I usually pack a lunch when an office sponsored meal is in the offering. But since it was coming from Panera I figured there would be something I could have so for once I came in with no back up food. And technically there was something for me to have - while everyone dug into rich dishes of pasta I sat with, sigh, yet another plate of iceberg lettuce. Rosemary garlic chicken was heaped, I had steamed broccoli. And I know that my meat free diet is my own choice, no one is making me - and seriously I'm not starving, but it makes me feel so self conscious. It takes a very short period of time to eat a little salad, you end up sitting there pushing an olive around your plate hoping it will just be over soon. Bigger functions are actually better for meals, if you're signing up they usually ask if you have any diet restrictions - I've even found that most of the time they'll even ask what type of vegetarian ( for those of you interested I am an ovo-lacto which means I eat some dairy products). Things have gotten better since I first became vegetarian almost 25 years ago - my friend Jeanne had laughingly warned me not to EVER tell the waiter when I went out that I was a vegetarian, unless of course I didn't mind dining on steamed celery. And that was a good rule but with so many people going meat free for ethical, health, and other reasons most places have at least a couple dishes I can have. And I've also found that if you ask they frequently have non advertised vegetarian meals or they will adjust the food for you. One of the best meals I've ever had was when I started to order and the waitress stopped me and asked.when I said I was she announced that the chef would make me a great vegetarian meal - he did and I strongly suspect he was one of "us". I have come to the realization in the past few years I most likely will never be able to eat meat again, even after all this time I still cannot bring myself to even think about it too hard. I can buy it, cook it, store it - just can't eat it. I wonder if I started smoking again if I could eat it again. Most people that know me know that soon after I quit smoking my sense of taste came back big time - two things happened. First I became obsessed with chili, at one point I was even eating it for breakfast - for at least two months there was not a chili I didn't love. I remember going out to lunch with a friend who sat there in astonishment as I ate a pail sized bowl down to the bottom and mused about seconds. The second was an increasing distaste for meat that even eventally led to well, now. So I guess I'll just make sure I have my back up food - just in case and really in the grander scheme of things, if you only can have a salad it leaves all the more room for cake!