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!