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V is for Vegetarians & Vegans

Posted on by Beyond Bespoke

A-Z of British Etiquette 

It is the guests’ responsibility upon accepting a host’s invitation to draw attention to any of their dietary requirements. Experienced hosts may just wish to check with those who haven’t been invited to their casa before that the guest doesn’t have any life-threatening allergies just to be on the safe side and to stop the impending drama that comes with a guest who suddenly says they are a vegetarian, rendering your osso bucco useless.

Whilst you may be tempted to smack that guest when they pathetically say, “oh, did I not say I was vegan?” it is better practice to walk calmly into the kitchen, grab the counter, breathe deeply a few times, and then go to your freezer to produce something vegan-friendly that can be heated through quickly. Great hosts will have learned their lessons in the past from being faced with having nothing to give the surprise vegan and so will always be stocked with something suitable. And then mild terror will take hold when they realise the sofa the guests are later going to be sitting on for coffee is real leather.

Once in a blue moon when your luck is really down you get a guest who is gluten intolerant, vegan, allergic to nuts, oh, of course, allergic to eggs and, just for good measure, lactose intolerant. This is what hosts refer to as DEFCON. There is an easy solution that will help save time and tears for hosts who realise they have perhaps the world’s worst dinner guest coming – just ask them what they can eat. Yes, you could spend hours fretting, but wouldn’t it just be easier to ask them what you can prepare, saying you do really want to produce something they can consume?

William Hanson is the Etiquette and Protocol Consultant for The English Manner. He works with VIP households, diplomats, businessmen, schools and colleges and has advised multinational brands. He is regularly asked by global media to comment on modern manners and social mores.

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