Cooking for your vegan friend

Written by Louise Palmer-Masterton, founder, Stem + Glory | www.stemandglory.uk 

With veganism on the rise, you may well find yourself in the position where you invite some friends for dinner only to be told that one of them is vegan. “That’s fine” you proclaim while silently falling into a blind panic!

I mean, what do vegans eat? And how on earth does a non-vegan cook for them?

Here are my top five tips to help you not only get it right, but to totally impress your guest:

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  1. Imagine your ideal menu and then veganise it! This might not work if you were planning steak and chips, but say you were planning Indian, Italian, Asian or middle eastern – pretty much any style of cuisine works actually. Compile your signature dishes and then Google a vegan version. There are stacks of vegan recipes online and you can literally put in your ingredients, then add ‘vegan’ and ‘recipe’ and you’ll find something.

2. Start reading packets. As a non-vegan, you probably don’t know what non-vegan products are found in your everyday cupboard staples. Even now, packets are usually labelled ‘vegetarian’ but not necessarily ‘vegan’. It’s been helped by recent changes to the law that allergens have to be written in bold, so it’s quite easy to scan ingredients lists for eggs and dairy which are the main culprits.

3. If you’re not such a keen cook, get down to the health food shop and stock up. You can get vegan alternatives to almost anything now. For example, vegan mayonnaise is easy to make, but there are a number of off-the-shelf versions that are really tasty.

4. Search out vegan wine/beer. Co-op is best for vegan wine labelling and there is a really good website http://www.barnivore.com/ which lists all vegan wine, beer and spirits you can buy in the supermarkets. Your dinner guest will really appreciate you doing this research.

5. Be creative! Be bold! I’ve lost count of the number of times I have visited a non-vegan restaurant and asked what they can provide for me only to be offered a risotto or a ‘salad’. Worse when probed that the ‘salad’ contains that exciting combination of lettuce, tomato and cucumber!

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