The Vegetarian Reception: Carolyn Hax Strikes Out

Well, nobody bats 1.000.

“Where’s the shrimp?”

My favorite ethical advice columnist, Carolyn Hax, missed a soft pitch by a mile recently. The question came from a couple—an apparently insufferable couple, I may add—who sought Hax’s confirmation that they were within rightful boundaries by wanting to have only vegetarian fare at their upcoming wedding reception, since they were vegetarians themselves. “We don’t want to spend money purchasing meat or fish, and feel that a celebration of our union and the home we are making together should not have meat or fish in it,” they explained. Her parents objecedt on the grounds that, among other things, many of their older friends can’t tolerate beans and dairy. Hax’s correspondent retorts that they can certainly stand to go meatless for one reception.

And Carolyn sided with the soon-to-be insufferable married couple, saying,

“I believe the range of food permissible within a vegetarian diet is broad enough to satisfy all, allowing me to duck the question of whether the guests’ comfort trumps the hosts’ principles. I believe it’s a case-by-case call, depending on both the principles and (dis)comfort involved for the guests.”

Oh Carolyn, Carolyn. A few more duds like this, and the New York Times will offer you its post as “The Ethicist.”

The key word here is host. Elsewhere in her answer Hax says that the parents are being unreasonable to suggest that they can’t endure even one meal without meat, but that’s not what they are saying. Of course they can endure one meal without meat. They can endure one meal without food, or with lousy food, or stale potato chips, peanut butter sandwiches and diet Dr. Pepper.  They can endure a crummy, uncomfortable wedding reception—I know I have—but isn’t the point of a party to make the guests happy? These people are taking the time to witness and celebrate the couple’s wedding, some presumably traveling long distances, all bearing gifts and good wishes, and these creeps say, “The heck with what they like, they’ll eat what we give them, and we don’t like meat!”  Oh, nice. So, applying the same principle, if the bride and groom are devotees of Gregorian chants and Mongolian throat singing, by God, that’s what the guests will have to listen to and dance the hokey-pokey to, because that’s what the hosts like. After all, it won’t kill them to have to listen to that for one night, right?

What kind of standard for planning a party is that ?

The attitude of this pair is selfish, disrespectful, ungenerous and as contrary to the Golden Rule as it gets. The wedding reception is a party for the wedding guests, not the bride and groom’s private indulgence. Just as these two would be grateful for party fare that included non-meat selections for people like them, they should recognize that providing some non-vegetarian selections for people who don’t share their “principles” or taste in food is equally reasonable and appropriate. Oh, that’s right…they “don’t want to spend money purchasing meat or fish.” They are, in addition to being lousy hosts and friends, cheapskates. Well, do everyone a favor, then. Elope. Then you can have all the watercress sandwiches and lentil cakes you want, and your friends can mail you their wedding gifts without having to listen to the Mongolian throat-singing while munching on tofurkey.

Carolyn Hax, to her credit, goes to great lengths  to avoid being judgmental, but in this case, the couple would benefit from some old-fashioned Ann Landers smack talk. “These are your friends, family and guests,” Ann would say. “Be gracious and hospitable. What’s the matter with you?” Or perhaps a little Dean Wormer would be more effective, as in, “Selfish, self-righteous and cheap is no way to start out married life, kids.”

Post Script: After writing this, I happened upon a feature in the Washington Post’s Sunday Style Section about the local couple’s wedding. After the ceremony, they treated their 60 guests to a sumptuous raw vegan dinner and reception….because, you see, both bride and groom were vegans. Maybe they are such devoted and intolerant vegans that they have cut off all non-conforming friends, co-workers and relatives, in which case the reception was ethical, even if they are not. Or, it dawns on me, perhaps I have missed some cultural shift in which couples regard the wedding reception as an opportunity to impose their tastes and preferences on everyone else, and nobody thinks the worse of them.

________________________

Facts: Washington Post

Graphic: Meat Free Every Day

383 thoughts on “The Vegetarian Reception: Carolyn Hax Strikes Out

  1. Don’t you mean: ‘soon-to-be married insufferable couple’? They are not yet married, but certainly already insufferable. My response to this sort of ‘hospitality’ is to organize the other guests into a Mongolian throat singing competition, and continue until some beef, chicken or fish is produced.

      • The insistence on vegetarian fare is a statement, and a statement that one lifestyle choice should be imposed on those who don’t share it, when they have a captive audience. Yes, I think it’s self-righteous. Mostly, though, it is just rude and inconsiderate. Hax’s correspondent’s own father said that he would be uncomfortable trying to eat vegetarian fare because of his digestive issues, and the attitude was “Tough!” There’s no “gray” there.

        • You, Jack Marshall “think” it’s self righteous. Is this correct. You have a personal stance on the issue. Your own personal stance? You also have a personal stance that it is rude and inconsiderate.

          I did not read this till now – early evening. Glad I saw it.

          I have a personal stance, too. My personal ethical value is that the couple are not rude and inconsiderate. They are young, and refreshing. My personal stance is that they are very much in love, and that there is much more to know about them than whether they serve tomatoes and potatoes. My personal stance – ethical value in this situation is enjoy the party, embrace the couple, eat the veggies and shut up. My personal stance is eat less meat, save more lives, have less heart attacks and read some books on the emotional lives of animals…particularily “The Face on Your Plate.

          • They are young, and refreshing. My personal stance is that they are very much in love, and that there is much more to know about them than whether they serve tomatoes and potatoes. My personal stance – ethical value in this situation is enjoy the party, embrace the couple, eat the veggies and shut up. My personal stance is eat less meat, save more lives, have less heart attacks and read some books on the emotional lives of animals…particularily “The Face on Your Plate.

            No part of this is relevant.

      • “Some vegetarians smack of self righteousness…as here.

        Which veg here smacks of self righteousness? Please share.”
        I meant the soon to be married couple but after rethinking I’ve changed my mind. The bias against vegetarians is what’s striking here!

        • No bias whatsoever. Ethically, we all should be vegetarians. If a couple knew that substantial numbers of vegetarians would be guests at their wedding and planned only meat and fish containing dishes saying, “We don’t like that wimpy food. It won’t kill anyone to eat meat for one meal,” I’d come down against that obnoxious couple too. Vegetarianism is not the issue at all.

          • I meant comments such as “rabid vegetarian.” And people do tend to view vegetarianism as some kind of unwelcome aberration. But this couple were acting like bullies rather than trying to work out a compromise so that is unethical.

            • While some commenters in this thread may have a bias against vegetarianism in general, I think the “rabid vegetarian” comment is accurate here.

  2. I think you glossed over an important part of the issue. A wedding is not a usual party. If I were going to throw a dinner party, it’d be perfectly within my rights to only serve baclava and OJ, so long as my guests knew that was all they were getting. They could choose to attend or not.

    A wedding, on the other hand, pretty much compels family and friends to come. As such, you have to take into account general preferences. You don’t have to tailor your wedding to any specific guest, but you do have to be reasonably accommodating. Intentionally picking a food source that a significant amount of your guests will be unhappy with is a dereliction of duty.

    • For instance, I hate cooked fish. It both tastes and smells nasty to me. I would never cook fish in my house. Despite that, fish was still an option at my wedding. My bride and I knew that a significant portion of our guests would prefer fish over chicken or steak.

  3. Right… The “hosts” (using the term lightly because I don’t think the couple knows the meaning of the word) should have a broad choice of food for their guests. If I went to all the trouble of going to a wedding, buy the REQUIRED gift, and then was fed black beans and tofu, I would be annoyed. The bride and groom (and any other vegetarians there) don’t have to eat the shrimp, or whatever. But the others can expect something halfway enjoyable because they are GUESTS, and at a wedding, guests have certain responsibilities — like spending money on gifts, perhaps traveling a farther distance that is comfortable for them, and, presumably, caring enough to participate.

    This moronic couple should state on the invitation that they are serving only vegetarian food, and that anyone who wants something else should spend their gift money on food they like to eat and bring it with them. Think this couple would do that?

    And I thought “Bridezillas” was over the top…

  4. It is sad to see all this heckling, demeaning, and name calling. That’s all I can say. Respect the wishes of the married couple. Engage in a new frame of thought for a few hours. As we age, our minds become stiffer, the arteries clog, and we box ourselves in with our beliefs, prejudices, and culturally stimulated value systems. If I went to a Moslem wedding, there would be no pork. If I went to a Buddhist wedding, there most likely would be no dancing, no meat, and probably no drink. Yet they are the most beautifully orchestrated rituals. If I went to a Hindu wedding, there would be cooked veggie meals. If I went to your wedding, there would be meat. If I went to Morocco, I would have to wear long pants and long sleeves in the street as a woman. If if if…..life goes on, let’s evolve and stop demeaning one another.

    • I think you just made a good case for why religions are bad, not why this wedding is okay.

      Your comments about new frames of thought and evolving are both silly. For the former, you’re really talking about ignoring irrationality and general bad hosting behavior. For the latter, you’re suggesting that it’s improper to call things what they are. I can’t agree with either. If I go to a wedding, and the happy couple douses me in ritual blood, I surely should just engage in a new frame of thought, evolve, and not accurately call the couple assholes.

    • Would you like to go to a dogfight tonight? We could engage in a new frame of thought for a few hours. If not, perhaps a traditional Hindu funeral pyre, where the living wife is tossed into the flames? Maybe an Infidel beheading? Some ‘culturally stimulated value systems’ are better than others. That’s right, better.

      • Mr. Joe Fowler, I would not go to a dog fight or a human fight. I do not support violence. I support most rituals unless it encompasses violence. My truth is not your truth. I would respect the wishes of the wedding couple with dignity.

        • Well sure you would, because that’s what a guest with good manners does. But hosts with good manners think about the enjoyment and comfort of the guests, especially when they were invited and expected to bring gifts. The fact that the guests should tolerate the selfish and inconsiderate conduct of their hosts does not mean that such conduct is acceptable, ethical, or appropriate.

          And please, stop prattling on about “your truth” and “my truth.” That is ethics-rotting garbage, and offensive here. It makes discussing what is ethical conduct impossible.

              • We have an equivalent here in the South: “You have a blessed day”. It’s kind of like “Bless (his / her) heart” is in the third person. By the way, it is easy to see this adorable couple does not “hail” from the south.

                • Mrs. Miller, nice to meet you. I live in North Carolina. I moved here 6 years ago. I have fallen in love with the South. I go to the General Assembly in Raleigh all the time, love the museums, the way of life, etc. I understand the term, “Bless your heart”

    • I have two issues with your train of thought. It’s one thing to respect someone elses wishes regarding their food choice, it’s another thing entirely for them to force that choice on others. I have many vegetarian relatives and if I host a party where they are invited I plan accordingly, that is respecting their wishes, but it would not be respectful of their wishes to only serve food they approve of.

      This ties in with your point about different religious customs and what would be expected at weddings in those cultures. When you step into a different culture it is respectful to follow their customs and mores where doing so does not conflict with your own. But this is a case where the couple getting married holds beliefs contrary to the customs and mores of the dominate culture they are getting married into. If they want people from the dominate culture to be present as witnesses for their union they have an obligation to abide by those customs.

      The primary function of a wedding is too make vows and commit yourself in union in front of witnesses. If a significant number of the people you choose as witnesses generally hold different cultural beliefs then you do, then you are under an obligation to follow their cultural values. If that is something you are unwilling to do on strict moral grounds, then I have to question the wisdom of inviting them to be a part of your ceremony.

      • Edit, instead of ‘obligation to follow their cultural values.’ it should read ‘obligation to make exceptions for their cultural values.’

      • I feel the issue of what I eat at a wedding is irrelevant. I can choose easily what I will eat out of what is served to me. If there is something I do not like, I can eat something else served. No big deal.

            • Argh. Ethics don’t have to be written down in a style manual to exist.

              Also, that’s irrelevant. I pointed out your internal contradiction. No extra citation needed.

              You’re a troll, troll, troll.

              • TGT – My name is Jane Tzilvelis. Do you still want to call me a troll publically? Please stop calling me a troll or indicating that I troll.

                • Your name does not keep you from being a troll, but I will respect your wish. Of course, if you’re not a troll, the other possibilities aren’t so good either.

                  Now, would you care to comment on your contradiction? How about the non sequitur deflection of complaining about should’s and demanding they be written down?

                    • A “non sequitur” is something that doesn’t follow. “deflection” is when you can’t respond to something, so you attempt to get people to not notice that you can’t respond. For example, one can respond with comedy, take offense, go off on a tangent, or mention something unrelated.

                      In this case, instead of dealing with a legitimate point about your contradiction, you jumped to a completely unrelated attack. Something that has no relationship to the point.

                    • Thank you for the time and consideration for your response. I guess I am speaking for myself here. I am not able to debate the right or wrong of the actions of the newlyweds. I am sad about the way I see the world sufferng. Starvation, war, fighting, violence, slander…etc. We live in a complicated world of give and take. Relationships are not easy for anyone. I feel very sorry for the animals. I live near a factory farm.

                    • Livvy,

                      So, because you can’t debate this topic, you’re going to fill it with junk that has no relation to the topic. You’re a hijacker. That’s a form of troll that’s a shill. I guess I can take back my apology.

                      On the plus side, your latest comment is at least entertaining in an absurdist way.

        • You seem like a very easy going guest and one I would appreciate having at a party/wedding. Unfortunately not all guest are like you and the fact that the question made it into an advice column suggests the issue of what people eat at the wedding is not irrelevant.

          • Good point. Yes, I am easy going, care for people and animals and nature. Everything in life is not one way or the other. We do the best we can in each situation we are presented, and we try and do it with dignity. Peace is the goal.

            • The point was not about you, it was about how relevant the food choice is based on the behavior of the parties involved. Given that it is a problem, how do you propose to solve it?

              • Brian, I do not choose to solve “it.” I am stating my view as to how I would integrate the situation into my life. I would go to the wedding, eat what is served to me, give a gift, a hug, and wish the couple the best! There is nothing to solve. Is this a court case with shoulds, deriliction of duties, and power over other for folks posting? What is the point but to give my view.

                People can choose not to go the wedding or go. They can choose to eat a big bowl of meat before they go. They can pack a roast beef sandwhich in their handbag. There is personal choice.

                When everyone finishes deciding whether the newly weds shoud be harnassed and hanged, let me know in what book, what page, what paragraph will state: IS IT ETHICAL TO SERVE VEGAN FOOD ONLY AT A WEDDING?

                There is no map in life and no set of instructions when we are born as to how to live and what to do. None of us live perfectly ethical lives! “RELEVANT!”

                And now I am off to the “old age” home where many of us may land up someday . Better hope there is someone ethical there that advocates on our behalf. I have an 65 year old patient that needs someone to advocate for him. Maybe I shouldn’t have looked at the rest of the posts, before I left. Whewie~

                Live and let live.

                • There is a problem. It wouldn’t be a problem for you. Therefore it is not a problem. What logic? It’s the opposite of the golden rule.

                  Just because someone can deal with unethical behavior does not make the original behavior ethical.

                  There still is no need for a written down rule. The basic concepts of ethics are enough to handle this situation.

                  We being imperfect does not mean we shouldn’t point out bad behavior. Your ‘relevant’ is about as irrelevant as it gets.

                    • I tell you, Jack, with the way I see how things are being done by legal eagles institutionally, I think a course is needed in “Do No Harm.” Have you invited the young couple on here? Do they even know their actions are being torn apart here?

                    • As I said before, that’s impossible. They wrote Hax anonymously, and she can’t give out their name. They may not even exist. If they are out there, and want to respond, they will. I often hear from the subjects of the posts here, but it takes a while.

                    • Hax has an obligation to protect their anonymity. You can’t get there from here. Besides, the letter and the response is the issue. I’m not interested in the real couple or the real reception. Just the ethical dilemma.

                • Brian, I do not choose to solve “it.”

                  A, you are choosing to solve it by saying you see nothing wrong with the behavior of the couple.

                  B, why are you commenting on a blog dedicated to ethical solutions to problems if you have no interest in solving them?

                  ‘There is nothing to solve.’

                  Yes, there is. If there is nothing to resolve, then why did the couple write to an advice columnist? You can

                  • I do not know why the couple wrote to an advice columnist. You are making your own assumption why they wrote. There could be numerous reasons. Let’s contact them and ask them. Let’s get’s give them an ETHICAL chance to have their voice be heard on Ethics Alarm? What do you think about what I just said?

                    • They wrote to an advice columnist because they either wanted someone to validate their conduct, or because they really wanted to know what was right. They got a bum steer.

                    • Let me make this more clear, they wrote in the letter about a dispute between themselves and their parents.

                      There could be a thousand possible other reasons, and they are all irrelevant as long as one of the reasons they wrote is because they have a problem, which they admit they do.

                      Why would it be important, or ethical ,to contact them. What bearing do they have on this discussion. Their conduct, as expressed in the letter, is the point of discussion here, not them personally. You have used this line of reasoning numerous times and I don’t know why. The identity of these people, or other commenters, has zero relevance to the discussion.

                      I would add, none of these issues are germane to the discussion at hand. You have done this repeatedly and I think it clouds your reasoning. The discussion is not about the ethics of meat eating, it’s not about how fulfilling vegetarian food can be, it’s not about people. It’s about the obligations a host has too their guests.

                      If the couple wanted to make wearing adult diapers a condition of attending their wedding, and then invited their extended families would that be ethical? How about if the couple were infantilists, and made the same condition but only invited group members from their infantilists club. Do you see the difference?

                    • Pleae offer some reasonable resources offering the obligations of a host to a guest specifically for food offerings at a wedding? I have asked for this informaton repeatedly. Where are the sources that back up statements about the obligations of a host at a wedding regarding food offerings?

                      I think that would help all of us here. How many thousands of years are we on earth, and we do not have a map, a resource on this what appears to be vital matter.

                    • And you have repeatably been given the resources you request, they are on the home page of this blog.

                      You have been called a troll in reference to people who post with the intention of inflaming the discussion. It’s posts like this, where you intentionally ignoring what other people have provided, that leads to people questioning your intentions. Take a second and reflect, are your comments sincere or are they motivated by hurt/anger?

    • Livvy1234:

      I don’t see in the article that this has anything to do with the religious preferences of the couple — only their desire to “prove” something about their lifestyle to their guests. You are giving them a benefit of the doubt they don’t deserve. Show me that their religious convictions were the reason for their behavior. Otherwise, they are come off (and describe themselves) as snotty little totalitarians. If you don’t want to serve any kind of traditional food, let people know and give them the option of giving a gift to charity instead of to them. Think they’d do that? Bet a million the answer is “no.”

      • Religious convictions wouldn’t get them off the hook.

        Also, suggesting a gift to charity in lieu of gifts is pretty common at weddings, especially when it’s not a first marriage or the couple already have at least one household.

      • Are you not a snotty totalarian, too? Do not look for the splinter in someone else’s eye. Look at the giant piece of timber in your own. And so what if they wanted to make a statement. Are you old yet, Elizabeth? Or are you young and fresh – wanting to prove to the world that you will make a difference. Give them a break.

        • If you have good intentions, it doesn’t matter what you do?! Awesome. I’m young and fresh! I want to prove to the world that I will make a difference! I’m going to start punching old ladies! It’ll make a statement! Give me a break!

          Also, totalitarianism invokes state action banning behaviors, not individual callout of ethically challenged behavior.

        • Manners, ethics are not a generational value. “Young and Fresh….” (wtf!) means they don’t have to consider the needs of others, especially their guests, ESPECIALLY their parents who are no doubt footing the bill. I at least hope the vegan fare is cheaper. The couple was not hard to find, googling the information in the Hax column. Not only was the dinner vegan, it was RAW vegan. They were “celebrated” in numerous vegan periodicals. So Livvy, please contact these people and let them know about this site. Although, they are both law students and they may want to sue.

          • Are you sure that’s the same couple? I saw the raw vegan wedding dinner story in the Post, and I know Hax is D.C. based (though she gets questions from all over), but I assumed it was just a coincidence. If you are right, then the question was answered too late by Hax to play any part in the decision. The inquiry also referenced dairy—Vegans don’t eat dairy, or so I thought.

          • My stance is “I am grateful for whatever the host serves me.” Life is in the right and wrong lane? Is there not a third lane one can examine? Do you do everything right or wrong, Mrs. Miller? Have you ever done something in bad taste? What is your purpose in life? To prove who is right and who is wrong? Love is disciplined. The management of one’s life requiresus to make personal choices based on what the society does and does not. The couple chose to offer raw vegan. I find this refreshing. I would be interested in understanding what is coming up for me in all of this:

            resentment?
            anger?
            there ought to be a law…grrrr
            love
            forgiveness
            hatred
            what your parents allowed or did not allow you to do that was new and different?
            What emotion is arising for everyone here because I believe the couple’s conduct is okay? I accept your stance, but have my own view of ethical conduct and when it is necessary to bear down hard on a situation.

  5. In the newfound spirit of understanding, I hope that the ‘guests’ all purchased the happy couple a sampler from Omaha Steak. Using the logic above, they should respect the wishes of the gift giver and eat the meat. It won’t kill them to eat a few meals of steak. This couple certainly wouldn’t go to the wedding of a rancher and demand a vegetarian or vegan meal, would they? We all know the answer to that question. (Of course they wouldn’t, they wouldn’t go to such a wedding, they would instead protest outside the wedding, throwing red paint on the bride as she emerged and shouting “murderer”)

    I love how tolerance for diversity only flows one-way and how it is OK to demean people as long as you are above them on the self-rigteousness scale.

  6. And the Bride and Groom say . . . “Let them eat cake.”. All I know is I would want my guests to be comfortable. An equal amount of meat and meatless dishes would be a compromise. But then again, the word compromise is hard to understand for some young people. Bigger issues out there to fight for than a wedding meal.

    • And you shouldn’t be “fighting” your guests at all. This is to celebrate a wedding, not to make political statements. This is right up there with demanding that your guests give contributions to the Obama campaign in lieu of gifts.

        • A cop out. A society has to articulate standards, knowing that they will not be perfect, that there will be exceptions, that mistakes will be made. The gray does not excuse abdicating this duty. Never.

          • I have enjoyed the opportunity to share my view. Thank you all for offering your rebuttal. Having worked with animals and held them before they die has been a most painful experience to me. I spent years volunteering to help animals caught in the web of inhumane circumstance. This has been a personal journey. So, I do not care if people do not serve animal protein at a wedding.

            I do not care for one-sided thinking. Life is lived in the Sometimes Lane. Sometimes we do things we should do, based on our heritage, tradition, dysfunction, environment, or institution. Sometimes we do things we “should” not. Have you heard of the Net of Indra? If you have, have you explored it?

            Watch yourself for a week. Watch the ways you wage war in everyday events. What are your weapons and how do they escalate as a perceived threat grows stronger. You may not be picking up a gun or strike with a bat, but striking with words causes pain to others. For instance, it was necessary here today to call me, (Jane Tzilvelis) a troll or indicate that I troll. I find this hurtful. I am not interested in having power over other here. I am interested in offering my view point. Nothing more. But I had to be attacked personally.

            My job in life is to figure out how to live a life of value. I am not talking about dollar value. I am talking about using my body, speech and mind in a way that values society – instead of ripping people apart for how they perform derilictions of duty, or troll, or eat veggies instead of meat. The act of generosity works both ways for the giver and receiver. Sometimes we give more than we get back in relationships and vice versa. How do we educate our heart? Practice random acts of kindness without calculation or expected payback. I have to go now. Enjoy shredding me and the host and hostess of the wedding. I have to go help some people.

            • I have enjoyed the opportunity to share my view. Thank you all for offering your rebuttal.

              That’s steps 1 and 2. Step 3 is actually thinking critically and coming up with the right result, whether it was your original view or not.

              Having worked with animals and held them before they die has been a most painful experience to me. I spent years volunteering to help animals caught in the web of inhumane circumstance. This has been a personal journey. So, I do not care if people do not serve animal protein at a wedding.

              This has nothing to do with whether or not the behavior of the bride and groom is ethical. I don’t care if you only serve corned beef at your wedding. I’d love it, but it wouldn’t be ethical.

              I do not care for one-sided thinking. Life is lived in the Sometimes Lane. Sometimes we do things we should do, based on our heritage, tradition, dysfunction, environment, or institution. Sometimes we do things we “should” not. Have you heard of the Net of Indra? If you have, have you explored it?

              You don’t care to say when people are wrong, except if someone else is claiming that someone is wrong.

              Also, the ‘Net of Indra’ is a concept that doesn’t represent reality. Just because something is religious doesn’t mean it isn’t stupid. Eastern religions are not exempt.

              Watch yourself for a week. Watch the ways you wage war in everyday events. What are your weapons and how do they escalate as a perceived threat grows stronger. You may not be picking up a gun or strike with a bat, but striking with words causes pain to others. For instance, it was necessary here today to call me, (Jane Tzilvelis) a troll or indicate that I troll. I find this hurtful. I am not interested in having power over other here. I am interested in offering my view point. Nothing more. But I had to be attacked personally.

              By following your desired course of action, nobody would be able to fight injustice. “What? You think it’s right to kill all the niggers? That they’re subhuman scum? Very well. I guess I shouldn’t call you a bigot, or explain that skin pigmentation does not affect someone’s humanity.”

              Life isn’t all roses and affirmations. If an accurate label causes you pain, then maybe you need to rethink yourself, instead of trying to make uncomfortable truth telling a nono.

              By your own admission, you don’t care about actual ethical behavior or truth. You only want to spread your ideas and you want them free from criticism. That’s a horrible, horrible desire.

              My job in life is to figure out how to live a life of value. I am not talking about dollar value. I am talking about using my body, speech and mind in a way that values society – instead of ripping people apart for how they perform derilictions of duty, or troll, or eat veggies instead of meat.

              These are not mutually exclusive things. I live my life for value as well. I find that stopping bad ideas and bad actions (or at least fighting them to the best of my ability) is valuable.

              The act of generosity works both ways for the giver and receiver. Sometimes we give more than we get back in relationships and vice versa. How do we educate our heart? Practice random acts of kindness without calculation or expected payback.

              All good ideas. All irrelevant to anything in this thread.

              I have to go now. Enjoy shredding me and the host and hostess of the wedding. I have to go help some people.

              I don’t enjoy pointing out other people’s errors. What I enjoy (mainly because it’s important) is getting to good ideas. The former is a necessary part of the latter.

            • Nobody’s being shredded, but the superior and condescending attitude is not appreciated, nor is it called for, nor is it conducive to “helping people.” One promotes a better society by establishing standards, which takes debate. You object to “shredding people”—letting them know when one thinks their opinion is invalid or poorly reasoned—and say so, even engage in selective name-calling—then object to rude wedding reception hosts being called on it. Hypocrisy. Like most who take this tact, you don’t really believe “live and let live,” you believe in being passive toward unethical conduct that you happen to like or feel is tolerable.

              And I have to say, I haven’t read such precious Sixties era gobbledygook since Rod McKuen stopped writing about “Sloopy.”

              • Jack, I make mistakes…just like you, Jack. My feet are planted in the earth, just like yours. We cannot transcend ourselves no matter how we try. You engage in hypocrisy just like I do. It is inherent to human nature.

                Yes, Jack, I believe in letting the couple do what they wish. The gobbledygook I follow works for me.

                • livvy,they play hard ball here. Maybe not the place for a gentle spirit such as yourself. On the other hand,you’re welcome here as far as I’m concerned. I like the live and let live philosophy. Getting one’s undies in a wad over one vegetarian meal is not something to get one’s blood pressure up about.

                  • That was my stance from the beginning. I noted the hard ball game, the striving, manipulating, name calling, and desire to have power over other…the win win of it…use of the word aggressive.

                    What is an ethical way to discuss a topic. I am only privy to 12 years of discussion with priests, a fellowship circle, and a three county local ethical society. Never once, have we demeaned what another states no matter what their station in life. Never name called. Never. That is what I find shocking here. The pummeling. The need to prove what I say is wrong. I am not interested in making my truth THE TRUTH, the LAW, and not one person here has provided me a resource stating what a host and hostess duties are to serve at a wedding? OMG – please someone state your resource!

                    • Why do you need a rule book? This is values and principles based, not an appeal to authority. Ethics requires analysis based on accepted values and principles. You want a text? Emily Post? Irrelevant. The Golden Rule works fine in this situation, if you need a reference.

                    • Accept my value. That is all you have to do. I have accepted everyone else’s. I felt I was fighting the troops, because of postings tellingl me what I value is not valuable. AI value going to the wedding, embracing the union, celebrating under the circumstance I find myself. I value this. You are trying to discern here what is right and what is wrong. There is no right or wrong in this situation. There are many factors to consider. That is my stance, and I accept yours.

                    • That was my stance from the beginning. I noted the hard ball game, the striving, manipulating, name calling, and desire to have power over other…the win win of it…use of the word aggressive.

                      There’s no manipulation or desire to have power over others. The goal isn’t to win. the goal is to get to ethical behavior. Your statements don’t help us get anywhere, and they are often misrepresentations and false statements, so they, rightfully, get pounded.

                      What is an ethical way to discuss a topic. I am only privy to 12 years of discussion with priests, a fellowship circle, and a three county local ethical society.

                      Staying on topic. Not lying. Not misrepresenting people. Following the bounds of logic. it’s not hard. Not hurting someone’s feelings is not included.

                      Never once, have we demeaned what another states no matter what their station in life.

                      The station in life is irrelevant, but not demeaning ideas? Horrible.

                      Never name called. Never.

                      You still don’t understand the difference between an ad hominem attack and an accurate labeling.

                      Never. That is what I find shocking here. The pummeling. The need to prove what I say is wrong.

                      The need to prove that wrong things are wrong? That’s shocking.

                      I am not interested in making my truth THE TRUTH, the LAW,

                      There’s no such thing as your truths, and we’re not talking about the law, we’re talking about ethics. It’s like you don’t don’t know what ethics are.

                      and not one person here has provided me a resource stating what a host and hostess duties are to serve at a wedding? OMG – please someone state your resource!

                      Jack covered this, so I won’t.

                    • I accept how you feel. Do you accept how I feel? Perhaps you are working from patterns of legal learning. I am working from a different form of learning. Perhaps we are the yin and the yang of life. There are two sides of a coin. There is the dark and light meeting. Duality exists. This is how I write. It might be more flowery for you, or distasteful. When you used a legal term I did not know, I asked you for the definition. I did not state in what form or manner you write your reply. I accepted you as you are, tgt

                      What if people come on this blog, and they are trying to discern language, and understand the issue, but cannot express things in legal vernacular or according to ethics majors, students, etc. Do you accept them as they are?

                    • What is all this legal vernacular crud? This isn’t a legal blog, and the topics are only occasionally law-related. Legal reasoning is called reasoning. There is nothing special about it, except that it is rigorous and demanding, and they used to teach all its features in grade school, back when schools actually educated people.

                    • Accept my value[s]. That is all you have to do. I have accepted everyone else’s.

                      No.

                      I won’t accept that values are okay just because they’re someones. That’s stupid.

                      What matters is what the values actually are. Refusing to criticize people (unless they’re the people criticizing you) is a stupid value. It shouldn’t be accepted. Thinking that a guest should politely eat (or not eat) what they are served is good, but saying that we shouldn’t question the hosts’ intentional serving of food they know the guests won’t like? That’s bad.

                      There is no right or wrong in this situation. There are many factors to consider. That is my stance, and I accept yours.

                      And you’re wrong. Yes, there are many factors to consider. What do we do? We consider them and see where that leads us. That’s what ethics is about. Finding good behavior in complicated situations. Claiming that any decision is okay? That’s antithetical to ethical behavior.

                    • Livvy,

                      You accept that I feel things. I would really hope so. Otherwise there’d be a problem.

                      You respect that I have a view of you? Isn’t that just that you notice I have a view of you, or do you actually mean that you realize that my view of you is respectable?

                    • I respect you, tgt, even though you need to call me names at times. You are the same fabric as me…we are all part of the oneness. I respect your view. I hope you respect my view. At least that is all I can hope for from another. They may not choose my view, or live it, but acknowledge it with respect.

                    • I accept how you feel. Do you accept how I feel?

                      I accept that you feel. Yes. I’ve realized that there are minds external to mine. No, I do not accept that how you feel is good. And no, I shouldn’t.

                      Perhaps you are working from patterns of legal learning. I am working from a different form of learning. Perhaps we are the yin and the yang of life. There are two sides of a coin. There is the dark and light meeting. Duality exists. This is how I write. It might be more flowery for you, or distasteful. When you used a legal term I did not know, I asked you for the definition. I did not state in what form or manner you write your reply. I accepted you as you are, tgt

                      Flowery language isn’t a problem, and I never claimed it was. Writing things that have no meaning is what’s a problem, and you’re very goody at that. There is no such thing as a “different form of learning”. There is no yin and yand of life. There are no sides of a coin. There is no dark and light meeting. Duality doesn’t exist.

                      I also wasn’t using legal terms. I was using standard English.

                      What if people come on this blog, and they are trying to discern language, and understand the issue, but cannot express things in legal vernacular or according to ethics majors, students, etc. Do you accept them as they are?

                      If people do not understand the words we use, we explain those words and what we were saying with them. You know, like I did in this thread. There’s no relevant question of acceptance.

                    • Duality does exist for me. The yin and the yang exist for me. You feel my view is not good. I feel you view is acceptable. I do not care really what your view is. I have to live within the parameters of my values and views and my own conscience. That is all. I do the best I can whilst alive…and as kindly as I can. Of course, what I do might not be acceptable to another. Its okay by me.

                  • Live and let live is great. Except when people behave badly. Then calling out the bad behavior is important to keep society from breaking down.

                    I’d also note that the anger displayed in this thread is mostly with Livvy’s complete unwillingness to engage in an ethical discussion on the merits of this situation. Instead, she uses more invalid techniques than all of SMP’s posts put together.

                    At least, that’s what gets my goat.

                    • Tgt, I am engaging as best I can. I believe that the couple is doing nothing wrong ethically. I accept your stance, though, about how you feel they are treating their guests. I hope this works for you.

                    • No, you’re not. Either that or you’re incompetent.

                      You have been extremely unethical throughout this entire discussion. The first few? We can chalk that up to not knowing better. Still unethical, but unintetionally so. After you were informed of the problems, you’ve continuted to use the same unethical techniques. I have to assume it’s wilful.

                      Furthermore, you are not interested in figuring out what is proper behavior. You’re interested in rationalizing things whose greater motives you agree with.

              • Debra, thank you for finding a cultural resource that we could all take a look at. I understand what culture demands. But I live my ethical life through educating my heart. Life is not in the cultural lane alone for me. My ethical book says go with the flow. I can dig it for one evening. I have been to all sorts of affairs, and it really is okay with me whatever the hosts serve. The difficulty with the folks here, I feel, is the inability to accept my view so they call it moronic, say yuk, or make statements that I am not following the rules of ethics when making my stance known. I am not smart. Consider me dumb, and idiot, a jerk. I don’t really care. I will be friends with the couple, the parents, the guests, and love them all as they are and for who they are. It works for me! The couple’s view is okay by me.

                  • Brian. Yes! That was my whole point thru the past few days. Accept my view. Instead, I felt I was being pummeled into accepting a view that is not in keeping with my personal value system regarding the betterment of society. I was called names, felt demeaned, and it was not about me forcing my view down anyone’s throat here. I make a good neighbor and a firm friend. I accept people and their foibles – as best I can. But I may be very well mistaken about what I was reading here. This is what has been coming up for me all along….this push to push me off the cliff – to win over me. Maybe? I will leave the door open for truth to come in.

                    • Please point to a single occurrence where someone took the belief that your view was not actually your view? Tautologies are by definition true.

                    • Brian: Open to debate: Nothing I say is written in stone.

                      Throughout the discussion, over the last few days, I have noted various folks calling my views moronic, saying yuk,ptui, calling me names. I am trying to have a discussion without name calling. I accept everyone’s position on the topic. I have also noted side conversations, meant to be cute ( I feel) between bloggers (who seem to know one another) stating how well they admire those putting up with Livvy. What kind of talk is this. I find it hurtful. Perhaps there is a group here, long term friends on WordPress, that have been bored for awhile, and found they could have some fun with Livvy? Only my way out assumption. And, being human, like all of you, I can hold untrue assumptions. But they do not seem too sincere here. Clenching teeth remarks, etc.

      • Some 40 years ago my mum and I were at odds about my wedding. I wanted this, she wanted that, etc. Finally I said, “I just want to get married. Have fun and plan the wedding any way you want.”. She did and was thrilled. The wedding was lovely. I guess what I am trying to say, there are other issues out there to make a stand than to be at odds with your parents over a wedding meal. Compromise.

        Interesting discussion though.

  7. I don’t get what the big deal is here. I guess everyone is picturing a small, sad plate of crudites at their place setting? I went to a Hindi wedding, everything was varied, vegetarian, and quite delicious. Many of the Jewish weddings I’ve attended were kosher. As long as I’m fed, I’m normally quite happy. I was a little less happy at the dry Baptist weddings, but for the 2-3 hours I was there, I somehow managed to survive without alcohol.

    There are enough tasty vegetarian dishes out there to make meat quite unneccessary. Meat doesn’t have to a component of every meal, and you can be well fed without it. Why should a couple serve something which violates their own beliefs? That should be more unethical. Just because many of us find vegetarians annoying and self-righteous really shouldn’t change the equation.

      • While there are some generalizations about vegetarians in this thread, all the comments about this couple are based on their actual actions. Second, you’re rationalizing. Just because something could be worse doesn’t mean it’s not unethical.

      • Again, grateful for what? Serve only vegetarian food and bottled water. Fun, fun, fun. And it might be, if the couple we fun themselves. But it doesn’t sound that way.

    • You’re arguing against a strawman. The food, by definition, was not going to be appropriate for a significant portion of guests.

      Past that, if you are the host of an event that people are expected to attend, you are responsible for their comfort. If your beliefs go against their comfort, then your beliefs are what are unethical. It’s pretty simple.

      • What can we do today, right now, to relieve the world of starvation? Let us move forward…embrace what we can do today to relieve suffering.

            • tgt isn’t hiding. I know who he is, and how to contact him, and that’s all I require. There are legitimate reasons to use a screen name. I’d drop that line of attack, please. Thanks.

              • Mr. Marshall, there are legitimate reasons not to call Jane Tzilvelis a shill, a troll, or a wackaloon. You are the moderator…are you not? Then stop the name calling. I am stating a fact, not making an attack. Do not demean me.

          • TGT come out with your name. Today, you called Jane Tzilvelis, under the guise of TGT – you called her a troll, a shill, and a wackaloon. State your name.

            • I don’t want my real name on here because I want to protect myself, not to mention my family, from someone unstable enough, angry enough, to personally retaliate in some way. I would usually only worry about someone reading this particular site; you are the first commentator I would be scared of, lover of animals and all. You gave your name voluntarily, at no one’s request. It should be understood that you should not demand someone else’s real name.

              • Well, I appreciate your emotional honesty. You can do a credit check, a background check, and a criminal check and a motor vehicle check. I just spoke to my son-in-law in NY. He is a lawyer, too! Go for it.

        • Livvy:

          This is by far the stupidest, most moronic comment you’ve made so far. What does wedding food have to do with world starvation? Why not serve NOTHING and send all the food to those protein-starved people in Africa and India?

          • What a thing is relationship, and how easily we fall into that habit of a particular relationship, things are taken for granted, the situation accepted and no variation tolerated; no movement towards uncertainty, even for a second, entertained. Everything is so well regulated, so made secure, so tied down, that there is no chance for any freshness, for a clear reviving breath of the spring. This and more is called relationship. If we closely observe, relationship is much more subtle, more swift than lightning, more vast than the earth, for relationship is life. Life is conflict. We want to make relationship crude, hard, and manageable. So it loses its fragrance, its beauty. All this arises because one does not love, and that of course is the greatest thing of all, for in it there has to be the complete abandonment of oneself.

              • The deepity I posted, and you demeaned was written by Jiddu Krishnamurti. Check him out tgt. He is one of my greatest teachers on the power of culture. Check out Herbert Marcuse, and Georgia Kelly. Shame shame. Read about the Krishnamurti Foundation and culture.

                • I don’t care who wrote it. It could have been written by Stephen Hawking, Jay Gould, or Christopher Hitchens. I’d call it out just the same. The source doesn’t matter. The words do.

                  Also, that’s now at least the second thing you’ve plagiarized. Along with logic, ethics is not your strong suit.

      • Well, thank you for sharing your view. There is so much that is not appropriate in these times. Expectations, shoulds, should nots, waking up to meeting every situation with intelligence and compassion is our task. Forgive others for what you think is a faux pas. Live and let live, without putting undo expectations on others. This poor couple – have they begin given a copy of the comments here and the post?

      • How would serving vegetarian food be inappropriate for guests? Presumably most guests are not surviving on meat alone, and thus are able to eat vegetarian fare. Some might want meat in addition, but they are hardly going to starve, or even be unsatiated without it.

        If your beliefs go against their comfort, then your beliefs are what are unethical.

        There are many ways to make sure your guests are comfortable without violating your own beliefs. Guest demands are not the same as guest comfort. As long as the couple is serving food that most of their guests can eat, and liquids that most of their guests can drink, they are doing well. The guests may very well wish for a different menu, but wanting to be served something else does not make it an ethical failure on the part of the host.

        • How would serving vegetarian food be inappropriate for guests? Presumably most guests are not surviving on meat alone, and thus are able to eat vegetarian fare. Some might want meat in addition, but they are hardly going to starve, or even be unsatiated without it.

          For a wedding where a full meal is served (like this one), it is traditional and ethical to serve a meal that actually suffices as a meal for the lion’s share of people. If everyone was an omnivore, it wouldn’t be ethical to only serve meat. Maybe only ice cream should be served, and it should be called dinner.

          If your beliefs go against their comfort, then your beliefs are what are unethical.

          There are many ways to make sure your guests are comfortable without violating your own beliefs. Guest demands are not the same as guest comfort. As long as the couple is serving food that most of their guests can eat, and liquids that most of their guests can drink, they are doing well. The guests may very well wish for a different menu, but wanting to be served something else does not make it an ethical failure on the part of the host.

          I didn’t talk about guest demands, I talked about going directly against your guests comfort. If it wasn’t clear, put the qualifier “reasonable” in front of comfort.

          • For a wedding where a full meal is served (like this one), it is traditional and ethical to serve a meal that actually suffices as a meal for the lion’s share of people.

            But a vegetarian meal can be a full meal. The presence of meat does not have to make or break a meal. There are enough cuisines which eitther are entirely meatless, or have very little meat that one can easily carve together a very full menu, which doesn’t feature meat. Have a bunch of food stations around the room featuring cuisines that are vegetarian-friendly, like Indian, Mexican, Thai. Or have a macoroni and cheese, potato, pasta bars, with a bunch of different fixings, and add-ins. Not everything has to revolve around meat, and vegetarian could even be fun. I think a full on vegan meal might be a little more challenging, but I’m sure with some thought even that could be done.

            • But a vegetarian meal can be a full meal.

              Uh huh. I agree, and I haven’t claimed otherwise. In this case, though, the vegetarian meal would not be a full meal for a significant number of guests. How many times do you have to be told that?

              • In this case, though, the vegetarian meal would not be a full meal for a significant number of guests.

                Hmm, we seem to be disagreeing on the term “full meal”, which I generally think of as a protein, some carbs, and some veggies. Vegetarian meals can encompass those requirements. If your protein demands must come from meat and only meat, then the couple is not being a bad host, you are bing a bad guest, no better than the couple serving only chicken, and you demanding a filet mignon. In which I would say suck it up and deal with it for the two hours that a reception will take, and grab a burger afterwards, on your own dime.

                • No. We agree on the general definition. The key is that in this case, the guests would not be getting a full meal that they’d be able to eat. Yes, vegetarian meals can be full meals. Yes, the food served would likely constitute a full meal. No, the food that would/could be eaten would not constitute a full meal. Yes, the couple knows this in advance.

                  • The key is that in this case, the guests would not be getting a full meal that they’d be able to eat.

                    Ok, why would the guests not be able to eat the meal? Without looking at their menu, and the guests dietary restrictions, how would we know? The parents seemed to have assumed it would be all beans and dairy, but there are lot more vegetarian options than that.

                    • I think the claim of dietary restrictions is pretty good start. Throw in that the couple thinks that quiche and risotto is fine despite the problems with cheese, and I think we have a pretty good case that the food would not meet the restrictions.

      • “You’re arguing against a strawman. The food, by definition, was not going to be appropriate for a significant portion of guests. Past that, if you are the host of an event that people are expected to attend, you are responsible for their comfort. If your beliefs go against their comfort, then your beliefs are what are unethical. It’s pretty simple.”
        Then don’t go to the wedding. If beliefs clash that much maybe they should question their friendship. If I were vegetarian I would also serve meat for my omnivore friends,especially since I don’t have to prepare it, but I don’t look at eating meat as a capital crime.

    • The big deal is how we treat guests whom we ask to act as a witness of someone’s union. The quality of vegetarian dishes has no bearing on the fundamental question, is it appropriate to force unconventional values on people you have invited to act as witness to your wedding.

      I say it’s not, and either be a gracious host and be reasonable with your unconventional values, or do not invite them to act as a witness in your wedding. Honestly, if eating meat was such an moral aberation to me that I would not allow it at my wedding, I have to wonder why it would not also stop me from inviting these amoral people to my wedding.

      • But you aren’t forcing your beliefs on other people, or at least no more so than any other wedding. Most people eat things other than meat, so serving things other than meat shouldn’t be a problem. I don’t see how a meat eater imbibing on quiche, pasta, or fajitas goes against their beliefs.

          • That is not how vegetarianism works. You don’t take someone to a barbecue and give them, instead of a hamburger, a bun with some cheese, a slice of tomato, a lettuce leaf, and some ketchup and pretend that’s a meal.

            How many kids eat Kraft macaroni and cheese as a meal, even though it has no meat? How many people eat spaghetti with tomato sauce or alfredo sauce or quattro formaggi as a full meal. You don’t take a plate of steak, potatoes, & vegetables, lift off the steak and call it a meal. You provide other things. A slice of quiche with spinach and emanthal cheese, a pile of roasted vegetables laid over some field greens, and perhaps some rice with chopped peppers and onions and you will be quite full, I assure you.

            And if you get hungry later, stop at McDonald’s on your way home.

        • The fact that most people eat things other then meat has no bearing on the question. The value at question here is not the morality of eating vegetables, it’s the morality of eating meat. No one is arguing that eating quiche goes against anyone’s beliefs.

          If I believe eating meat is wrong, can I force people I have invited to my wedding ceremony to conform to this unconventional view. Put this on the other foot, would it be OK if the only meal being served was blood sausage, haggis, and red wine?

          • I would say that meal is disgusting, but not unethical. Unfortunately many a wedding features a near inedible meal at the reception. While unfortunate, it doesn’t rise to the level of unethical. If the vegetarian couple had a few tasty options for people to enjoy, they are already way ahead of the curve.

              • If this is not unethical, then ethics have no value. Ethics has a value in so much as it is useful in guiding people to behave appropriately towards one another. If you were this disrespectful to other people I doubt you would have anyone to interact with.

              • “Intentionally serving food you know your guests are going to find disgusting is unethical, right?”
                But surely friends and family have had meals with or at least have known far in advance that the couple is vegetarian. They aren’t going to show up at the reception and suddenly find out. And how do you know they are intentionally serving food guests don’t like or that the guests won’t like it? As far as I can tell,only a few elderly folk with digestive issues are complaining. I don’t think this is the case with this couple but what if they consider anything to do with killing,buying,eating,serving meat is criminal? That being said,I agree with Jack that in this case it is an ethical issue in that the couple is being”in your face” about the whole thing. Surely something could be worked out without bullying and hurt feelings or whatever.

                • Yes, the family should know you are vegetarian, but that’s not the same thing as expecting only vegetarian at the wedding. It’s also doesn’t actually address the issue. The people that are still arguing against the couple have agreed that a note in the invite doesn’t resolve the conflict.

                  And how do you know they are intentionally serving food guests don’t like or that the guests won’t like it? As far as I can tell,only a few elderly folk with digestive issues are complaining.

                  You just answered your own question. Their guests will have problems with the food. They don’t care. Q.E.D.

                  I don’t think this is the case with this couple but what if they consider anything to do with killing,buying,eating,serving meat is criminal?

                  If that’s not the case, then I dont’ see them having a case at all. They’re left with not wanting to spend the money that meat costs.

                  That being said,I agree with Jack that in this case it is an ethical issue in that the couple is being”in your face” about the whole thing. Surely something could be worked out without bullying and hurt feelings or whatever.

                  “Being in your face” is a bad phrase. It leads me to think of people saying “I don’t care if you’re gay, just don’t be in my face about it”, where the “in my face” part is witnessing a family be a family, and making standard, nonsexual conversation that happens to include a reference to a samesex husband/wife.

                  I agree though that the issue is bullying. If this wasn’t a wedding (a socially near mandatory event), the behavior would be fine.

                  • ‘I agree though that the issue is bullying. If this wasn’t a wedding (a socially near mandatory event), the behavior would be fine.’

                    Right, that’s the part that get’s me. The couple is not only inviting people to a near mandatory event, but they are asking those guests to perform a vital function at the event, to witness their union!!! Please come and do something important for us, but don’t think for a second we care enough about you to consider feeding you food you will find acceptable.

                  • ” “Being in your face” is a bad phrase. It leads me to think of people saying “I don’t care if you’re gay, just don’t be in my face about it”, where the “in my face” part is witnessing a family be a family, and making standard, nonsexual conversation that …”
                    I always understood that “in your face” literally was getting up in someone’s face and spouting off,giving directives. Maybe the meaning has changed with time.

            • So it would be ethical to invite people to a wedding and only have blood sausage, haggis, and wine on the menu? Just want to be clear.

              • It would be ethical…just unappetizing (for me). “I don’t like it” is not the same as unethical, though I guess from reading this thread, it’s easy to get confused.

          • The Morality of Eating Meat?
            Here: This is RELEVANT! There is a deriliction of the human race’s duty:

            To sit here all day and discuss the ethical behavior of newlywed who chose to offer vegan food is shameful. Read The Face on Your Plate. Eat it all you want, go buy 50 pounds of meat and stuff yourself tonight with it. But do not tell people what to serve their guests. DON”T GO if you don’t like it, and if you were not told what was on the menu, I think you can role model for others how to have manners, wish good luck and suck it up.

            • Also not relevant. I think you’re having some logic problems.

              The issue isn’t that they offered vegan food, it’s that they ONLY offered food they knew would be a problem for guests.

              Lastly, again, suggesting that the guests should suck it up does not release the hosts from their responsibilities.

              • The issue for “me” is that there is a lot of suffering in this world that needs to be addressed. Instead, we spend our time debating what is served at a wedding. There is so much suffering to address.

                  • I can only speak for me. But here is the 8 Commitments I try and follow as best I can. I would apply them to my participation as a guest, not what the newlyweds chose to do.

                    Eight Commitments of Ethical Culture

                    Ethics is central.

                    The most central human issue in our lives involves creating a more humane world.

                    Ethics begins with choice.

                    Creating a more humane world begins by affirming the need to make significant choices in our lives.

                    We choose to treat each other as ends, not means.
                    To enable us to be whole in a fragmented world, we choose to treat each other as unique individuals. having intrinsic worth.
                    We seek to act with integrity.

                    Treating one another as ends requires that we learn to act with integrity. This includes keeping commitments, and being more open, honest, caring, and responsive.

                    We are committed to educate ourselves.

                    Personal progress is possible, both in wisdom and in social life. Learning how to build ethical relationships and cultivate a humane community is a life-long endeavor.

                    Self-reflection and our social nature require us to shape a more humane world.

                    Growth of the human spirit is rooted in self-reflection, but can only come to full flower in community. This is because people are social, needing both primary relationships and larger supportive groups to become fully human. Our social nature requires that we reach beyond ourselves to decrease suffering and increase creativity in the world.

                    Democratic process is essential to our task.

                    The democratic process is essential to a humane social order because respect for the worth of persons requires democratic process which elicits and allows a greater expression of human capacities.

                    Life itself inspires religious response.

                    Although awareness of impending death intensifies the human quest for meaning, the mystery of life itself, and the need to belong, are the primary factors motivating human religious response.

                    • TGT, your study has been law and the practice of law. My study has been trying to learn how to live my life with value. I am not sure how to do it, but I try each day, just like you. There is a metaphor from the ancient Buddhist Avatamsaka Sutra that helps me to live ethically. This is personal to me and I realize I cannot change others, but with my personal actions I can make one small change in the world.

                      The Net of Indra: There is the Universe – one enormous net extending infinitely in all directions, protecting and nurturing all life, nothing excluded. At the juncture of each knot of the net there is a shiny, multifaceted reflective jewel. Because of its many sides, each jewel reflects every other jewel in the net in a vast network of mutual support of each other’s existence. It is difficult to imagine the countless numbers of jewels in a net this size let alone the endless number of reflections on each jewel. No jewel exists without the other jewels. No jewel stands alone. All are interdependent on the presence of others. If one appears, all appear; if one does not appear, none appear. If you were to place one black dot on any one of the jewels, it would appear in all the jewels.

                      The Net of Indra is a compelling image: illustrating unceasing, unobstructed interpenetration and mutual independence of all existence. Every action, every word, every thought–our memories, desires, fears, urges, frustrations, happiness, peace, well being ripples its effect into the universe. NO one, no thing is exclued in this mutual resonance and all inclusive relationship. We carry in our heart not only our personal joys and sorrows but the joys and sorrows of society itself. When we take action that brings about well being for ourselves, we bring about well being in the world. So, my practice in life – and I have few years left on earth – is to try and live without bringing harm into the world.

                      I am not really sure how to do this but try. Therefore, I applaud the young couple for making a statement about not having animal protein at their wedding. I do eat a bit of chicken, and very little fish. I cannot for some reason totally not eat it…but I do eat little amounts. I am much healthier than most 63 year olds I know and take no medication.

                      I cannot tolerate seeing animals suffer needlessly to stuff my face with meat. I have seen too much and know too much that goes on behind the scenes of that nice freshly wrapped meat people buy. And I grew up in a family that consumed meat.

                      I am not a fruitcake or extremist, do not advocate violent protesting behavior. My truth belongs to me. Why, I even save the lives of insects and worms struggling to cross the pavement. That’s just who I am.

                      And you might be different. And that is good, too. I did not realize before posting today, that this blog had special rules. I posted from my heart, not from trying to win an argument, not to argue, or hurt anyone.

                      From my heart, I believe we all must make personal ethical choices. My choice is to embrace the wedding, the decisions of the couple, and their ccelebration. I celebrate life, not rules, logic. I celebrate the human heart. I make a mess of it most of the time. I wish I could be perfect, but I cannot. That is my personal heartfelt stance.

                    • TGT, your study has been law and the practice of law. My study has been trying to learn how to live my life with value. I am not sure how to do it, but I try each day, just like you.

                      First, I didn’t study law. Second, you’re making a category error. Studying law does not exclude trying to figure out how to live life with value. As already noted, I do that as well. Your insistence on saying things about me that are not backed by evidence and directly counter to the existing evidence does not make me think well of you or your arguments in general.

                      The Net of Indra:[…]

                      The Net of Indra may be a compelling image to you, but it’s not an accurate representation of the world. As such, making decisions based on the Net of Indra means that you may be making wrong decisions.

                      So, my practice in life – and I have few years left on earth – is to try and live without bringing harm into the world.

                      Good idea! Unfortunately, failing to call out bad behavior causes harm. You may need to fix your value system.

                      I am not really sure how to do this but try. Therefore, I applaud the young couple for making a statement about not having animal protein at their wedding.

                      That’s a huge non sequitur. You don’t know how to bring good into this world, so you applaud people who behave unethically. I’d say this is an invalid “the ends justify the means” rationalization, but the ends of this event are probably just for people to think of vegetarians as unethical idiots, so the ends are bad.

                      I do eat a bit of chicken, and very little fish. I cannot for some reason totally not eat it…but I do eat little amounts. I am much healthier than most 63 year olds I know and take no medication.

                      Correlation is not causation. Also, if you’re healthier than most 63 year olds, you should have at least 25 years of life left. That’s not “a few years”.

                      I cannot tolerate seeing animals suffer needlessly to stuff my face with meat. I have seen too much and know too much that goes on behind the scenes of that nice freshly wrapped meat people buy. And I grew up in a family that consumed meat.

                      We’ve heard. How is that relevant to anything?

                      I am not a fruitcake or extremist, do not advocate violent protesting behavior. My truth belongs to me. Why, I even save the lives of insects and worms struggling to cross the pavement. That’s just who I am.

                      You are a fruitcake. Not because you don’t want to eat meat, but because you have no connection to reality. Also “My truth belongs to me”? Pure deepity. Yes, you are what you are. So what?

                      And you might be different. And that is good, too. I did not realize before posting today, that this blog had special rules. I posted from my heart, not from trying to win an argument, not to argue, or hurt anyone.

                      The special rules are: Don’t be an unethical dick. Really difficult.

                      What’s more telling is the last sentence. You don’t care what is correct and incorrect. You believe you’re right, so it must not be questioned.

                      Everyone who has ever argued with me that faith is not dangerous, here’s exhibit Z.

                      From my heart, I believe we all must make personal ethical choices. My choice is to embrace the wedding, the decisions of the couple, and their ccelebration.

                      Again, the question is, was the couple’s behavior ethical. What you do with the resultant behavior is nice, but still irrelevant.

                      I celebrate life, not rules, logic. I celebrate the human heart. I make a mess of it most of the time. I wish I could be perfect, but I cannot. That is my personal heartfelt stance.

                      You deny logic. I guess that’s why you can’t see that denying logic is the fruitcakiest wackaloon position possible.

                    • We all “know” how to bring good into the world, tgt. Oh yes we do. I disagree with you but accept your views wholeheartedly.

    • “There are enough tasty vegetarian dishes out there to make meat quite unneccessary. Meat doesn’t have to a component of every meal, and you can be well fed without it. Why should a couple serve something which violates their own beliefs? That should be more unethical. Just because many of us find vegetarians annoying and self-righteous really shouldn’t change the equation.”
      That makes sense,deery. Some people,self righteous or not,find eating meat almost akin to cannibalism. They don’t want to see it or smell it. And even meat eaters take a break from meat once in a while. I was a vegetarian for two years and I can vouch that with some good recipes you can make very tasty,satisfying meals sans meat.

  8. I think it’s important to pay particular attention to the reason a vegetarian couple wouldn’t want to provide meat—they think it is unethical to eat or purchase meat. I suspect their preference to not pay for this food doesn’t come from being cheapskates, but instead from a (virtuous) preference to avoid participating in what they see as unethical behavior.

    It seems to me the couple is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    When you get married, there are certain people you’re expected to invite, whether you want to or not. But it’s important to invite these folks, since failing to do so will damage relationships with those who expect, or feel entitled to, an invitation. You mentioned eloping as an alternative, but that course of action also tends to burn bridges and damage family relationships.

    And there are bound to be people among those the couple is expected to invite that prefer meat.

    Even though I’m not a vegetarian, I don’t think it’s fair to expect a couple to behave in ways they view as unethical (for some good reasons) in the name of good hosting. Such an attitude on the part of the guests fails to show a respect for the couple one is there to love and support. There is a difference between forcing one’s ethical views on others on the one hand, and simply refusing to participate in what one sees as unethical behavior on the other hand.

    • They aren’t participating, if they aren’t eating meat. Why draw the line at buying (already killed) meat? Why patronize caterers who serve meat? Hotels that serve meat? Why hold parties for people who eat meat as soon as they are out of your control? This is militant vegetarianism, and inconsistent to boot. What do they accomplish by making their guests uncomfortable, other than self-righteousness? Sorry: I don’t see any ethical dilemma at all. They can be true to their principles without being bad hosts.

      • There’s no evidence that the line was drawn at simply purchasing and serving meat. The couple absolutely could have picked a vegetarian caterer or banquet hall, but drawing a line could be based on availability and price. If I can’t find a hall that meets my other desires, I have to either compromise on my hall desires or my other desires. This line of attack is pretty specious.

        Later on, I think you nail it: What do they accomplish by making their guests uncomfortable, other than self-righteousness? Sorry: I don’t see any ethical dilemma at all. They can be true to their principles without being bad hosts.

      • What if the couple is Hindu, and being vegetarian is a crucial part of their religion? Would you expect a Jewish couple to pay for a pork chop and then select the fish option themselves?

        • Of course, these are separate from the situation under discussion. tgt disagrees with me, but I think a religious observation makes the dilemma more difficult. I don’t know if Hindus are allowed to serve meat…if they are, then I would say that serving some would be a hospitable thing to do.

    • The solution has already been brought up: elope. If your ethical principles won’t let you put on an ethical wedding reception, then don’t have a wedding reception.

      • I bet the parents who are protesting so strongly against the vegetarian menu because it isn’t traditional would be even more distressed at an elopement.

        I think the solution is easy. Either print out the menu with the invites, or put “vegetarian only” somewhere along the reception cards. That way, everyone who agrees to attend already knows what they are getting into, those who are vegetarian are delighted, most of those who don’t care still won’t care, people who apparently are unable to eat any vegetarian options are able to eat beforehand or bring their own choice of meat, and those who hate vegetarians and everything they stand for can just stay home.

        • I bet the parents who are protesting so strongly against the vegetarian menu because it isn’t traditional would be even more distressed at an elopement.

          I think that deery is protesting so much because he killed a man once because they told him it was wrong to serve a vegetarian meal at his wedding, and he needs to justify his previous behavior.

          What? Only you can impart reasoning on actor’s that is not even hinted at in the available information?

          I think the solution is easy. Either print out the menu with the invites, or put “vegetarian only” somewhere along the reception cards. That way, everyone who agrees to attend already knows what they are getting into, those who are vegetarian are delighted, most of those who don’t care still won’t care, people who apparently are unable to eat any vegetarian options are able to eat beforehand or bring their own choice of meat, and those who hate vegetarians and everything they stand for can just stay home.

          Better than nothing, but not right. there’s a pretty strong ethical duty to attend a wedding, even if the food is something you’d have difficulty with.

          • How did you guess!!!??? I really need to cover my tracks better.

            There’s a pretty strong ethical duty to attend a wedding, even if the food is something you’d have difficulty with.

            I don’t think there is an ethical duty to attend a wedding, unless you’ve already indicated that you would attend.

            I guess the biggest puzzler for me throughout this whole thread is why people would have such difficulty with the food at the reception. Most of us don’t survive solely on meat, and we eat “vegetarian” options with most meals. I say this as a proud carnivore, but as long as it is well balanced, a vegetarian meal can be just as satisfying as any other.

            • I don’t think there is an ethical duty to attend a wedding, unless you’ve already indicated that you would attend.

              For someone you don’t know well? I’d agree. For a close friend or family? It’s roughly the most important event to be attended. At least, it is for people I know, and it seems to be assumed by advice columnists.

              I guess the biggest puzzler for me throughout this whole thread is why people would have such difficulty with the food at the reception. Most of us don’t survive solely on meat, and we eat “vegetarian” options with most meals. I say this as a proud carnivore, but as long as it is well balanced, a vegetarian meal can be just as satisfying as any other.

              First, you’re not a carnivore. If you were a carnivore, you’d have a problem with vegetables. Pedantry aside, you are again assuming facts contrary to what’s in evidence. I think this is the 4th time I’ve pointed it out.

              • A wedding might be an important event, even so, that does not mean I have an ethical duty to attend one, even for close family and friends, unless I have already indicated that I would attend. It might be sad that I don’t go, but not all sad things are unethical. If you can’t be bothered to eat a vegetarian dinner, then just don’t go. You have not created an ethical breach from your non-attendence.

            • Deery:

              There is NO strong ethical duty to attend any wedding. The couple is kindly asking you to witness their loving union. Not for the reception. Food is not the issue: the couple is.

                  • My words don’t depend on my name. My relevant biographical information is linked to my psuedonym, which is not my initials. Also, didn’t Jack tell you to cut this attack on psuedonymity out?

                    • I do not remember what Jack told me I should do on a public blog. You called me a troll and a trill. Did you not? You called Jane Tzilvelis a troll and a shill under the guise of the pseudo “name” tgt.

                    • Misspellings happen. Heck, I spelled atheist, athiest at least twice in the same comment.

                      More importantly, you don’t understand what a blog is. While it is publicly readable, it isn’t public space. This is Jack’s little fiefdom. He makes the rules, and we decide if we want to play by them. His previous polite request was here: https://ethicsalarms.com/2012/08/28/the-vegetarian-reception-carolyn-hax-strikes-out/comment-page-1/#comment-47414.

                      I did call you a troll and a shill. Also a hijacker, combining the two concepts. I stand by my statements.

                      Your words determine what you are, not your name.

                  • It does not matter what tgt’s real name is just like the validity of any argument does not hinge on who the speaker is. The argument stands independent of the individual.

                    Why this repeated fallacious line of questioning?

                    • Thank you. While we don’t seem to agree on much, we at least agree on the rules of logic… even if we don’t always agree when one of us is breaking them. 🙂

                    • Let’s just say we are much closer in opinion then I would have thought a couple days ago 🙂 We agree on the important stuff.

  9. And this is why I got married in my back yard with my father to give me away and my sister-in-law and a photographer friend to be the legally required witnesses. The four of us (my father was on call that day) went to a restaurant after and ordered from a menu. No gifts required but the photographer friend wouldn’t let us pay the bill. lol.

  10. I think the claim of dietary restrictions is pretty good start. Throw in that the couple thinks that quiche and risotto is fine despite the problems with cheese, and I think we have a pretty good case that the food would not meet the restrictions.

    You can easily make quiche without cheese, and risotto certinly doesn’t require any. Plus there are tons of ethnic cuisines the couple can pick from which rely on neither dairy nor beans, if some of their older guests don’t like either. It seemed from the letter that the couple was willing to take their guests dietary restrictions into account, all while not having to serve meat. This way their guests’ comfort is addressed, while the couple’s own ethical concerns are satisfied.

    • A quiche without cheese isn’t a quiche. It’s a small pastry.

      You can’t use the plus, as that’s not what the couple is doing.

      Even if we got into the plus, it still wouldn’t help, unless you suggest the guests would be comfortable with food they wouldn’t want to eat. Reasonable accomodations aren’t made when you’re serving Great Aunt Mildred traditional Incan food.

  11. We don’t what the couple is doing/have decided to do. Most Americans are reasonably familiar with Italian food as an example of ethnic cuisine, and it adapts very well to a vegetarian menu, for example, as does Mexican.

    Most people don’t subsist solely on meat, so we have to assume the vast majority of people are already eating vegetarian options. The presence or non-presence of meat together with those options doesn’t suddenly change them to exotic items that most people wouldn’t want to touch.

    • We do know what the couple suggested was good enough. And that’s what we’re judging.

      While it’s irrelevant what could occur, you fail at that as well. You are relying on having it both ways. You claim the vegetarian meal could be a full meal. You also claim it’s just like a usual meal, but without the meat. It’s can’t be both.

          • I cannot believe the discussion. I guess that is why I have stayed so long. I have never seen such a discussion. I cannot believe that people are so concerned with what this young couple served at their wedding. Bless them. Sending them love and light.

            • I could be wrong, but I’m assuming you do understand that neither the post nor the thread is concerned in the least with what this anonymous couple does or doesn’t do, but rather the broader issues of a host’s duty to guests, the Golden Rule, the fairness and respect of forcing guests to adopt one’s personal lifestyle preferences at a wedding, when alerted that they may prefer different treatment, arrogance, self-righteousness, and kindness. You injected the “live and let live”, go with the flow, hey, what the hell, “Imagine”, “Give Peace a Chance” element which predictably runs counter to the whole purpose of ethics, which is to make an aggressive inquiry into what constitutes right and wrong conduct in a community and towards others. I think tgt and others find the flaccid and hackneyed view you relentlessly espouse alarming, because it leads to no standards at all—which gives the upper hand to the selfish, the shameless, and the doctrinaire.

              • Jack, what would you say to an Orthodox Jewish couple who decide to serve a dairy meal (hence, no meat) at their wedding, despite the possible distress of their non-Orthodox and non-Jewish guests?

                (Why would they do this? For one thing, many of the most delicious wedding cakes have dairy ingredients.)

                  • But they could also serve their religious obligation by skipping all dairy (settling for a less yummy cake frosting, perhaps) and serving meat.

                    That aside, I don’t understand why a religious obligation deserves more respect than the moral obligation of a couple who genuinely believes that “meat is murder” – that is, that meat-eating is terribly immoral.

                    • Because religious morality is imposed by an outside authority. “My religion doesn’t permit eating meat” is accurate. If you are devout, you don’t flout God—you “can’t.” Self-imposed morality is different, especially when it’s symbolic. The couple isn’t saving a single chicken, fish or cow by not letting their guests eat the meat that has already been killed. And if they think their friends’ lifestyle is that repugnant, then they shouldn’t have them as friends or at their wedding.

                    • But the Othodox couple isn’t forbidden to eat meat by God. They are forbidden to eat meat and dairy at the same meal, but nothing prevents them from serving meat and skipping the dairy at the wedding reception.

                      Regarding the claim that people who think meat-eating is immoral shouldn’t be friends with meat-eaters, I couldn’t disagree more.

                      It would be different if there was a widespread social consensus that a certain trait was beyond the pale — I wouldn’t be friend with someone who is a Nazi, for instance. That’s a settled issue, and no decent person could be a Nazi.

                      But on moral issues where decent people can reasonably disagree, such as the morality of meat-eating, abortion, gay marriage, etc., surely we’re all better off being friends rather than cutting ourselves off from all disagreement.

                      Finally, I disagree with you that (from the meat-is-immoral perspective) there’s no benefit in not buying enough meat to feed 50 or 100. All any of us can do, as consumers, is have a incremental impact on the demand for (X), but it doesn’t follow that we should therefore take no moral responsibility at all for what we choose to purchase. A tiny, incremental impact is not the same as no impact at all – especially when one is part of a larger movement of people making similar decisions (as vegetarians are).

                    • I agree with that, Barry, but you did use the term “murder.” I think we have good reasons to shun those we believe are murderers, and that it’s a good idea to do so. Of course, to be a true murderer, one has to have the mens rea,. The theoretical couple would be murderers if they killed a cow, but not someone who didn’t believe it was murder.

                      Yes, its a trade-off. I think the duty to be a gracious and accommodating host attaches when you decide to give a party. If you feel fulfilling the obligations require moral breaches, then don’t be a host.

                      That’s why I suggest eloping.

                    • Because religious morality is imposed by an outside authority. “My religion doesn’t permit eating meat” is accurate. If you are devout, you don’t flout God—you “can’t.”

                      Following an outside rule that interferes with actual ethics isn’t ethical.

                      The person is the one that makes the decision. That they make a bad call with religion is no different from making a bad call without religion.

                    • We’re not disagreeing. The moral code/ethics dichotomy, however, involves the follower to abandon ethics entirely, and embrace a moral code that they “can’t” vary from. Since God can’t be wrong, a result flowing from morality can’t be wrong either. When devout Christians call gays sinners, they feel they are being true to a moral code, and never reach the point of considering ethics at all.

                      It is like selling yourself into slavery. Once it is done, the time for choices is over.

                    • Jack,

                      We are not in agreement. You claim that religious people are justified in meeting their religious requirements, even if it is unethical to do so.

                      I agree that the religious people aren’t actually thinking about ethics most of the time, but that does not excuse or justify any unethical behavior.

                    • Right. Because ethics involves choice, and religious obligations are obligatory, if you subscribe to the tenets of the religion. Those who give themselves over to a morality system decreed by “others” in authority eschew ethics. When I have appeared on TV and radio, I get hate mail for advocating “weighed morality,” meaning that people have the right to think about it and decide what to do. My point is that those who follow a strict morality can’t be said to be unethical, just wrong. They aren’t engaging in ethical thought, theory or practice.

                      That’s both the strength and the weakness of organized religion. Ethics is hard, and easy to screw up. Religion just tells you what to do. This is, of course, Livvy’s problem as well.

                    • No Jack, religion is not my problem. Let me speak for myself. I go with the flow of the stream. Much easier way to live. I do not live in the land of good or the badland. I go with the flow, the winding pathless river of beginningless traceless time, where I must intersect in space and time through various events. Read Flow.

                    • Flow=Inertia/passivity/apathy/abdication/abdication of responsibility Do you stop going with the flow when there is evil around you? Presumably you will say you do. Then you do not go with the flow. You go with the flow when it suits you, and you can stay above the fray. That’s a life strategy, if not a very noble or courageous one, but don’t pretend it is a philosophy.

                    • Jack, am I correct in feeling that you are an “either or person? Everything I glean from what you write is should, should not, either or, duty, obligation, etc. Where is your magic? Where do you hang loose? Is life all or nothing this way or that for you? Everything depends….check out the Watercourse Way as a good option to read – if you choose to – and if you don’t I accept that, too. Everything does not require a strong yes or no.

                    • You are, in fact, not correct. I acknowledge that there are many ways to approach all dilemmas, in most cases. I also believe that it is possible to find the better and best ways, and that all ways do not have equal value or validity. Abstract principles are useful, but they have to yield, sometimes, to real complexities, which do not permit lock-step governance by rules.

                      I have an abundance of magic. In fact, while typing this, I turned my dog into a potato.

                    • I am attending an ethical society meeting tonight. Please send me a resource that religion cannot be discussed within an ethical discussion.

                    • I am attending an ethical society meeting tonight. Please send me a resource that religion cannot be discussed within an ethical discussion.

                      You’re asking for an appeal to authority? Seriously? The reasoning, the part that matters, was given.

                      Also, anything can be discussed in an ethical discussion. We can ethically talk about whether Sid Meier’s Civiliation games gave gotten worse, better, or neither.

                      In an ethics discussion, again, anything can be discussed. We can talk about the ethics of believing in a religion. It people were acting ethically, it would be a short discussion, but it would be discussed.

                      What doesn’t make sense, though, is to consider religious values as ethics values. They might lead to ethical conduct, but that’s not the same thing.

              • Good Morning Jack, I hope you are in good health and good spirits. Thank you for your response to how you and others feel about my view.

                I am responding here to your response to me. You stated:
                ____________________________________________________________
                “I could be wrong, but I’m assuming you do understand that neither the post nor the thread is concerned in the least with what this anonymous couple does or doesn’t do, but rather the broader issues of a host’s duty to guests, the Golden Rule, the fairness and respect of forcing guests to adopt one’s personal lifestyle preferences at a wedding, when alerted that they may prefer different treatment, arrogance, self-righteousness, and kindness. You injected the “live and let live”, go with the flow, hey, what the hell, “Imagine”, “Give Peace a Chance” element which predictably runs counter to the whole purpose of ethics, which is to make an aggressive inquiry into what constitutes right and wrong conduct in a community and towards others. I think tgt and others find the flaccid and hackneyed view you relentlessly espouse alarming, because it leads to no standards at all—which gives the upper hand to the selfish, the shameless, and the doctrinaire.”
                ___________________________________________________________

                1. Jack says: We are concerned with a host’s duty to guests. (Period)
                Did you mean to state a host’s duty to guests at a wedding?
                I just browsed the web to see what articles I could find on the host’s duty at a wedding with regard to food offerings. I did not find any particular article on that topic. Please send me your resources showing what a host’s duty to guests are AT A WEDDING. Be specific.

                Since we are concerned with the host’s duty (specifically for wedding guests) I thought you might enjoy reading what someone wrote on the web about doing a wedding for $500 in two weeks. This article illustrates that there are numerous ways to “do a wedding,” There are 84,000 ways to do a wedding if you understand what I am stating. I, am not privy to where I can find literature on the proper way. Who is the author of the “proper way to treat guests?”

                http://www.wikihow.com/Plan-a-Wedding-in-Two-Weeks-and-for-Under-$500

                3. Jack stated that, “whole purpose of ethics, which is to make an aggressive inquiry into what constitutes right and wrong conduct in a community and toward others.”

                Then Jack stated, my view is a ” flaccid and hackneyed view you relentlessly espouse alarming, because it leads to no standards at all—which gives the upper hand to the selfish, the shameless, and the doctrinaire.”

                Jack, I think your view would not work for me, or the view of others here. We are doing an inquiry “together” on this page. What does the word inquiry mean to you, Jack?

                Does it mean that if someone holds a totally different view, they land up being called names on here, and pummeled into the ground because they hold a different view? Again, we are inquiring together as a team. Are we not?

                I am not a lawyer. I am one of 7 billion people on earth who all hold different views on how a host should treat a guest (at a wedding). Because my view is not your view or others on here – does that make me narrow minded, a shill, a wackaloon, a troll, as I have been called. Aren’t we inquiring together, concentrating on the topic “together?”

                Jack, I am no master of anything. But I have spent 12 years in Buddhist discussions with priests on ethics. So this counts for me when I make my decisions on a topic. I also belong to an ethical society and a fellowship circle. Now all the participants in the two groups I belong to are made up of the same fabric you and I are, and the folks here. We are all made of earth, air, wind, and fire. So, I think an important discussion needs to take place on this blog: Namecalling and how are we inquiring together? I inquire kindly, taking deep breaths and concentrating on what I inquire.

                • Good morning! Except that I’m jamming for an ethics seminar, and don’t have much time.

                  1. No, I was talking about hosts’ duties to guests, not just at weddings. But a host who invites a guest to a function where attendance is obligatory and where a gift is expected has special obligations.
                  2. Of course your participation is part of the inquiry, but it is part of the inquiry arguing that the inquiry itself is not necessary. “Live and let live,” in the extreme form you espouse it, is an anti-ethical philosophy, good for living on mountaintops, destructive for building safe and fulfilling groups and communities.
                  3. Presenters of weak arguments shouldn’t be misled by others refusing to let them know their arguments are weak. “I have my truth, you have yours” is a way of avoiding discussion, not engaging in it. Characterizing a flaccid and hackneyed argument as flaccid and hackneyed may be direct, it may be harsh, it may even be mistaken, but it is not name-calling. It is calling something what it is: truth. You like truth.
                  4. Trolls are those who get their jollies from arguing for the sake of arguing, and they are a plague on serious blogs and websites. Eventually, I ban them. Tgt was mistaken to call you a troll, though it occurred to me as well—I haven’t had anyone seriously espouse the arguments you have been in a room not on a college campus and that was not filled with funny-smelling smoke.
                  5. I respect your passion, writing skill and willingness to contribute, as well as your ability to take a shot. This thread will be an Ethics Alarms classic, and its all because of you. But you couldn’t be more wrong.

                  • Jack, I will not be offering my thoughts on any other article but this one. All ethics discussions I have participated in whether with priests at the monestary, or in fellowship circles, and ethical culture societies, I have never seen what I see going on here. Yes, again, my solution for the community, (what culture here?) is to go to the wedding and give a gift.

                    Jack, when time permits, please state your resources for making your decision. You have not shown them yet. For thousands of years, people have had weddings. There are 84,000 ways to have a wedding based on numerous criteria. That is my offering to the discussion here: LIVE AND LET LIVE…this is not a Nazi training ground…Do as we say, swallow what we say here….or I ban you from the page. Remember Jack, you are the moderator of the name callers.

                    • Absolutely untrue, as well as unfair. I have never banned anyone here for disagreeing with me, and this is anything but a monolithic forum. I frequently warn name-callers. but if someone writes something idiotic, they risk being called an idiot.

                      My resources and principles, as well as rules are listed on the home page. It is a good idea to read them before writing.

                      I would also say that single-issue commenters here are not interested in ethics, as a rule, but rather have an agenda. The work of the blog is cummulative.

                    • Thank you for your award, Brian. Be well, and have a wonderful day. We are so lucky to have met one another here.

                    • Now, see, this reads completely insincere, hostile and sarcastic to me. It is a Sue Ann Nivens device, or like the discourse of all the racist women in “The Help.” . Smile, say nice things that seem unhinged from the context, and make it very clear what you are really thinking. I don’t believe this kind of “civility” is civility at all.

                      Thank you for your award, Brian. Translation: “You can bite me.” Be well, and have a wonderful day. Translation: “I hope you get hit by a bus.” We are so lucky to have met one another here. Translation: “If I never hear of you again, it will be too soon.”

                    • Brian, I do not feel the way Jack describes how I feel from reading my statement. I hope your day has went well. This has been an interesting learning experience for me.

                    • I have never banned anyone herefor disagreeing with me

                      That I am posting is evidence that disagreeing with Jack is not a one way ticket out of here. You want to see actual strident language? Google for “site:ethicsalarms.com abortion tgt”.

                      The call of fascism looks like an attempt to bait Jack into banning the poster, just so she can claim she was improperly banned… and even though it would be completely within Jack’s rights to ban her.

                    • Oh come on, tgt. I hereby promise to all of you and your friends, that I do not bait anyone, will not bait anyone, nor have bad intentions to do anything to anyone. I am enjoying the discussion. There is nothing for me to gain. Jane Tzilvelis

                      PS – I don’t even bother with facebook, or am interested in creating a personna, or need to make one or keep face) Just an ordinary person enjoying an energetic discussion. Jane Tzilvelis

                  • One point beef and one counter point:

                    1) Weddings can be done to any scale, but if you’re going to do a full meal (as this couple is), then at least an attempt should be made for food your guests can and will eat.

                    4) Just like to argue isn’t enough to define a troll. It’s intentionally arguing to upset people, normally when you don’t believe the point you’re backing. I like to argue, but I don’t troll.

                    Beyond that, people who hijack threads for their own pet causes are also called trolls. I did apologize for my original call of trolling because how I was intending to use the term to apply to Livvy was incorrect. I only brought the term back when it, differently, seemed to fit.

        • @Livvy…please go to the top of the blog and read what the purpose of this blog is. Please read all of the information under concepts and special terms. I think this might help because I’m not sure you are understanding the use of arguments made by commenters on this blog. Ethics is a discipline and TGT is arguing effectively. You are not arguing effectively. This has nothing to do with being dumb or stupid. You are just not using the tools which will help you form a less fallible argument.

  12. You claim the vegetarian meal could be a full meal. You also claim it’s just like a usual meal, but without the meat. It’s can’t be both.

    Why not? They are essentially two different ways of thinking about the same thing. A vegetarian meal can be a full meal, we both agree on that. A vegetarian meal is the same as any other meal, only meatless, which doesn’t mean that it can’t still qualify as a full meal. Easy-peasy.

  13. I think it is important to read the original letter to Carolyn Hax for which Jack provided a link. I have a feeling that some who have commented here did not even read the letter. Hax is usually not derailed by the personal agendas, distortions, rationalizations etc. in her readers’ letters asking for her advice. I think this is a slam dunk. Jack is right. Hax got this one wrong. And there is no recipe for quiche which would make Hax right. It’s not about the quiche.

  14. As usual you’ve given us a lot to chew on Jack! Traditionally the host assumes the responsibility for the care, comfort, and safety of his (this is classical) guests and would expect the same in return. This shows the host to good advantage and is the kind of conduct expected under Platonic and Aristotelian ethics, where reciprocity was the norm. In today’s egocentric world, the host uses what used to be a private event to promote him or herself publicly. While I would prefer the old ways, given the standard fare they serve at these catered events, even in the best of settings, the guests may do better with a vegetarian dish.

    Still, the message they are sending their guests is interesting one open to multiple interpretations:

    • Political – the cuisine is the message.
    • Post-structuralist – the invitation subverts the traditional roles of host and guests, as well as parents and children.
    • Psychoanalytic – food fights often mask, or are a subtle form of, aggression (familial?).
    • Sociological – they are cheap, as you mention, but monetary issues are often a form of control.
    • Game theory – a take it or leave it offer suggests their mind is set as is the menu and it’s late in the game.
    • Strategic – they are looking for buy-in from the columnist to get more money from their parents.

    Guests would be advised to bring, instead of take, a doggie bag. Also, find out if they’re serving alcohol!

  15. A short, slightly off-topic postscript: livvy1234 somehow seems to be under the impression that the commentators here don’t care about “important” social and political issues, which is completely idiotic considering all the (often combative) discussions the regulars had on this blog about issues regarding US public policy, adoption, freedom of speech, etc.

    • Karla, this is the good old boys club appears to me. What’s a man to do without meat? LOL MEAT NUM NUM NUM GIVE ME MORE MEAT SO I CAN GET MY FIRST BYPASS. HA HA I needed to joke a bit here after all.

      • “Karla, this is the good old boys club appears to me. What’s a man to do without meat? LOL MEAT NUM NUM NUM GIVE ME MORE MEAT SO I CAN GET MY FIRST BYPASS. HA HA I needed to joke a bit here after all.”
        livvy,another thing that’s funny is meat is very hard to digest.

          • Jack, my spouse died January 27th of this year. Two years before his death, at 62, (in retirement playing tennis daily), he had a coronary bypass. He was very frightened at that time because the surgeon would have to hold his heart in his hands for one minute during the operation.

            My spouse loved meat.

            When considering the good or bad, should’s and should nots of ethical conduct for our culture, I feel one must consider all perspectives. There is no one way to conduct a social event. And if I went to a social event that promoted cigarette smoking because it was the acceptable norm to have people smoking at the same table as I, then I would have to make a personal choice whether I wanted to attend or not. Nothing is black or white. It was ethical for doctors to deliver babies without washing their hands decades ago.

            • Paragraph 1 and 2 are relaed to nothing.

              paragraph 3 is just more of the same tripe you’ve been pushing. Basically: “There is no right and wrong, so it’s wrong for you to call this other behavior wrong.” Can you spot the contradiction?

              • Jack, I am not a client of yours. I am flawed. I contradict myself. So do you, Jack. So do you. Paragraph one was important to me. I feel you are so enmeshed in a web of duty, right and wrong, that you cannot even say, “Sorry to hear your spouse passed on.” This is a blog, not an order in the court, a place to discuss things kindly, not bing bam. Talk about ethics? Wow. Hearts made of stone…no common courtesy to offering a sympathy statement? But I accept you, Jack, totally – as you are, and your beliefs and values. I hope you accept mine. This is the issue or am I mistaken? One day, Jack, you will feel the hurt of someone not offering you a kind word when someone you loved dies. That’s how far away you are Jack, it appears to me…far far away…in the land of duty, good and bad. Consider this Paragraph One, Section II Point A.

        • Yes, meat is very hard to digest. If we eat things that are hard to digest late at night (older people) it is hard on our system. Of course, this does not mean that because one eats meat late at night that will happen, either. The best thing is to ask your doctor if you are at risk for a heart attack.

          LOL…also, it is not easy for 30 feet of intestine to digest dead animals. So many people have difficulty going to the bathroom. All they need to do is refrain from walking around with dead animals in their intestine and they will poop better. Especially when one injests white flour and dead flesh…it makes a paste on the intestinal walls, and peristalysis is slowed down. Perhaps the host and hostess of the wedding where thinking about people’s health when they decided to avoid serving animal protein. I wish that Mr. Marshall would have wrote the journalist who supported the young newlyweds to come on here and voice their feelings. That would have added a new perspective.

          • I’m pretty sure Karla’s statement was sarcasm. There was nothing funny in either your statement or Karla’s (except for it’s deadpan of yours)

            Also, we already have Hax’s perspective. I’d hope she would change it, but the original one was not good.

            • That’s okay, tgt. I understand the need to be sarcastic. It makes on feel on top of! Thank you for coming out and sharing this. I took what Karla said to be true – not an act to make fun of – but she needs to speak for herself…we will wait to hear from Karla – she is not present right now.

  16. Maybe some of this arguing comes from not understanding what constitutes a vegetarian diet. It’s not rabbit food,twigs and leaves. On the other hand if dad can’t eat beans or dairy that could be a problem but lots of older folks have dietary issues and trying to accommodate all of them might just be impossible.

    • One meal isn’t going to make anyone sick. Diabetics are taught for decades to prepare food and take something along with them. We are talking about ONE meal out of how many in a lifetime.

      • “One meal isn’t going to make anyone sick. Diabetics are taught for decades to prepare food and take something along with them. We are talking about ONE meal out of how many in a lifetime.”
        I agree,livvy. If a couple courteously asked those with special dietary needs to bring their own food I don’t see any problem with that.

        • Thanks for your thought here, Karla. I think when we go into the present moment (say, we were at the wedding where veggies were being served), our body, speech, and mind in the moment can affect many people. Perhaps there are guests at the wedding that are having medical problems, some might be getting a divorce, and others might be facing financial problems or recently faced a death in the family. What is important to me, is relationship, and not hard stiff rules to live by. I must question everything I do, and how it affects others.

          The world will never be in order. It will always be chaotic and full of problems. But, the good thing is I can make change with my personal actions. I can go to the wedding with a smile, and enjoy the camraderie. I can smile at someone who might not be getting too many smiles in their direction. I can talk to a person who might not have too many people to talk to in their daily life. Every moment is filled with potential in which I am alive. I have a choice how I manage every event I witness. Without a community supported and motivated by the same ideal, the world cannot go far. We are not islands or separate units. No healing or transformation can take place in the world without each other. We are interdependent. All of us need to be heard, whatever our stance.

          I also feel that going to a wedding where the bride and groom took a stance on the food is an opportunity for each one of us to watch ourselves. What comes up – as I have seen on this blog – the need to be right? The need to call each other names? How do we meet each situation in our lives with intelligence and compassion. The shoulds and should not rules are cultural rules. They are dead rules, with no breath of their own. We need to take a look at the past as it helps inform us, but we also need to modify what doesn’t work yesterday for the sake of tomorrow.

          I applaud the young couple for trying to come into their own adulthood. Each of us does it differently. They are struggling with how to be in this world just like all of us here. Smiling to my breath. Jane

          • I must question everything I do, and how it affects others.

            If the couple did this, they wouldn’t be in this spot. Can we judge them now?

            We are interdependent. All of us need to be heard, whatever our stance.

            First, false. Second, even if true, that doesn’t mean that everyone should be listened to.

            I also feel that going to a wedding where the bride and groom took a stance on the food is an opportunity for each one of us to watch ourselves. What comes up – as I have seen on this blog – the need to be right? The need to call each other names? How do we meet each situation in our lives with intelligence and compassion. The shoulds and should not rules are cultural rules. They are dead rules, with no breath of their own. We need to take a look at the past as it helps inform us, but we also need to modify what doesn’t work yesterday for the sake of tomorrow.

            The need to be right is what the couple is doing here. Instead of being gracious hosts, they are being sanctimonious twits. They took a stance in a completely inappropriate place to take a stance. While this does let us see which among us would behave ethically there, that does not make their behavior ethical. You seem to not understand this.

            The shoulds and should not rules are cultural rules. They are dead rules, with no breath of their own. We need to take a look at the past as it helps inform us, but we also need to modify what doesn’t work yesterday for the sake of tomorrow.

            The shoulds and should nots that we are talking about are not rules we’re following by rote, they’re the results of dynamically determining what is appropriate. It’s exactly what you want us to do, but somehow, you still think it’s wrong.

            I applaud the young couple for trying to come into their own adulthood. Each of us does it differently. They are struggling with how to be in this world just like all of us here.

            Nothing there has anything to do with the ethics of their decision.

            • tgt, what would you do if you went to an event where there were 3 chain smokers next to you? You have a choice. You can stay, you can leave, you can change tables, if possible, or not go. There is no right or wrong way. The issue is there are 84,000 ways to do anything. How do you feel about flexibility? is it difficult for you to be flexible in particular situations?

              • Once they are stuck in a veggie reception, the GUESTS have the choice you are offering tgt. The post is not about the guests. I’ve been to inconsiderate, cheap, tasteless, self-centered weddings and receptions—lots of them. I’m gracious, I stay, I celebrate, I tolerate, I smile, I toast, I eat what I can, I write a thank-you note (if I remember). The post and discussion isn’t about the guests. They have to be flexible—they are already stuck—-unless they want to be rude and disruptive. Not a related issue. Tolerating bad behavior doesn’t validate it or excuse it, and it certainly doesn’t discourage it.

                • See, what comes up for me personally here, is your stance on how weddings should be. You state you have been to cheap, tasteless, self-centered (etc) weddings. Tgt, the world is full of all sorts of different people. I work on my own judgement issues all the time: patterns taught to me by culture. But there comes a time, when I need to look at the value system of particularily my culture, because that is what I am steeped in, and how it affects my view of the world at large.

                  One of my favorite docs on this is “The Power of Culture, An Exploration of Collective Transformation” by Georgia Kelly. I also like the work of Herbert Marcuse on Repressive Tolerance!

                    • How a person chooses to feel about an event is a personal assumption based on the patterns taught from culture, which drives how the person thinks, also how one is feeling physically, and what current issues are conscious, unconscious…not wording it exactly how I need to here, but there are many facets to the diamond. And each facet reflects upon the other. So there is no SET WAY to feel about an event. I could go to a wedding event that HAS MEAT and think the meat tastes terrible and someone else think it great. I am saying, loosen your collar, chill out, let life be, enjoy the sunshine, take the rest of an afternoon off when you can…go fish, go golf, play with your kid, life is not all one way. Go with the flow as long as it does not cause harm to another. That’s all I am saying.

                      Ethics has value. Of course it does, but in this particular situation, the wedding issue is not a big deal – its one small moment in my life that I would be doing. I have more important issues to discuss for the betterment of culture.

                  • I work on my own judgement issues all the time: patterns taught to me by culture. But there comes a time, when I need to look at the value system of particularily my culture, because that is what I am steeped in, and how it affects my view of the world at large.

                    And so, instead of referencing documents, we reference ethical ideals…and you complain that you want documents. Good show!

                    One of my favorite docs on this is “The Power of Culture, An Exploration of Collective Transformation” by Georgia Kelly. I also like the work of Herbert Marcuse on Repressive Tolerance!

                    I like Baseball. One of my favorite books on this is “The Say Hey Kid”, an authobiography of Willie Mays. I also like the works of Frank Herbert on repressive tolerance.

                    Still, those aren’t related to anything.

              • Of course there is right and wrong. Throwing water on them to extinguish the cigarettes: WRONG. Screaming at them until they stop: WRONG. Lighting a cigar and blowing the smoke in their faces: WRONG. Punching one of them in the face and threatening to do the same to the others unless they cease: WRONG. Asking them politely to either stop smoking or move elsewhere? RIGHT.

                But all irrelevant.

                • Remember Edward Bernays, the Father of American Advertising? He promoted smoking, using uncle Sigmund Freud’s paper on desire and ego –
                  Culture is dangerous. One must have a strong relationship with oneself and not just go along with what the cultural expectations are. One must be able to discern for oneself. Bernays, a man, told the ladies of his time to smoke! It became culturally acceptable for them to smoke because he promoted the idea that women are liberated if they smoke. He certainly knew how to sell cigarettes. Then, smoking became ethically correct at parties. And you were even more correct if you walked around using a cigarette holder! You were something. You were better than everyone else because you used one..(trend)

                  Then, time marched on, and it became incorrect to smoke in public. Perhaps, just perhaps, let us imagine that the host and hostess of the wedding are forging new ideas! They are the promoters of a new world, a refreshingly new way of thinking about life? Now I know it sounds preposterous to all of you here, but if life was in always in the tried and true lane we would die of boredom. There are many ways to look at anything…countless angles. I vote for the couple serving vegan food. They are individuals and yes they are making a new statement in a new time. It is okay by me. That is my view. I have other things to do at the wedding beside complain about the food. The host and hostess make me think about my life, my stuffiness, my ideas. That’s all I am saying…not whether they get 5 stars or no stars for being good or bad or what is RIGHT

        • So, it’s cool if I bring meat? Well, there goes pretty much whole justification for why they weren’t serving meat. We’re just left witht he couple not wanting to pay for it.

          • Exactly. The strongest argument, and I don’t think it was all that strong, was that the couple supposedly didn’t want to be abettors in the parade of animal murder and death. If they said, “Go ahead and bring your own burgers, though, that’s cool!” then principle has nothing to do with it. But then, this is their truth, and your truth and my truth can be true and still not truly be true to their truth…damn. Still can’t get the hang of it.

          • “So, it’s cool if I bring meat? Well, there goes pretty much whole justification for why they weren’t serving meat. We’re just left witht he couple not wanting to pay for it.”
            That would leave the couple not having anything to do with meat. That should work unless they are going to be even more unreasonable about it.

      • That’s just beyond stupid. No, one meal of crabs won’t make my friend’s little brother die…except that it will.

        We also aren’t talking about diabetics.

        • We are talking about the obligation of the host and hostess of the wedding to serve animal protein at their wedding? Is this correct? Once again, I feel the host and hostess are okay with what they are doing. That is my stance. I accept yours.

    • One of the main reasons that mass catered food is so bland is the need to handle dietary restrictions. it’s considerably harder to do vegetarian, and involves foods that are more outside the mainstream.

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