5 Tips for a Vegan-Friendly Holiday Meal That Omnivore Guests Will Love
Holiday meals bring together friends and family in celebration and appreciation. Don't let dietary differences come between your guests and a great time. Follow these five tips to run a vegan-friendly meal while still appealing to the omnivores at the table.
1. Keep an Ingredients List on Hand
Knowledge is more valuable than good intentions. Most people only cook some parts of a holiday meal from scratch, so it can be challenging to know the exact ingredients. Keeping an ingredients list on hand -- and snapping a picture of store-bought ingredients lists -- lets vegans decide for themselves if they're going to eat any particular dish.
Most vegans don't expect everything at the holiday meal to be vegan. When you provide them with the ingredients list, you take the guesswork out of their meal. They don't have to worry that they're violating their principles -- or miss out on something tasty they could have enjoyed.
2. Use Common Vegan Swaps
Your omnivore guests won't notice if you make a few easy vegan switches. For example, using vegan butter (like Earth Balance) instead of butter in your mashed potatoes will make the dish vegan, provided you either omit the dairy or swap in oat milk. You can also double-check that your hot apple cider recipe doesn't call for honey, or sub in maple syrup or agave syrup if it does. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken stock in stuffings and gravies. These changes have a low impact on flavor but will allow your dishes to appeal to both omnivores and vegans.
3. Make the Sides Vegan
This goes beyond swapping in vegan ingredients for non-vegan ones. Rather than trying to find the correct vegan substitution, just make some sides that were always supposed to be vegan. Roasted vegetables, certain kinds of homemade bread (that people can put their own butter and/or margarine on), and stuffing cooked separately from the meat entree are often already vegan.
Your omnivore guests won't feel like they're missing out on anything, and your vegan guests can enjoy a complete dining experience at your table. You'll also give yourself a holiday gift: less work for you! It's easier for many to make a dish that happens to be vegan than to modify one that calls for animal products.
4. Let Them Bring a Meal
Deputize your vegans: they won't mind. While sides and easy vegan swaps are easy to do without alienating your omnivore guests, they will notice if you serve Tofurky instead of turkey. Ask your vegan guests well before the meal what they want to do about the main course.
Some vegans will be happy just eating sides on a holiday. After all, who doesn't love a pile of veggies with mashed potatoes, stuffing, and so on? Others, however, may want to make more of an entree. If they do, ask what they can bring or prepare. Vegans are already skilled at cooking tasty vegan food. If you're trying to include them in other dishes at the table, asking them to bring one or two things for themselves is not outrageous.
5. Don't Serve the Bird Whole
This is a flippant tip, but the true message is to be sensitive. While many vegans aren't bothered by the sight of meat, if you are going to serve meat with vegans present, it still doesn't hurt to be sensitive. Don't serve whole animals. Don't gush for ages over just how delicious the turkey or veal is. Consider even keeping it off the main dining table entirely. Taking the time to be considerate won't impair the enjoyment of omnivores. Still, it will make the meal more comfortable for everyone else.
Freshen up your holiday table by following these tips to make everyone welcome. Omnivores and vegans will enjoy a table laden with tasty vegan side dishes. A few recipe tweaks can make even non-vegan items enjoyable to all. Most of all, embrace the spirit of consideration this season, and you can't go wrong.