Richmond Proper: On vegan potlucking

This installment’s question certainly strikes me as particularly Richmond-relevant. Tumblr user Sofisopaipilla asked: I’m hosting a vegan potluck, is it out of the question, crass, rude, icky to ask people to bring a meat-free dish to share?

This installment’s question certainly strikes me as particularly Richmond-relevant. Tumblr user Sofisopaipilla asked:

Ever since I became a vegan 3 years ago, I have been trying hard not to make it a hassle for others. I have been preparing all the food for any gathering I host and when I go out to dinner or to a party, I try to make do with what is there and not make it obvious that I’m “only eating salad.” I don’t want any meat or animal products in my home, but I would like to have a potluck type gathering. Is it out of the question, crass, rude, icky to ask people to bring a meat-free dish to share? I’m willing to make concessions for non-vegans who find it difficult to make a strict vegan dish.

Hey Sofisopaipilla! First off, heartfelt thanks are in order for remembering that your diet is your choice, and for not trying to make others feel guilty if indeed you do end up only eating salad. I agree that it just takes a few extra minutes to take a look at an invitation and plan ahead. Often my husband will just eat a little something before we leave the house if he believes he won’t find much vegetarian food wherever we’re going. But at the same time, it’s nice to go to parties where you can eat everything you see–minus the draperies.

Though not vegan myself, I sympathize with you since, here in Richmond, it seems like almost everyone has some kind of dietary restriction. I usually find myself (an omnivore) part of a small minority at a party full of vegetarians or what-have-yous. When hosting gatherings of my own, I try to keep those statistics in mind and offer some items other than salad, something that a mix of my omnivorous, veggie, vegan, and gluten-free friends can eat. But even within those groups are the people who have other specific allergies or who HATE tomatoes, or HATE onions, or whatever. It’s impossible to please everyone, but making a reasonable effort to be hospitable is the best you can do. It sounds like you’re going above and beyond in that arena.

As with any event you plan, coordinate, and host, remember that it’s your party. It’s absolutely not rude to have a vegan potluck! That would be like saying it’s rude to invite people to join a book club, on the off-chance that they might hate books. If anybody doesn’t want to come to a vegan potluck, they are fully capable of RSVP-ing “no.” Please don’t feel like this will make you look rude in any way.

It’s likely that you’re frequently invited to events you’re not interested in attending, and while you might immediately RSVP “no,” you still appreciate that the host offered to include you.

I’m a big supporter of food-related parties of any kind, but I particularly love ones that allow me to try new and different cuisine while exercising the ol’ cooking muscle. And people know that though expertly-crisped vegan spanokopita will be gladly devoured, suddenly becoming a pro vegan chef isn’t a requirement. Tons of common food is already vegan or can be made vegan very easily with a quick substitution. And if somebody can’t manage to at least grab a bag of chips or a box of Tofutti Cuties to bring with them, they are likely just too busy to attend any kind of potluck at the moment.

You probably want to have a potluck for the same reasons everyone does–to share good food and good conversation with people you love. Take this opportunity to enjoy a bit of a natural filter in your probably-busy social life. If certain people only hang out with you when there’s a hearty serving of meat nearby, it’s possible that their motives are less than genuine. But anybody who just loves your conversation and being around you will be at your party, vegan dish in hand. Filtering complete.


Need some advice or want to share your own etiquette-related story? Hit us up at Richmond Proper on Tumblr or email tess [at]

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Tess Shebaylo

Tess Shebaylo is a freelance writer, crafter, history geek, and compulsive organizer. She works at Tumblr and lives in Church Hill with her daughter, Morella.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Julie on said:

    You might also include a little note that says something like: “Not familiar with vegan cuisine? Not sure what to bring? Please give me a call, I would be happy to help you choose!” This would also help ensure that there is some variety, not just a dozen cute platters of diced melon and celery sticks. Truth is, some of us non-vegans would be intimidated by the thought of accidentally bringing something that contained some animal ingredient that we didn’t know about (especially those of us who’ve heard what gelatin really is)…or else imagining the aforementioned salad-fest with dismay. Could be a great opportunity to educate your friends that there’s more to it than celery sticks and tofu.

    Heck maybe even do a recipe grab-bag. You make up recipe cards and have participating friends draw a random one ahead of time and prepare it for the event. Would take more planning, but could be fun.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing! Community and support is a big part of being vegan, and I think it’s wonderful that you would encourage others to attempt cooking vegan meals. What a great way to show people how easy, healthy, and fun it can be. I also think it’s important for consumers to know where their food comes from and how animals are treated before they reach their plates. This is a good, short video to watch about this topic: Or visit for more information on adapting a more compassionate lifestyle.

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