Handling Social Gatherings
Especially at this time of the year, eating situations can consist of going to a family get together, going to a friend’s party, having a mixed household of vegans and non-vegans, or going to a restaurant.
As a new vegan/plant-based eater, each of them can have their challenges, but the trick to overcome the challenges is to be prepared.
When heading out to a family/friend’s meal, it’s important to remember that many people are intimidated when having to prepare something that is vegan. You can ease their mind by offering to bring a dish that is plant-based/vegan. This way, you will have something you know you can eat and something for other people to try.
I remember going to our friends for our first get together after Bob and I became vegans. It made me cry how supportive they were and the efforts they went to in accommodating our new lifestyle. They went online and researched a couple of good recipes and then we all partook of the new vegan dishes which everyone enjoyed.
When going to a party, it’s always a good idea to make sure you eat before you go so that you’re not left hungry and wondering what you will eat and being tempted by the cheese platter. Once again, you can take something for the party…and let’s face it, almost everyone has a veggie platter for something to nibble on.
When cooking in a mixed home of vegans and non-vegans, it can add to the workload, so it’s best to have meals planned and to try to look for recipes that can be converted – cook pasta and add shrimp to one and baked tofu to the other. Salads are great for this as are soups – start with the base and then add meat products to one and plant-based/vegan products to the other. There are veganized versions of many meat/dairy-based products so perhaps the other members of your family might be willing to try something new.
It used to be much more difficult to find plant-based/vegan restaurants and depending where you live, it still might be, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy a meal from a restaurant.
When I first became a vegan, specialty restaurants were few and far between, but as time has marched on, and more and more people are interested in eating more plant-based, more and more restaurants try to accommodate this need.
When going out to a restaurant, it can be a good idea to call the restaurant ahead of time to see what they have that might be suitable for a plant-based/vegan eater so you can be prepared. But if this is not possible, you can always ask your server what they have to offer.
When I ask my server about what they might recommend for a plant-based/vegan eater, I always add, “And please, do not say ‘salad’!” Ask your server to ask the chef to come up with something – chefs are always up to the challenge.
Many types of ethnic restaurants already have plant-based/vegan items to offer, such as Mexican with so many dishes having beans and rice (just eliminate the cheese in the dishes); Thai cuisine has many vegan options as does Indian, and you can always get a veggie pizza made at an Italian restaurant (once again, just eliminate the cheese).
A little trick I do when going out for a meal is to bring my own vegan butter – that way if I have a baked potato or steamed veggies, I can add my own “butter”. You can also do this with a small bag of shredded cheese so you can add it to your pizza or other dishes.
*Tip: A good resource for looking for plant-based/vegan restaurants is the app, HappyCow.
I hope this helps ease some of the anxiety of going to social gatherings and that you will go and just enjoy yourself.
Just sayin’ is all! Lou
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