So you have invited a vegetarian over for dinner. How sweet of you to include them and volunteer to feed them something with no meat and fish in it. Cue the panic setting in. What the heck do I feed this person? I don’t know what to give them that is vegetarian! Don’t panic, I have some easy ideas you can incorporate into your holiday table with little to no extra work from you.Help! I invited a vegetarian to dinner and I don't know what to feed them! This post can help. Click To Tweet
One important thing to know: are they vegetarian or vegan? Vegetarian is no meat or fish (or by products) but vegan’s are also no dairy, no butter, no honey, no eggs, big difference between the two. Ask up front what they do and do not eat to make it easier on you for planning.
First up, vegetarian doesn’t mean it has to be something really weird, we eat normal food too! The key thing is protein, that is really important to serve a vegetarian, otherwise they will not get full and still be super hungry. I’ll touch more on this below.
Easy sides you can have at your Holiday meal that everyone can enjoy:
- Mashed potatoes
- Roasted sweet potatoes
- Sauteed mushrooms
- Sweet potato pie
- Brussels Sprouts
- Stuffed Squash (Recipe down below for this awesome dish).
One thing to note: read the ingredients on everything before you serve it to a vegetarian. Although it might seem like it contains no meat, it may. For example, Vegetable soup usually has a beef broth base, which obviously is not vegetarian. Look for beef and/or chicken stock, bacon, anchovies, etc. in everything before you serve it to a vegetarian. Lard is in a lot of pastry, so if you are serving pie or anything like that make sure you check the ingredients and use vegetable shortening instead of lard.
For the protein, this is really important to serve. Give me a plate or two of the above mentioned veggies, awesome I will appreciate it and it will be delicious, BUT I will be starving in an hour unless I have something more substantial with protein. Things you can serve with protein:
- Lentil soup
- Tofurkey (I have a easy recipe below you can make in the crock pot so it doesn’t clog up the actual turkey’s precious oven space).
- Veggie stuffing (containing eggs and cheese).
- Anything with beans, chick peas, tofu, soy, etc. in it.
If all this is out of your comfort zone you can buy some pre-packaged stuff at the grocery store (fake chicken breasts, fake meat balls, vegetarian roasts) and just pop them in the oven. Check out the specialty section or ask an employee, even Wal-Mart carries veggie meat alternatives. Even scrambled eggs are extra protein and appreciated.
You can buy packaged mushroom or onion gravy (in can or envelope format where you add water) and it is super easy to make for vegetarians and a great treat to have on the table, again check ingredients to ensure it is in fact vegetarian.When feeding a vegetarian read the ingredients on EVERYTHING for hidden meat ingredients. Click To Tweet
Other things to note if a vegetarian is around:
- We get really grossed out if our food so much as touches meat, so that means, make sure you use separate utensils for cooking meat and vegetables, have a separate spatula, wooden spoon etc.
- If BBQing have a designated veggie side (try to clean it of the meat as well as you can) and use a separate spatula to the meat.
- Same goes for serving utensils, make sure there are separate serving utensils for the meat and the vegetarian items.
- Do NOT combine vegetarian food and meat-containing food on the same plate. Yuck. I will not touch that food if it has touched meat.
- As the host you want to ensure that your vegetarian guest actually eats, so it is great if you pay attention to other guests and ensure that the vegetarian gets their pick of vegetables first before they are all gone, take care that other guests are not mixing up the meat and vegetarian serving utensils, and not serving meat OVER the vegetarian dishes, thus dropping meat juice all over the vegetable stuff (had this happen to me too).
It can be really easy to host a vegetarian and not a lot of extra work if you plan and serve them enough of the right kinds of food. My whole family (husband, toddler, and baby/almost toddler) are vegetarian and we do not eat at other people’s house a lot because we hate to impose on other people. We sincerely appreciate it when someone does go out of their way to host us and feed us though and since it is almost Christmas I thought a few tips would be handy for anyone going out on a limb and hosting a vegetarian too.
Here are a few recipes to make for vegetarians:
For those vegetarians reading this, any other tips I missed? What are your favourite dishes to have at holiday meals? Has anyone gone out of their way for you while hosting to accommodate you? Please comment below and let me know.
Are any of you hosting a vegetarian this season? Any tips of your own from the meat-eaters perspective? Please share below.