meal right before heading to the wedding. I skipped the cake buffet, which was entirely non-vegan. And for dinner I identified the foods that were almost certainly vegan (bread, grilled vegetables, fruit) and ate those. The wedding yesterday was too full of strangers for anyone to notice me disgustedly eyeing and then ignoring most of the buffet‘s bowls and platters. But if someone had, I know from experience that he would have called me unappreciative of the elaborate buffet and just a typical kill-joy, irritating vegan who can‘t even leave her ideology out of a wedding party.

Being a vegan guest is a no-win situation. Whatever you do, it‘s considered wrong. And this isn‘t surprising. After all, if people get aggressive towards vegans in everyday life, why wouldn‘t they at a special event, where a vegan‘s lack of choices makes her standout even more?

What‘s your survival strategy at non-vegan events?