The Dreaded Vegan Dinner Guest

How to avoid only serving salad, and other helpful tips for hosting vegans.

I said this wouldn’t be a food blog, and here I am writing one of my first posts about food. Truth be told, it’s Friday and I wasn’t in the mood for an existential crisis brought on by my thoughts on the fishing industry. I’m also going to a friends place for dinner, and when she told me that she was making vegan bourguignon and fresh vegan pasta, I got to thinking about all the times I ate tomatoes and lettuce at a dinner party.

What is it about having a vegan over that stops people from being creative in the kitchen?

I agree that cooking two different meals is daunting, and I understand that most carnivores don’t want to give up what they believe is the foundation of every meal (let’s put a pin in that for later), but sharing a meal between friends or family shouldn’t make anyone feel stressed out.

A note for my fellow vegans: It sucks, but sometimes it’s better to let things go. Some older generations are never going to get it and there is no point in trying. Certain dinners are going to be frustrating, and you will continue to get offered things like mashed potatoes and turkey stuffing. My personal trick is to have a huge meal before going to these dinners, because I tend to deal with stress better on a full stomach. Then, when people are lecturing me about vitamin deficiency, I can smile through the pain. 

Smith & Daughters Vegan Recipes

Researching vegan recipes in my Smith & Daughters cookbook

Anyway, here is a quick list for those of you having a vegan over and looking for a little assistance.

  1. Don’t be afraid to reach out! As a vegan, I love it when the people ask me for ideas and I never suggest complicated, impossible to achieve recipes. In fact, most of the time I offer to bring a dish to share so that the host doesn’t feel any extra stress and everyone at the table gets to try something meat-free and delicious.
  2. Think about the meal as a whole, and try to incorporate what you’re feeding your vegan guests as an extension of the meal everyone else is eating. I find it isolating when everyone is having Italian food and I get served a bowl of ready made quinoa salad. If you’re making a BBQ, put some veggies on the corner of the grill. If you’ve made a lasagna, whip up a batch of spaghetti with marinara sauce for your vegan guests. It’s definitely less awkward when the meal feels unified.
  3. Turn sides into mains. Think about what you make on a regular basis that doesn’t include meat or dairy. Rice, roasted veggies, salads, soups, etc. If you’re serving something like fish or a turkey, making the effort to have your sides be completely vegan will go a long way, and it’s easy to double up on recipes you already know how to make.
  4. Potatoes are your friend. I think most vegans enjoy a fresh salad, but we’re hungry and if you plan on serving alcohol at your dinner, we need carbs. Roasted potatoes, baked potatoes and french fries are 3 easy sides that we always appreciate having around when the main is something less hearty.
  5. If you’ve had bad luck with cooking vegan food in the past, I feel your pain. I’m a long way off from being a good cook and I’ve found that many vegan cookbooks (especially some of the more popular ones) are filled with daunting recipes. If you’re looking to be adventurous without overhauling your entire kitchen, the Virtual Vegan and Vegan8 both have amazing blogs that are filled with simple, easy recipes that anyone can do.

If all else fails, order up some avocado rolls. 😉

 

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