Contrary to what most folks think, feeding a vegan house guest isn’t extra work…just a little bit of extra thought. The question: “What do I feed you people when you come over for dinner?!” is a real one, and we are happy to help you answer that. When an herbivore comes to your house as a guest, it can be a bit scary at first, but I have a few easy things you can do to help accommodate everyone and make for a wonderful event full of conversation, wonderful food and of course lots of fun. The truth is…it’s easier than you think! So here they are. Four tips on what food to prepare when having vegan or vegetarian friends over for dinner.
Tip #1: Serve a Salad!
Salads are beautiful, colorful, and please everyone. Our favorite is a Mexican-inspired, layered salad that really brightens the table. It also adds a high level of nutrient-dense food to your meal. Serve the dressings and cheeses on the side. If you want to really kick it up a notch for your veggie friends, provide one dressing that is dairy-free and a non-dairy cheese option, like Daiya brand. If not, olive oil serves as a great vegan dressing that you probably already have in your pantry!
Tip #2: Use a meat substitute
There are so many different varieties out there that this is an easy solution! In our house, we especially love Gardein brand products. For tacos or sloppy joes you can find vegetable beef crumbles (also a Gardein product). For hot dogs we love Smart Dogs (pictured below) and if you want to go Italian, we LOVE these Gardein breaded “chick’n” breasts or “meatless meatballs”…PS leave the cheese on the side! Just label the meat vs. veg options, and let your guests go to town! Want an absolutely amazing, can’t tell the difference meatless meanball recipe? Here is a meatless meatball recipe that won over guests at a football game!
Tip#3: Read the label
Sounds easy enough, right?! It’s actually not as tedious as you’d think! For a quick glance to check that are no dairy or eggs in the bread product, pasta, or tortilla that you’re using, there’s (usually) a list of the allergens at the bottom of the ingredients list. If you want to go a step further and up the nutrient quality for all of your guests, check that the product is non-GMO and organic. Look for these symbols as a reference…packages usually SCREAM these things and you can easily see the symbols! Remember though, just because a product is vegan doesn’t necessarily mean it is healthy, so look close at fat, sugar and other ingredients that you might not want to put in your body.
Tip #4: Keep everything on the side
Pleasing everyone can be tough, so keeping all of your toppings on the side can really help everyone at your table! I have enjoyed MANY a baked potato, nacho, coffee, and ice cream “bar.” As a host, if you keep everything separate, there is something for everyone. Some great side items might include: guacamole, salsa, earth balance butter, non-dairy cheese, Toffuti sour cream, SO Delicious brand creamers and ice creams, diced fruits and veggies, and nuts!
I hope you have found these tips to be helpful, and that the next time you are hosting someone that eats differently than you, you can surprise them by giving them as many options as your meat-eating friends! At the end of the day, we are all trying to make the best choices possible for ourselves and our families. No one person is alike, and as someone who has felt “different,” I can’t tell you how much it means when someone takes the time to consider me. We do not have to agree on what is best, but I can still feel welcomed and loved at your table. Now let’s eat!