Reader: Our department often holds catered lunches for meetings and training. Although I’ve been with the company seven years, and everyone knows I’m a vegetarian, our lunches include absolutely no vegetarian options. Often, for these lunches, I go grab my snacks or the salad I have in the fridge. Sometimes I just skip the meetings.

I have asked the manager and the person ordering the meals that they also order vegetarian and healthy options — not on a specific day, but in general. I don’t want to be the office complainer. Can you recommend a graceful way to deal with this?

Karla: Before you snap and start pelting everyone with quinoa, it’s time to get specific about how these flesh-fests affect you. Schedule a private sit-down with your manager: “I really want to join these meetings, but I often have to opt out because I can’t eat anything with meat in it. I’m missing out on team-building and development opportunities, and I can’t help feeling excluded.” Then request again that a meatless option be made available — or that you be allowed to buy and expense your own takeout meal.

If your faith or a medical condition prevents you from eating meat, you could cite anti-discrimination laws as leverage. But let’s start by assuming your co-workers simply don’t realize that for you, meat-free eating isn’t just an optional health fad — and it doesn’t mean forcing everyone to eat Tofurky sandwiches with Nayonaise.

My May 31 column included advice from lawyer Tom Spiggle for a reader who was expecting a baby and a layoff at the same time. Here’s an update:

I can’t thank you and Tom enough for the advice and resources. It’s been a roller coaster, but I think I can land on my feet after this awful situation.

My husband and I cut back on all non-essential spending. We also looked into ACA [the Affordable Care Act] to get health insurance quotes, which helped put my mind at ease.

I activated my network, asking everyone to keep my search confidential. Clients and former colleagues provided solid leads and offered freelance work. After several interviews, I’ve been offered and plan to accept a strategy position at a major company with great benefits.

My son was born a month before his due date and spent four days in the NICU. Now he is at home, doing well and growing tremendously.

My current employer has laid off a few folks, but I have not received an official notice yet. I’ve considered trying to get severance, but I just want to be done with the situation and walk away on my own terms.

My big takeaway is that I don’t want to work for an organization that purports to be family-friendly but would be willing to do this to an expectant parent who has dedicated so much time and energy. Also, it really pays to maintain good relationships.

For stories, features such as Date Lab, Gene Weingarten and more, visit The Washington Post Magazine.

Follow the Magazine on Twitter.

Like us on Facebook.

E-mail us at