So, let’s say you have a dinner party coming up. You have several friends coming and among those friends are a vegetarian, a vegan, and an omnivore. What do you do? How in the world do you cook for all those dietary preferences and not lose you mind? Here are some great tips I’ve learned over years of doing just this every night. I love cooking, I love eating, and I love making friends with different dietary needs happy.
I am, essentially, a vegan. No cheese, no dairy, no meat. My daughter is a vegetarian, and an absolute fiend for cheese. And my partner is an omnivore. He eats just about everything.
The best advice I have is keep it simple! Do NOT try to make 3 different meals. Think about one meal, you can easily make 3 ways, or make in layers. Start with a vegan base, as *everyone* can eat vegan. So, no meat, cheese or eggs in base sauces. For instance, lasagna. This is one of my favorite things to make because it is so easy to make all at the same time.
Make sure you use olive oil when cooking the veggies. That way everyone will be happy. I use a lot of veggies in my lasagna. I cook the meat separately, in a special pan. Make sure the sauce has no animal products in it and you are good to go. Just set up your pans in a row, marking which is which. I usually set them up with the meaty one closest to the stove, the vegetarian one next to it, and the vegan one at the end. This way there’s no cross contamination.
Then assembly line style, start building the layers. Sauce, then noodles, then veggies. Now on the vegetarian lasagna and the meat lasagna, your cheese. Then meat on the meat one. I put tofu in my vegan lasagna, so I keep a bowl of crumbled tofu off to the side. Heck! Just put it in all of them, no one will notice! Then repeat the layers until your lasagna is done.
When I bake it, I make sure the veggie ones are on top, so no meat juice is dripping on them. But that’s it!
Now let’s think of some other ideas that use the same principles. How about taco night? Or burritos? Simply cook the meat in a separate pan and use tofu, seitan, or vegan veggie crumbles in the vegan and vegetarian meals. Don’t forget the vegan sour cream! You can also do similar meals with stir fries. Cook the veggies in one pan and the meat in another. When vegetables and sauce are done, add some to the meat pans to flavor it.
Also think about Shepard’s Pie. If you have three pans, it is very easy to make in a similar fashion as the lasagna. Just make sure your mashed potatoes have no dairy and your gravy is vegan. This is a particular favorite of mine, after lasagna, as it is so simple to throw together quickly.
I’ve only presented a few ideas, but I bet you have more. Feel free to comment below with your thoughts.