Miss Conduct

Advice: At a party, we were served vegan mystery food

The host refused to reveal ingredients. What should we have done? Plus, stuck waiting, and funeral rite.

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I recently went to a graduation party where the entire menu was vegan, and nobody informed the guests ahead of time. I have a toddler and had I known that there would not be cheese for her pasta, I would have come prepared. My husband cannot eat most meat substitutes unless he wants to offend everyone’s olfactory nerves. The host refused to tell me what was in my food. What’s a guest who just wants to eat (and know what they’re eating) supposed to do in situations like this?

V.C./ Boston


Always be prepared! If you have a toddler — a literal flesh-and-blood one, or a metaphorical one in your psyche who bursts forth when your blood sugar drops — you need to keep snack packs with you. You just never know.

Vegan cuisine is great, especially in summer. A vegan taco bar? Sweet! Mystery cuisine, however, is a real problem. Meat substitutes and murky stews and they wouldn’t tell you what was in the food? That’s beyond rude, and that’s a nasty little control game. For some reason, many people find it cute or amusing to try to get others to eat things they don’t wish to. It’s no more harmless or entertaining than trying to subvert a person’s bodily autonomy in any other way.

Your best bet might have been to leave early, take the spouse and the kid to McDonald’s, sit on the hood of your car pigging out in the sunshine, and make a memory.

I always arrive on time for my hair salon appointments, but on three consecutive visits, I’ve had to wait 20 to 40 minutes for my scheduled appointment to begin. Is there a reasonable way to share my concern with my stylist — a co-owner of the salon?


F.C./ Worcester

The reasonable way is indeed to share the concern, as a problem you solve together (rather than berating her for what is almost certainly other customers’ bad behavior). Good framing! If you can’t book earlier in the day, she may well know who her chronic latecomers are and be able to avoid booking you after them in the future. In any case, she’ll be glad that you approached her about the issue rather than ghosting the business.

Can you please tell my grieving friend that she does not need to mail a thank you card to every person who attended her mother’s funeral? If people showed up at services but didn’t leave a card, she thanked them in person and does not need to mail them a thank you card, right? She currently has a spreadsheet of 70.

D.K./ Quincy

D.K.’s Grieving Friend — oh my heavens, love, stop! Immediately!

You don’t need to thank people by card for attending an event, especially a funeral.

If there are people you would like to stay in touch with, and use such a note as a way of launching the relationship, that’s one thing. But you are making an already difficult time needlessly arduous.

Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.