If you’re planning a modern meeting or event, there’s an increasing likelihood that some of your attendees are going to be vegan. While this may seem like a nuisance at first, it is not that difficult to accommodate them. By doing so, you’re sure to earn their appreciation and good graces. Follow these simple tips and guidelines and we promise the process will be easy.
Most importantly, keep in mind that vegans don’t consume any animal products. This includes meat, fish, cheese, dairy and eggs. Knowing what to avoid is always going to be the most clear and obvious step.
Check ingredient lists
Unless you’re cooking food from scratch or buying a packaged meal, it is important to be mindful of where non-vegan ingredients may be hidden. This is actually easier to find than you’d expect. Ingredient lists are required to explicitly state any common allergens, which include eggs and dairy, fish and shellfish—all items avoided by vegan attendees.
Check the bottom of ingredients lists for disclaimer: “CONTAINS: ____” to quickly check if an item is vegan friendly.
Bring a non-dairy alternative if serving coffee or tea
This will also be appreciated by any lactose-intolerant guests you may have. By bringing a plant-based milk along with the standard milk and cream you’ll be sure that everyone has options. (And almond milk is delicious!)
Ethnic dishes make great and simple vegan options
When planning meal options that everyone will love, ethnic food is often a great choice. Many Asian, Indian and Mexican dishes are abundant with vegetarian options that may already be vegan or can easily be made vegan by holding the dairy or eggs.
Offer meat alternatives
Tofu, tempeh (a fermented soy product) and seitan (made from wheat gluten) are the most common and cost effective meat replacements within vegan cuisine. They take on whatever flavor they are cooked with and make great substitutes for dishes that may traditionally contain meat.
Clearly label vegan items
Although a menu option may look completely plant-based, it’s not always explicitly stated. By labeling which options are vegan or vegetarian, everyone feels their choices are accommodated and understood. Subtle symbols like (V) with a key or legend on the bottom of the menu are a great and subtle way to accomplish this.
Intentionally seek foods that are “accidentally” vegan
Many bagels, breads, sauces and even Oreos, are traditionally free of eggs and dairy. By choosing to serve items that are “accidentally” vegan, everyone feels included and can connect over the same foods. Simply check an ingredient list or ask the caterer/chef if something contains any “hidden” eggs or dairy.
Don’t make a big deal about it
No one likes being put on the spot. Having a separate vegan/vegetarian menu available on request, or giving someone a placeholder that says VEGAN on it may not be the best approach for full inclusion. Most vegans just want to be able to enjoy their food and bond with everyone else. By offering a seamless experience where they can easily and independently identify what they can eat, it will create a feeling of hospitality.
Even more curious about vegan lifestyles? Check out ThriveCuisine.com’s thorough step-by-step guide!