Vegans are often easy to please when it comes to catering because our main concern is that whatever is served is free of animal products.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that we are unappreciative when someone does make an effort to prepare interesting and delicious vegan dishes for us. But many of our friends, and even our family, who are not currently vegan may feel extremely unsure about having us over for a home-cooked meal. Some people have convinced themselves that vegans make difficult dinner guests, and it’s up to us to prove them wrong!
First on the must-do list for vegan dinner guests is always to offer to bring your own meal. And say it like you mean it, not like it would be an inconvenience. Most of the time, hosts aren’t comfortable when guests prepare their own dinner, so you won’t have to do this very often. But if they say “Yes,” then prepare something that looks absolutely delicious and take along enough for everyone to try!
The most frequent comment I hear is “I have no idea what to cook for you.” Anytime friends say this, I take the time to suggest several dishes that vary in complexity and ingredients, ranging from something simple that everyone has in their cupboard to something that they would need to go and get special ingredients for. I make it clear that I am happy with absolutely anything vegan (including plain rice), and I offer to send them some recipes if they need more ideas.
Another handy tip to avoid an uncomfortable and embarrassing evening is to mention ahead of time some of the nonvegan items that hosts may not know about. I normally mention that I don’t eat honey or fish sauce (I am asked about this all the time for some reason) and that there are any number of additives, thickeners, etc., that are in certain products but aren’t vegan. I offer to go shopping with them, tell them which brands are vegan-friendly, or even just get them to call me from the supermarket and read me the ingredients list on the packet to be sure to avoid that difficult moment when you realize that the meal your friends have slaved over is not actually vegan.
Offer to cook with them if they are still unsure so that they can see how easy it is and get a feel for vegan cooking. It can also be fun way to chat while you prepare dinner together.
In addition, always take something with you to share—I usually opt for dessert and tell the host not to worry about that, as it is the area in which many struggle the most with veganizing recipes. Make sure that whatever you cook is delicious, and mention how much healthier it is than the nonvegan dessert options!
Finally, regardless of how the meal turns out, always thank and compliment the chefs. They have made the effort to cook vegan food, and we want to show that vegans are the perfect dinner guests, regardless of how the chefs’ first attempts turn out. And if you show how great vegetarian food really is, maybe before the next dinner party your friends will decide to take the Pledge to Be Veg!
Posted by Claire Fryer