A friend of mine is vegetarian and recently shared a story about a business dinner she once attended. A long-time client offered to take her team out to celebrate a new project. The client suggested a local steakhouse, and, not wanting to rock the boat, my friend accepted. She had looked at the menu online and knew that there were few veggie options, but didn’t want to disappoint the team.
At the dinner, the client quickly clued into the fact that she wasn’t eating meat. He asked the waiter to have a special salad and pasta dish made up for her so she wouldn’t have to settle for the basic side dishes. My friend was really impressed, though the client did point out that he wished she had spoken up before. Had he known she was a vegetarian, he would have been happy to choose a different restaurant.
If you are hosting a work dinner and are craving a steakhouse or restaurant that specializes in fish, it’s sensible to ask your guests if they have any dietary restrictions. Or, look at the menu online—it only takes a moment to determine if there are solid vegetarian options beyond a basic soup and fries. If there aren’t, suggest something with a broader menu, such as an Italian restaurant.
If you happen to be vegan or vegetarian, there is no point in keeping quiet if you see that the restaurant is unacceptable. Don’t make a fuss, but if there really is no other option besides making a meal out of bread rolls and some boiled vegetables (as my friend once did at a French restaurant), either graciously decline the invite or tactfully ask if there are other restaurant options.
With more and more people going vegetarian and gluten-free, it helps to be flexible and open-minded about where you eat. Don’t book a table at that sushi restaurant or steakhouse unless you know your guests will enjoy it!