Entertaining Non-Vegan GuestsJune 9, 2014
From the time my friend non-vegan friend Diane threw a vegan party—lovely!
As promised, I'm taking questions! Here's one from a fellow newsletter member, A.K. from the UK:
Q. My vegan fiancee and I are getting married. We intend to provide tea and coffee after the reception meal, but I don't want to serve cow's milk. Do I tell invitees in advance (thus encouraging them to bring their own, and "making a fuss about it"), let them find out when they're here (thus aggravating lots of people and encouraging them to ask all the questions we get asked so often), or, though I'm wary of this, just provide cow milk from a local, "humane" farm?
A. Entertaining non-vegans is a common quandry, but feeling torn about what to serve is more about us than our guests. What should be a celebratory event/holiday dinner/birthday party/etc. may still inspire guilt and ambivalence if you're still thinking of your vegan ways as "abnormal." Like a punk rock kid at a prep school, you "know" (assume) the other kids are basically disappointed with you and think your choices are weird and annoying. Well, the bully species can smell this apologetic scent of surrender a mile away. It actually makes them hungry, I think.
What advice would you tell our young punk rocker? Should he cave and throw on a collared shirt or rock his spikes with pride?
Be proud! The way you think and eat is beautiful, and entertaining is about sharing—beautiful food from wonderful recipes, a gorgeous table or buffet full of sparkling candles, shiny dinnerware, and fresh flowers! Forget "veganism," think beauty, marketing, and presentation! Change your own approach to entertaining, stop anticipating predatory reactions, and envision your guests stunned with delight at the exceptionally gorgeous options (remember—you can always serve a variety of vegan milk options, for example—hemp, almond, oat, rice, etc.).
Anyway, I don't ever recall having seen a menu manifesto on any party invitation—brides and grooms don't generally explain why they're serving fish or chicken. Every party menu has its limits. So stick to normal protocol. Surprise your guests with a gorgeous spread, or, if you're including a menu on the invitation, just lay out the options without any explanation or defense (make it sound gourmet—use adjectives! "Loose-Leaf Lavender Infusion Tea with Steamed Almond Milk, Orange Blossom Oolong with...)
But by all means, don't compromise your deepest beliefs, especially when you're the center of the party. You are the host, you get to decide...and what a great opportunity to share vegan choices.
Got questions? Email Ruby here.