A meat eaters guide to catering for a veggie
By Sam Wass, Medium Well
Whether it is for a special occasion such as Christmas or Easter, or just for a casual dinner, the chances are all of us are going to have to host a veggie some time or other. While the prospect of not eating meat is confusing to some and abhorrent to many, we all have one friend who chooses to walk a less protein-filled path.
But do not fear the vegetarian. Embrace them, for while they know not what they’re missing, we can overcome our culinary differences and prove once and for all that lions can indeed dine with lambs.
In my experience, there are two very big no-nos that are easily done when catering for veggies, don’t cook their food in the same pan/on the same grill as the meat and goose fat is NOT vegetarian, so don’t cook the Christmas roasties in it!
A friend of mine who had not eaten meat for years asked his granny why her chips tasted so much better than all other chips. “Ah you see, I cook mine in beef dripping, lad. That’s the secret!”
Now, for me there’s a lesson to be learned from this clearly wise old owl, but said friend was far from happy as he’d been eating at his grandmother’s once a month for at least five years after giving up meat. Serves him right for not visiting her more.
Joking aside, there is no reason why catering for a veggie should become the bane of your life. Many veggie dishes are simple and easy to produce and can be done well in advance of prep for the rest of the meal.
And don’t just cop-out and buy a supermarket veggie lasagne, you can be just as adventurous with veggie food as you are with your meat – if you dare risk it with brisket, don’t be afraid of becoming a polenta experimenter.
Jamie Oliver (and pretty much any other celeb chef) has some fantastic veggie recipes online, so try your hand at a few of these before plumping for one for your guest. Stuffed peppers, mushroom risotto, Quorn mince spag-bol, sweet potato and chickpea dhal…the great advantage of cooking for veggies is that the food tastes just as good re-heated or pre-prepared than it does freshly prepared…affording you precious time to focus all of your attention on your glorious pope-eye steak, succulent rack of lamb or preparing a marinade for some good old chops!
Make sure you use vegetable or olive oil, that you don’t use butter or milk for vegan meals and it’s always good to ask if your guest minds eating with others who are enjoying a meat dish…however, if they say no after you’ve gone to all the other trouble, it’s maybe time to wrap up their food and make it an order “to go”.
While meat might be the star of the show for most meals, it doesn’t mean that vegetarians are difficult to cater for. They’re often more open to trying new flavours, so try and be more open about experimenting with your own food and culinary skills, and your vegetarian mate might just teach you a thing or two.