By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Oct 13, 2008 at 10:17 AM

October is Dining Month on All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, special features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food. Bon appetit!

Food is our focus right now as October is Dining Month on, but really, when aren't we thinking about it?

I've recently entered the world of wedding planning and, right off the bat, the catering has quickly become the No. 1 issue.

As long-time vegetarians, our immediate inclination is to have a meatless menu. But, when hosting a dinner for close to 200 people, we're struggling with how some guests, particularly the older, more traditional ones, might react to a soy substitute (or whatever else we'd choose)?

The obvious answer is to offer two dinner selections: one meat-based and one vegetarian. But then what about our several close friends who are vegan? Offer a third option. OK, now everyone's (potentially) happy, but we've driven up our costs. What about cutting it back to two options: meat and vegan? Fine, but then we can't have the Gorgonzola ravioli option my finance and I have been ogling for weeks. So now we're back to wanting just a vegetarian and vegan option, but are still concerned about the meat and potato set.

It's frustrating and the readers' responses to this week's Sunday Sound-off -- "Are there enough vegetarian restaurants?" -- got me thinking even more about it. I've noticed that, for whatever reason, diners are usually fairly divided on the subject. Vegetarians and vegans are often frustrated at their limited options, while some carnivores seem downright offended that veg-heads could be so demanding.

This debate raises an interesting culinary query: what defines fine food? While our wedding isn't overly formal, we still want a sophisticated feel. But why do so many caterers seem to associate fine dining with tenderloin tips and chicken cordon bleu?

I asked Chef David Swanson, owner of Milwaukee's Braise Culinary School, about it and he said, "In this day and age vegetables and vegetable cookery take a back seat to the main protein, which is often a shame."

I agree, but shouldn't the taste and presentation of a dish, regardless of its ingredients, decide if the food is good?

The bottom line is that I want all my guests to be happy, but I can't decide if going totally meat-free is going to end up being more trouble than it's worth or if it's not a big deal and everyone will survive either way? After all, it's only one meal out of your life.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”