Aug. 10, 2011
You will like the carrots. Oh yes. You will like the carrots. Oh yes. You will like...
You’re vegan and your parents, in laws, bestie, brother, boss, [fill in the blank], are coming over for dinner. And they’re not vegan. They’re not even thrilled about eating vegan food but... they love you. they lost a bet. they have no choice. they’re trying to incorporate more meatless meals...
And you want to make a meal that they'll eat (and hopefully love).
I get you.
Here is my advice for feeding skeptical omnivores (and meat eaters in general): Serve something that is familiar and inherently vegetarian -- Don’t go for tofu or meat substitutes or any kind of dish that’s pretending to be meat.
A little soy milk with coffee after dinner is okay but you don't want to serve gardein. or lentil burgers. or some weird dehydrated eggplant that's pretending to be bacon.
Don't get me wrong, I like all of these foods but let's face it: they're pretty weird to a newcomer. Especially if that newcomer fashions themself as a "carnivore."
Anytime I go to a party where the food is vegan but not all of the guests are, I notice the omnivores (especially those totally new to vegan fare) tend to huddle around things like fruit salad, bean dip, chips and salsa, hummus and veggies. That's because these are "safe" foods. Some might dare label them "normal" foods. Point is, they are foods we're all familiar with.
It doesn't even really matter about the whole vegan vs. non vegan thing. Most people are pretty timid about trying something new so serve up a dish they already know and love.
Not only will this create a harmonious meal time, it'll open up their eyes to how awesome vegan fare can be and help dissipate the notions that vegans subsist on weird foods, iceberg lettuce salads and smelly boca burgers (sorry boca burgers, but you know you stank!)
Everyone loves Mexican food so Mexican dishes are always a safe bet. Black beans, pinto beans, rice, salsa, guacamole---rock on! Pasta is also a crowd pleaser (and really easy!). Never forget that a beautiful pasta dish can really go a long way!
Vegetable casseroles are also generally well received, along with soups and stews. Even bean chilis tend to go over well, especially when they are served with cornbread.
I've complied a list of all the dishes I've served my rather skeptical family and friends (you know who you are!) in hopes that it will help you feed yours.
Top 10 Dishes to Feed Skeptical Omnivores:
- Sweet & Spicy Butternut Soup (p. 59)
- Creamy Carrot Soup (p. 62) <-- good chilled too, btw!
- Chili Sans Carne (p.81) & Cornbread (p. 49)
- Chickpea Tacos (p. 97)
- Portobello Steaks (p. 148)
- Vegetarian Delight (p. 116)
- Cheater Pad Thai (p. 117)
- Hawaiian Chickpea Teriyaki (p. 127)
- Tamale Casserole (p. 167)
- Chickpea Noodle Soup
p.s. many thanks to all the omni’s in my life who have and continue to try vegan fare -- and an even bigger hug to the many of you who leave meat off your plate even when I’m not serving you dinner!
Also hats off to all my wonderful fans and supporters who are not vegan, but still make many of my recipes. I believe every meatless and vegan meal matters -- keep up the good work!