I often need to attend business dinners and lunches, and often do not have a say in the choice of restaurant. I’m vegan, and many restaurants do not have food options that I can eat. How can I participate in these professional meals without going hungry or looking impolite? – Danielle in Lancaster, CA
TINA: Communication is the key here with co-workers and clients. Many times, a restaurant is chosen for the location or convenience as opposed to the fare. My first suggestion would be for you to share your dining preference and offer a different restaurant which has a wider range of options.
If you are not comfortable sharing your preference (I would consider questioning why), I would suggest calling ahead to see what options that restaurant may have. Many restaurants – even fast food franchises – are offering options for alternative dining styles. I highly encourage you to not make your food preference an obstacle to conducting business.
LYNN: Danielle, whenever possible contact the restaurant prior to the event to check on vegan menu items. Many restaurants will have a separate menu for specific dietary needs. If not, they may be willing to prepare an individual dish for you. If you are unable to receive advance notice of the venue, ask the waitperson. Don’t be shy, righteous, or embarrassed. This is a normal, everyday thing for restaurants, and any venue. If the event is being managed internally, let the individual who is planning the affair know you are vegan. Most people will be accommodating, and in fact want to make sure you have options. Worst case scenario, eat before the event so you can enjoy a side dish or dessert while the others partake of their meal.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.