Dinner Party — What should I serve my meat-eating guests?

Now that I am a 4-Leaf eater, what do I serve at my next dinner party?

This question comes up often. My answer; everyone is different and must choose the “entertainment” policy that is right for them. All I can do is speak for myself and tell you how I handle the food issue when I am entertaining.

My house with the flag is one of the smallest in the entire village — not great for dinner parties, but it’s a great spot for a cozy cocktail party for about 20 people.

First of all, I am a single man with a very small house and a tiny kitchen; hence, not many dinner parties at my place. But I do have several cocktail parties each year and I serve an ample amount of tasty and filling food at each of them. And while everything I serve may not be at the 4-Leaf level — it is all most definitely 100% plant-based. But I never talk about it — I just prepare the food, put it out, people eat it and I have never had a single complaint.

So what should you do? My advice is to follow your own convictions and your overall philosophy on entertaining. In my case, after studying this topic since 2002, I have some pretty strong convictions about the way we humans should be eating and some strong convictions about the damage caused by the toxic western diet consisting of meat and dairy three meals a day.

In my case, at least 90% of my local friends are still eating the typical western diet and all of them know about my own preferences. When I am in their homes, I never expect anything special, I simply choose the plant-based options and try to be as inconspicuous as possible. When they are in my home, they seem to be following the same protocol — they just eat the food that I provide and the absence of meat and dairy has never even been mentioned.

I find that as long as the bar is well-supplied that everyone’s happy; it doesn’t really matter what I serve them to eat. Case in point; when I first moved into my home in 2005, I held an impromptu house warming party and invited some 75 people to join me for “Champagne and Popcorn.” It turned out to be an absolute blast and, six years later, people are still talking about that party.

J. Morris Hicks introduces Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, just before our yacht club crowd of 100 sat down for an absolutely delicious plant-based meal — “Raise the Roof Lasagna.”

All of this cocktail party stuff is probably not helping you much with the planning of your next sit-down dinner for your 14 closest friends. So, I will tell you how Dr. and Mrs. Caldwell Esselstyn would handle a big party for a host of their meat-eating friends. They would prepare the most delicious plant-based meal and hors d’oeuvres possible and would never even mention what was in it.

When they spoke at our Stonington Harbor Yacht Club last August, they planned the meal that we served to over 100 people — a huge salad along with the “Raise the Roof Lasagna” from their son Rip’s Engine 2 Diet book. While it was not a 4-Leaf meal according to our definition, it was 100% plant-based and not a single person complained. The point here: the food just has to be good — it doesn’t have to have any animal-based products in it to make people happy.

Recently, I have used the word “poison” to describe animal-based foods in some of my blogs. I know…the word sounds extreme so why have I used it? Because those products meet the definition provided by Mr. Webster:

Poison is “a substance that can cause injury or death to a living organism.” And there is a mountain of scientific evidence suggesting that our toxic western diet most certainly causes “injury or death” to millions of humans every single year.

If we’re going to worry about the “possibility” that cell phones cause cancer, we need to come to grips with what science now knows for sure — that the casein in cow’s milk is a powerful carcinogen — and is therefore technically, a poison.

Here’s the way I see it. Once you know something to be true, you simply cannot ignore that newly acquired knowledge in your future endeavors. For the first 58 years of my life, I didn’t know anything about how damaging our toxic western diet really was. I had no idea that it promoted cancer and heart disease. I also had no idea that all drugs were toxic.

Now that I know these things, I can’t even imagine the idea of feeding these kinds of things to my family — or to my friends. They may not know these things yet — but I do, and I have to live with myself. From Chapter 11 in my book:

Simply knowing something doesn’t change anything or make anything better.  An ancient Persian proverb states, “It is nothing for one to know something unless another knows you know it.”

Let me close today by making one thing perfectly clear. While I may get carried away from time to time, I absolutely do my best to never be guilty of proselytizing. All of my friends know of my passions and I am confident that if they are interested in hearing my opinion on something that they will ask for it.

My friend Anne and I spent most of Sunday afternoon on one of our Race Committee boats.

Yesterday, I served on Race Committee with a good friend who has been reading my blog and is also in the process of improving her diet.  Although I spent over three hours with her yesterday, including dinner at the bar at the Water Street Cafe, the topic of food and health never came up.

But when I ordered my “special” meal from Kelly the bartender, my friend Anne simply said, “I’ll have what he’s having” — reminding me of an earlier post:

Friends…the fine line between caring and proselytizing

Special thanks to my good friends Mary and Erica, who provided me with the inspiration for today’s post. I will leave you with this thought:

People often say that humans have always eaten animals,as if this is some justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of time”  —Issac Singer

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

International. We’re now reaching people in over 100 countries. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or get daily blog notices by “following” us in the top of the right-hand column. For occasional updates, join our periodic mailing list.

To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now

J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

SHARE and rate this post below.

Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
This entry was posted in Social Challenges. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Dinner Party — What should I serve my meat-eating guests?

  1. Stan Huff says:

    This article says it so very well. And it’s fun to read, too. I’m passing it on.

  2. Brian Hurley says:

    This blog reminds me of recent gatherings I have been fortunate to be part of in the past month or so. When I am going to someone’s house, most know about my 4 leaf lifestyle, and I am not afraid to ask them for the proposed menu. Dawn and I will often chose a dish that we can eat as our primary meal but we make sure it compliments their menu as a side dish. One of our favorites is a shepard’s pie made with lentils from Skinny Bitch in the Kitchen. YUM!! I have yet to bring any home and have shared the recipe with many party goers.

    When entertaining at our house, as you can imagine, we have primarily 4 leaf items and a few 3 leaf items. With Summer here, we have opened our grill and offer it to anyone wanting to grill their “protein” of choice. We do laugh, however, that our menu items seem to disappear everytime and people love the flavors and options we provide. As time goes on, our friends and family have decreased the meat brought to the house and look forward to what is on our menu instead. I agree, it just needs to taste good.

  3. scott says:

    We have the exact opposite issue. When you join us for a weekend of sailing, Anne and I actually enjoy the challenge of putting a vegan meal on the table and fully enjoy sharing it with you. When we threw a holiday cocktail party and put out a “Vegan Only” feeding station, our omnivore friends couldn’t keep their hands off of it.
    So, as you say, if the food is good, it doesn’t matter if it is 4-leaf.

  4. edith platt says:

    Was the “Raise the Roof Lasagna” not 4-Leaf because of the cashews? My guess is that I can leave them out, yes? Thank you

    • jmorrishicks says:


      According to our 4-Leaf scoring system, the pasta is not a whole plant (even though it may be whole grain) nor is the tofu. Hence the percent of calories from whole plants in that meal is less than 30%. Plus the percent of calories from fat in that meal is probably around 30 or 40%, primarily due to the high fat content of the tofu. So, why did the Esselstyn’s serve it? Because it’s important for people to learn that they can enjoy plant-based foods. After they clear that hurdle, they can learn about “vibrant health” that can be theirs by eating a 4-Leaf diet. Best, Jim

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s