Do you have vegans and vegetarians among your friends and family members? It’s something you may not have given much thought to, but if you’re planning a wedding meal, you’ll need to make sure that everybody has something suitable to eat. What’s more, if you want everyone to have a good time, it’s worth making the effort to make sure there’s something good. So where do you start?
A Growing Phenomenon
There are at least 16 million vegetarians in America today, and more people are deciding to become vegetarian all the time. Many are vegans, which means they don’t eat any animal products at all. It’s a particularly popular choice among young people but you will find vegetarians in every age group, as many older people are drawn to it by the health benefits it offers. If you don’t see everyone on the guest list frequently, it can be a good idea to include a slip in each invitation asking people to let you know their dietary needs. This will allow you to prepare suitable food for anyone with an allergy and it will account for the possibility that someone has become a vegetarian since you last met.
Escaping The Clichés
If you talk to vegetarians about attending weddings and other similar events, they’ll tell you that nine times out of ten their food options are the same. While everyone else is enjoying a delicious banquet, they’re expected to make do with a few leaves and bits of tomato, or they’re served fish, which most vegetarians don’t eat. There’s more to vegetarianism than this! It doesn’t take a lot of planning to come up with something genuinely appealing. If you’re not very confident about your knowledge of vegetarian food, you can take the easy route and still provide something interesting by using meat substitutes. It’s easy to find vegetarian steak, burgers or fillets made from soya that you could simply substitute into a familiar recipe. Alternatively, you could try something a bit more exotic and draw on the many vegetarian traditions in Asian cooking or make up a meat-free Mexican bean-based dish. You can find lots of recipes online.
Remember that vegetarians won’t want to have to stop at the main course. The wedding cake may or may not be suitable (ask the baker), so it’s worth thinking about alternative desserts. At the most basic level, vegan ice cream is easy to find these days and generally popular.
Including Vegan Options
Making food vegan is easier than ever and it’s well worth doing because it won’t only help vegans themselves, it will also be good for any guests who are lactose intolerant. It’s possible to do it simply by being careful about which vegetarian dishes you choose, but if you don’t want to have that added worry, you can simply substitute ingredients. Hampton Creek are a California-based company who make a great range of alternatives to egg and dairy products. They’re constantly innovating so it’s always worth checking out what they have that’s new. Their mayonnaise has proved particularly popular with caterers because it makes it so easy to garnish vegan meals.
Getting The Details Right
When you’re preparing vegetarian or vegan food, it’s important to remember that animal products have worked their way into the food industry in ways that can be surprising. In order to be able to dine with confidence, you’ll need to check the ingredients on any pre-prepared products or use only those that are certified as vegetarian or vegan friendly. Gelatin in food, for instance, is generally derived from cows, and many products are bulked up with whey powder. As well as milk derivatives and eggs, most vegans prefer to avoid honey, so you should check to make sure that it isn’t a hidden ingredient in sweet foods. Because the digestive system changes with the way it’s used, eating animal products by accident can potentially make vegetarians very ill.
If you’re bringing in caterers, you’ll need to be sure that they know what they’re doing. Find a company that has prepared vegetarian or vegan options before, and try to speak to some of their previous customers to learn how it worked for them. A good catering company will listen to your ideas and suggest some new ones.
When you get them right, the vegetarian options shouldn’t just be compensation for those who don’t want to eat the main meal – they should be tempting enough to make everybody want a taste. Just make sure there are enough!