Jane’s Guide to Feeding a Vegan Friend

Jane’s Guide to Feeding a Vegan Friend

Despite having a degree in engineering, the physical properties of the flax seed and water “egg” are pretty incomprehensible to me. As a result, I will probably never be a very good vegan. I am, however, a long time vegetarian.

I admit that sometimes I pretend that once the pepperoni is picked off, pepperoni pizza becomes vegetarian. Despite this minor shortcoming, I remain committed to the decision I made almost 10 years ago—I won’t eat meat. This commitment, a knack for cooking, and a small obsession with potlucks have made me a pretty darn good vegetarian cook. But, as time goes on, I have been thinking more about the implications of other food choices I make and having made a few new vegan friends lately, I am left to wonder . . .

How do I feed a vegan friend?

If you have ever wondered the same, this guide is for you.

Here is what I have learned:

  • Start with salad. Salad isn’t scary. Everyone loves salad so when feeding a vegan friend, start here. If you would normally add feta or bacon, don’t. Instead, toss on some nuts or seeds. You’ll get non-vegan host points by adding this bit of protein and roasting them first will really impress people. Trust me.
  • Skip the specialty cookbook. – Unless your only source for recipes is Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book (yes, it does exist), you probably have vegan recipes in your repertoire and you just don’t know it. Think curries, soups, and stir-fry. Look through the recipes you already use and find the ones that are vegan–naturally. These already vegan options are sometimes better than recipes you find in specialty books because no substitutions have been made. This way you don’t have to buy special ingredients and you can still make your grandma’s famous roasted red pepper and portobello pasta sauce.
  • Do make dessert. Vegan dessert is tricky. I’ll admit it. A lot of delicious things (i.e., cake) have butter and eggs and milk. But, a lot of delicious things do not. You can keep dessert simple with a big fruit salad. Buy vegan ice cream if you want to really take things up a notch. Baking is also possible–just look for recipes that call for oil instead of butter and that don’t need eggs. Your vegan friends will thank you.
  • Remember: vegan friends are friends too. Having fun is probably the most important part of trying new things. Do what feels fun to you and remember that even if you forget that bacon bits contain bacon, burn the lentil burgers, and make a cheesecake for dessert, your vegan friend is your friend and she or he will love you anyway.

So, what will you feed your vegan friends this fall?

I highly recommend starting with warm chickpea and artichoke salad, making lentil and sweet potato soup for the main course, and ending with lavender canned peaches. If you really want to impress any type of friend, try bringing out these to-die-for gluten free chocolate chip cookies.

Have fun and eat well! I will see you the same time in the same place next month with Jane’s guide to being a something-ist.

October 1, 2012