Monday, November 20, 2006

Cooking for Vegetarians at Thanksgiving

By Suzy Morrison

Many people worry about having vegetarian guests over for Thanksgiving, especially as the Thanksgiving dinner is a traditional meat eater’s feast.

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving at your house this year remember that most vegetarians do not need a ‘meat equivalent’ at Thanksgiving. Traditionally, Thanksgiving has been mostly about the food, but more importantly it’s about families, friends, togetherness, happiness and peace.

If this is your first time hosting a vegetarian for Thanksgiving or if you have just recently become a vegetarian yourself, then read these 10 tips for ensuring that your vegetarian guests, and you as host, will be thankful for this Thanksgiving:

(1) Be sure to check exactly what your vegetarian guest does and does not eat. Some vegetarians are happy to eat animal products such as milk and eggs, whereas others are not.

(2) Keep cooking utensils separate to prevent "cross-contamination" between meat foods and vegetarian foods – this is something that many non vegetarians overlook, but something which is very important to vegetarians.

(3) Bake a portion of stuffing outside of the turkey.

(4) Make a small portion of vegetarian gravy.

(5) Check the labels of the food you are preparing for the vegetarian guests to ensure that they do not contain any less obvious meat products e.g. gelatin.

(6) Prepare lots of side dishes of vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, green beans and so on, but leave them plain.

(7) Use vegetable oils instead of animal fats for frying, and vegetable shortening like Crisco for pie crust.

(8) Offer plenty of breads, beverages, fresh fruits, and non-gelatin desserts, which are suitable without modification for most vegetarians.

(9) Invite your vegetarian guest to prepare a “Tofurky” or vegetarian ‘turkey equivalent’ entrĂ©e to share with you the rest of your guests, or if you’re hosting Thanksgiving, prepare a small one. Your meat-eating guests might just be curious enough to want to try it!

(10) Ask your vegetarian guest for some tips or recipes to complement their vegetarian choice. You may even find that your guest is happy to help out in the kitchen or bring a dish that they have prepared themselves. You shouldn’t think that a dish from home as an insult to your cooking; see it as a desire to share traditions at Thanksgiving. Even meat-eating homes can benefit from a healthy vegetarian recipe.

For more vegetarian tips, ideas and recipes visit the Eating Vegetarian site or the Becoming Vegetarian blog.

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