This Chinese proverb will not sit well with my vegan friend(s).
When hosting a dinner with one vegan guest, either the whole menu is rehashed or a separate food needs to be prepared. I mostly prepare asian food, which can easily be converted to vegan dish, and it is usually appreciated by non vegetarians/vegans. Not too many people appreciate vegan food, and it is less tolerated than vegetarian diet. Can’t even use fish sauce! If you identify a food as vegetarian/vegan, some people may be turned off. However, if you don’t even mention it, some won’t be able to tell the difference!
It is always a challenge to mix the vegetarians/vegans with non vegetarians. More often than not, we prepare just enough vegan dishes for the vegetarians/vegans and yet, the non vegetarians end up consuming the same food because they are suddenly feeling health conscious. I guess it depends on how the vegetarians/vegan food is prepared. While working for an international organization, I was exposed to a very mutli-cultural environment. It wasn’t only a mix of nationalities, but a combination of practicing vegetarians for religious reasons or not, and vegan(s). Monthly gatherings and holiday parties (meaning Christmas but we were prohibited to refer to that time in December as such) was a bone of contention because of food service!!! There was either not enough vegetarian food, or the vegetarian food was not vegan enough. Even with the proper head count, the vegetarians always seemed deprived! Why? Because the non-vegetarians decide to become vegetarians and instead of consuming what was meant for them, they partake of what was meant for the vegetarians.
When preparing for vegetarians and non vegetarians, try to achieve some commonality with food, and select a menu or a recipe that is “flexible”. Here are some food items that can tolerate some identity crisis: spring rolls, garlic noodles, and rice cooked in coconut milk, which was previously posted with the Hainanese Chicken (posted 5/31/2012). Ingredients may be adjusted by changing beef/chicken broth to vegetable broth, preferably home made. Spring rolls are usually filled with ground pork, but this may be replaced by tofu mixed with sprouts, carrots, onions, garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper. Replace fish sauce with salt or soy sauce.