I’m a firm believer in introducing, and perhaps even converting, people to veganism through delicious food. People ask “if you don’t eat meat and cheese, what do you eat,” and sure I could answer “everything else”, or “tempeh, tofu, kale, quinoa…”, but both answers are still pretty vague and neither really seems that appealing. But if I were to present the asker with a delicious kale and quinoa salad or a yummy tofu scramble, they will be more likely to “get it”. Of course I don’t walk around with containers of prepared food (that would be both rather inconvenient and really weird), but I do like to cook for people whenever I can.
Years ago I had a job where my coworkers constantly harassed me for my eating habits, yet whenever there was a company catered meal, I would have to rush over to the food that was specially ordered for me, because if I didn’t it, would be gobbled up by everyone else. Yet they still didn’t seem to make the connection between the food they were inadvertently stealing from me, and the weird “vegan food” that they imagined I ate. (I just refer to what I eat as “food”.) When I started a new job a few years later, I was determined to squash any of that bad workplace behavior before it started, and I won my new coworkers over with cupcakes. From there I started making healthier raw desserts, and even worked my way up to kale slaw and quinoa salad. I had gained a reputation as a good cook through my cupcake baking (thank you Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero!), so they all figured if I had made the dish, it must be good.
My vegan friends and I get together often for potlucks, but trying to get an omnivore friend to attend one of those is like trying to keep my cat Archie out of the Christmas tree in December. So I like to throw little cocktail parties here and there and invite all of my friends. Through these parties I have been given the title of “The Vegan Martha Stewart” and people know that if I’m hosting, there will be lots of good food to be eaten and a fun time to be had! I usually throw a vegan party twice a year – in June for my birthday and in December for Christmas. I had a party a few weeks ago to celebrate both my birthday and buying a new home.
My Tips for Hosting a Vegan Party:
- Pick a date. That might seem like a no-brainer, but you need to make sure there’s nothing else big going on at the same time. This year I accidentally scheduled my party at the same time as The Seed Vegan Festival. I was able to go to The Seed and still get ready for the party, but it did cause problems with a few friends who couldn’t attend both.
- Invite people! I used to make fancy paper invitations and then go all the way to the post office to mail them, but for some reason people are less likely to RSVP to a piece of snail mail than they are to an email, so I’ve switched to using Evite.com. Ask you friends to RSVP no less that a week in advance. You need to figure out how much food to make.
- Pick out some recipes. I’ll let you in on the secret to my delicious food – it’s my cookbook collection! You don’t need to become a compulsive cookbook collector like me though. You can find recipes online in places like this blog! You can also buy pre-made food to save time. I usually serve a combination of both home cooked and store bought goodies. The secret is to make sure everything is really yummy and will appeal to everyone. Save the nutritional yeast mac and cheese for vegan potlucks, because omnivores will not like it. Try to have a good balance between savory and sweet, and make sure you have a few drink recipes too. If you’re party is nonalcoholic, you can make a delicious fruit punch. If you are serving alcohol, make sure you have beverages for those that don’t imbibe.
- Make a schedule and pace yourself. Don’t try to bake cupcakes, make spinach artichoke dip and mix drinks all at the same time. I always start making baked goods earlier in the week and make dips the day before. I usually reserve the day of the party for cleaning and decorating and mixing drinks. (Although you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to do a really big spring-cleaning type of cleaning. Pace your cleaning throughout the week too, if necessary.)
- Decorate. You don’t need to go crazy there. Sometimes just a few candles will suffice. When I’m hosting a Christmas party, I like to bring out the sparkles though, so I make sure my Christmas tree is up (and free of cats) and I tend to completely redecorate with red and green accessories.
- Open your doors and have fun! This is the easy part! Guests tend to help themselves to food and drink so have things like glasses and plates out in the open where they can see them. People also tend to congregate around the food, so try to set things up in a few different places. I like to have drinks in one area, savory snacks in another and desserts in a third spot.
Some of my Favorite Vegan Party Foods Include:
- Vegan Cheese and Apple Tartlets
- Tomato Tartlets with Spinach Pesto
- Stuffed Mushrooms
- Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
- Spinach Artichoke Dip Bites