Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Father Wants Tasteful Excuse to Avoid Vegetarian Meal

DEAR NATALIE: My son married a vegetarian, and she converted him. Even at their wedding we were served rice, beans, nuts and tofu. (I don't even know what that is.) At weddings, I'm used to chicken, ham, meatballs, etc. But it's OK. I never presume to tell other people how to live. But now the problem is that occasionally I'm invited over there for dinner. I love the kids and wouldn't hurt their feelings for anything. But I hate their menu. I've gone a few times, and now I'm running out of excuses. Can you help me? -- HOLD THE TOFU

DEAR HOLD THE TOFU: It can be really hard to accommodate everyone's likes and dislikes, especially when it comes to something as personal as food. I'm a vegan, and when people come to my home for dinner or when I take a dish to a family or friend's home, they know it's not going to be ham. 

You can't expect to get your son to eat a steak with you anymore than he can expect to convert you to a plant-based diet. So, what can you do? You have a few options: 1. The next time they want to have you over for dinner, offer to make a dish that you can eat, and if they want some, they can have some, too. Don't be afraid to say that while you love spending time together, you hope they don't mind if you bring a little extra something to eat to satiate your meat-loving side. You also could say that you are bringing cupcakes for dessert to smooth things over. A little sugar can solve anything. (And don't forget to take side portions of the veggies they offer you as a show of good will. Think of it like a U.N. meeting.) 2. Go out to dinner. Italian, Asian and Spanish restaurants will have menus that can accommodate vegetarian lovers and meat lovers alike. Then everyone wins.

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)