Is it rude to invite a vegan if you can't guarantee he can eat anything?
February 19, 2010 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Is it rude to invite a vegan to a potluck where you can't guarantee there will be anything he'll eat? My flatmates and I are hosting a potluck dinner. I have no control over any of the dishes except my own, which is and must remain meat. None of the other guests are even vegetarian, and I suspect very few if any are used to cooking for vegans (e.g., no butter in the mashed potatoes). I would really like to see this person, but I cringe at the thought of bringing him to the proverbial groaning board and pointing out the one salad that hasn't been sprinkled with bacon bits. Help?
posted by d. z. wang to Human Relations (58 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do what I do. Mention there is someone who is vegan (or allergic to citrus, or whatever the issue is) and ask people to keep that in mind while making food.

I have been to many a potluck with the stray vegan or vegetarian, and when this was made clear, there has always been something for them to eat (that is nummy and filling, not just a garden salad sans dressing).
posted by sandraregina at 1:11 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Call him up and talk to him about it. Most of the vegans I know are pretty well used to fending for themselves in these sort of situations, but a friendly chat would be the best way to solve this.
posted by mollymayhem at 1:12 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

I'd imagine that as a vegan, he's used to it, and if it's a potluck he'll probably bring a vegan dish himself. All the vegetarians and vegans I know are completely accustomed to such situations. Invite the guy!
posted by ORthey at 1:13 PM on February 19, 2010 [7 favorites]

Why not make a 2nd dish that's vegan and a salad? Between those two and their dish and any other incidental vegan dishes, that would probably be enough.
posted by cali59 at 1:14 PM on February 19, 2010 [7 favorites]

Be honest. Tell them you'd really like them to come but other than what they themselves might bring, the food is likely to be vegan-unfriendly. That way there are no surprises and/or hurt feelings.
posted by tommasz at 1:15 PM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

I would just straight-up tell him: "Look, I enjoy your company and I would really like to see you, and I think you'd enjoy the company of these other people. Unfortunately, I don't know how much of the food you'll be able to eat. So I want to invite you to this potluck we're having, but I won't be offended if you don't want to come to a dinner party revolving around foods you can't eat." And then I would make sure to prepare an extra, vegan, dish - in addition to my meat dish - if he accepts your invitation. Sure, it's some extra time and money, but it's the only way to ensure that you won't starve one of your guests.
posted by kataclysm at 1:15 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

1. They'll bring something for themselves

2. Let your other friend sknow some vegans might be coming, and if they wanted to try a vegan dish it's the perfect time

3. Make a second or third dish yourself that isn't The Murderâ„¢ to ensure they'll be happy
posted by alan at 1:15 PM on February 19, 2010

as a vegetarian - i feel uncomfortable when people make special dishes just for me. i expect to even non-potluck gatherings that i'll be bringing my own food. invite him, mention that he'll be the only non meat eater. make sure he knows that you really want him there.

also - if you're this worried about his comfort - bring 2 dishes. one meaty, one not.
posted by nadawi at 1:16 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

I think the proper etiquette in this case would be to invite the vegan, but warn him/her that no one will likely bring a vegan-friendly dish. This being a potluck diner, he/she can bring a large helping of vegan-friendly fare to eat and share with others. To be extra-nice, you could prepare some vegan food yourself to have something to serve him/her.

I think it would be particularly tacky to tell the other guests to fix special food for another guest.
posted by Willie0248 at 1:16 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

If the question is about etiquette and not food, per se, turn it on its head. Would you be upset if you learned that friends deliberately didn't invite you to a party because they thought there would be nothing for you to eat? I know I would be upset. "Hey guys, I'm a big boy. I can handle my own lifestyle choice."

You could pack a small set of emergency rations, just in case. "Hey, I brought this something extra, just in case." You'd be an instant hero.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:16 PM on February 19, 2010 [8 favorites]

Vegans & vegetarians & others with food issues should be used to it. I like to socialize and will show up with food to share. If someone was to bring something else that I could eat, I would go out of my way to eat it and thank the person profusely.
posted by aabbbiee at 1:17 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

The last time I had vegans at a potluck, they brought their own food, which we were quite happy to assist in heating and serving. They knew the rest of the folks coming, and they knew that none of us were vegan. They were much happier to come and see all of us than to worry about what to eat.

So I vote talk to him.
posted by CathyG at 1:17 PM on February 19, 2010

I'm just a vegetarian, not a vegan, but as others have said, this sort of situation is more the rule than the exception for me so it's something I'd probably expect. I agree with the suggestions to let him know most of the dishes likely won't be vegan, and let the others know too in case they were planning to make something that could be easily made vegan, or would just simply be happy to accommodate him. Plus, as a potluck he'll be bringing something of his own so you know he's not going to go hungry.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:18 PM on February 19, 2010

The most important thing is to be as transparent with him as you've been with us. As long as you're honest, there's no way it could be considered "rude" just to invite him.

Then, if you want to go the extra mile, you can mention to those who'll be attending that it would be helpful to have some vegan dishes.

Whatever you do, don't publicly single him out or try to help him by pointing out the contents of every dish.

If he's a reasonable vegan, he won't be shocked and appalled at the idea of being around animal products. It's fine for vegans to be privately appalled at the general state of the world, but they're still adults and have to deal with normal social situations without randomly getting offended at everything around them that goes against their moral code.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:24 PM on February 19, 2010

I came here to say as a guest, what Ashley801 said.

As a host, I'd make sure to make at least one small dish for him, and have extra nibbles on hand as an added gesture.
posted by cestmoi15 at 1:26 PM on February 19, 2010

In all likelihood, he's used to bringing his own food, so I don't think there's anything rude about inviting him to a non-vegan party as long as he knows it's non-vegan, but I'd suggest you make a teensy bit of effort to let him enjoy some of the potluck dishes.

Are any of your flatmates making a salad or vegetable dish that could be made vegan? Or, could you throw together something vegan-friendly? With salads, bacon bits, cheese, and creamy dressings can be left on the side, and oil and vinegar can be offered as an alternative dressing. Roasted vegetable dishes can be flavored with olive oil, salt, and garlic (with maybe some grated parmesan on the side for non-vegans). Vegan snacks like roasted chickpeas or chips and salsa would also be easy and appealing.
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:31 PM on February 19, 2010

Response by poster: Wow, thanks for the quick answer. It sounds like the consensus is to ask him, but just for the ones who were saying this with the addendum, "and make a second vegan dish", I should explain that the problem is I don't trust myself to do that. I remember hearing someone joke about serving vegan mashed potatoes with a pat of butter, and needing it explained to me that this would render the potatoes non-vegan. Because I don't think of butter as an animal product. I think of butter as food. So, knowing that when I say I can't guarantee any vegan food at all, I really mean it, would you guy still say to invite him?
posted by d. z. wang at 1:33 PM on February 19, 2010

pointing out the one salad that hasn't been sprinkled with bacon bits.

FYI, if you mean Baco-Bits, those are vegan.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:33 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have food allergies, which have some of the same issues as the vegan here.

I always bring a dish that I know that I can eat and share, and will also be substantial enough for me to sustain me for the entire event. (Generally, a casserole of some sort and a loaf of bread). I would much rather be invited and then bring my own food, than be shut out because of possible incompatibilities. While I'd like to know the ingredients in other people's dishes, I don't expect them to cook for me.

For me at these events, the social interaction is the draw, and the food is secondary. To be not invited because of possible food issues, and thus denied a chance to see folk? I would be offended. Definitely talk to the vegan, and let them make the decision as to how to handle this.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:35 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

So, knowing that when I say I can't guarantee any vegan food at all, I really mean it, would you guy still say to invite him?

Just honestly tell him the situation and let him do whatever he wants. He's an intelligent adult, right? Then he's capable of making up his own mind and doing what's best for himself. Part of being a vegan (or vegetarian) is being unfazed by this kind of situation. People who would have a hard time dealing with this or would get offended just shouldn't be vegans, so I assume that doesn't describe him.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:39 PM on February 19, 2010

Mention there is someone who is vegan (or allergic to citrus, or whatever the issue is) and ask people to keep that in mind while making food.

I don't think this is a good idea, because obviously not everyone needs to bring a vegan dish, but you're leaving it up to each individual to decide on whether or not they are going to change what they are going to bring to accommodate your vegan friend. A better idea would be to either ask for volunteers to bring something vegan, or contact specific guests that you think could handle the task and ask them personally if they could do you a favor and bring something that your vegan friend could eat. Or just let your vegan friend fend for himself.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:41 PM on February 19, 2010

Like spinifex23, I can't eat a lot of the things that people bring to parties because of allergies. I go to parties with the understanding that there is probably nothing there I can eat. I still have a great time. Often, I'll bring something that is safe for me. Or I eat beforehand.

It doesn't deter me from these events at all. And if someone purposely didn't invite me to something because of it, I'd be annoyed with them for overthinking a plate of friendship.
posted by greekphilosophy at 1:43 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

I think this is really, really easy. "Hey Vegankid, you should come to this potluck, it'd be fun to have you there. As fair warning though, I don't think anyone else there is vegetarian/vegan."

posted by craven_morhead at 1:45 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

As the host, your responsibility is to make your guest feel comfortable and welcomed. You should invite him, and make a good-faith effort to provide something that you think he can eat. If you like, you could run it by him first, but do it with an attitude of "we all have different dietary needs, no biggie, will this work for yours?" (not of "*sigh* will this work for your freakish dietary restriction?").
posted by HotToddy at 1:47 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're so worried about not being able to follow veganism for one dish, try google! Here are some ideas.

And obviously, my vote is to absolutely invite your friend.
posted by Flamingo at 1:49 PM on February 19, 2010

Well if you invite him, there is going to be vegan food, its not like he's going to turn up with a bunch of steak to keep the meat eaters happy it it? As others have said this situation is quite normal if you are vegan/vegetarian/food allergic.

I would point out there is a big difference between expecting people to make something else to cater to his needs and letting people know. The latter need not be a big deal. For some people it could be as simple as switching a dressing on a salad with no real impact otherwise, or noting that that dish that looks vegan isn't. Or they could be people like me, who like to cook and are glad for the challenge.
posted by tallus at 1:55 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing making something vegan. If you're cooking from real raw ingredients, it ain't hard to spot the animal product (eggs, butter, milk, yogurt, delicious delicious lard and hunks of protein).

Even if you're not vegetarian (I am not), you're going to live longer if you know how to cook using nothing but stuff that grew out of the ground. Bittman's "how to cook everything vegetarian" is probably the most practical vegetarian cookbook I've run across, or just read his blog/watch his "minimalist" videos on the NYTimes page. Deborah Madison is another good standby. When vegans aren't around, you can continue to use those hippie cookbooks and add in some bacon, butter or lard to the recipes.

There are tons of quick/easy things that can be made vegan. Hummus takes literally 5 minutes to make with a food processor. Tabouli salad is just cut up vegetables and some grain. Rice pilaf, risotto, polenta, wheat berries, flatbreads, pasta with herbs/olive oil/veggies.
posted by paanta at 1:56 PM on February 19, 2010

Still invite him even if you don't realize butter is an animal product.

That said, certain things are very easily identified as vegan. Aim for one thing you would pick from a tree or out of the ground. How about fruit? Fruit is nice, and it's vegan. Slice some fruit, put it on a plate: vegan (unless your plates are made of meat). Or, raw vegetables: vegan. Dressing on the side for non-vegans, everyone's happy.
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:57 PM on February 19, 2010

"So, knowing that when I say I can't guarantee any vegan food at all, I really mean it, would you guy still say to invite him?"
posted by d. z. wang at 1:33 PM on February 19 [+] [!]

Yes - definitely. He will bring his own food. If you are concerned about his feelings, not inviting him is probably more damaging than inviting him with the forewarning that there won't be many vegan dishes.

Alternately, here is a handy list if you would like to try making something vegan, but want to double check that you aren't overlooking something.

Common animal products - do not use:
gelatin (such as Jello or Gummy Bears)
meat :)

Margarine is often vegan (although some types contain traces of whey). I went to a vegan potluck last week and made this recipe - they were delicious: Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes I used almond milk instead of soy (since I use them for breakfast shakes). It will look scary when you add the vinegar to the milk - don't worry, this is supposed to happen.

Good luck with everything!
posted by valoius at 1:59 PM on February 19, 2010

If you're doing this via an online invitation, you could ask that people respond with what they're bringing, with a note that a vegan dish or two, for the sake of one of the guests, would be especially appreciated. (It's kind of handy to have everyone see what everyone is bringing, anyway, to avoid redundancies, either of specific dishes or of types of dishes.) That way, those who would like to volunteer themselves can, and those who find it intimidating can bring their famous 7-layer bean dip and be done with it.
posted by palliser at 2:00 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and eggs.
posted by valoius at 2:01 PM on February 19, 2010

I don't trust myself to do that. I remember hearing someone joke about serving vegan mashed potatoes with a pat of butter, and needing it explained to me that this would render the potatoes non-vegan

just roast some vegetables in olive oil.
posted by mail at 2:05 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

it's not rude, just include a note on the evite or email or whatever that there will be vegans present, so people can feel free to bring vegan friendly stuff if they'd like! that's what we do when we have vegans or vegetarians at our potlucks or picnics and as hosts we also make sure to make a couple vegan friendly dishes :) and ALWAYS the vegans also bring stuff that theyve made themselves that they can eat themselves.

i think it helps that i went through a period of being vegan though so i know how to cook vegan dishes... but it's really not difficult at all, you can find all sorts of yummy recipes online :)
posted by raw sugar at 2:18 PM on February 19, 2010

Buy some kind of vegan takeout meal from a vegetarian place that day (maybe your friend even has a favourite spot?). Maybe a bean stew or tofu curry or something. Let the restaurant be responsible for the vegan-ness. Serve with pitas. $10 and your friend can eat.

Also vegan and easy to find:
Vegetarian california rolls from a sushi place.
Usually Indian and Thai places also have vegan dishes- just ask, and make sure you say "no fish sauce or meat broth".
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:22 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Usually when I do a potluck, I'll approach a few of my closer friends and make suggestions for dishes that they might bring. This avoids the possibility of 500 salads or desserts and no entrees - you might ask a couple of people to make a vegan dish (like ratatouille).
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:27 PM on February 19, 2010

Buy some hummus and pita bread at the grocery store. Done. It ain't rocket science.
posted by kestrel251 at 2:42 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Just invite him; he'll know not to expect vegan food.

If you want to make something simple for him: carrot sticks, or steamed asparagus with lemon juice. Nothing else; maybe some salt on the side. Also, sourdough bread with a side of very nice olive oil would be awesome.

The local grocery stores here have a frozen food called "mushroom bites" that are breaded, baked mushrooms that are vegan. Read the ingredients label, or ask at the local Whole Foods or similar grocery store, and they may be able to help you out with something easy.

PS - California rolls (sushi) are almost never vegan; they have crab in them. Check the ingredients.

Simple definition of vegan: no fish, chicken, or seafood of any kind, no meat of any kind, no dairy (butter, milk, cream, ice cream, sour cream, "milk solids", lecithin except soy lecithin), no egg, egg white, and also no honey.

You do have to read ingredients labels; lots of bread contains milk products, lots of "vegetarian" fake meat products (e.g. veggie burgers) contains egg white, lots of candy contains egg.

If you have specific questions, I'll be very happy to answer them for you. However, I know organizing a pot luck is difficult enough, and it's great that you're inviting your friend; there's no real need to go to extra trouble.

He may be thrilled with the chance to bring and share a delicious vegan dish.
posted by amtho at 3:01 PM on February 19, 2010

I wouldn't tell people about it. I'm excited about people making cool food for a potluck, their coolest potluck food. If you tell them, you might ruin the cool potluck goodness. I think allergies are a different story but being a vegan is a personal choice. I'm sure he's used to it.
posted by sully75 at 3:03 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Repeating things others have said, but just to emphasize:

1. As a vegetarian, my feelings would *definitely* be hurt if I were left out of a gathering of friends because they assumed I would not want to attend an event with only/mostly non-veg food. Anyway, esp. at a potluck, I would be bringing something (food!), and I'd probably eat some before hand so I wasn't starving if that was the only veg thing -- it's no big deal. But my feelings would be very hurt if I just weren't invited.

2. I feel awkward when I'm told about all the special trouble a party host has gone to for me, making separate food or something. I'd feel massively uncomfortable to know that the host specifically instructed others to bring something or bought something themselves *just* for me. Especially if the host then points out to other guests at the party what they did and why. (Which I've had people do.)

3. Lots of parties end up with people bringing "accidentally" vegan food anyway. Fruit/vegetable platters, for instance. Vegan food is perfectly normal, and chances are others would bring things a vegan would eat.

To sum up: definitely invite your friend! It would be nice of you to have something vegan on hand (the aforementioned fruit/veg platter is easy -- and good for non-vegans!), but you don't have to cook a separate dish for them or point out their dietary choice to anyone.
posted by lysimache at 3:04 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


hummus + pita
tortilla chips + salsa
chopped veggies (with dip on the side)
fruit or fruit salad (ie, chopped up fruit)

#1 excellent super-easy cheap vegan potluck dish:

-- Beans and rice --
Make a pot of rice, do not use butter.
Chop an onion and some garlic, drain and rinse two cans of black beans (I find Goya to be a good brand, but whatever you can find). Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil (not butter) until translucent - on medium-high heat in a pot big enough to hold all the beans. Once the onion and garlic are translucent, add beans, mix well, turn the heat down to medium and put a lid on the pot. Add black pepper, a little cayenne powder, other spices you like. Let cook for 20-30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, adding water or oil if needed to get a consistency you like.

You can serve this in two separate bowls, or in one giant bowl with rice and beans mixed together to a uniform mix. You can serve grated cheese on the side, and salsa.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:11 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

You can solve this problem with three minutes and five dollars: 1) dice an apple, slice a banana, and cut some grapes in half. Add a dash of cinnamon. Fruit salad! 2) Drain a can of garbanzo beans and mix with diced red onions; add vinegar and oil to taste. Protein salad!

Whatever you do, invite him.
posted by aquafortis at 3:29 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have a dear friend who's a vegetarian....and I always have something as backup when he's dining at our home. Trader Joe's (if they have those groceries where you live) is always a lifesaver for me.
posted by rtodd at 3:32 PM on February 19, 2010

I voluntarily restrict my diet like most vegans. I sometimes feel uncomfortable in settings where there is one type of food and I can't eat it; but that doesn't happen often.

Don't bother the rest of the attendees by saying "a vegan is coming...keep this in mind when making chili" or whatever. That will just have them ready to slam the vegan. Not welcoming.

Just keep cool. The vegan will probably bring a vegan dish and introduce other people to that type of food. Thats way better than going somewhere and eating others' foods...especially if they are vegan for ethical reasons.

And...when worried, just ask.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:49 PM on February 19, 2010

Nth don't say anything to the other guests. I am a life-long vegetarian and I have always been thoroughly embarrassed by that sort of thing -- and nobody, myself included, really likes the food that people who wouldn't have otherwise made a vegetarian dish make when they make a vegetarian dish.

Nth just mention it to him. He will be quite used to it, he will bring a delicious vegan dish, it won't be a problem.
posted by kmennie at 5:03 PM on February 19, 2010

d.z., I hear ya. My volunteer job has a mandatory weekly potluck and one quarter we had a vegan. Every single week one of us (usually a different one every week) would screw up on making vegan food because we weren't 100% aware of just how almost everything seems to have some secret relation to animals. I would read vegan websites of how to nitpick ingredients and cry in front of my computer. Mostly we ate fruit and went hungry, so I have total sympathy for you on not feeling like you can guarantee making a vegan dish for yourself.

The one thing that really worked? Vegan pizza. Leave off the cheese and put only veggies on and it's still eatable for everybody, and didn't cause any issues. Might want to ask the vegan what's an appropriate sauce to put on, though (our guy nitpicked that too).
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:03 PM on February 19, 2010

Uh, I've gone to potlucks known full well that 99-percent of the guest are truly god-awful cooks - and had a great time. It's not all about the food.

Also, I'm an obligate carnivore but for a potluck I'd probably not bring a meat dish in this weather - reheating would ruin the texture. If I knew there were going to be vegans at a dinner, I might get frisky and leave out animal products just for fun.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:30 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Former vegan here. Just invite him and let him know, politely, that there will be no guarantees that he'll actually be able to eat anything that he doesn't bring himself. Have some fruit on hand in case he wants that. The less complicated you make the whole situation, the better. He is definitely used to bringing his own food.
posted by bingo at 5:46 PM on February 19, 2010

I'm vegetarian. I always bring a big vegetarian dish to share at potlucks, but it's surprising how often meat-eaters end up bringing 'accidentally vegetarian' food. I really appreciate it when hosts make simple accommodations for me ("Hey, I know you're vego, so I set some of the salad aside before I added the bacon..."). I find it intensely embarrassing if the host assumes vegetarians only eat weird hippy food and tries out some obscure recipe on me ("Hey, I know you're vego, so I steamed some tofu and buckwheat. It was a real hassle to make, I hope you're happy...").

If you want to make a simple vegan dish to accommodate your friend, first abandon the assumption that vegan food comes from another planet. Here are some ordinary dishes that are just happen to be vegan: bruschetta (bread, tomatoes, olive oil, basil, garlic), salad (use an olive oil and vinegar dressing, don't add meat or cheese), steamed vegetables (add a touch of olive oil, don't add butter or cream), fresh fruit for desert (put cream in a separate bowl for other guests).

Here are some simple rules for keeping stuff vegan: Don't use packaged food (that saves you the trouble of checking labels for additives). Don't use milk, cream or cheese. Don't use eggs. Don't use meat, poultry, fish or shellfish. Don't use honey. Go through your regular repertoire of recipes and I'm sure you'll find something which already fits those criteria.
posted by embrangled at 6:27 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Before I became a vegetarian, I ran several potluck meetings and always tried to have a vegan friendly entree item on hand but that's a host courtesy -- not a requirement. One of the things people are doing these days is asking guests to copy down their ingredients to display at the potluck. Don't make a big announcement. You wouldn't announce that Susie has gall stones so don't bring anything greasy, would you?

When in doubt, tofutti cutie soy ice cream bars have saved my life on many occassions because everybody loooooves them.
posted by Skwirl at 6:30 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I like Skwirl's idea. Don't tell the other guests that a vegan is coming, but do ask them to bring a list of the ingredients used to make whatever they're bringing.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:05 PM on February 19, 2010

Go to the freezer section of the grocery store and pick out something that's marked vegan. Heat it up in the oven. There, you have a vegan dish. Something like nut roast would be perfect. Or if you really want to push the boat out, get some vegan sausages and wrap them in vegan puff pastry. Now you have vegan sausage rolls. These things are available in any reasonable-size grocery store.
posted by hazyjane at 11:31 PM on February 19, 2010

Response by poster: Not going to mark a best answer because pretty much the entire thread nailed it. Invited the guy, mentioned the food, he'd be delighted to come. Thank you, everyone, beans successfully underthought..

By the way, suggestions for vegan dishes are still welcome!
posted by d. z. wang at 11:45 PM on February 19, 2010

For those saying 'don't mention it to the other guests, its awkward', or 'I don't feel comfortable with all the extra work the host is going to', I honestly don't understand it. It may be a culture thing, but a potluck is a chancy thing. I appreciate some guidelines. I like knowing who is gonna be there, and food preferences. Even if its just so people aren't all bringing salad, or those sauced meatballs, or all dessert.
Making a vegan friendly wild rice and cranberry salad is just as easy for me as making a beef and egg noodle dish, and if someone is coming who would rather eat the salad, let me know and I'll make that instead. Its not more any more work (just different). I have friends who are vegetarian, one or two who are vegan, and a few who eat halal. Knowing about it before hand makes it so much less awkward. I don't see how its shaming, either. I want to feed people, and that means feeding them stuff they can eat!
posted by sandraregina at 8:28 AM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Instead of "list of ingredients", present it as "recipe for the delicious food you bring" and I think people will be more likely to comply.
posted by Night_owl at 9:54 AM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Night_owl, that is an awesome suggestion. For any potluck. Spme people love to show off, and others want to recreate their favourite dish. Next potluck I'm at, I am totally stealing that idea. I mean using it.
posted by sandraregina at 5:14 PM on February 20, 2010

Here are some vegan dishes I like to make:

- nth-ing chickpea salad or hummus (pretty much the same thing with different textures) + toasted pita bread
- tabbouleh is also good
- tortilla chips + mango/black bean salad: 1-2 diced ripe mangoes, 1 can black beans, 1 small diced red onion, juice of 1 lime. Toss, add crushed red pepper, salt, a bit of black pepper, and chopped fresh cilantro to taste.
- some kind of sliced bread (as long as it isn't a milk- or egg-containing bread -- pita and sliced baguettes are both usually safe bets) with vegetables marinated in olive oil/vinegar: mushrooms, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, carrots/cauliflower are all good. If you buy the pre-marinated kind in a jar, make sure they don't have parmesan or other cheese in them, because that obviously isn't vegan.
- If you want a hot food, try beans and greens: sautee a small diced onion and some minced garlic in olive oil, with some thyme, salt, and pepper (feel free to add other herbs and spices in -- I usually put some crushed red pepper and a bit of oregano). Add 1-2 small bunches of kale or another strong green (it will cook down to about 1/4 of its original volume, so don't be worried if it looks like way too much kale). Add in a bit of lemon juice or vinegar (I like using cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or sherry vinegar in this dish. Balsamic vinegar will lend it a sweetness that is also pretty nice.) When the kale is bright green and somewhat reduced in volume, add in 1-2 cans of white beans (I like to use 1 can of smaller white beans like Great Northern, and another can of large beans like Roman beans or butter beans.) Mix the whole thing together (be careful when mixing or the beans will get smushed), and cook it until the greens are soft and a bit darker, but still fairly bright green (overcooked greens are just nasty). Serve with some parmesan on the side for the non-vegans, and some bread.

All of these are simple, cheap, and only take a couple minutes to make (except maybe the tabbouleh).
posted by kataclysm at 9:26 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

p.s. on beans and greens recipe: Chop the kale before putting it in the pan.
posted by kataclysm at 9:27 AM on February 22, 2010

You wouldn't announce that Susie has gall stones so don't bring anything greasy, would you?

No, and I don't think anyone has said that the OP should tell the guests: "Dave [or whatever his name is] is a vegan so don't bring anything with animal products."

The appropriate thing to say (if the OP has the clout to send a general message to the guests, which I'm not clear on) would be a general statement that one or two vegan dishes would be appreciated. This could be said along with general instructions. Maybe it's a moot point by now, but I don't understand why people are thinking the OP's friend would be embarrassed if "vegan dishes" were one more suggestion along with "salads, desserts," or whatever list of suggestions is being given to the guests. Unless "vegan" is somehow a dirty word that sets people on edge, I don't see how this would be a problem for anyone.

To the OP: the fact that you once made something with butter and forgot it wasn't vegan doesn't make it impossible or even impractical for a nonvegan to prepare some food that a vegan will eat. I'm not a vegan, but I often chop up some vegetables (carrots, red peppers, celery) and dip them in hummus. That's vegan, inexpensive, easy, delicious, and filling enough to be a whole meal. There you go.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:51 AM on February 22, 2010

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