Q: What do you do when you are hosting a dinner where everyone else is non-vegan?
A: Good question! This one is truly up to each individual and I’m sure other people would answer differently, but I say if you’re hosting at your home and providing the food, you are under no obligation to supply non-vegan options and should feel 100% comfortable serving a delicious spread of food that also happens to be vegan. If your guests can’t handle one meal without animal products, they BYE. Not your problem.
Now, there is more to it than that so I don’t want to be so rigid or cut throat about it because I get that life is complicated and we are not perfect. So the more realistic answer is: do whatever makes you feel comfortable as a host. If you are happiest when your guests are happy and if they can only be happy with a piece of cheese, then do what you’ve gotta do. I won’t tell you how to live your life.
The other thing to consider is who else lives with you and who else is hosting with you. In my case, my partner is not vegan. Currently experimenting with vegetarianism (yay!) but he still keeps eggs and cheese at home and thats totally fine. If we hosted a party for our friends together and he wanted to serve cheese, who am I to stop him? If I lived alone and had no one else to compromise with, I’d serve vegan food.
Don’t lose sleep over it – if you don’t make a big deal of it or apologize for it, I assure you most people won’t even notice. I’ve managed to have sleuth vegan parties many times, buying hummus, veggies, chips, popcorn, some Trader Joe’s vegan frozen snacks that people go nuts for (and no one knows are vegan, like churros!), quinoa salads, guac, etc and no one once realized they were eating “vegan”. Do what makes you feel happy.
Q: How do you deal with restaurants and traveling, especially being around unhealthy and/or unsupportive family/friends?
A: When going out to restaurants, if I’m in a position to be able to influence where we go eat, I will always research ahead of time and pick a place that has vegan options. If there are no vegan options at any restaurants near us, I’ll read through the sides, the salads, and whatever comes with other dishes and try to piece together a meal in my head at least so I know there will be something for me to eat. Usually this never happens, even in the most unfriendly vegan areas I’ve always been more than satisfied and I’ve almost never felt like I was just eating a “sad salad”. Honestly I’ve never actually ordered a salad unless I really wanted one because options tend to be more abundant than you think.
If I’m not in a position to influence the restaurant (for example, getting invited to join an existing reservation, a group of people you aren’t close with, a very large group, maybe the decision-makers are someone you don’t know, maybe its an event, going out with coworkers, etc), I always call the restaurant ahead of time and ask what vegan accommodations they can make. 100% of the time they have been excited and willing to make something delicious work, and most of the time I have people eyeing my dish with food envy. The fancier the restaurant, the better this experience is because fine dining loves to make special dishes and keep their guests happy and they deal with this stuff every night, so you are not asking for too much. (And even if you were, so what? Its your body.)
And in the odd circumstance where I just know there will be no food available for me (ie a wedding), I always eat beforehand or cook food and bring it with me. The first time I did this I felt so weird, but no one noticed or cared and in fact some people applauded me for “being healthy” (that wasn’t my goal but thank you?). I’ve now gone to many dinner parties or events at people’s homes where I know there won’t be much for me and I certainly don’t expect anyone to cook something for me, so I bring my own food and I’m always so glad that I did. Its fine, I promise. (I got this tip from my amazing friend – you can find her on Instagram @plantbowls).
Regarding travel, I will have to dive deeper into this later because there are so many nuances, but the main themes still apply. Call ahead, be prepared, always carry snacks with you as backup, and check the Happy Cow website or app for vegan options near you.
I’ll address the part about dealing with unsupportive people in my next post… stay tuned!