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Old 11-17-2013, 10:13 PM   #1
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What About Vegan/Vegetarian Guests

I am not vegan or vegetarian, but I noticed that a few people on the Thanksgiving Menu thread mentioned that they have guests coming who are. What do you do in a case like that? I know there will be things on the table that they can eat that don't contain meat, but what about a vegan main course. It would be nice if they brought a vegan dish that they could eat, and also share with others. Here is a recipe I think might be nice. I'm wondering what others think?

Vegetable And Bean Rice Casserole Recipe - Food.com - 40685

This dish contains cheese. Do vegans eat cheese? If not, could something else be substituted?
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Old 11-17-2013, 10:51 PM   #2
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As a vegetarian, maybe im just speaking for myself, but PLEASE DONT TRY AND GET ONE OF THOSE VEGETARIAN TURKEYS WITHOUT ASKING THE VEGETARIAN / VEGAN GUEST FIRST.

From unfortunate past experiences, most of them, for lack of better words, taste like crap.
The companies usually spend more time trying to get them to looks like turkey or turkey meat, than actually the taste itself.
I have tasted and thrown out about %90 of the fake turkey products Ive tried.
Odds are, your vegan / vegetarian guests have tried them already, and have their own opinion.

With a holiday like this, with so many courses and so much variety on the table, rarely will we go hungry.

Occasionally my mom will make some kind of pasta dish ( baked ziti or whatever) or an eggplant parm. And whats kinda funny, is that those are the dishes that usually get eaten up first.

I actually prefer to either make my own or bring my own, rather than my mother ( or host) buy some crap that they ' think' We will like, then we have to be polite and eat it.

Sorry, just venting about the past 28 years of pretending to like the ' good intensions ' that were served up to me.

As far as Vegtarians go, there are many different kinds. some eat cheese, some eggs, some fish , some none of the above .... so its probably a good idea to ask ahead of time. more than likely, the guest will just say, dont make anything special for us ( i know thats what I do).

Another thing I always hated was when my mother ( or host) would announce to everyone that we were vegetarians, and then announce the ' special dish' she had bought or made for us. I always hated being the center of attention like that .


Sorry for venting LOL , after reading this, I think i shoud have had some therapy.
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Old 11-17-2013, 11:50 PM   #3
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I agree with Larry. Although I do eat meat these days, there was a period of 10 years in my life when the only animal products I ate were eggs, dairy, and very rarely fish. Even now, we still have vegetarian meals a couple times a week.

As a vegetarian you become very adept at eating around certain foods. I would never have dreamed of imposing on my hosts at a get together by expecting them to make something special for me. I chose my lifestyle; they didn't. There were always plenty of things at the holidays I could eat and I don't remember ever walking away hungry.

I also agree about the fake meats. They aren't fooling anyone.
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Old 11-17-2013, 11:58 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by larry_stewart View Post
Another thing I always hated was when my mother ( or host) would announce to everyone that we were vegetarians, and then announce the ' special dish' she had bought or made for us. I always hated being the center of attention like that .


Sorry for venting LOL , after reading this, I think i shoud have had some therapy.
Much like a Diabetic doesn't like it pointed out in front of a crowd. I feel for you. I like to save my diabetic status as a bludgeon for those that won't take, "No, Thank You" as an answer when they are trying to give you "just one small piece won't hurt you."
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Old 11-18-2013, 02:20 AM   #5
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I would make sure that there are dishes that are not made with a meat stock. I know people who make their rice tastier by cooking it in chicken stock. Another thing to avoid would be bacon bits mixed into the salad or vegis, as well as stir fried vegis with fish sauce or salad dressing with anchovies. Also avoid adding Worcestershire (unless you buy a vegan brand) to things to be offered to vegetarians. I remember a Thanksgiving (back when I was a vegetarian) where all I could eat was the rice and the potatoes.
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Old 11-18-2013, 05:10 AM   #6
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In the typical use of the word, vegetarians will eat dairy, eggs, and honey. Vegans do not eat any animal-derived foods, including honey (some will it's a matter of debate). Neither eat meat, meat broths, animal fats like lard, or gelatin. Rennet and cheese made with it are a personal choice for the vegetarian.

Just be mindful of ingredients like animal fats and broths that diners can't "see" and make sure to inform any guests with diet restrictions what dishes do and don't contain animal products. As a vegetarian myself, that's all I could really ask for. I'd put quinoa on the menu, vegetarians love some quinoa. And don't sweat it too much just make sure they got a couple options, which considering the variety of traditional Thanksgiving fare available, should be very easy to accommodate.
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Old 11-18-2013, 05:33 AM   #7
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My simple vegetarian rule is " If you'de eat it and it tastes good, odds are the vegetarians will eat and like it too ( as long as it fits into their dietary rules) "

And I think this applies to just about most diets ( veg, diabetic, kosher, gluten free..). The problem for the host is ti figure out/ understand what the persons dietary needs are.

As Steve said above, Ive never in my life gone into an occasion expected special treatment. But, If anyone here is like my mom, I know it would kill them if they had someone over and didnt have anything to eat. So I'de usually try to make it a point to let the host know that there is plenty to eat for me, so they didnt go the whole night gawking over to see what was on my plate ( even though they do anyway :) )

Getting back to the 'fake meat'. As I said, %95 of it is poor. Occasionally there is a good brand, and Im sure the veg guests know which one it is. Many focus on looks over taste. Or they get the taste close enough, but the consistency is gross.

MYTH: TOFU tastes like anything you cook it in. Although I agree, it does absorb the flavors, its still has that ' tofu taste'. which isnt necessarily bad ( in stirfry), but dont try to marinate it with sage and thyme, toss some gravy on it and expect it to taste like turkey :). Just as Id never expect anyone to let me roast a chicken or cook up a steak, I dont expect anyone to try and cook with an ingredient they've never touched before ( and dont even like), and try to make it taste good. That being said, there are those occasional surprises where someone actually pulls it off, but its few and far between.

So, then after my mom gave up on buying tofu turkeys, her next attempt was to go to a health food store, and try and pick out some stuff from behind the prepared food counter ( salads, other veggie things). Most this stuff was tofu, tempeh, quinoa, bulgar wheat.... Good old mom would pick out a bunch of these things for us to eat. Once again, Im not an unappreciative bastard :P , but this stuff is wayyyyyy over priced, usually has been sitting around for weeks cause no one else likes it so no one buys it, and because it usually is a poor attempt at the store trying to make something for non vegetarians to buy for their vegetarian guests. So my mom would spend like $8 for a 1/4 pound container of stuff that was fair at best. Which emphasizes a second rule, Dont buy something that you dont know what it is, and assume it tastes good and the vegetarians will like it just cause it has no meat. There are people who are really into health food, and may love all that stuff ( not because it tastes good, but because they've been brainwashed into thinking ' just because it has healthy ingredients and is good for you, and is bought in an upscale store, it must taste great). Then there are those like me who just dont eat meat, but love to eat things that tastes good. Which brings us back to that other rule, if you would eat t it and like it, more than likely the vegetarian would too ( as long as it is within his/ her dietary rules).

Boy, us vegetarians are a pain in the butt, aren't we ?? :)

Taxlady does bring up a good point. about the beef stock, chicken broth, anchovies in caesar salad dressing, fish or oyster sauce in asian stirfries. Sometimes we get fooled, but most of the times we know if something animal based is in ther. Why?? cause usually it tastes better than the crap we eat. Most times its innocent mistakes and I know i never say anything. This is why I usually take kind of a tasting sample first, then when i go for seconds, if I know or assume it doesnt have meat products in it, Ill take more. I dont want to pile up a bunch of stuff on my plate, then find out as I eat it that it has meat products in it and have a plate full of stuff I wont eat. First of all, I dont want to waste anything. Also, I dont want to call attention to myself, and have the host keep staring at you and your full plate, then ask why you didnt eat it.

Luckily, these days it is a lot more accepted to be a vegetarian, than back in the good old days. So its rarely if ever a problem on any occasion I attend. Also, most know I love to cook, and often ask me to bring something anyway.

I think I need to change my Nick here to " The Bitter Vegetarian".

Im really not trying to stir anything up, or come across as a pain in the butt. I just want to point out my experiences, just so you guys know whats going through your vegetarian guests heads as we sit down at the table. Although, most of the thoughts start as early as when we get the invite LOL. We'll mentally plan out what we are going to eat even before we walk in the door.

or maybe ' Grumpy Vegetarian' I like that better.
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Old 11-18-2013, 07:47 AM   #8
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I agree with Steve about not expecting something special, but that applies to dates of guests that might be meatless or if I don't know ahead of time. However, if I invite guests that I know are vegis or vegan, it is my responsibility to provide dishes for them.

Do you folks not find that even though you request no one bring a dish, they do anyway? Vegis/vegans usually bring a dish that they will eat and meatheads find they actually like these dishes. That is due to not being told it is vegi/vegan. Tell them and most won't touch it.
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Old 11-18-2013, 08:15 AM   #9
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I can't get my head around the "OMG, I have vegetarians/vegans coming for dinner" problem. For vegetarian guests, it is so easy to make non-meat based entrees. For the vegan guests, a bit trickier.

Canadian Living recipes always work for me:

101 vegetarian recipes - Canadian Living

Vegan Entree Recipes - Vegan Main Dish Recipes - Vegan Dinner Entree Recipes - Vegan Recipes

Vegetarian/vegan entrees should not, IMO, mimic meat recipes.
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Old 11-18-2013, 08:32 AM   #10
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I wouldn't be surprised if a vegan guest brought something, because that's a bit more difficult to accommodate. Even the eggplant Parmesan Larry mentioned would probably be made with dairy cheese. Many meat eaters just don't think about the fact that much of what they eat is probably vegetarian anyway. They think of it as a special kind of cuisine.

I have a friend who makes a point of saying she can order something vegan when we go to an Indian restaurant. She also could at the regular bar we go to most often, but they don't identify their tempura-fried green beans or side salad as vegan on the menu
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Old 11-18-2013, 08:57 AM   #11
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I have never heard anything good about "fake meat" so that would not be served at my table, and neither would anything pre-made. At a holiday dinner, everything is prepared in my kitchen, or someone else's kitchen. I have some guest who bring something and will tell me what they are bringing and some whom I'm glad don't bring anything, if you know what I mean. But I would be very happy if a vegetarian guest brought a dish to share and I would not push anyone to try it if they didn't want to. I've had that done to me so many times I learned how unpleasant it is.
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Old 11-18-2013, 09:26 AM   #12
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Here at Casa de Hoot, we welcome all to the table. If I know that a particular individual
has dietary preferences, I will do my best to accommodate him or her. Typically, we have a number of dishes that have no meat and it has never been an issue.
I have never understood the idea that vegetarians/vegans would want to eat something that looks like meat. Maybe I am just obtuse but it makes no sense to me.
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Old 11-18-2013, 09:39 AM   #13
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Here at Casa de Hoot, we welcome all to the table. If I know that a particular individual
has dietary preferences, I will do my best to accommodate him or her. Typically, we have a number of dishes that have no meat and it has never been an issue.
I have never understood the idea that vegetarians/vegans would want to eat something that looks like meat. Maybe I am just obtuse but it makes no sense to me.
I'm with you Hoot!

I would think that eating soy bacon or tofurkey would be repulsive to someone that does not want to eat meat.

I would bake some sweet potatoes and make a pilau of some sort using vegetable stock. One unbalanced meal won't cause anyone to develop malnutrition.

I also know some vegetarians who draw the drapes huddle around the table and eat a well ur um traditional Thanksgiving meal with family and friends.

The best advice is don't over think it!
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Old 11-18-2013, 09:51 AM   #14
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I think some vegans/vegetarians who choose to eat that way for ethical reasons sometimes miss the taste or miss meat out of nostalgia. There must be some reason why there are so many meat alternatives on the market.

I'm thinking that including on the menu a big platter of roasted root veggies, squash casserole topped with nuts, mashed potatoes, crudités, deviled eggs and rolls would do it. If a vegan was coming, I'd make some adjustment.
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Old 11-18-2013, 10:19 AM   #15
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I have never understood the idea that vegetarians/vegans would want to eat something that looks like meat. Maybe I am just obtuse but it makes no sense to me.
Many vegetarians are former meat eaters. Often when people make the switch to a vegetable-based diet, they're not sure how to go about it. So the first thing they do is try to convert some of their favorite meat recipes. Or they want something that reminds them of familiar foods. I call these fake meats "transitional proteins".

Most of them are not that good - especially the ones that try to taste like chicken. Believe it or not, although folks use that phrase a lot, there are not really any vegetable items that naturally taste like chicken or turkey. Beef is a little easier to fake. When done right, I've had veggie burgers that taste quite a bit like the real thing (as an ingredient, mushrooms can be especially meat-like in flavor). I still love veggie burgers.

Oh, and there is a product out there that looks like ground sausage crumbles. A little is great on pizza or in an Italian dish.

I would say the majority of vegetarians I know avoid meat for various ethical or religious reasons, and with a little health consciousness thrown in for good measure. But it's not usually because they hate the taste of meat.
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Old 11-18-2013, 11:17 AM   #16
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I am not too concerned about Thanksgiving/ Christmas/ Major holiday family gatherings. Our family, large gatherings, are usually pot luck events, and vegetarians have the option to bring a dish too.

I made a wild rice "salad" one year. I called it a salad as it could be served room temp, saving valuable real estate on both oven and refrigerator. That was a hit. Last year I made a broccoli cheese quinoa dish. I was surprised what a hit this was too with several nieces/ and my own son who is not vegetarian. I thought it was bland.

Whoever makes Stuffing/ Dressing makes 2 casserole dishes, one vegetarian for sure, and one non, whether cooked inside the bird or not.

It's those impromptu back yard bbq's that I have a problem. I am down to a marinated grilled portobello mushrom burger. I have tried ready made/ frozen "bean" burgers. I haven't found one I like yet, so I won't serve them. I also don't like my own recipes I have tried to make. One time, a vegetarian SIL came over around dinner time. All I could offer was sliced tomato, lettuce, onion, sliced avocado on a bun for her. I felt it was less than hospitable, offering as her full course what to us was just the fixings. Well, there's time enough to work on that.
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Old 11-18-2013, 11:31 AM   #17
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I am not too concerned about Thanksgiving/ Christmas/ Major holiday family gatherings. Our family, large gatherings, are usually pot luck events, and vegetarians have the option to bring a dish too.

I made a wild rice "salad" one year. I called it a salad as it could be served room temp, saving valuable real estate on both oven and refrigerator. That was a hit. Last year I made a broccoli cheese quinoa dish. I was surprised what a hit this was too with several nieces/ and my own son who is not vegetarian. I thought it was bland.

Whoever makes Stuffing/ Dressing makes 2 casserole dishes, one vegetarian for sure, and one non, whether cooked inside the bird or not.

It's those impromptu back yard bbq's that I have a problem. I am down to a marinated grilled portobello mushrom burger. I have tried ready made/ frozen "bean" burgers. I haven't found one I like yet, so I won't serve them. I also don't like my own recipes I have tried to make. One time, a vegetarian SIL came over around dinner time. All I could offer was sliced tomato, lettuce, onion, sliced avocado on a bun for her. I felt it was less than hospitable, offering as her full course what to us was just the fixings. Well, there's time enough to work on that.
Grilled vegetables (onions, zucchini, bell peppers), pineapple and plums are to die for. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar and herbs when you take the veggies off the grill.
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Old 11-18-2013, 01:27 PM   #18
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We have a fast food place here called Harveys. They make a wonderful vegi burger. I checked the list of ingredients and it was all food, no weird chemicals. A vegetarian friend had to be convinced that her husband hadn't brought her a burger with meat.
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Old 11-18-2013, 08:55 PM   #19
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My mother was a vegetarian and I stick with that experience. She was responsible for her own eating choices and did not expect any one to cater to those choices while at the same time appreciating it if the host did not intentionally load everything with beef stock, chunks or lard. Many people didn't even realize she was a vegetarian because she made no effort to make it an issue. In most meals, especially a Thanksgiving feast, there is usually enough choices to fill up a vegetarian since one meal without perfect balance won't hurt anyone.
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