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Special Diet Parties

Fact: I like parties.  

People often ask how I deal with being the only vegan at a party: What do I eat? Do I make special arrangements ahead of time? And how do I react when someone brings up the topic?

I know many of you also eat “differently” than your friends and family—whether it be due to necessity (such as allergies) or choice. Hopefully this post will help some of you as well.

Social Gatherings: Dealing with being Different 


In the above photo: Healthy Chocolate-Chip Cookies.

1. Plan Ahead

Make sure (beforehand) that there’ll be food you can eat. Oftentimes, this means bringing your own food. But instead of bringing a special meal just for yourself, think of a dish or two that you can share with everyone (cookies—like the ones above—are always a big hit with crowds). Nothing screams “weirdo!” as loudly as the girl hiding in the corner with her “special” food that no one else can sample. Don’t just tell people you can eat yummy things on your diet; show them!

2. Blend In

I think the most important thing you can do is not draw attention towards yourself. If you do not make a big deal out of your differences, others most likely won’t either. They probably won’t even notice! It’s just a fact of life that people tend to be consumed with their own lives and thoughts; we usually overestimate how much others notice our habits.


In the above photo: Christmas Polenta Casserole.

For our Christmas feast last year, I lined up with everyone else when it came time to make our dinner plates. I made a beeline for the polenta casserole first, to ensure I’d get enough before it was all gone. Then, I piled my plate high with a myriad of colorful sides until no one could say my feast looked sad and lonely.

3. Show Off


In the above photo: Healthy Chocolate Cake.

Showcase your diet in the best-possible light by dazzling your fellow party-goers with incredible-looking (and tasting!) foods. For example, if you’re a vegan, you could bring a dish of plain, steamed veggies. But how boring is that? Instead, why not get creative? Flip through some cookbooks for ideas, and go gourmet.

4. Speak Up—if you wish

When someone at the dinner table commented that I “always look so radiant and happy” I just *had* to put in a good word for veganism. Only then did people take notice of what was on my plate (or rather, what was not on it). And you know what? Their reaction was pretty much all positive! I think it helped that we were—for the most part—a young crowd. I feel like younger people tend to be more receptive and accepting of a meatless diet, as it’s become a much more mainstream idea in recent years. (Thank you, Ellen Degeneres!)

One girl at the table didn’t eat red meat. Another said, “Oh my college roommate’s a vegetarian too! And she’s kind of been swaying me that way, lately.” Someone else chimed in with, “I could never give up meat completely, but I’ve been trying to eat it less because I keep reading that a lot is bad for your health.” And even an older guy at the table said he was cutting back due to high cholesterol. So although I was the only vegetarian, it turned out I was not the only one who appreciated the plethora of veggie options at our Christmas table.

5. But don’t preach

I was once embarrassed about my veganism.

However, those days are long gone, and I’m now a proud plant-eater. But that doesn’t mean I have a right to force my views on others. My diet doesn’t make me superior to anyone else; we all have different ways of making the world a better place, and some of the kindest, most amazing people are omnivores. I am not fit to shine their shoes. (Mother Theresa, I’m talking to you!) Now is not the time to get preachy and make others feel badly about their choices. Believe me, screaming “Grandma, you’re a murderer” will not win you any converts to your cause, and it certainly won’t make you any friends.

6. Change the Subject

If you’re feeling uncomfortable with the attention focused on your diet, or if the dialogue is turning hostile, casually push the conversation in a new direction. Or make an excuse (bathroom, need more food, want to check the football score, etc.) and get up from the table. Chances are that, by the time you return, the guests will have moved on to a new subject.

Question of the Day:

Do you eat differently from your friends?

If so, does that ever present a challenge at parties or family gatherings?

Tomorrow: chocolate-pumpkin pie!!

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Published on November 20, 2011

Meet Katie

Chocolate Covered Katie is one of the top 25 food websites in America, and Katie has been 
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ABC's 5 O’Clock News. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating dessert every single day.

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  1. Pam says

    I did something similiar at Thanksgiving. I know how traditional my sister and brother-in-law are and both of them being severe diabetics. I made a sugar-free pumpkin custard pie that is absolutely AWESOME!!! I take the tofu and sugar-free pumpkin pudding mix throughly in the food processor (it seems to do better than the mixer). Then take another tofu package mix with sugar free vanilla pudding as the “topping”. Put in a pie crust that I made that is sugar free. They were amazed – I told them what they were eating when they were about 3/4 done with their piece. They raved about the pie . It was very interesting!!!!! Good for you, low calorie and high protein.

  2. von Hufflepuff says

    Great post Katie! my friends are always laughing at me because I eat loads of veggies and pack all my own food on road trips. I’ve had people make some hurtful comments before, but truthfully I just love eating healthy and don’t crave junk food. your confidence to stick with your vegan diet and not “preach” but “encourage” others is something I strive for

  3. Katie says

    My problem is that so many of my family members/friends either know or suspect of my ED past, so my vegetarianism for the past two years has been interpreted in a negative light, as just one of my weird food “fads” or habits. But this isn’t true! vegetarianism has actually really helped me in my recovery because I now no longer have to feel any guilt over food. But try bringing THAT up at the family dinner table!

  4. laura says

    I know EXACTLY how you feel I and love love love all your tips!!!
    I developed a major intolerance to gluten and dairy this summer, and when I came back to school people just assumed I’m “dieting” because I’m skinny, but I’m like Katie and struggle to keep weight on even if I consume a huge amount of calories! I hate feeling like the weird girl eating her food in the corner, or having to oder special meets when our department holds seminar speakers. I can’t help my digestion system but I am so sick of being judged by others.

  5. Sarah says

    Being extremely health conscious compared to my friends and family, i was definitely put on the hot seat quite a bit. Thanksgiving dinner was pretty uncomfortable and as expected, the whole family was making fun of my diet. My dishes were the ones that no one one tried or complimented, and i was sad because i love to cook and see other people enjoy my cooking. I even baked your pumpkin cheesecake bars, but no one wanted to try them because it sat next to an actual homemade pumpkin cheesecake. I’m planning on bringing out the big guns for Christmas dinner and dessert. In your experience, what is the most popular dessert you have served to a group of regular eaters ? A dessert that people just have to try and ask for the recipe?

    • Laura says

      Hello Sarah,

      I am on the exact same page as you and always feel frustrated around others who don’t see the benefits of my healthy lifestyle. I’ve made quite a few desserts before that people don’t want to try because they know I make things “too healthy”!! However the Reese Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cups ( made using either the ingredients listed or good quality dark chocolate (min 70%) and real organic natural peanut butter is always a huge hit at parties, especially for those who are gluten and lactose intolerant like myself 🙂

      • Sarah says

        Perfect ! I will definitely make those. Keep me updated if you find any other party favorites that get eaten without weird looks 🙂 Thank you so much !!

  6. Haley says

    I love, love, love this post! There are a few vegans or vegetarians that get a snobby and holier-than-thou attitude, that gives others a generally bad feeling about ALL vegans. Not fair 🙁 But, I agree with you completely here. I love the tips, and will try some of them this Christmas (my family, super-carnivores, are always picking on me for being the vegan).

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