For other Teen FAQs, visit: http://www.vrg.org/teen/
I’m going to a banquet for the soccer team and I’m the only vegetarian on the team. How do I let the caterer know that I’ll need something different to eat?
The earlier you contact the catering company, the more likely it is that they’ll be able to work with you. You can call or email them. Start by explaining what you do and don’t eat, in case they have a different idea of what “vegetarian” means than you do. Next, ask what they’re planning to serve to the rest of the team. How could the caterer adapt the meal to fit your diet? On pasta, maybe they could replace the meat sauce with marinara, or if they’re serving hamburgers, perhaps you could get a veggie burger instead. As back-up, have a few simple vegetarian meals in mind: a hummus wrap, bean burrito, or vegetable and tofu stir-fry, for example. When you get to the banquet, introduce yourself to the caterer and remind him or her about what you’ve arranged. Lastly, remember to be polite and gracious throughout your communication. Not only is the catering company (hopefully) going out of their way to accommodate your food choices, but also, if they have a positive experience with you, they’ll be happy to work with other vegetarians in the future.
I’m traveling to Washington DC with my class. I’m not sure how the food thing will work.
Luckily, in a city like DC, you’ll probably have a lot of options, and most people will be familiar with vegetarianism and veganism. If you start by asking a trip leader what the food plan is for the rest of the class, you’ll be able to plan ahead for any alternatives you might need. Will the class be stopping for fast food on the way there? Check out VRG’s Vegetarian Menu Items at Restaurant and Quick Service Chains (you can see excerpts here), or try an online guide such as Vegan Eating Out. Will you be packing meals for the day? See if a vegetarian option such as peanut butter and jelly, hummus wraps, or vegetarian deli slices can be available. Will you eat at any restaurants once you’re in Washington? Maybe you can suggest a few veg-friendly places to your trip leader-try VRG’s restaurant guide. Happy Cow is another popular guide. Many metropolitan areas, including Washington DC have vegetarian organizations (The Vegetarian Society of DC) and location-specific guides (VegDC) that may have even more ideas. If the restaurants have already been chosen and you’re worried about your options, look at the menus ahead of time and contact the restaurants with your questions. Will your class be going to any catered events? See if you can discuss your situation with the caterer before you leave. Lastly, it can’t hurt to pack a few snacks in case something doesn’t work out. Try bringing trail mix, peanut butter crackers, granola bars, or prepared microwavable meals. If you find out as much as you can ahead of time and have a plan, the food thing shouldn’t be much of a problem at all.
by Sarah Alper, a VRG volunteer and lifelong vegan