Author Topic: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?  (Read 13662 times)

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Visiting Crazy Town

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #75 on: June 18, 2013, 11:37:59 AM »
 In this case I honestly do think that  the OP should let the wedding guest know that  she is serving a vegan menu, because she isn't a vegan of vegetarian.  If I was going to the wedding of a person I knew didn't eat meat then I wouldn't be surprised that  they  didn't serve it , but if I'm going to a wedding of a person who i knew ate meat I would be quite surprised at a vegan menu.

hobish

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #76 on: June 18, 2013, 12:40:06 PM »
Somebody mentioned the reaction they notice from people when regular peanut butter and jelly is specifically termed as vegetarian peanut butter and jelly. If somebody referred to regulat old Jif and Welch's Grape Jelly they might get a strange reaction from me, not because I felt like there was something wrong with the sandwich but because going out of the way to use the term "vegetarian" would make be a bit wary.  I would wonder what point they felt they had to prove or what agenda they wanted to promote.

Speaking as a non-vegetarian here -

I know that vegetarians pay more attention to what's in their food than I do.  I enjoy being able to just buy what tastes good and not worry about what exactly is in it.  Because of that, when someone specifies "vegetarian grilled cheese" or "vegetarian PB & J," I don't know if that's the "normal" kind or whether there's some weird non-vegetarian element of my "normal" sandwich.  I tend to assume that if a "normal" grilled cheese was vegetarian they wouldn't need to specify, though, so it stands to reason a "vegetarian" grilled cheese probably has some strange-to-me substitutions, like vegan cheese or lard-free bread or whatnot.  I don't know - I'm not usually keeping that close an eye on the source of the ingredients  :)  So if people seem a bit wary about perfectly normal food being labeled "vegetarian," that's why.  I'd probably avoid "100% guaranteed asbestos-free!" breakfast cereal as well, on the same principle  ;D

That said, LadyL, I would encourage you to include at least a few "normal" (to omnivores) menu items along with the more unusual ones.  It's hard to judge whether you'll like completely new-to-you items like flax crust or cashew cheese, and (depending on the environment) it could be awkward for people to commit to an entree only to find out they don't like the vegan substitutions for whatever ingredients they're used to.  Hopefully the inclusion of things like "normal" fruit salad, etc. will help your anti-vegan friends and relatives from feeling too out of their depth.

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Sheila Take a Bow

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #77 on: June 18, 2013, 12:41:10 PM »
I've been to a vegan wedding (the bride and groom were vegans, most of the guests were not).  The food was amazing, and one of my favorite wedding meals ever.  The guests were happy, and no one complained about not being full at the end of the meal.

My friends' caterer was not only vegan but also avoided processed foods wherever possible, so instead of using fake meats or tofu the proteins were mostly nuts and beans.  The dishes were things that were naturally vegan; no one felt like they were being forced to eat a mystery protein.  And the food was delicious -- kind of a mix-up of Indian and Ethiopian flavors.

So I think it's possible to have a vegan menu that can satisfy everyone, but I do think that it requires some creativity and it really helps if you emphasize minimally processed foods over "fake meat" proteins.  People may still miss the meat, but they won't feel like you're only serving "weird" food that they're not willing to eat.

Winterlight

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #78 on: June 18, 2013, 01:02:56 PM »
In this case I honestly do think that  the OP should let the wedding guest know that  she is serving a vegan menu, because she isn't a vegan of vegetarian.  If I was going to the wedding of a person I knew didn't eat meat then I wouldn't be surprised that  they  didn't serve it , but if I'm going to a wedding of a person who i knew ate meat I would be quite surprised at a vegan menu.

Agreed. I would personally like a little forewarning so I know to eat ahead of time- I can't eat beans or soy, and nuts are also problematic. That really limits my options for vegan food.
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
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To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
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ilrag

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #79 on: June 18, 2013, 02:38:55 PM »
I also think that if you are serving something that looks like a commonly served item, such as pizza, but contains very unexpected ingredients, it should be noted. The flax-crust pizza is an excellent example. When most people see a pizza, they assume it is a wheat-based crust with regular cheese on it and they might not think to ask if it contains flax or almonds, even though they may be allergic.

Agreed. It would simply not occur to me that the dish in front of me that looks like cheese pizza is something very different.


Exactly.  As the sucker who can't eat flax I generally try to be careful when I have a heads up.

For example, did you know that some people make pie/pastry crust with flax in the flour mix? It's less rare then you think, BUT I can usually figure out if I need to worry based on the situation.

If I can't see an ingredient list I never eat whole grain bread outside of my house. Some whole grain breads have flax seed. (Ditto pasta)

If I'm at a greasy spoon/diner type eating establishment I wouldn't think twice about asking if there's flax seed in the pie crust - there isn't.

If I'm at a local vegan restaurant (or vegan friendly, or generally ...'crunchy' type place) I will either skip dessert, or ask if they use it in their pastries.

I wouldn't expect it at a wedding because it's kind of an odd ingredient, BUT if I knew the wedding was catered vegan I'd be 100% more mindful of what I was putting in my mouth.  Why? Because flax is a grain with a lot of protein, which is why it's used in vegan food.

You just need to let people know what they're dealing with.

SoCalVal

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #80 on: June 18, 2013, 03:04:38 PM »
Hmmm, I don't think you have any requirement to advise people that they menu is vegan, however if I were selecting my choice, I'd find "basil pesto entrée with cashews" to be oddly vague. Is it chicken? Is it fish? So I vote for listing the protein source. I think you're between a rock and a hard place. Be vague and have confused guests, or be specific and potentially have to listen to unwanted comments.

If it's any consolation, DH and I had a menu with several meat items and a couple of vegetarian (but not vegan items).  I posted this on our wedding website AND on our FB wedding page so our guests would know what to expect (we were having, for the most part, traditional my-brand-of-Asian food).  We still had unwanted comments...posted on our FB wedding page...from my sister, of all people.  So, sometimes, it doesn't matter what direction you take (as far as my sister is concerned -- while she had a point about not having vegan options, posting two negative comments on our FB page was not the way to go; I deleted both and refused to have any further discussion with her on it -- she'd already proven in the past that she's one of the "don't engage the crazy" sorts and blasting our wedding menu in public was one of the last straws).



Specky

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #81 on: June 18, 2013, 04:54:13 PM »
I have multiple food allergies that will send me to the hospital if I consume them.  I consider it too burdensome to list these or expect an allergen-free meal from a host (or restaurant) so it is my responsibility to make sure I am nourished.  I always refuse meals and eat either before the event (or take something, even if I have to leave and eat in the car).  I will join friends out for a nice glass of iced tea, though.

Rohanna

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #82 on: June 18, 2013, 05:24:53 PM »
I think if you're having something wildly out of the norm for the "standard" of your social circle/geographic area, a heads up will ensure a more pleasant event. Really, isn't the point to have happy guests celebrating with you- and they won't be particularly happy if they feel "tricked" into eating tofu/flax/almond cheese like they are recalcitrant children refusing vegetables. My husband can't eat many raw vegetables, a lot of soy, or whole grains (health, not pickiness)- he would be very hungry at your event if I didn't know to feed him well beforehand, and since most weddings tend to feature animal protein/white starch/well cooked veggie- I wouldn't think I needed to.

I wouldn't worry about labeling every single ingredient- but I would make certain that *someone* had a master list so that the servers could check for guests who ask, and I wouldn't obscure or hide anything- if it's tofu pasta or soy cheese- list it as such. I'm happier eating something different if I know what it is... if it looks like something else but tastes "off" for what I think it is, I might worry that I'm going to get ill from something spoiled or improperly cooked. If I know it's soy cheese not regular cheese, the different taste is expected.
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Hmmmmm

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #83 on: June 18, 2013, 05:40:45 PM »
LadyL, I agree with the others that you do not need to indicate it will be a vegan menu. But I like your idea of having descriptive labels if you are doing a buffet so that people are aware and can eat according to their allergies and food tolerances. Your example of the cheese pizza is a good one. If I were wheat or lactose intolerent, I'd skip something labeled cheese pizza, but if labled flax seed crust with cashew cheese, I'd expect to be fine eating it. On the other hand if I were nut intollerent, you would have given me enough information to know that the harmless looking cheese is going to be a problem.

I also don't think you need to request your Vegan caterer add non-vegan items to the menu. You just need to make sure there is sufficient non-nut/non-soy options for those common allergies with lots of salads, vegetables, and fruit available.

Thipu1

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #84 on: June 18, 2013, 06:07:36 PM »
No matter what you do, you'll be opening a can of worms. 

Asking guests to state any food allergies is a good and thoughtful thing.  You don't need to mention that the menu will be vegan.  To many guests, vegan food will be a delightful surprise.

However, there are more problems.  Vegan doesn't mean the same thing to all vegans.  Just this weekend, I ran into a vegan relative who has decided that she will also be gluten-free and oil-free. This isn't a case of celiac or intolerance.  She's just decided that this is how she will eat.  How do you handle something like this? 

I do agree that guests who demand meat, poultry or fish at a Wedding are being rude.  After all, they're being asked to share a meal provided by the HC.  They aren't restaurant critics. 


TootsNYC

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #85 on: June 18, 2013, 06:16:28 PM »
...Every invitation that I received always had a detailed entree description.  So while you don't have to disclose every single ingredient but I would be upfront with items like meat alternatives and tofu. With your example, if you are doing asian fusion, I would say, "Teriyaki tofu and vegetables over bangkok noodles" Or "Pork alternative stir fry with Szechuan sauce" etc...

I have never seen the menu disclosed in an invite. I've heard of it, on this and few wedding boards, but IRL I have just never seen it done. So YMMV on having to disclose that level of detail.

But I do think there is an obligation to have a selection of food - and I think that goes for vegan or omnivore. Hopefully an award-winning caterer has other entree's up their sleeve then just soy based. Beans, lentils, nuts, etc are other great protein sources available for vegan menus.

I also never see menus in invitations. And I reject the idea that someone might need to provide that information so that people can decide WHETHER to come.

They're coming for the vows, and for the company. This isn't a "ticket" they're buying.

But yes, at the point that people are putting food on their plates, I think you ought to tell them what it is. I think that responsibility goes up when you go outside the "comfort zone" of a sizable number of your attendees. And I agree on the spiciness--a lot of Asian stuff has some heat, and that's no fun at all for some people.

(also--remember that many soy sauces have wheat, so if you're worried about providing a gluten free option somehow, talk w/ them about using tamari soy sauce)

Rohanna

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #86 on: June 18, 2013, 08:16:07 PM »
TootsNYC- it may not be a "ticket" to an event I'm buying, but if I'm investing potentially two vacation days, a sitter, a new outfit and a gift then the fact that the hosting is completely inaccessible to me might factor in a little. It's fine to say "if your family friends love you they can put up with it/not eat" but then again, cant' that be flipped to say "if you loved your family/friends wouldn't you want to host them comfortably at your party"? I would be fine with being forewarned, but I would be upset about feeling like I was offered a bait-and-switch.

Like it or not, if people coming expecting A-which-not-everyone-loves-but-most-people-don't-mind, but get offered B-which-lots-of-people dislike-and-we aren't-going-to-tell-you-exactly-what-it-is, then don't be surprised if you get a more negative reaction than if you label it in a non-offputting but explanatory manner, and make sure there are familiar options available.

The main concern I'd have as the OP is, that if I felt the need to resort to subterfuge to get my guests to eat, I'd probably re-consider my choices, as I'd rather have happy guests - I can eat my personal favourite meals anytime but I can't recreate a reception again so easily. If it's more a concern that you think people *truly* will appreciate the food but it's simply down to wording it in a non-threatening manner, then I'd simple list it as you'd expect to see on a restaurant menu "tofu pasta with cashew cheese" or "Flax pizza with shiitake mushrooms and fresh tomatoes"....making it sound tasty but clear and concise as to what it is.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2013, 08:26:45 PM by Rohanna »
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EMuir

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #87 on: June 18, 2013, 08:20:36 PM »
I have to restrict carbs.  When I've eaten vegetarian meals, I've usually had to have meat afterwards in order to feel satisfied.  I'd appreciate a heads up so I could eat beforehand so I could enjoy the evening.

Calistoga

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #88 on: June 18, 2013, 09:27:55 PM »
Instead of spreading the word that it's vegan, why not just let guests know the name of the cater or the menu you have selected? There's a big difference between "Yes, we chose an all vegan menu" and "We're using Magillicutties, here's our full menu". You're able to avoid pushing the automatic buzz buttons that way.

CuriousParty

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Re: Disclosing vegan menu to guests?
« Reply #89 on: June 18, 2013, 11:06:59 PM »
In this case I honestly do think that  the OP should let the wedding guest know that  she is serving a vegan menu, because she isn't a vegan of vegetarian.  If I was going to the wedding of a person I knew didn't eat meat then I wouldn't be surprised that  they  didn't serve it , but if I'm going to a wedding of a person who i knew ate meat I would be quite surprised at a vegan menu.

I'm with Visiting Crazy Town.  I would expect a vegan or vegetarian bride/groom to have a vegan/vegetarian reception, and more importantly, I would plan accordingly. For me this would probably mean eating before I come to the ceremony/reception, not because I think vegan/vegetarian is "weird" but because I am unaccustomed to eating that way, and to be sure that I ate enough to feel comfortable and enjoy myself would take more effort than I want to give (e.g., will I like that, can I eat this, is it too spicy, have I earn enough protein to stay full, etc.). I'd rather focus my energies on my friends' wedding and celebration.  A more adventurous eater might plan differently.

I would not be expecting omnivore friends to offer an exclusively vegan menu, and if surprised by it there would be much more focus, for me, on the food and whether I can eat sufficiently than I would like. It might even mean I'd have to leave early to eat, which would be very disappointing.

The thing is, in an effort to avoid having to listen to some of the bellyachers (who, lets face it, will complain about something no matter what you do) you may be taking away the ability of gracious guests to plan appropriately for their own needs so they can celebrate with you as they wish.

I would post the menu on my website, and when asked about the caterer I would mention that they are vegan, and the food is wonderful, and you are so excited to share this new find with everyone. The word will get around, and people will have the info they need.