For most social gatherings, family or friends, I am the chef. Depending on the guests, I will sometimes cook one meat dish, but I often cook entirely vegetarian/vegan. The funny thing is that the veggie food always goes first, and everyone is satisfied and often excited about the food. Are you having guests over? Want to “trick” them into loving vegetarian food? Follow these steps:
1. DO NOT LABEL THE FOOD as vegetarian, or vegan, in the beginning. Labeling the food as healthy, fresh, and organic usually works best. I find that there is still a stigma associated with vegetarian food, and some people feel like there is something “missing” if they are eating vegetarian food. So instead, make a bunch of food, present it, and let them eat. Later you can mention that the food was vegetarian and you hope everyone enjoyed it, which they will have, and your goal of opening family and friends up to the idea of eating veggie food has worked.
2. COOK ETHNIC – If the type of cuisine is unusual to the guests, they will be less likely to question the ingredients. Because veggie cuisine is part of many traditional cultures, due to the traditional availability of plant based foods in the diets of early humans, it is easy to create a vegetarian menu based on one particular country or region. Some of my suggestions would be Indian, Ethiopian, Mexican, Thai, Mediterranean, or Middle Eastern.
3. DON’T BE AFRAID TO SPICE THINGS UP – After eating at one of my events, a guest commented that they thought vegan cuisine could best be described as “flavorful.” I happen to agree. When you cook with authentic spices, herbs, and seasonings, you really do get a better, more flavorful dish, whether there is meat included or not.
4. MAYBE COOK ONE MEAT DISH – If you are going more traditional, say for the holidays, it might be a good idea to cook something with meat. I often incorporate one meat dish into my cooking for a party or event to give the illusion of the type of meal people may be more used to, and then I let the experiment begin. Interestingly enough, I have found that the meat is often left over and the veggie stuff goes first. Giving the guests a choice will allow them to create their own veggie meal, with maybe a little meat on the side. Since my family still eats meat, I have someone to take care of the leftovers, but if you are opposed to buying or cooking meat or worried about having leftovers that you will not eat, you could skip the meat all together, and still have a successful event.
Why entertain veggie style? I like to share my food with my family and friends, and it has even persuaded some whom had not been interested in veggie food to give it a try and to incorporate more veggie dishes into their own diets. Actually, much of my motivation for writing this blog came from interested people wanting to try some of my recipes, in order to eat a little healthier. I have found that cooking veggie cuisine and ethnic cuisine for guests also makes for great conversation. Who wouldn’t want to discuss travels, food, and adventure, over a glass of Ethiopian honey wine?
Do you have any great entertaining tips? Or best entertaining recipes? Please comment and share!