I also travel quite a bit and find myself in situations where there’s catered food, or a group dinner at a fancy steakhouse. Because I’m vegan, organizers get the tangy zip of a challenge when finding stuff for me to eat. Which most of the time they do very well.
I’m not shy about sharing my dietary choices. I also don’t whine or complain if things aren’t exactly right all the time. That would leave them with the impression that vegans are fussy douchebags. Which I’m sure some are, just as other people pick their noses in glass elevators when they think they’re alone (Telegram to Man Across the Lobby: STOP IT). And some vegans have an obsession with celebrity plastic surgery. I’m digressing. My point is, we all have something in our nose.
Wait. No. My point is that when we eat differently than most of the population, we have a duty to educate. And event organizers have a duty to learn.
So if you’re a meat eater and you’ve been given the challenge of feeding one of those… vegans, I’ve crafted a short list of helpful hints for you.
Think of me as your vegan ambassador.
How to Feed a Vegan
Vegans are like vegetarians in that they don’t eat beef, chicken, fish, or squirrel. They do not eat anything that comes from an animal. That’s right. To be on the safe side, that means you should leave out:
- fabric softener (kidding)
- goat cheese
- ricotta cheese
- cottage cheese (no tabloid swimsuit photos, either)
- any kind of food that ends in “cheese”
There are cheese substitutes out there. Don’t try to track them down and replace it. Just let it go and don’t worry. No cheese.
I’ll just make a Salad
No. Look, I know that after the list above you’re probably thinking that the only thing left is iceberg lettuce. That may be the only thing left in your fridge, but come on now. You’re better than that. Here’s a short list of things you can feed a vegan that you can probably get at any grocery store:
- pasta with marinara
- pasta with pesto
- veggie burgers
- veggie dogs
- pizza (no cheese!)
- black bean burritos
- refried bean burritos (no lard)
- bean dip
- chili (no meat)
- stir fry
Okay, I tricked you with that last one. Yeah, salad is good. It’s just that you don’t want your vegan guests to be munching lettuce while everyone else chows down on something hearty. You don’t have to think like a vegan, you just have to think like somebody who is hungry… and doesn’t eat squirrel cheese.
The Secret Vegan Cookbook
There’s no secret tome locked away in Atlantis that describes the perfect vegan meals, but there are plenty of recipe books and web sites out there these days. It’s 2013. Use your magic Google machine and search “vegan recipes.” See what magic awaits you.
Choosing a Restaurant
Most good restaurants these days offer vegan options on their menu, or at least something that can be made vegan. A great favor you can do for vegans is to tip them off about the place beforehand. I like to look at menus online and prepare for what I might order in advance. Sometimes I’ll even call ahead and ask if they can make one of their dishes vegan. Again, good restaurants are happy to do this. I’ve even eaten at full-on steakhouses where a polite request has scored me some fantastic vegan meals.
This way, when everyone sits down there’s no uncomfortable moment of panic because the menu is chock full of beef entrées. Which leads us to…
Under the Radar
My last little nugget is about etiquette. Suppose you had a weak bladder. You go to a dinner party and in front of everyone your host loudly announces, “Now, I seated you closest to the potty so if you have an emergency you just get up and go! Oh, and there’s a fresh towel on your chair.”
Vegans aren’t like the incontinent. But remember that most everyone just wants to hang out and fit in at social gatherings. So consider not complaining to the room that you had to go through hell and high water to feed them. Most people won’t notice, and conversations can be about scintillating topics like celebrity plastic surgery instead of dietary choices.
That’s all I have for now. What questions do you have about feeding vegans? Or Michael Jackson’s nose? Hit me up, I’m here to help.