Dietary restrictions are incredibly common, and it can be difficult to accommodate everyone's needs when hosting a big, food-based holiday like Thanksgiving...
However, most people with allergies or dietary restrictions are gracious and understanding when someone even makes a point to try to cook something they can eat. Gluten-free, nut-free, meat-free, non-dairy, soy-free, Keto-friendly ethically grown and sourced menu demands can make preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for the family a full-blown, panic attack in the grocery aisle nightmare.
People with dietary restrictions that aren't life-threatening usually cut themselves and their hosts some slack during the holidays, and are willing to bend the rules a bit for one night. However, people who just started a trendy diet and are particularly passionate about trying to convince everyone around them to join their club, can be especially hard to please and downright rude. Making everyone happy is often impossible, so sometimes the only thing to do is cook the dinner you think is best and hope everyone who has a problem with it can either figure something out on their own, or grin and bear it with a slice of pie. Unless you're going to accidentally send someone to the hospital with your pecan dessert, most people are grateful that anyone even attempts to cook a dish that follows their "only plants blessed with an ocean crystal" salad restrictions.
So, when a flustered Thanksgiving host decided to consult the moral compass of the internet about whether or not she's rude for refusing to accommodate her needy sister-in-law's vegetable-related dinner demands, people were quick to offer advice.
AITA (Am I the As*hole?) For Refusing my Sister-in-Law's Vegetarian "Restrictions?"
My husband (30M) and I (30F) volunteered to host this year's Thanksgiving. He misses his family, whom we haven't seen since 2019, and he loves this holiday, so we worked to make it happen.
Usually everyone meets at his parents' home (6hrs from us) for Thanksgiving, but they're not comfortable hosting rn, so we invited them to our place. We offered to quarantine for 2 wks before (we wfh, so we can do it) and get tested, to make them happy & safe. They accepted, and on MIL's suggestion we also invited husband's siblings (same quarantine/test rule); older sis, husband & kid said yes, younger bro (28M) and SIL (27F) first said no, but later changed their mind and said they'd come. Last week I forwarded them our planned menu, and that's when things got weird.
SIL is vegetarian (maybe her husband too, idk), so I sent the menu to make sure there's food they can eat. It's a basic Thanksgiving menu, so everything but the turkey/gravy is vegetarian: mashed potatoes, corn pudding, green beans etc, and I added stuffed mushrooms and veggie cream soup. BIL said it's fine, but later emailed again asking where we buy vegetables. I said it depends (Trader Joe's, but if we quarantine we'll order instacart, so idk, Stop&Shop?), and then I got a weird email from SIL about how grocery stores are evil and we should all buy from local farms, with ten links to organic farms in our state.
I ignored the email. When she emailed again later following up, I said we'll look into it (i.e. politely waved her off). All week she spammed the family chat with articles about unethical practices in grocery stores, rats, mold, whatever. I don't care tbh (about her drama, not about unethical practices; i know the food industry is problematic,but I operate within the constraints of my time & budget), so I muted the chat. She must've caught on, because two days ago MIL gently told me SIL can't eat vegetables from Stop & Shop, and is very worried about Thanksgiving.
I said I'd get Whole Foods, but SIL emailed instead another list of farms. I ignored her again, so this morning I woke up to a msg in the family chat about how she & BIL just want to make sure their "dietary restrictions" aren't too much of a problem, and if I'm too busy to respond to their concerns, they don't want to impose and don't have to come. So I said we'll have many vegetarian dishes, but I can't control the provenance of the vegetables, and they're welcome to bring a dish or two with farm vegetables, if they want.
Now SIL is mad because i'm 'making her cook her own food' and doesn't want to come (watch me cry so many tears about that), MIL told my husband I should apologize, and my other BIL/SIL also think I should apologize to "keep the peace". My husband isn't mad at me, but I can see this is making him sad, and I don't want that. Kind of feeling like an AH for not apologizing/keeping the peace, but I'm also opposed to giving in because dictating where I can buy my groceries seems so unreasonable. AITA (Am I the As*hole)?!
Here's what the jury of internet strangers had to say:
This is ridiculous. She can buy the ingredients if it’s such an issue. - bunnylover582
Also, where do y'all live that it's not an unspoken rule that you bring at least one dish when you're not hosting Thanksgiving? She should be cooking at least some of her own food. At least one dish! It's just common decency - ireallycantrn
UGH. I have celiac, if you couldn’t make things GF I’d bring my own dishes and never expect you to bend over backwards to accommodate me. You made sure everything but the Turkey and gravy is vegetarian and added extra side dishes for them. That’s more than enough. - Inklingwannabe
she is ridiculous and I wouldn’t even want her to come, she will probably be rude and ungrateful. Do not apologize. - Rgirl4
You're doing something nice for them and you're adhering to their diet. If they want to bring all of the vegetables or find a way to get them delivered to you at a similar price then they're more than welcome to but if not then they're going to have to deal. Not everyone can drive out to a farm. - azuritexmoonstone
don’t apologize and them know they aren’t invited. - hideaway367
This isn't a dietary restriction, it's a preference. There's a big difference. I think you've done plenty by making sure there's plenty for them to eat. You're under no obligation to go out of your way to uphold their values, and your in-laws are being silly, expecting you to have to do all this for them. You've offered plenty of compromises, so if they can't accept one, that's on them. - BeTheCheeto
So, there you have it!
Everyone agreed that she is not in the wrong at all for refusing to go out of her way to get the specific type of vegetables her sister-in-law demands for the Thanksgiving she is graciously hosting. Accommodating their vegetarian diet with plenty of dishes available is enough, and asking your hosts to do even more work completely goes against the entire spirit of the holiday. Good luck, everyone!