What To Feed The Omnis?
When you are vegan, you get used to being the odd one out a lot of the time.
You get used to having to explain your dietary requirements to friends and family.
Things are a little different, however, when the meal is on your turf.
What to feed the omnivores, or non-vegans in your life can sometimes seem a little daunting.
You are likely not to want to cook with meat or dairy, but at the same time, you want to make sure that you serve your guests something that they really will enjoy.
One important thing to remember is that similar cooking skills will come into play when you cook for vegans and non vegans alike.
An impressive dinner that is well-cooked will impress, regardless of whether it, and your guests, are vegan or not.
Switch the whole thing on its head – realize that this is not a chore or a challenge but an opportunity – a chance to convert omnis to the joys of eating vegan food – even if they do not choose to eat it all the time.
You have made your moral choices, they make theirs. While you do want to show friends and family just how delicious and satisfying vegan food can be, it is important not to turn the whole evening into a preaching exercise.
If you are prone to being evangelical about your cause – drop it for the duration of your dinner party. A dinner party is not the time to try to lecture people on the ills of eating meat and other animal products.
Practical Tips For Entertaining
Ideally, at a dinner party with a vegan host, the fact that the food is vegan should not even come up.
The best case scenario is that everyone will simply be enjoying the food too much, and having too much of a good time, to even think about it.
Fix the focus firmly on fun with friends and family and you will find that the pressure all just floats away.
Whatever your dietary choices, you should never be ashamed of them. Remember, the people you have invited to dinner are likely to be people who know and love you. The likelihood is that, if it is well prepared with thought and consideration, they will thoroughly enjoy it, vegan or not. Even if they didn't, surely few people would be rude enough to say so!
To 'Theme' Or Not To 'Theme', That Is The Question
Some people love to give their parties themes, revelling in the chance to dress up themselves and their homes and give full force to their creative expression in the food and in the creation of the perfect party atmosphere.
A theme party is a chance to cook a certain menu inspired by your favorite national cuisine, your favorite historical era, or your favorite book, TV programme or film.
For example, you could have a Mexican Themed party – perfect if you and your friends like things hot and spicy.
Perhaps you would like a groovy 1960s dinner party to show off your mid-century style home to perfection - hippie heaven, or something much more sleek and chic.
Maybe you will pay a visit to the Regency period for a Jane Austen inspired evening.
Or go full Mediaeval style with a vegan fantasy feast to remind you of 'Game of Thrones' – though hopefully with a lot less bloodshed!
If you are the type of person who loves a theme – and you and your guests will all fully embrace it – then go for it!
Some people abhor themes, however, and it is worthwhile thinking about whether your guests will be as into your theme as you will. Forget your worries over your vegan gathering – all worries about omnis not liking the food will be blown out of the water if guests are awkwardly trying to embrace your theme with reluctance.
There is an occasion for everything, and every theme could have its place – just make sure you know when those occasions should be.
Planning The Menu
If you have a theme then of course this will automatically set a direction for the menu. There are of course plenty of vegan recipes for entertaining, so whether or not you have chosen to have a theme, and whatever that theme may be, you will be able to find vegan recipes to suit.
If you are cooking for non-vegans, it is usually a good idea to opt for vegan recipes that are not too far from most people's 'comfort zone' and do not contain any unusual ingredients that non-vegans will likely not be familiar with.
It can also be a mistake to try to replicate meat dishes too exactly – to meat eater, vegan substitutes will rarely taste the same as the original. That is not to say that they cannot be delicious, but non-vegans can sometimes find them off-putting when subconsciously expecting a piece of meat.
Instead, make flavorsome and delicious vegan recipes that do not pretend to be anything but what they are.
Planning The Décor
When you are planning a dinner party, whether it is for vegan or non-vegan friends, the food is not the only thing to think about. The aim of the game with the décor is to create an ambiance which will make your guests feel relaxed, comfortable and happy.
If you are employing a theme, be careful not to go overboard. Think first and foremost about the basics: lighting, warmth or cooling (depending on your location and the season), space (for socializing, for eating – perhaps for dancing after dinner).
Themes can be wonderful, but sometimes all the theme you need is one word concept, such as 'comfort', 'relaxed', 'elegant', 'romantic', 'energetic'... Think about how everything in your decorative scheme fits with the word you have chosen to 'theme' your impressive dinner party.
Shopping And Preparation
Shopping for a dinner party, you should have the same considerations that you have when shopping for everyday vegan meals.
Wherever possible it is of course ideal to choose organic, local produce.
If you are not currently growing your own then you should try to visit a local farm shop or greengrocers to find sustainable produce that will not only be better for the planet but will also be healthier and taste better too.
Timings And Cooking
Try to be organised beforehand and on the night to make sure that you can serve each dish on time, warm when necessary. Remember, however, the important thing is to make sure that you and your guests all have a wonderful evening, so try to make sure that you do your best to create a feast for all the senses.
But at the same time – relax – don't stress. These are people you want to have around, after all, and they will enjoy spending time with you even if everything does not go perfectly to plan.
When serving, it is a nice idea to tell your guests what each course is. Some omnis will not be familiar with your vegan cuisine and may find it more appealing if they know what it is and roughly what to expect.
But don't apologize for the lack of certain ingredients, or be too self-deprecating. Your food should be allowed to speak for itself.
Party Menu Ideas
Here are three cool party menu ideas that you can cook for omnis. Not only will they not miss the other things they eat, they may also be converted to the fantastic tastes and textures of vegan food.
1. Yule Tide Twist
A festive twist for winter dinner parties – this impressive recipe deconstructs many traditional elements of a Christmas dinner. No one will notice this hearty, satisfying meal is vegan unless you make mention of it.
2. Fiery Fiesta
Heat things up with this spicy menu inspired by sunny Catalonia. This menu is perfect for an informal, perhaps boozy, evening with friends.
3. Brilliant Brunch
How about a menu for the morning after the night before? Here is a fantastic informal brunch menu that you can prepare ahead of time to enjoy with friends or family. Perfect for all overnight guests.
As mentioned above – don't be apologetically vegan!
Don't preach, of course, but don't be tempted to just cook with meat or dairy when you do not really want to. People who are coming to dinner are most definitely your friends and family who love and support you and enjoy your company.
And you know what? You are completely capable of preparing delightful dinner party for your non-vegan friends and family. And if it means that you need to explain your dietary choices once in a while, let it be.
If you really know your friends, you'll know what kind of dish they'll enjoy, even it's no-meat and no-diary.
Try to create a feast for all the senses, however, most importantly, enjoy the time you are spending with people who love you and appreciate your effort.