Having a vegan or vegetarian over for dinner, Thanksgiving or holiday meals? We asked vegetarians and vegans what they wished others knew about their lifestyle…

  1. We are not all “that” Vegan/Vegetarian… You know that person who chastises others for eating meat or gives long lectures about animal cruelty at the restaurant before people place their orders. If fact, most us don’t love those folks either because they give us a bad rep. Most of us believe that not eating or eating meat/animal products is a personal choice. That doesn’t mean we don’t talk about what we choose to eat/not eat; sometimes it comes up in conversations, but most of us try not to hit you over the head with vegetarian/vegan facts. We just may talk about it once in a while.
  2. We’re not trying to annoy you. Sometimes people get annoyed if we ask about vegetarian or vegan options at a restaurant, or ask if something is cooked in beef broth or fried in the same oil as the chicken. We just need to take precautions so we don’t accidentally eat something we don’t want to.
  3. We don’t expect you to cater to us. We often want to bring our own dishes to the dinner party/holiday so it takes the pressure off you, the host/hostess, to make something special for us. If we ask if we can bring something, please let us.
  4. It means a lot if you want to cook for us and ask ahead if we can/can’t eat something. That’s really thoughtful, thank you.
  5. If we get excited about a non-meat food, can you just stop with the “but cheeseburgers are better, duh” and “It’d be 100 times better with bacon in it” comments? Just like you don’t want to be chastised for your food choices, we don’t want to either. And we get it a lot.
  6. Please don’t lecture us about alleged nutritional deficits because we don’t eat meat. There’s tons of protein, etc. in non-meat food. Most of us are aware of the importance of a balanced/nutrient-filled diet.
  7. VEGETARIANS don’t eat meat. Believe it or not, many vegetarians have heard this comment “Oh, I brought chicken for you since we’re making brisket tonight for everyone else.” When someone is vegetarian they don’t eat any animal that has died, and that includes chicken (why don’t some people consider chicken an animal?), fish and seafood like scallops, shrimp, mussels and oysters (unless they’re pescatarians, which means they don’t eat meat except for seafood).
  8. VEGETARIANS do eat things living animals produce, like butter, eggs, milk and cheese (but see point #3). However, we don’t eat things that are byproducts of an animals direct death, such as gelatin which is from animal hides, bones, and connective tissues of cattle and pigs.
  9. VEGETARIANS don’t eat cheeses that contain rennet (which is in a lot of hard cheeses and parmesan is one of those). Rennet is an enzyme found in the lining of a deceased cow’s intestines. Just read the label before you set the cheese plate out for guests and please let your vegetarian guest know about it.
  10. VEGANS don’t eat meat or any animal products, which includes dairy, butter, eggs (which includes mayo) and bee products like honey (there are great replacements for all of these things). Heads up that can also include noodles that have eggs in them.
  11. VEGETARIANS & VEGANS don’t eat lard. Lard, sometimes labelled as “tarrow”, is often used in making biscuits, pie crusts, tamales, dry cake mixes, Jiffy cornbread mixes, most commercial cupcakes and Twinkies, and some potato chip brands like Grandma Utz’s. If you’re making baked goods with lard, please just let the vegan/vegetarian in your life know.
  12. VEGETARIANS & VEGANS care about cooking fats If you’re using animal-based cooking fats like bacon grease, we can’t eat that. Also, many people season cast iron pans with animal-based fats. Please take this into account when cooking for vegetarians and vegans and cook out of another pan instead. It’s also worth noting a lot of vegetarians and vegans avoid palm oil because while its technically vegan, a large majority of palm oil is unethically produced and damages to animals’ environments, resulting in their deaths.
  13. VEGETARIANS & VEGANS don’t eat things that use fish or shrimp paste, which means we miss out on a lot of curries and Pad Thai, unless they use alternatives. Pescatarians are down with these things though!
  14. VEGETARIANS & VEGANS don’t eat marshmallows, Jello-O, Altoid Mints, Pop Tarts, Frosted Mini Wheat, and other cereals, sweets (often cheesecake), yogurt, gum, candies and vitamins that contain gelatin or dyes like a red dye called carmine, which is made from cochineal insects.
  15. VEGETARIANS & VEGANS don’t consume chicken and beef broth. Vegetable soups, casseroles and stews aren’t always vegetarian or vegan friendly because many use chicken broth. If you’re cooking for a vegan or vegetarian, please use veggie broth.
  16. VEGETARIANS & VEGANS can’t eat canned beans that are cooked using ham hock (you’d be surprised how much are). Read the label before you pick them up for a dish you’re making.
  17. Please PLEASE don’t ever “hide” meat/dairy products in a meal that a VEGETARIAN or VEGAN is going to eat. Not only is it unethical, it’s deeply upsetting if we accidentally eat meat or animal products, like when a restaurant forgets to omit the bacon bits in a salad or an aunt thinks “Oh I just won’t tell them I used bacon grease to fry those tomatoes”. Just don’t.
  18. VEGETARIANS & VEGANS care about cross-contamination between meat and non-meat food. Many of us don’t like eating anything that touches meat or animal products. Please don’t fry the potatoes in the same pan and oil you just cooked the pork chops in, and please don’t use the same chopping block you just carved the turkey on. This includes washing hands after cooking raw or cooked meat before you touch the non-meat stuff.
  19. VEGETARIANS & VEGANS can’t eat most Caesar dressings, Worcestershire sauces or olive tapenades because most have anchovy paste in them (not an issue for pescatarians.)
  20. VEGETARIANS & VEGANS sometimes have a thing with white sugar because some of it is processed using bone char. Some of the best substitutes are raw sugar, agave, coconut sugar, stevia, brown rice sugar and monk fruit sweeter.
  21. VEGETARIANS & VEGANS would love if you made a vegan-friendly stuffing (using veggie broth) and gravy for the holidays so they can enjoy it too. I swear, meat eaters and vegans love this vegetarian gravy recipe that can also be made vegan and check out this stuffing recipe with vegan substitutes.
  22. ALL THAT SAID…There are many people who don’t live strictly by the above VEGETARIAN and VEGAN definitions. If you have a vegan or vegetarian coming to dinner or over for the holidays, it’s nice to ask them what their dietary restrictions are.

Thanks for caring and getting to know us! It means a lot you read this.

Vegetarian & Vegan Recipes for Dinner Parties & The Holidays

So, what food can you make for a vegan/vegetarian coming to your house for a dinner party or the holidays? Vegetarians and vegans love veggies, fruit, grains, tofu, soy, legumes, nuts and seeds! Many also eat mock meat. I personally love these “fake meats” on occasion: Impossible Burger and Sausage, Boca Chicken Patties, Rasied and Rooted Chicken Nuggets and Gardein Chicken Strips for use as a chicken substitute in recipes. Now, what to cook? Here’s a few of our recipes for the non meat-eaters in your life or if you’re trying to cut back on meat consumption (some are vegetarian, not vegan, so keep an eye on the ingredients):

You May Think We’re High Maintenance with All These “Rules”, But It Means a Lot To Us

Most of us have deep convictions about why we don’t eat meat and/or consume/usa animal products. Here’s some reasons why people become vegetarian or vegan:

  • Health concerns/focus on wellness
  • Moral beliefs that animals have a right to freedom and life
  • Animal cruelty concerns
  • Environmental activism
  • Spiritual or religious reasons
  • Budgetary reasons
  • Personal preference
  • A mixture of some or all of these reasons
  • Another reason not listed here because humans are complex and there are many other reasons someone may decide to go vegan or vegetarian

 

Vegan and Vegetarian Resources, Cookbooks & Awesome Food Bloggers to Follow

Curious? Have more questions?/ Here are some additional resources and amazing vegan and vegetarian food bloggers for people interested in learning more about veganism/vegetarianism and looking for some more recipes…

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