How to Make a Seamlessly Inclusive Meal for All.
Your high schooler just announced one week before Thanksgiving that they’re now Vegan. Your niece is bringing a new significant other who is vegetarian.
My family is majority vegetarian or vegan. In fact it’s only me, my husband and son who are not vegetarian. And I LOVE to host family and friends for Thanksgiving.
What does it mean to be inclusive?
The American Heritage Dictionary defines inclusive as “including the specified extremes or limits as well as the area between them.” Using an intercultural lens, meat eaters, while the majority in USAmerican culture, could still be considered an extreme by the other. Inclusive gives equal validity to all.
Food is not supposed to be the focal point anyway (you know, it’s the love, the gratitude and the family). The goal for the menu is to make sure there’s something for everyone—while not making it ridiculously hard for the host.
Vegetarian vs Vegan
A quick note on the difference between vegetarians and vegans. Vegetarians don’t eat anything with a face. So, and I’m sure this isn’t you, but don’t ask a vegetarian if they eat fish. Fish have faces. So do chickens.
Vegan is nothing with a face nor any of their byproducts. So no milk, eggs, cheese, even honey (the bees!).
Open Your Mind and the Tactics Will Follow
Inclusivity acknowledges that while you might not make the same decisions as someone else, you respect the decisions they have made for themselves.
Let Go of “Why” and Jump to “How”
Here are easy tricks you can do with items you find regularly at the grocery store to make your holiday classics vegan.
Start by making your side dishes vegan. Switch butter out for plant-based butter or margarine (but check the ingredients for milk-derived whey or casein). Swap chicken broth for a vegetable or vegetarian “no-chicken” broth.
These are two tricks that cover the classics like sweet potatoes and stuffing. Note, however, those marshmallows on top have gelatin, made from bone marrow, and are not vegetarian. For the stuffing, bake it in pumpkin for a beautiful presentation.
Slice the turkey for the table and leave the carcass in the kitchen. Throw in a vegan roast for those who eat it. Search “vegan pumpkin cake” and find a delicious dessert recipe that fits your style of baking. Cranberry sauce is already vegan.
In the early years I used to make two of everything–one vegan and one not. Now I know there’s no need to double your work. With these quick substitutes you will be well on your way to a meal that is vegan and vegetarian inclusive and sure to be enjoyed by all.