Help - I've got a Vegan coming for dinner!

A very quick introduction to cooking for vegans.

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About the recipes on this blog

The recipes here are aimed at people with basic cooking skills - a bit above chucking a ready meal in the microwave, but way below being able to cook gourmet food from scratch. I will be using a fair amount of processed food. I've done this to keep the recipes simple - there are loads of recipes on the interwebs that will explain how to cook lovely vegan food from scratch.

I'm also not going to provide much detail in terms of cooking times and quantities. I'm assuming you know, or can easily search for, cooking times for vegetables and the like - and you may prefer them slightly more or less cooked that me in any case. One advantage of vegan cooking is that you're not going to give someone food poisoning by under cooking.

On quantities, I reckon most people can estimate them by eye (and it's going to be highly variable depending on your appetite anyway). That said, you might need to slightly increase ingredients such as vegetables if you are used to cooking with meat in order to replace the gap left by removing the meat.

Making vegan and non-vegan food at the same time

If you are making vegan and non vegan food at the same time you should keep the two separate. The two key principles are:

  • Clean utensils (knifes, chopping boards, cheese graters) & cookware after preparing non-vegan food.
  • Make sure non-vegan food cannot 'cross over' into the vegan food. For example, if roasting food, use separate roasting trays and place the vegan food on a higher shelf in the oven.

What is veganism?

Vegans don't any eat animal products. It's basically vegetarian food with no diary or eggs (it's a tiny bit more complicated - see how to tell if something is vegan below).

Where to buy vegan food

You'll be able to pick up most ingredients in the shops that you buy your non-vegan food - local shops & markets and supermarkets. Health food shops will normally have good ranges of vegan food, especially the substitute products (such as vegan cheese, mayonnaise, pies, sausages). The health food shops with a fridge & freezer will have a much broader range of stuff.

If you are thinking of using meat & diary substitutes, I would recommend that you check first with your vegan visitor - some people love the substitutes, others hate them.

How to tell if something is vegan

It's not as hard as many people think. You'll need to read the ingredients label. Avoid products meat, poultry & fish (obviously) as well as eggs and milk. The Vegan Society have a good section on is this product vegan? Worth noting that the phrase "may contain milks / eggs / etc." will mean that the product is made without these ingredients, but made on the same production lines that process milk / eggs / etc. I've never met a vegan that won't eat these products.

Some vegans have different levels of strictness - some are very strict whereas others will eat honey. My personal lack of strictness is alcohol - if I'm not sure if it's vegan, I assume it is. If you're not sure how strict a vegan your visitor is just ask them. They won't be offended - or if they are tell them to go fuck themselves, they're not the most important thing in the universe.

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