I was one of those children who refused to eat foods which had even flecks of green things. At about age 30 my wife and I sat at a Thai restaurant, and my jealousy of her colourful dishes reached critical mass, as I stared sullenly at my yellow-brown rice with brown meat. She never pushed me to eat vegetables, but the day I finally tried them at the Thai joint turned out to be a game-changer. Texture is everything, and those veggies were still crisp, delicious, and devoid of that certain flavour they take on when cooked, which I could never like.
Having had its first experience of this joy, I stretched my palate to find other ways of eating vegetables which would please me, and I’m happy to say I have expanded my menu options considerably. Something about hitting 30 caused me, for lack of a better word, to crave foods which taste like dirt. I mean that in the nicest way, I really like the taste of things that grow in dirt. I digress. This revelation provided me with many more dining options which would suit my vegan and vegetarian friends. It was then that I thought to ask, finally, what made them take the leap into that lifestyle.
To my surprise, different people had different reasons. I always figured it was all about how animals are treated or the idea of murder.
“I just don’t think it’s ethical.” said one. Alright, I kind of get it. The way we farm animals really freaks me out too.
“I don’t think it’s good for our bodies.” Oky doke, there is a bevvy of scientific evidence that agrees with you.
“I’m just really uncomfortable eating carcasses.” Good point, I can definitely see where that would be weird.
I’m still an omnivore. I have no opinion on which school of thought is nobler or smarter, but I have learned that is very easy to accommodate my vegetarian and vegan friends at a cookout or dinner, and even if it were not, that most do not expect you to go out of your way for them, and will often bring their own food.
I stopped making jokes about their lifestyles, even in the presence of omnivores like myself. It wasn’t funny anymore.
If you’re having vegan or vegetarian friends for dinner or a cookout, here are some suggestions which are easy and usually go over well. Most take very little prep work.
- Buy a few portobella mushrooms, remove stems, and fill the bowl shape with simple things like breadcrumbs and herbs, using a little olive oil to hold it together. Throw them on the grill, on a little corner you reserve where meat will not be cooked, or wrap them in foil.
- Salad is not the only thing these folks eat. Pre-made hummus or baba ganoush accompanied by pita chips or flat breads will usually satisfy them.
- If they eat black bean burgers, learn to grill some up on that side of the grill we discussed which hasn’t had meat on it, and give them some toppings to throw on top. Normal stuff goes over pretty well, like pickles, mustard, and ketchup.
- If you feel adventurous, look up some recipes for vegan pasta dishes, like pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Some of those dishes are so good, even your meat-eating friends will have them. Real Italian cooking is chock-full of vegetarian and vegan dishes. Trust me, I grew up there.
- I’m pretty sure I don’t know a single vegetarian that says no to guac and tortilla chips.