This question is specific to sole proprietor freelancers who (a) network with other freelancers, (b) sometimes outsource their work to other freelancers but never employ someone, and (c) file a 1040 Schedule C.
On Schedule C, line item 24b is for meals and entertainment.
The new tax law (effective 2018) is pretty clear that entertainment such as sports events, theatre, and such are no longer deductible.
But the meals aspect is fuzzy. For example, in which of the following situations are meals (in whole or part) still deductible?
Attendance at networking and business development meetings where the members give presentations about their businesses, refer business to each other, have guest speakers, and so on. Some common examples are Chamber of Commerce meetings, BNI events, or Meetup business groups where meals may or may not be optional.
Meeting prospects or active clients at a restaurant.
Attending fundraisers for charities such as for foster children, disaster relief, etc. where attendance is free, meals are provided, and you make a donation.
Traveling any distance to an event to give, receive, or witness an award related to your business (in this case, the travel involves transportation, parking, and meal).