“Help! I’ve got family/friends/relations coming to stay, and they’re only bloomin’ vegan! What on earth am I going to cook? What do vegans even eat anyway?”
Panic over.You’ll find the answers to all your questions here on Entering Vegan Territory.
If you’re not quite sure exactly what a vegan is, you might want to start by reading what vegans don’t eat. Then, for a quick how-to guide on shopping for vegans, check out how to read a label. And of course you can have a browse through the recipes for some ideas on what you might want to cook.
However, having inflicted our vegan selves on benevolent non-vegan friends and family up and down the country, I realised it might be helpful to put together a how-to guide to take the stress out of putting up (with) vegan visitors. So here goes:
1. What to ask before they come.
Not all vegans are the same, so if you want to be sure you get it right, try to find out:
Do they have any allergies? Some vegans are happy to accept that the words “may contain milk” are a legal disclaimer and that the product in all likelihood does not contain milk, whereas other vegans – particularly if they are allergic to dairy – take a stricter approach and would put the item straight back on the shelf. Don’t panic if you find out that your guests are not only vegan, they’re also allergic to gluten or soya or nuts (or even to all three) – there are still plenty of options.
What is their preferred non-dairy milk? We generally use unsweetened soya, but some people prefer almond milk, oat milk, or rice milk (all readily available from UK supermarkets). Personally I’m always happy to discover something new, but some people have strong preferences for one type or the other. If neccessary, and pratical, you could always ask your guests if they’d mind bringing their own non-dairy milk with them – it’s lovely when people are thoughtful enough to make the effort for us, but if that’s not going to be possible, I’d rather be forewarned.
2. What to buy before they arrive.
Obviously it depends on who your guests are, how long they’re staying, and what they like, but consider the following:
Some non-dairy milk (rice, almond, coconut, oat or soya milk) – see above.
Plenty of fresh fruit for the fruit bowl.
Vegan-friendly margarine or dairy-free spread, eg. Pure dairy free, Tomor – don’t assume that an olive oil or sunflower spread will necessarily be dairy free – you’ll need to check the label to be sure it doesn’t contain any butter or milk products.
Some vegan friendly cake or biscuits.
3. What to cook.
First consider your existing repertoire – is there something you like to make that is already vegan, or that could easily be veganized? For instance, jacket potato and baked beans, pasta with tomato sauce (most dried pasta is vegan, just check it doesn’t contain egg), or a vegetable curry. Have a browse of the recipes on this site.
If you like to bake, why not try making a vegan-friendly cake before your guests arrive? The Heavenly Chocolate Brownies recipe can even be made in advance and kept in the freezer until you need them. The Lemon Drizzle cake is also a good one to start with as it’s generally a crowd-pleaser and is quite simple to make.
4. What to drink
Most spirits are vegan, many beers and wines are not. Have a browse on www.barnivore.com to see how many of your favourites pass the vegan test….
Wine can be a bit of a minefield, just because there are so many on the market. I’d recommend shopping in Co-op, which helpfully labels it’s own wines as vegan friendly on the bottle and on the shelf label.