Am I obligated to accomodate a surprise vegan houseguest?
July 12, 2019 1:18 PM   Subscribe

It was supposed to be just my niece and her boyfriend for the weekend, but boyfriend's vegan roommate is also here and niece didn't call to tell me he would be. We're at a lake house full of food but nothing for the poor kid to eat except for a cantaloupe and 4 ears of sweet corn. The closest supermarket is about an hour away, and I feel like I should go get him some stuff. (The three of them are outside drinking beer and doing bong hits, so it's only me or my wife who can go) Thoughts?
posted by BadgerDoctor to Human Relations (91 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I think you're not obligated to go and get him groceries given that he's a surprise guest. He can eat cantaloupe and corn until they sober up enough to go to the supermarket and grab groceries themselves.
posted by watermelon at 1:24 PM on July 12 [143 favorites]

hard side eye at these kids. I vote naaaaah.
posted by stray at 1:24 PM on July 12 [52 favorites]

You are not responsible. Tomorrow, when they are sobered up, they can go to the supermarket themselves to get him food. He will not starve tonight.

They're adults, they can do adult things and live with the consequences.
posted by juniperesque at 1:25 PM on July 12 [55 favorites]

if they have a car, they can fend for themselves
posted by kokaku at 1:25 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]

Hope he likes cantelope.

Surprise houseguests with special dietary needs that are old enough to do bong rips on the back porch are also old enough to bring their own special foods to remote locations.
posted by slagheap at 1:26 PM on July 12 [203 favorites]

Not obligated, but it's the generous and decent thing to do, and later you have a Talk with your niece when she is sober. (Unless there's enough time for them to sober up and get to the store tonight, in which case tell them that's what they need to do if they want food.)

(It's not the vegan guy's fault his friends are flaky)
posted by trig at 1:26 PM on July 12 [20 favorites]

Them getting stoned gives you the perfectly plausible excuse that "well, shucks, I thought there should be one sober person at the house at all times, in case a fire broke out or something, so I didn't have a chance to go get food...."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:27 PM on July 12 [13 favorites]

If it were me, I would grudgingly go to the market and get the kid food. And then I'd pull the niece aside and let them know in no uncertain terms this is a one-time deal and that surprise guests of any kind when there's a limited amount of food are unwelcome, and that they should have notified you, gotten acceptance that this person is welcome, and have taken the initiative on getting food for their friend.
posted by jzb at 1:27 PM on July 12 [11 favorites]

Yeah you can't be an adult vegan surprise guest to the middle of nowhere and not bring your own food or expect to be provided for. Sounds like they are old enough to fend for themselves.
posted by greta simone at 1:28 PM on July 12 [48 favorites]

Surprise houseguests with special dietary needs that are old enough to do bong rips on the back porch are also old enough to bring their own special foods to remote locations.

This is absolutely correct. You are not under any obligation to provide for him. It seems harsh, but sometimes life lessons are harsh.
posted by Dolley at 1:31 PM on July 12 [19 favorites]

I would not spend two plus hours going out of my way for someone in this situation. Invite him to look through the cabinets, see what he can have but CHECK WITH YOU before eating. He may recognize other options that you hadn't considered. For example, in my kitchen there is rice, canned beans and peanut butter. Or he may be less vegan when hungry.
posted by metahawk at 1:31 PM on July 12 [60 favorites]

Okay so this is generally not how I think about vegans BUT...chances are he will eat some non-vegan stuff and also I think you should hide the corn. JMO. Also having been vegan at various points, beer is quite filling and caloric and he'll be fine.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:31 PM on July 12 [9 favorites]

Yeah, I'd vote with letting him learn a lesson by eating cantaloupe.

Admittedly, I would feel slightly more guilty (but no less pissed) if this was a life threatening dietary restriction. If he were diabetic, and not-eating was a health threat. Even then, I would probably ask them to get a taxi to the store and back themselves.
posted by EllaEm at 1:33 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]

I would go out there and say 'how bout you three keep me company while I go buy some food [roommate] can eat?'

You're under no obligation, but your niece will probably never forget your generosity.
posted by jamjam at 1:33 PM on July 12 [14 favorites]

A cantaloupe and 4 ears of corn is actually a decent amount of food. He won't starve. Second that beer also has calories. I say this as a vegetarian that's mostly vegan.
posted by mundo at 1:34 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]

He's the one who should have a plan for keeping himself fed, and he's chosen to do bong rips. Let him eat cantaloupe tonight.
posted by sculpin at 1:37 PM on July 12 [21 favorites]

He's having a surprise free summer weekend at a lake house where he can do bong hits on the porch: I think he's exactly where he wants to be. Has he even said he needs more food?
posted by teremala at 1:39 PM on July 12 [49 favorites]

He's having a surprise free summer weekend at a lake house where he can do bong hits on the porch: I think he's exactly where he wants to be. Has he even said he needs more food?

Yeah, exactly this. I also used to carry around a huge stash of vegan protein bars and stuff back in the day and there is a sizeable chance that if he actually is a super strict vegan, that he does the same.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:40 PM on July 12 [22 favorites]

This is a nice, safe time and place for them to learn a lesson. Niece (don't bring uninvited guests: not only is it kind of rude, it brings up awkward situations like this) and guest (don't assume that there's always food available for your very specific diet). Cantaloupe, corn, and beer sounds like a perfectly nice dinner. I'd encourage your niece to give up her servings of corn and cantaloupe so that he'll have more food to eat.
posted by Gray Duck at 1:41 PM on July 12 [12 favorites]

When I was vegan, I packed backup food when traveling (still remember you, Strawberry-Banana soy Slim-Fast). Surely this isn't the first time he's had to handle this. It's his responsibility to feed himself to his ethical standards and not his "flaky friend's" fault if he's eating all corn.

Your niece sounds like appreciating generosity isn't her strong suit.
posted by momus_window at 1:41 PM on July 12 [10 favorites]

I’m assuming the 4 ears of corn and cantaloupe were for the presumed 4 people and factor into their meals in some way. Obviously make the meals work for 5 but vegan guy might have brought his own stuff and it’s on niece and boyfriend to get something edible for the next days
posted by raccoon409 at 1:43 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]

I would never arrive somewhere uninvited and expect to be fed. I think that's unreasonable.

None of that has anything to do with you.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:46 PM on July 12 [7 favorites]

You are not obligated to accommodate a surprise vegan guest. Your niece is obligated, alongside the apology she owes you*. He can eat her and the boyfriend's corn and cantaloupe.

*Barring the possibility she was somehow pressured to bring this guy along. So it's worth having a conversation with her offline when you are able, remind her how phones work, and bring up the fact that she is always welcome to call y'all for an excuse to tell someone no if they are refusing to hear hers or otherwise being menacing.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:47 PM on July 12 [11 favorites]

If he doesn't care (ie he is doing bongs hits) then he'll be fine until tomorrow.
posted by Ftsqg at 1:47 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]

If you go get him food you're teaching him that he doesn't have to worry about taking care of himself because if he doesn't someone else will step up and do it for him.
posted by hazyjane at 1:48 PM on July 12 [31 favorites]

i agree with the suggestion to hide the corn bc it's hilarious
posted by poffin boffin at 1:48 PM on July 12 [65 favorites]

absolutely zero obligation. tomorrow you can tell them how to get to the food store and they can go stock up.
posted by supermedusa at 1:50 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]

If you're feeling generous, you can boil him up some rice and tell him to add what he wants to season it.

If not, well, he'll cope.
posted by ambrosen at 1:55 PM on July 12

Only supremely stupid people with special diets travel to remote places without their own food. Canteloup and corn it is, plus to the store with maybe a little bit of money from you for his own food tomorrow/when he's sober.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:55 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]

"Obligation" is a strong word, but as a gracious host I would probably make the food run and feed my guests. When they were leaving I would take the niece aside and let her know the expected etiquette for future visits.

If she knew the etiquette or otherwise had a history of behaving selfishly I might take it in hand to "teach them a lesson", but that’s not the first place I want to go if I want to feel good about how I spent my weekend. I’d rather cover for an error by someone I care about than make A Thing of it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:57 PM on July 12 [9 favorites]

I have a feeling that if you drive an hour to get food, spend thirty minutes at the store, and then an hour back, you will return to discover that Surprise Guest has passed out for the night and doesn’t need food. Or, that there are additional dietary concerns (gluten, GMOs, raw food only, etc.). Cantaloupe and corn should be fine for tonight, and Guest can shop for themselves tomorrow.
posted by betweenthebars at 2:01 PM on July 12 [38 favorites]

Canteloupe and corn actually sounds awesome to me during the summer, and I'm not even sure why the vegan guest is being presented as a "poor kid" for having that as his choices for one evening. Let the kid eat what you have in the house and then he and the other two can go get whatever he wants tomorrow.
posted by holborne at 2:04 PM on July 12 [7 favorites]

Why not go out there and say that you won't be able to get to the store and back in under 2.5 hours so you're thinking that he can just have the corn and cantaloupe for dinner, and see how he responds. If he freaks out or reveals some other illness, you can reevaluate.

I was vegan-in-most-circumstances for quite a while and tended to default to vegetarian a lot of times when I was a guest; this guy might too. (Honestly, if I were this vegan, I would feel extremely embarrassed and would be sad to only have corn and melon for dinner but would far rather be a little hungry overnight than make you drive 2.5 hours!!!)

I really wouldn't drive that distance. If it were an hour round trip, I'd say that you could just do it to be gracious, but an hour each way plus shopping is too much.

Also they shouldn't have gotten high without addressing the food issue.
posted by Frowner at 2:08 PM on July 12 [9 favorites]

I agree, he'll be fine. He'll either enjoy the beer, cantaloupe, and corn and be satisfied, or he will discover his inner flexitarian.
posted by rpfields at 2:09 PM on July 12 [13 favorites]

He’ll be just fine. If he had some dietary issues he would have either brought his own food or made his friends stop on the way to get some food. He’s probably used to drinking and foraging around a poorly stocked dorm or apartment for snacks. Cantaloupe is perfect for one night.

Going by the golden rule in this situation, what would you want? I would want to drink and have fun with my friends at this magical free vacation house, and then borrow the car tomorrow morning and pick out some stuff at the store (after sleeping in late). I might want some directions to the store or to know which local store has the best vegan selection, or something like that. I don’t want to feel super embarrassed that my own selfishness/cluelessness made my friend’s aunt take time out of her relaxing vacation to go to the store for me, omg how terrible!
posted by sallybrown at 2:09 PM on July 12 [17 favorites]

An hour to the store is a long ride. I wouldn't do it. I would look at my pantry to find some cans or dried goods I could convert into a side that could work as a meal for vegan guest.
I rather like unexpected guests, and I try to accommodate them the best I can. I see it as saving up in my karma account, and so far that principle has worked well for me.
Are you sure you have nothing? What about spaghetti, garlic, oil and chili? Or rice and a can of beans? Some stale bread, for making the cantaloupe and one of the ears of corn into a bread salad?
posted by mumimor at 2:10 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]

I will say I slightly mis-read the comment above "I'd vote with letting him learn a lesson by eating cantaloupe." - I believe they meant lesson from having nothing but cantaloupe to eat, but I interpreted it at first as 'I'll teach you a lesson kid, I'm going to eat all the fruit while you're stoned, and then where will you be?!' which was gratuitously mean, but funny. So when you wonder if you're being rude by not going to store for him, consider that you're solidly in the middle ground if you reserve all the produce for him.
posted by aimedwander at 2:15 PM on July 12 [9 favorites]

If the shop was ten minutes away, I would probably vote for going shopping, even though I don’t think you’re absolutely obliged to. An hour away? Definitely not. You’ll muddle through until tomorrow. If you have a house full of food, there must be something a vegan can eat at least until then, and if that really does end up being corn and melon, so be it.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 2:20 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]

Just... make sure he doesn't think he's going to forage in the wild with zero experience.

But also -- you were probably looking forward to the cantaloupe and corn. I'm not sure I'd donate 100% to him. Maybe talk with him about what his plans for eating are? You haven't said for sure that he didn't bring anything himself.
posted by amtho at 2:26 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]

Not obligated, not your problem. If there is rice, olive oil, pasta, potatoes around boyfriend's roommate is doing better than he should expect.

Being vegan means going with the flow and seriously if he's serious this is something that he should have anticipated, not expecting a family trip in the middle of the woods would have his preferred menu.

That said, it doesn't seem there is an indication that he *isn't* prepared to completely roll with it and eat half a loaf of bread for breakfast.

This is not your problem.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:28 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]

The closest supermarket is about an hour away, and I feel like I should go get him some stuff.

What about the closest gas station that sells potato chips?
posted by jacquilynne at 2:29 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]

you would be doing him an extreme disservice to go drive anywhere to get special food for him.

He would either be totally mortified (because he isn't expecting you to do that and would never mean for you to) or, if he's a thoughtless and entitled jerk, you will have helped him stay that way.

Don't do it. Beer and cantaloupe is what you get when you choose vegan restrictions and don't politely make them known in advance.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:34 PM on July 12 [27 favorites]

But also -- you were probably looking forward to the cantaloupe and corn. I'm not sure I'd donate 100% to him. Maybe talk with him about what his plans for eating are? You haven't said for sure that he didn't bring anything himself.

Yes! There are 4 corns for the 4 expected guests and he doesn't get all of them! Hide them!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:37 PM on July 12 [17 favorites]

a) I love this question
b) you gotta have some food that starts with B that can go with beers and bongs, c'mon
c) he will be fine and will someday recall fondly that awesome night in 2019 he ate some bangin' cantaloupe while getting toasted at the lake
posted by nakedmolerats at 2:44 PM on July 12 [42 favorites]

Of the five people, the one who should be deprived of the corn is the niece, because she could have prepared you for an extra guest and didn’t. No corn for her. The vegan can have niece’s designated corn.
posted by sallybrown at 2:56 PM on July 12 [29 favorites]

We're at a lake house full of food

I agree the vegan dude sounds rude/clueless but it sounds like there's plenty of other food for the omnivores. If this were me I would let vegan guy eat most of the corn and cantaloupe. It's up to you though.
posted by mundo at 2:57 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]

I’m vegan. FYI for people suggesting bread, most commercial bread has dairy unless it’s French or Italian.

Cantaloupe and corn sound like a good enough meal. My standard dinner right now is giant salad and corn. But I can’t imagine showing up at someone’s house with no warning and expecting to be fed. I think you’re fine asking him for ideas when you go to the store later. But a vegan meal doesn’t have to have something that replaces meat. It’s pretty standard to just put some sides together when necessary.
posted by FencingGal at 2:58 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]

Of the five people, the one who should be deprived of the corn is the niece, because she could have prepared you for an extra guest and didn’t. No corn for her. The vegan can have niece’s designated corn.

Tough But Fair
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:58 PM on July 12 [13 favorites]

I've never been a college-aged guy but 4 ears of corn plus beer sounds like ... your whole ass gon fall off. Two ears of corn max!!
posted by nakedmolerats at 3:04 PM on July 12 [23 favorites]

Unless this guy has some kind of medical condition, going for one night without food won’t hurt him. He might be hungry, but oh well. He could have chosen to make a number of different choices - bring food, ask for you to bring vegan food to the lake house, or even check for food before starting to drink (and go buy food if needed). I definitely wouldn’t go - he can go tomorrow.
posted by insectosaurus at 3:05 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]

Maybe I'm a patsy but I assume far better intentions than most people here. The vegan guest probably thought you knew and would be mortified to discover you're surprised he's there. Having said that, I would just tell him what you have and ask what he thinks. Can he make do? Does he need a store run? Why not just ask? And if he's picky and obnoxious and insists you go to the store, then do that, then tell your niece to never unexpectedly bring a guest again.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:06 PM on July 12 [12 favorites]

I also wouldn’t be surprised if these kids have vegan snacks / junk food (if it exists) in their car or bags that they’re about to break out, and weren’t contemplating dinner.
posted by sallybrown at 3:07 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]

seriously though just letting him eat whatever you have that is edible according to his dietary choices is perfectly fine, by doing so you are well within the bounds of xenia and barring deliberate acts of hubris you are unlikely to be consigned to tartarus.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:23 PM on July 12 [21 favorites]

If he does enough bong rips he might forget that he's vegan and just eat what's available.
posted by trbrts at 3:25 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]

Please update us!
posted by k8t at 3:25 PM on July 12 [29 favorites]

Of the five people, the one who should be deprived of the corn is the niece

We're forgetting about the niece's boyfriend. He's very likely to be the key to the whole situation.
posted by amtho at 3:28 PM on July 12 [41 favorites]

I guess I'm the outlier here. I think you should feed him. People here are being unneccesarily hard on him- he probably doesn't know that he is an uninvited guest, being as how he likely was invited by neice & co. She/they probably invited him along and told him it was fine, would be no problem, etc. It isn't fair to make him suffer/go hungry because of neice's negligence. Go get him some food, and make niece pay for it and the gas- it's her screw up.
posted by windykites at 3:31 PM on July 12 [10 favorites]

I’m vegan and I have a hard time believing you don’t have chips or bread (check the ingredients but those are usually vegan) or peanut butter.
posted by Violet Hour at 3:38 PM on July 12 [9 favorites]

Assuming he has sufficient access to water and has no health issues that require quick access to foods (like diabetes or whatever), he can survive without food for several days, if not weeks. I'd personally be wary of leaving to get food if there isn't anyone around who is sober while in close proximity to a lake, but if that isn't a big concern and you want to be hospitable to the unexpected guest, it'd be nice to get him something. I wouldn't feel an obligation to, and if you're doing it while feeling resentful and put-upon, then I wouldn't bother.
posted by Aleyn at 3:39 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]

Lack of planning on their part does not constitute emergency on yours.
posted by Cosine at 3:41 PM on July 12 [16 favorites]

Perceived obligation to guests is so hugely dependent on culture, you should definitely go with whatever feels comfortable for you. In the US we tend to be pretty loose about these things, from the perspective of both the host and the guest.

Since it looks like you're in the US and you didn't mention any relevant cultural details, I'd say don't feel like you need to make a 2-hour trip for this guy, but do be generous sharing the food you have that's vegan. Who cares if you were planning on eating the corn and cantaloupe? You said you've got plenty of other stuff.

It's entirely possible the guy isn't expecting you to go out of your way to feed him a vegan meal tonight, let alone make a 2-hour round trip for him. And I suspect your niece (and, more likely, her boyfriend) didn't do their part in communicating with him about what's available to eat and the difficulty of shopping in your area.

The three of them can do some shopping tomorrow and I imagine whatever you have on hand will be fine for everyone this evening. Before dinner is prepared, definitely ask the vegan guest to take a look at your pantry to see if there's anything else he'd be able to eat -- I bet there's more than you think.
posted by theory at 3:43 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]

Did they bring their own beer or are they drinking yours? If they brought their own they definitely could have brought their own groceries too. If it's your beer then you've supplied sufficient calories for the evening. It's your vacation, right? You should not have to spend all that time driving and shopping.
posted by mareli at 3:45 PM on July 12 [14 favorites]

Rice + sugar (+ cinnamon if you have it) = food.
Oatmeal + water + sugar = food.
Potatoes + oil + salt = food.
Flour + baking powder + water + apple juice = vegan pancake batter + oil = food.
Cucumber + peanut butter = food.

Since you have a house full of food, I'm sure there are options. Be creative. Don't go shopping.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:47 PM on July 12 [10 favorites]

Omg saying some kid should starve because ~ politeness ~ is the WASPiest shit that has ever Metafiltered. I assume he doesn't know he was a surprise and like ... this is what happens when kids come. Ask him what he thinks and be the generous adult. Embarrassment should be enough for them to all learn their lessons.
posted by dame at 3:52 PM on July 12 [21 favorites]

Young people drinking don't tend to eat all that much, he will be fine with whatever you have. (Well - maybe the weed may increase the appetite - for some it does, others not so much). But, you have enough for tonight - when they are sober tomorrow, they can deal with this problem then.

The person who messed-up is your niece for not informing you prior to his arrival, and not informing him of the challenges of grocery shopping.

Definitely do not leave the stoned, drunk young people alone to do the shopping trip.

Omg saying some kid should starve because

Exactly how is drinking beer, eating corn and cantaloupe starving? If they are old enough to be drinking, they are old enough to be an adult themselves and understand that not everyone is going to drop everything to rescue poor planning, poor decision-making and bad communication. He is the adult with the special diet, not a kid.
posted by jkaczor at 3:55 PM on July 12 [35 favorites]

not a kid

And - I have to caveat this - my stepdaughter does not eat red meat - hasn't for 6-7 years, she just turned 20 - we are constantly going to family BBQ's - and she always ensures that she brings her own chicken-dogs/chicken-burgers. And this is family - they all "know" she doesn't eat red meat, but they forget anyways...

From the sounds of things, you are in the US - so, drinking age is 21... Definitely not a kid. If you have special diets and can vote, it's pretty much on you to accommodate yourself, if no one is given advance notice/reminders about your needs.
posted by jkaczor at 4:09 PM on July 12 [10 favorites]

I mean ... presumably, these young adults were sober when they arrived at your place, correct? So there was a point when they got there where they could have chosen to address the problem (if it is a problem) or at least ask you about it? The fact that instead they decided to go do bong hits and drink beer makes me think that the guy has brought food of his own or is used to going with the flow. And if in the worst-case scenario they just assumed you'd have more vegan food than you do, well good lord, nobody is going to starve eating cantaloupe and corn for one evening. I promise.

100% on Team This isn't Your Problem.
posted by DingoMutt at 4:36 PM on July 12 [14 favorites]

I think some of the answers are unnecessarily cantankerous, but I do not think you're obligated to accommodate any surprise guest, much less one with dietary concerns or preferences that you don't share. I think you could, I don't think you must, and I probably would not especially since it doesn't sound like he has actually expressed a need, you're just trying to anticipate one.
posted by sm1tten at 4:38 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]

Since you have a house full of food, I'm sure there are options. Be creative.

If they're at a remote cabin, there might not be any food other than what they brought with them. That would be standard at cabins in MN cabin country, at least. Maybe some shelf-stable condiments like salt.
posted by Gray Duck at 4:38 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]

If in fact the house is "full of food", there will be lots of accidentally vegan things to eat: crackers, pasta, chips, rice, beans. Omnis eat vegan things all the time, they just don't call them vegan.
posted by QuakerMel at 4:49 PM on July 12 [10 favorites]

As the mother of college aged people I can very well imagine the kid hopping in the car happy to join the fun last minute, and not thinking about dinner. Studies* have proven that the lobe of your brain responsible for planning meals when you're not hungry isn't formed completely til age 26.
You don't have to drive 2 hours, he will be fine, but really they don't need to be taught any Stern Lessons, they all just need to be treated like amusingly welcome friends -- and it seems nice, to me, that your niece just feels so comfortable with you as family. At the same time you should also treat yourself and your wife well, which means not panicking into ruining your night with the errand but also not needing -to think of it along the lines of "you made your bed now lie in it." Rather- try to make him feel welcome with whatever you've got.

*By studies I mean these are not studies.
posted by nantucket at 4:55 PM on July 12 [34 favorites]

I would be very surprised if he cared, like at all, as someone who used to have regularly complicating religious dietary restrictions. I would intentionally not mention them in cases like this because I didn't want to draw attention to it (and so would not have wanted you to go on a grocery run for me). Maybe that's the case here. He could have eaten earlier in the day, maybe he has some food in his car, or maybe he decided to skip the hassle and worry about it tomorrow. Or maybe he just kinda blanked and there will be a "oh darn" moment later and it's not the end of the world.

tbh I find all the comments about poor decision planning and such baffling at best and weird schadenfreude fantasies at worst
posted by ToddBurson at 5:25 PM on July 12 [12 favorites]

I don't love the practice of coming to negative conclusions about someone based on reading all kinds of things into their behavior when, in reality, we don't know. So, just as an alternative to the "vegan guest knew what he was getting into" read: VG is invited by his roommate's gf, is assured everything will be fine, arrives at lake house, and, since no one tells him his presence means a food shortage, goes ahead and does as his friends do.

Basically, at some point the information was conveyed that he was vegan. Any time between then and the kids getting high would have been a good time to mention the lack of food to them. So if we're talking about responsibility, they had a responsibility as guests to inform you (or ask you) about him coming, and frankly they should have had the manners to ask if you needed help setting up, how they could contribute to getting dinner ready, etc, and not assume you'll do all the work. But also you could say you had the responsibility to either let them know off the bat that they needed to go get food, or else decide to take that burden on yourself in the name of being gracious hosts. You could see this as an ask/guess culture thing, where if you don't actually tell someone there's a problem they're going to assume there is none.

Tl;dr nobody's perfect, and whatever you end up doing I hope everybody gets cut some slack. Except for your niece, because giving you the chance to say no shouldn't have been optional.
posted by trig at 5:28 PM on July 12 [7 favorites]

Eh, I've been both a college student who never planned ahead and had a lakehouse where I wanted to be a good host, and the one common thread in both situations was "As long as there's enough beer everyone will be fine". If you want to be polite ask whether he wants a cantaloupe and corn salad, or to have them separate.

To be honest I think the dietary restrictions are the least important part of this; you have a surprise guest, and you'll make do with whatever you have - some people will eat less, or different food. But no one will die of hunger, and when they wake up they'll still be at a lakehouse on a nice summer weekend.
posted by true at 5:35 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]

You say "house full of food," but nothing vegan. I'm willing to bet you're imaging complete dishes that you'd have to make. If you let the stoned 20 year old vegan loose in the kitchen (just tell him what's off limits because you need all of it for dinner) he will be able to make himself some delicious munchies and be perfectly happy. You'd be surprised what someone with a serious case of the munchies can do with condiments and old pasta/crackers/weird canned food from the back of the cabinet. In the morning you can make the kids do a grocery run. This is seriously not a big deal.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 5:39 PM on July 12 [24 favorites]

Much as I hate to give this answer, I think that as a host you are obligated to drive for an hour to get him vegan food, because kiddish adults doing bong hits are flaky and don't think ahead of time. I think it sounds tempting to be an asshole and go "hope you like the fruit for dinner!" but in reality it's just kind of being a dick and not making dude feel welcome, even if he's a surprise guest and isn't particularly welcome under the ambushing circumstances.

However, I would insist on bringing Mr. Vegan to the grocery store with me even if he's high because lord knows I have no clue as to what is vegan and what is not (I have failed mightily on "what secretly is code for animal product on the label") and one way or another he is going to have to vet what he eats.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:59 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]

Nth the suggestions above to ask the dude questions about food (if you haven't already). He may have a huge secret vegan food stash with him.

I'm vegetarian myself and I've successfully gone "undercover vegetarian" to many large parties where I didn't know the hosts well. I do this because I don't want the hosts to go to the extra trouble of preparing/ordering something special. It's also easier to avoid the obnoxious people that want to debate you over your vegetarianism. In smaller gatherings like your case this wouldn't work. I wouldn't be able to hide the fact I'm not eating the steak when everyone is sitting down at the same small table. I would have to mention something brief beforehand like could you please have one veg dish or something. I may be giving this dude too much credit but know that at least some of us vegetarians/vegans try to be conscientious to our hosts.
posted by mundo at 6:08 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]

Corn and melon “gazpacho”

Omit the cucumber, use whatever dried herbs you have.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:18 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]

Do you have cereal for breakfast? Cereal with water for dinner is not terrible. Or cereal on its own.
posted by pinochiette at 6:18 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]

Oh God, this thread is like my worst nightmare and gave me my first ever panic attack- unknowingly being a surprise house guest, being vegan, and that some people would want to 'teach me a lesson' based on it and think it's funny.

You have no obligation to feed him, and I think he wouldn't be expecting it. He ideally should have brought food to share (depending on his age and his cultural upbringing and general thoughtfulness), but if it was a close friend and the main idea was to just chill and do bong hits he probably won't be caring so much about food. I would be mortified if you went out of your way to buy me food on your vacation, and would be happier to not eat anything (and I doubt he'd want your niece or her boyfriend to go without so he could have their share- they can/will sort that out between themselves).

Okay, time to take a break from metafilter I think.
posted by womb of things to be and tomb of things that were at 6:40 PM on July 12 [17 favorites]

You sound really mad in a way where you’re taking on a huge amount of guilt and responsibility for a guy who is literally stoned and probably doesn’t give a shit. So yes, this is the WASPiest shit ever!

Give him what there is, he won’t starve, corn and cantaloupe is delicious, and yes he will probably eat any random simple shit you can find for him, vegans learn to deal with weird impromptu meals all the time and you don’t need to get him the equivalent of vegan brisket to enjoy a lake house weekend.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:33 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]

Be a mensch, get him food.
posted by Toddles at 8:35 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]

I'm a grown-ass omnivore adult sitting in my well-stocked city apartment and I had beer and cantaloupe for dinner BY CHOICE (it's Friday, don't judge). He'll be fine.
posted by btfreek at 8:40 PM on July 12 [19 favorites]

In the long term, when they sober up, they can venture out to get more food tomorrow. In the short term, as others have said, if you have peanut butter and bread (and cantaloupe and corn) he should be fine. Maybe there is a convenience type store, or even gas station store, that is around and is closer than an hour away, if you don't have peanut butter, where you could grab some? (Our local gas station store even has stuff like soy milk.)

I remember once feeding a surprise vegan dinner guest on pasta topped with cooked vegetables (like zucchini) that we had on hand - we sauteed the veggies in olive oil with garlic and basil and spices. The rest of us had some grated cheese in this dish which we added in at the end while it was still hot, but the vegan made do without.
posted by gudrun at 8:52 PM on July 12


I took the advice highighted above and we had a fun time talking.

I also considered hiding the corn and the cantaloupe, and making him eat a piece of bologna before he got anything else
posted by BadgerDoctor at 10:16 PM on July 12 [26 favorites]

If I were you, I would be on the back porch taking my turn on the bong. I would treat him like any guest and tell them whatever you have in the house is theirs. If they cannot find anything, here are the directions to the grocery. It opens at 9:00am.

As for me, a six pack of beer is a six course meal.
posted by AugustWest at 11:58 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]

Also I hope everyone here has read the classic Rude Guest's Shawl askme from years ago. Now that was a rude guest! (and most hilarious askme ever).
posted by nantucket at 6:51 AM on July 13 [19 favorites]

I would have sorted this out from arrival -

“It’s nice that you brought your vegan friend along! I am glad he is here, but we weren’t expecting him, so we don’t really have food supplies that fit his dietary choices. How would you like to handle that?”

As they proceed with conversation about it, suggestions can be offered up. This lets someone know they weren’t planned for, you are cool with them showing up, but before we start drinking and ripping bong hits, I’d really like to know what the plan is because I care that all of us are taken care of.

I get the impression from the OP that a standing question mark over this is uncomfortable - this would have at least made it a question mark of short duration.

And since this didn’t happen at arrival, it could happen right now.
posted by kabong the wiser at 6:56 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]

How kind you are to even consider giving up 2 of your own hours at the lakehouse for your unexpected guest. Look again at your food. Rice, oatmeal, cereals, chips, vegetables, salad fixings, you may have suitable options. Guest is drinking beer that may not be totally vegan, and may be able to eat bread and other food that may have small amounts of dairy. Also, bong hits? They brought weed but not munchies? Kids, sheesh.

I hope you will report back, I think I can speak for others - we want the story.
posted by theora55 at 7:54 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]

Guests with special dietary requirements (for whatever reason) need to rock up to places with their own shit unless it has been otherwise comprehensively discussed and agreed in advance. I rocked up with my own shit as a vegan, and continue to rock up with my own shit as a keto-ian.

Also, don't bring surprise guests to anything ever.

In summation:

1. Don't go anywhere unless you've been invited;
2. Bring your own food.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:06 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]

Well done, OP. I'm glad it turned out well.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:59 PM on July 15

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