I guess I'm still trying to figure out how to handle myself as an adult and deal with these basic human interactions. I recently read an article in the Vegetarian Times about how to deal with mixed lifestyles, and it advises to alert the host ahead of time and offer to bring a dish.
Seems simple enough, but when your host already knows that you are vegetarian and insists there will be plenty of food, what do you do when there's not? How do you enjoy yourself at a dinner party when your choices are one scoop of greasy macaroni and cheese, half a turkey carcass, and dessert? (I can tell you what not to do.) You can't fault the host, but maybe it would have been best to eat ahead of time. Certainly better than leaving early to grab food or getting tipsy from wine on an empty stomach. Yes, eat before the dinner party.
How about just meeting up with friends? So-and-so friend of a friend is going to choose a restaurant. You tell your friend that anything is okay as long as they have vegetarian options. No, actually, you tell your husband to ask his friend for the name of the restaurant so you can examine the menu ahead of time. Maybe even call them. Instead, he says not to worry about it (a line he uses on me multiple times a day). He tells me we can all discuss our options when we get there. We drive two hours to meet for dinner. Not only was everyone we were meeting still full from lunch, but the person choosing the restaurant didn't know -- hadn't been told -- that we needed a vegetarian option. And didn't give us a choice; we all went blindly along to the selected eatery. Thanks to cheese, the great meat substitute, I didn't go hungry, but that's the kind of thing I like to avoid whenever possible. Hey, if I'd followed the advice I'd learned the week before, I'd have eaten ahead of time and we could skipped the meal altogether.
Back to speaking of cheese, tonight I'm meeting some friends for dinner at a family-style Italian restaurant. I'm nervous. I have visions of cheese mountains (this is Cincinnati, after all) or fried eggplant. Am I being silly? I guess so. I just want to develop a way to deal with this so I can relax. When I read other vegan and vegetarian blogs, they seem to talk a lot about potlucks. Maybe that's the best direction for me, too.