Handling Social Gatherings
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.
For 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/plant-based. You can ease their mind by offering to bring a dish that is plant-based/vegan - like a quinoa or a pasta salad dish with beans or curried lentils. This way, you'll 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.
Going to a Party
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 that you know you can eat like stuffed mushrooms or a plant-based dip…let’s face it, almost everyone has a veggie platter for something to nibble on.
Having People Over
Perhaps you are not going out, but having people ver. When cooking in a mix 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 or beans to the other. Salads are great for this as are soups – start with the base and then add meat products to one and vegan/plant-based products to the other like lentils. There are veganized versions of many meat/dairy-based products like burgers so perhaps the other members of your family/friends might be willing to try something new.
It used to be much more difficult to find vegan/plant-based 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 plant-based foods, 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 vegan/plant-based 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 vegan/plant-based 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 vegan cheese so you can add it to your pizza or other dishes.
*Tip: A good resource for looking for vegan/plant-based restaurants is the app, HappyCow.
I hope this helps ease some of the anxiety of dealing with social gatherings and that you will go and just enjoy yourself.
Just sayin’ is all! Lou💚
P.S. If you would like to talk more about your vegan/plant-based journey with someone who has been there, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can set up a 30-minute "Discovery Session with Lou".