Everyone has dietary needs, from basic food preferences to allergies, to religious restrictions.
In public, it’s important to ask about the foods being provided, and that definitely includes foods carried into a potluck party or family get-together, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Because nothing else at the potluck was labeled, Redditor Unhappy-FAult-3126 did not label their dish, which contained both tofu and pork.
But when they were later criticized for “tricking” vegetarians by making a tofu dish, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they were in the wrong.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for putting meat in a tofu dish?”
The OP recently attended a potluck party.
“This happened at a potluck. Nothing there was labeled. I just left the dish on the buffet table along with the rest of the dishes.”
“About 20 people were at the party, and four were vegetarian.”
“I brought a dish that was tofu stir-fried with minced pork, ginger, and spring onions. It was similar to mapo tofu but not spicy.”
One person asked the OP about the ingredients in their dish.
“Everything was fine except when someone asked me if my dish was halal. I said no, because it had pork.”
“That’s when Jen overheard and freaked out that she ate meat. And it turns out, a lot of other vegetarians ate my dish assuming it was vegetarian.”
The OP felt conflicted after that about what they had contributed.
“For the rest of the party, I’ve had so many people (including non-vegetarians) tell me I’m an AH for putting meat in a vegetarian dish.”
“But this is a dish I grew up with, tofu for me is just an ingredient, not strictly a meat substitute. Also, no one asked me if my dish was vegetarian.”
“So am I the AH here or are people just overreacting?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some thought the OP was in the clear because they didn’t introduce it as a vegetarian dish.
“So they assumed that because one of the primary ingredients they like in a dish that agrees with their food choices automatically means that that entire dish must somehow agree with their food choices? Without even bothering to ask?”
“If you intentionally tricked them, then obviously YTA, but it sounds nothing like that and even makes me question how strongly they feel about their food choices if they didn’t even bother to ask in the first place. They were probably p**sed because they realized they liked it.” – Nuts**kJonesy
“NTA. I’m gonna guess that the people freaking out weren’t East Asian. I’m Korean-American and Korean cuisine, along with other East Asian cuisines, uses tofu as any other ingredient.”
“I don’t expect other races/ethnicities to be familiar with our cuisines, but I’m not gonna apologize or feel that the onus is on me to proactively explain either. If you have a food restriction, it’s on you to confirm and not just assume.” – elephantssohardtosee
“They assumed it was a vegetarian dish because they have a weird misconception that tofu exists only for vegetarians.”
“That they didn’t bother to ask is on them.”
“NTA.” – YouSayWotNow
“NTA. Mapo tofu usually comes with meat. The person that asked if it was halal was responsible. The vegetarians that ate it were not responsible.”
“I live in an extremely health-conscious area and know several people with allergies so I’ve started to put a list of ingredients with dishes I bring to potlucks.” – Firebreathingshihtzu
“Thinking tofu dishes are vegetarian is very culturally unaware, it is very very common to have meat in tofu dishes in Japan and China.”
“Which did come as a bit of a surprise to vegan me when visiting those countries, NTA to OP, if you have dietary requirements you should ask.” – Ok-Penalty7568
“The Party Planner specifically is the a**hole here.”
“They threw a potluck with four vegetarians, one halal, with a total of 20 people. That’s 25% of your party with dietary restrictions and a menu that you don’t control. e.g. as a host, you can’t inform your guests what they can eat.”
“What the hell are people supposed to do? Have a quarter of your party ask 20 individual people what they put in their dishes.”
“As the party planner just provide a sharpie and slips of paper and have people title the dish and put a V or H if they know it to be vegetarian or halal.”
“OP, NTA, but party planner is not a good host.” – ebaer2
“I can get why people saw tofu and assumed vegetarian, but like, if they looked closer they should have also been able to see the minced pork.”
“Also ultimately, it is up to an individual to make sure anything they eat conforms to their dietary preferences. If there is an unlabeled dish at a pot luck it is definitely best to ask.” – poeadam
“We have potlucks at my office. There are people who are halal, vegetarian, gluten-free, nut allergies, etc. Everyone simply asks if the dish contains X before eating it. It’s not really that difficult or complicated.”
“If someone eats something not knowing what it is, that’s entirely their fault and honestly pretty dang dumb. That’s probably why they’re so upset, because they know it was their fault and they want someone else to blame.”
“Maybe now they’ve learned their lessons and next time they’ll ask before putting unknown food in their mouths. Something we usually teach little children.”
“NTA, OP.” – NeedleworkerMuch3061
“Vegetarians when omnivores don’t like tofu: ‘you’re only saying you don’t like it because you know it’s vegetarian! Tofu tastes good!'”
“Vegetarians when an omnivore likes tofu and uses it as an ingredient in an omnivore meal: ‘why would anyone use tofu unless they were vegetarian?'”
“NTA.” – Angry_Guppy
Others thought the OP was misleading by calling it a tofu dish instead of a pork dish.
“YTA, but only a little. In the states, Tofu means Vegetarian unless otherwise specified. First off, there should’ve been labels, especially when 25% of people at the party can’t eat meat.”
“If you would’ve called it Pork and Tofu dish, then no problem at all. Especially if the vegetarian version of the dish is popular. But because nothing was labeled with the ingredients, YTA but just a little.”
“You could’ve put up your own sign saying what was in it. I’ve done that for potlucks when dealing with allergies and such.” – cleric3648
“YTA for not labeling, which I thought was common practice at potlucks these days.”
“But making a dish with multiple ingredients is completely fine and normal. Tofu isn’t an exclusive purview of the vegetarians.” – inko75
“As this was a potluck, there should be considerations for people who do not eat meat or pork.”
“I had almost the same, except I did not eat. We had a potluck between labmates, as we were five people and everyone knew I do not eat pork. I prepared lots of dishes, but this entitled American had no consideration and brought pork ribs, and ate my food.”
“YTA for not giving any second consideration or even asking, or labeling.” – May_zavy
“YTA (but not much) because I too would have assumed if you said it was tofu, that meant there was no other meat in it. Thus, I can see why vegetarians would be upset.”
“It seems, however, that many east asian dishes have tofu and meat. So it depends on how familiar the guests were with this cuisine. For future reference, it’s probably a good idea to notify people that your tofu dish has tofu and meat, just to avoid confusion.”
“Not a big deal (but also I’m not a strict vegetarian), but I feel like you could have made it clearer.”
“If you want to keep said friends, maybe it’s better to apologize for not being clear and say you’ll be clearer next time. This doesn’t have to be a big deal unless the people involved (you and friends) want to make it one.” – notsocovertstudent
“NTA, but if you had thought about letting people know there was pork and then didn’t, it’d be closer to ESH/YTA. Yes, ultimately it’s on the vegetarians for not confirming your dish was meatless, but on the flipside, if you bring a dish to a potluck that appears like a vegetarian/vegan dish and the meat isn’t obvious, it would be nice to let people know.”
“Like, sometimes I’ll mix a couple of nuts into my fruit salad. If I brought that fruit salad to a potluck (which I wouldn’t because it’s weird, whatever), then I would let people know. someone with nut allergies could easily think, ‘Oh, fruit salad should be safe, right?’ and then choke themselves out.”
“Yeah, that would still ultimately be on them, but if I thought about warning people and didn’t because nuts are ‘just an ingredient’ to me, then I’m partially at fault.” – endymion2300
While the subReddit could agree that there was nothing wrong with utilizing tofu and pork in the same dish, they pointed out that the simple use of food labels could have solved this whole misunderstanding.
Some sided with the OP and agreed that this was a simple, innocent misunderstanding that labeling the dish could have prevented. Others, however, criticized the OP for not being proactive enough to label the food they brought to the potluck and theorized that the OP was apathetic to other people’s dietary needs by not utilizing labels.