There are many circumstances in which non-vegans have to “deal” with having a vegan in their midst. Whether choosing a restaurant for girls’ night out, visiting with family, potlucks, parties or any infinite number of possible scenarios, just follow Han Solo’s advice: “fly casual.”
It’s very common for people to assume that being vegan is complicated, stressful, expensive and inconvenient. I personally find none of those things to be true in my day to day life. The reason people think these things is because they aren’t vegan. I admit: I don’t know how diabetics do it, but that’s only because I have zero experience with living a diabetic life. We fear what we don’t understand, but sometimes it’s not for us to worry so much about what other people are doing. Live & let live. The more time you spend around a confident vegan, the less you will worry.
I wanted to just touch on two of the most common situations in which our non-vegan friends seem to stress the most: dining out and hosting us in their homes. Consider how short my suggestion lists are: it should give you an idea of how stress-free I think being vegan should be viewed.
Please, in the comments, feel free to add your own advice and I’ll include it in this list.
Tips for Dining Out with a Vegan
1) If feasible, ask the vegan if they have any suggestions. Most likely they frequent the same restaurants you do with very few exceptions.
2) Call ahead to notify the host, manager and kitchen there will be a vegan in the party.
3) Don’t pester the vegan. Chances are they are more comfortable with being vegan than you think they are. Your anxiety is due to your own inexperience with veganism, not theirs.
4) Don’t single out the vegan with questions. A few well placed questions about what they ordered or what their favorite vegan foods are is good, but don’t ask why they are vegan – talk of animal cruelty isn’t appropriate table talk.
Tips for Hosting a Vegan in Your Home
1) I think this is the simplest shopping list I can offer family before staying with them:
plain, unsweetened almond milk (or whatever kind of non-dairy milk you prefer), bananas or any kind of fruit, frozen peas & corn, dried pasta and maybe some kind of cereal like Life or Cheerios.
2) Don’t worry! You already have many vegan items in your house that you are completely unaware of. I’ll find them.
3) Don’t be offended if the vegan tells you not to shop because they will make a grocery run once they arrive at your place. It has nothing to do with you; it has everything to do with the vegan trying to make your life easier.
4) Let the vegan cook a meal. You may be shocked at how delicious a stir fry or veggie chili can be. Sometimes your vegan just wants to let you relax for a meal to say thanks for hosting them. You may even find yourself asking for the recipe!
This fantastic quote from my favorite aunt and Mom to contributor Emily S.:
“I don’t always serve Vegan …but when I do, it’s Easy”.
I no longer scream “Holy Crap, what the hell am I gonna Serve?“ Ok, so I’ll admit I am clearly a fully dressed burger with cheese and extra bacon lover Mom and Auntie to a daughter and Niece who are Vulcans, oh I mean Vegans.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love lettuce and tomatoes as well as the next guy but there’s no way I’m going to serve Salad gumbo, Salad kabobs, Salad stew, Salad creole or pan fried Salad for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner when they come a callin’.
My approach is simple, I make a list of some of my favorite dinner dishes to make and select those that are the easiest to convert to a No Meat, No Dairy versions. If they are spending a few days with me, I stock my pantry with items that they can use to make their own breakfast and lunch like a sandwich made from canned white beans smashed with a little lemon juice, topped with sliced avocados, tomatoes and lettuce, served on whey free bread…did I just say lettuce? There is always plenty of fruits, nuts, Almond milk, brown rice and always fresh vegetables, including portabello mushrooms for a quick burger substitute. So keep it simple, keep it fresh and for the love of GOD don’t PANIC …
“KEEP CALM, hosting a Vegan is not a missed-steak”.