Seven Easy Ways to Accommodate Plant-Based Eaters at Your Holiday Dinner

If you've got a vegan, vegetarian, or other plant-based personage attending your holiday dinner, you might be freaking out right about now. After all, if you and the rest of your invitees are omnivores, you can't rearrange your entire menu to accommodate the odd man (or woman) out.

Luckily, there's no need to abandon your plans and opt only for Tofurkey. There are a few easy tweaks you can make to your normal cooking routine that'll make it easy for the herbivore to get plenty to eat.

See also: Seven Vegan, Holiday Dinner Items to Snag at Trader Joe's

7. Know what's vegan and what's not.

This should probably go without saying, but some folks aren't always sure what constitutes "vegan". To sum it up, all animal products are a no-go: eggs, milk, butter, cream and any meat or meat by-product (including fish and seafood). Gelatin, for example, is made from pig's hooves, so that's off the list. The last thing you want to do is tell a vegan they can eat something, only to have them discover it's loaded with butter and eggs. Make sure you know which dishes are safe, so you can tell your guest what they can or can't eat.

6. Ask them to contribute.

Don't be afraid to request that your guests bring along one or two of their favorite items. Let them know that you'll have some options available to them, but if they want something extra special, they should probably bring it (since you're not as familiar with the veg-friendly shopping landscape as they are).

5. Use vegetable broths in your cooking.

If you're prepping an otherwise meatless dish, make sure you keep it safe for herbivores by making the switch from chicken or beef broth to vegetable-based stock. You can buy veggie bouillon on the cheap, and you won't sacrifice any flavor, either.

4. Buy veggie and fruit trays.

These offer an incredibly easy way to insure your guests get plenty of plants. Everyone loves fruits and veggies (as appetizers if nothing else), and if you've got trays on hand, you'll know that your herbivorous guests always have something to nibble on.

3. Check your local stores for easy sides.

If you're into making life easier by buying pre-made foods, scope out some of the super delicious, accidentally vegan options at local retailers. Trader Joe's, for example, has amazing, "buttery" crescent rolls -- no butter included, as well as a veg-friendly rice pilaf. Whole Foods has plenty of vegan options in their prepared foods case, from Brussels sprouts to traditional herb stuffing. These choices are so delicious, no omnivore would know the difference.

2. Read labels.

If you're buying store bought items to serve, make sure you check the labels for hidden animal ingredients. Say you're serving a cheese plate. No need to buy specialty vegan cheese, but you can check the labels to make sure the bread and crackers you serve are vegan-friendly.

1. Check which recipes can be easily veganized.

When considering your menu, check out which of the recipes you're using can be easily made vegan with just one or two substitutions. Often, a dish might have just one minor ingredient that makes it unsafe for veggies. Animal broth, as mentioned above, or one egg (which can easily be subbed out with flax seeds or an egg replacer, depending on the context). Look into it ahead of time and see what you might be able to switch out, without making major alterations to your dinner plans.

Truth is, most vegans and vegetarians are perfectly happy eating sides. They're the best part of the meal, anyway!

Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahgetshappy.

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Hannah Sentenac covers veg food, drink, pop culture, travel, and animal advocacy issues. In addition to the Miami New Times, she's written for Live Happy magazine, Paste magazine, Thive magazine, and Hannah is also editor-in-chief of
Contact: Hannah Sentenac