What To Do When a Vegan Shows Up at Your Door

By Elizabeth Jarrard on November 26, 2015 , categorized in In the Kitchen

Galas, parties, soirees and intimate dinner gatherings. Whatever mix you find yourself invited to and hosting this holiday season, the topic of dietary restrictions is bound to come up. Whether you’re having a plant-based eater over to dinner last minute and you find yourself in panic mode, or you go into every party knowing you’ll leave a little bit hungrier, it helps to be prepared. Pack up a vegan emergency preparedness kit and conquer the holidays, full, content and in good spirits.

If you’re hosting a surprise plant-based dinner guest:

Crap! All the veggies sides have butter in them, and there isn’t a high protein main that isn’t meat in sight, and then your friend Dennis calls to tell you his date is vegan. What is a host to do??

Dishes to make with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry:

  • Root vegetables roasted with salt and olive oil
  • One pot meal—using frozen broccoli, and dry noodles, while only dirtying one pot.
  • Roasted almonds (try seasoning with a bit of olive oil, sea salt and rosemary)
  • Chickpea salad: drain and rinse a can of chickpeas, and chop red onion and any extra veggies you have in your fridge. Mix in a large bowl. Make a vinaigrette of 2 parts olive oil, 1 part lemon juice, a dash of salt, cumin, and black pepper. Mix thoroughly before serving.
  • Rice and beans. Start the rice cooker, heat up a can of beans, and season with salt, pepper, cayenne powder.
  • Roasted pears with cinnamon and maple syrup
  • Chocolate avocado pudding

Modify dishes you’ve already made—without starting from scratch

  • Don’t pre-butter any bread. Serve butter alongside
  • About to mash some potatoes? Swap the butter out for olive oil, and use non-dairy milk, or water instead of cream.
  • Hold off cheese on your salad—offer it on the side instead

Quick trip to the store, semi-homemade, instant sides:          

  • Hummus and pita chips
  • Salad mix with roasted nuts, and sliced apples or pears
  • Crudités with hummus
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Roasted, seasoned nuts
  • Crackers with vegan cream-cheese and jalapeño jam

What if you’re the lone (vegan) ranger:

Sure, you’ve done your plant-based due diligence and let your host know that you don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs. And you might have even helped more by giving examples of foods you DO eat, so they don’t feel pressured to hunt down a delicious recipe to serve. Take some of the pressure off and ensure you won’t leave hungrier by bringing a plant-based holiday dish that is sure to be loved by all omnivores. Maybe have a slightly larger snack than you normally do before heading to a party.

But hey, it never hurts to have some extra snacks ready—just in case. Pack your purse, backpack, glove compartment with these backup emergency vegan snacks:

  • Trail mix
  • Wasabi peas
  • Dried fruit
  • Single-serving nut butter packets
  • Single-serving olives
  • Kale chips
  • Vega One® Meal Bar
  • Vega® Snack Bar
  • Vega® Protein+ Snack Bar1Contains 11% more of the Daily Value for protein than Vega® Snack Bar. Protein content of Vega® Snack Bars is 5g (4% DV) per serving; Vega® Protein+ Bars is 11g per serving.

No matter which side of the table you sit on, it never hurts to be reminded of what these gatherings are really about: the friends, family members and coworkers you love and respect. Their company is far more important than the table spread. There will be good meals, fantastic meals and lackluster meals, but when surrounded by the best people, it matters far less. So, Cheers!

Whether you are plant-based or not, how do you ensure you are well-nourished in the streams of holiday parties?

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Elizabeth Jarrard

Elizabeth Jarrard is a registered dietitian in Denver, CO who specializes in medical nutrition therapy and plant-based nutrition. She educates clients and consumers on how to optimize their health through nutrition.

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