Cooking for Vegetarians

By: Douglas Titchmarsh

If you're considering cooking a meal for a vegetarian friend or relative there are some important things you should try to find out first. It is a common mistake to assume a vegetarian is just somebody who doesn't eat meat, but this is not necessarily true, as there are different types of vegetarian, from vegans who eat no animal products, even honey, milk and yeast, to so called pseudo-vegetarians who will eat some meats in a prepared meal.

So before you even think about the meal you need to find what ingredients will be acceptable to your vegie friend. So here are some questions you can ask to make sure your friend will not be offended by the meal you prepare for them because it contains ingredients which they have decided not to eat.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians will eat milk and eggs, but other sub-categories of vegetarian will not. Some wont do it for health reasons; others wont for ethical reasons. Whatever the case, you can get around this problem by either creating more dishes that do not contain milk and eggs or by using egg replacer, which you can find at most supermarkets, and milk replacements, such as soy milk.

Find out what kind of vegetarian your friend is, and follow up by asking exactly what that means in terms of their food requirements. They shouldn't mind that you are taking the trouble to find out these details as it's for their pleasure you will be preparing the meal. It's better to find out beforehand than to have a possible awkward scene at the dinner table.

Try to find out to what extent they abstain from animal products. Some vegetarians will simply not eat meat, some as we have said will also not eat any animal products, and some will even go so far as not eating from plates or utensils which have come in contact with meat products. In the latter case it is best to have a set of utensils set aside for your vegetarian diner(s) and kept seperate from the rest.

Cooking for a vegetarian doesn't have to be particularly difficult, but a little advance preparation and knowledge will make it simpler. Follow this advice, and you will have no trouble including vegetarian friends in your next dinner invitation.

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