6 “polite” things you do when cooking for your vegetarian friends that are really rude

This cooking guide for vegetarian friends when eating meat will help you avoid some pitfalls. Here’s why making eggplant might not be the best idea.

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Reviewed by Registered Dietitian Jessica Ball, MS, RD

If you enjoy having people over for a meal, chances are you’ve been confronted with a vegetarian guest. After all, eating vegetarian can be good for you and the planet, so it makes sense that many people are turning to vegetarianism as a healthy way to eat. But if you’re generally a meat eater, you might feel a bit overwhelmed when it comes to planning a delicious, hearty meal with no meat in sight.

Related: 7 things I wish I had known before becoming a vegetarian

It’s good! Cooking vegetarian for the first time can be daunting, especially if you’re trying to cook an impressive dinner. But incorporating vegetarian options into your next shindig can be pretty darn easy, as long as you avoid the main pitfalls. That’s why we’ve rounded up our top tips for hosting all your vegetarian friends, even when your over-eagerness gets in the way.

1. You assume that all cheeses are vegetarian.

No one could fault you for considering cheese an appropriate option to please a meatless crowd – cheese really is one of the great unifiers. But you should do your research before heading to the cheese counter if you want your meal to remain vegetarian. Some cheeses use rennet, which is made up of enzymes found in the stomach lining of various mammals, to separate the curd from the whey.

For example, parmesan is generally not vegetarian. Since Parmigiano-Reggiano comes from a specific region and uses only one specific recipe, any cheese calling itself Parm will contain calf rennet. Other cheeses like Grana Padano, Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Gruyère also use rennet in their curds. Some vegetarians may make an exception for cheeses, so you can always ask your guest if they’re a Parmesan eater. Otherwise, it’s best to do a little research on the cheese you’d like to use in your recipe, to make sure it’s suitable for a vegetarian meal. A resource like this list of vegetarian cheese makers from Vegetatio can also be a helpful tool.

Related: Our 20 most popular vegetarian recipes of 2022

2. You throw a veggie burger on the grill so they can share with everyone.

A summer grilling session might be the easiest way to make sure everyone, vegetarians, vegans and carnivores, has something delicious to eat. There are plenty of convenient plant-based options to grill, from carrot dogs or quinoa burgers to meat analogues like Beyond Meat. Remember to handle vegetarian or vegan options with care. Keep veggie options on a different side of the grill than your usual old burgers and use a different utensil to flip them. You don’t want to contaminate veggie dishes with a spatula that has flipped beef patties, and if you’re cooking a bleeding veggie burger, you definitely don’t want to mix it up with your nearly identical beef burgers.

And remember, it can’t hurt to check their food preferences ahead of time – maybe they strongly prefer a classic black bean burger to a Beyond or Impossible patty – but you won’t know that much. that you didn’t ask for.

Related: A month of vegetarian dinners in 30 minutes

3. You don’t bother them about their dietary restrictions – after all, you already know they’re vegetarian.

Don’t rush too quickly into menu planning. It can be nice to prove you’re a good, observant friend by cooking a vegetarian meal, no questions asked, but it’s always possible that your vegetarian friend has other dietary restrictions that haven’t been brought up in conversation. You don’t want to find yourself serving fries and guacamole to a vegetarian who can’t eat cilantro and is trying a keto diet.

Checking in before choosing a recipe to ensure your guest doesn’t have any food allergies or aversions is thought through, and it will save you trouble in the long run.

Related: The health benefits of a plant-based diet

4. You overdo it a bit with friendly conversation.

A friend of mine says it’s not the food that’s the most intimidating when it comes to eating with non-vegetarians, but the painful conversation. You probably won’t be the first to toss out lines like “Not even a fish?” or “I could never do it – I like bacon too much.” If you’re determined to get information about vegetarians during dinner, asking about their favorite recipes or the best places in town to get a vegetarian meal is a more fun way to go.

5. You offer all food buffet style, so they can eat what suits them.

Buffet style is always a simple and effortless way to serve guests. But when you know you have people with dietary restrictions to feed, the buffet line will require a little more effort on your part. Use a sticky note pad to label dishes, so people know what’s vegetarian, what contains nuts, and which appetizer is the one you’ve been bragging about all week.

Since it can be hard to tell if certain dishes, like a Mystery Casserole or a Steamy Lasagna, are actually vegetarian or not, a quick tag can help anyone prepare their plates with confidence. Plus, it will save you from having to answer the same questions over and over again.

Related: The best dishes to bring to a potluck, according to an entertainment expert

6. You avoid meat in your dishes, but use ingredients like fish sauce or chicken broth to enhance flavor.

Think twice about reaching for the carton of beef broth while making your vegetarian version of French Onion Soup. Even if there are no chunks of beef floating around in the pot, using ingredients like beef, chicken, or fish stock still makes a recipe less vegetarian. The same goes for condiments like fish stock, Worcestershire sauce, and Caesar dressing. Some tortillas, canned pie crusts, and refried beans contain lard, another sneaky animal product that could ruin your menu. If a processed food doesn’t describe itself as vegetarian on the package, doing a little research on the Internet can help you avoid a faux pas.

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