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When the Vegetarians Come Over for Dinner

When the Vegetarians Come Over for Dinner

Sharing meals with friends and family is a big part of holiday celebrations. But what happens to the traditional turkey dinner, when a vegetarian is on the guest list?

My wife and I have been vegetarian for 10+ years and come at this situation with some experience.

Here is our tip list for smoothing out differences in dining habits when you gather around a meal.

For the omnivorous host:

There are several different types of vegetarian diets. Verify if your guests are vegan, lacto/ovo vegetarian or something else.

  • Run your meal ideas past your guests (would you want to eat tofu turkey?).
  • Plan to make some vegetarian friendly dishes that everyone will enjoy. This avoids putting your guest in the spotlight with a ‘special' vegetarian meal.
  • Resist the urge to add bacon to everything. This will increase the variety of choices for your guests.
  • Everyone loves gravy. Try making a mushroom-based gravy that your guests can eat.
  • Steer conversation so that your guests don't need to explain or defend their vegetarianism (no one else has to explain why they eat the way they do).
  • Consider tried and true vegetarian dishes from other cultures like perogies, pasta, bean or lentil curries, bean burritos, spanakopita, succotash, nut loaf, spinach and mushroom wellington, or chilli.
  • Include vegetarian protein rich foods like beans, tofu, nuts, seeds or eggs (if your guests eat eggs) in your menu.

For the vegetarian guest:

  • Be aware that cooking for vegetarians can make your host anxious.
  • Don't expect your host to know what you like to eat.
  • Offer to bring a vegetarian entrée or provide a recipe for something you love to eat and share.
  • Do not politicize the meal. Accepting the dietary choices of your host and fellow guests will promote a pleasant atmosphere.
  • Be flexible and accommodating. (Try not to make a fuss about the soup being made with chicken stock).
  • Try to normalize vegetarianism by focussing on enjoying a good meal and conversation instead of talking about your dietary choices.
  • Be gracious whenever anyone makes a meal for you. This is a gift of caring.

Meals are better together. With a little mutual consideration holiday meals can be enjoyable for everyone. Bon appetit!

Happy Holidays,

~ Dean

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