Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Vegetarian Wedding - Or Not?

Photo credit (and menu ideas!)

When I told my parents that Nathan and I were getting married, one of the first questions my father asked did not surprise me in the least.

"Are you going to serve meat at the wedding?" You could practically hear the panic in his voice.

My family is big into eating meat, mostly because my father insists on having it at every meal. The last time I was home, he made dinner. Sausage and peppers, with a side of chicken wings. Once, while visiting, I made a delicious pasta and vegetable recipe for the whole family. He grilled a burger as his side dish. Needless to say, I knew the wedding menu issue would be tricky, especially since Nathan and I are leaning toward a vegetarian wedding.

I've read enough blog posts and forums and magazine articles to know that what you serve at your wedding can cause a lot of opinions, and I understand why. Food is so intertwined with our culture, our traditions, our emotions. It's a way to forge connections to the past and demonstrate our love. I'm  definitely an "I love you, therefore I cook for you" kind of person, and even though I don't plan to self-cater our wedding, I want whatever food we serve to accomplish that same feeling.

Ideally, Nathan and I agree that a vegetarian wedding would be best. We are vegetarians for ethical and environmental reasons, and it doesn't make sense to slaughter a bunch of animals for a day which is supposed to celebrate love and commitment. On the other hand, I want to be a good hostess and make my guests comfortable, and for some people (*cough*Dad*cough*) comfort means a piece of steak.

One of the arguments I keep hearing is that when I go to an event, I am almost always offered a vegetarian meal, therefore I should extend the same thoughtfulness to my meat eating friends and family. But there is an important difference there, and it is that I don't eat meat, ever. Those friends and family who do? They also eat vegetables. So I'm not forcing them to eat something they don't agree with - I'm just leaving one of the many things they do eat off the table, while offering other things in it's place.

At the end of the day, each of our guests will have eaten a meal that is delicious, thoughtfully planned, and paid for by the bride and groom. No one will be forced to eat tofu. There will undoubtedly be some kind of vegetarian lasagna (with real cheese! See? I am capable of compromise!) which is not generally considered "weird" or "gross" by the average American. Because of these things, I don't think asking my loved ones to eat one meatless meal should be a big deal. And yet, for some people, it is.

Honestly, I think most of our friends would be surprised if we did choose to serve meat at our wedding. It's really the families (parents in particular) that I am worried about upsetting.  And that worry is enough to make me consider a more diverse menu, simply because no one wants to disappoint their parents, even if they are 30 years old and about to get married.

What say you, oh wise and fair Readers? Are you a vegetarian? If so, and if you're married, what did you serve at your wedding? If you are not a vegetarian, would a meat-free wedding make you feel excluded, denied, or disappointed? I want to stay true to my values, but I also don't want my dad smuggling a Happy Meal into the reception. It is, like most things, a delicate balance.