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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My partner and I are vegetarians. Occasionally we eat fish, but neither of us has had pork, beef or fowl for more than 10 years.

We were at a barbecue at a good friend's house a short time ago and our gracious hosts kindly prepared veggie burgers especially for us. Another guest at the party asked me if I'd be as good-natured as our hosts if I were to have a get-together at my house. (In other words, would I serve meat to our carnivorous guests.) I told him no, to which he (jokingly?) replied that I was "selfish."

Abby, the idea of eating meat is gross to me now. The reason I stopped eating it in the first place is my ethical opposition to how it's produced, and I would not want to compromise my ideals simply in the name of being a good hostess.

Am I "selfish"? Should I offer my friends meat if that is what they prefer? I'd appreciate your input. -- WHERE'S THE BEEF? IN HOUSTON

DEAR W.T.B.: A gracious guest does not criticize what his or her hosts serve. Your friends are aware that you are a vegetarian and why. As long as you make sure they don't go hungry, you are not obligated to serve guests flesh of anything that doesn't come from the ground, a bush or a tree. And you can say I said so.

DEAR ABBY: I am a sophomore in high school who has the responsibility of helping my mother raise four boys and a baby girl until their mothers (my sisters) are able to take care of them. Instead of being able to attend a football game or go to the mall with friends, I spend half my time at school and the other half baby sitting. The only "joy" I feel is knowing the kids are safe in my capable hands.

I have been around babies all my life and I'm reaching the breaking point. I'm worried about my future after high school. I feel like a middle-aged woman instead of a teenager from the stress I have had to accept. Can you tell me how I can feel like I can accomplish something more? -- TEENAGE FOSTER MOM/AUNT

DEAR TEENAGE FOSTER MOM/AUNT: By completing your education. For you, freedom lies in getting a college education or learning a trade that will get you out and on your own. You should not have been saddled with the responsibility of raising the children your irresponsible sisters brought into this world. Learn from their example and be sure that the only pregnancies you have are those that have been planned and prepared for, and you will have the freedom and the future for which you are longing.

DEAR ABBY: I'm seeing this guy, "Jerry," who is an amazing person. Both of us are divorced single parents. I'm attracted to him -- but I'm not sure if there is passion. My question is, do I choose security and a life that I want, or the passion that fuels romantic fire? -- SEARCHING IN COLUMBIA, S.C.

DEAR SEARCHING: The problem with the "passion that fuels romantic fire" is that it's so intense at the beginning that it usually can't sustain itself. Was your first marriage fueled by it? If so, this time around seriously consider marriage to an "amazing person" to whom you say you are attracted and who can provide a stable and secure future for you and your children. These qualities can form the basis of lasting and rewarding partnership.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)