How to Throw a Vegan Dinner Party

By: Alison Kim Perry

An all-vegan dinner menu can still be enticing and delicious.
An all-vegan dinner menu can still be enticing and delicious.
Lew Robertson/FoodPix/Getty Images

You're having a dinner party, but your main course won't include beef, chicken, pork or fish. The dessert won't be made with butter and nothing will be wrapped in bacon. But you're not hosting a dull dieters' dinner either.

No, tonight you're treating your guests to an all-vegan dinner party. This means no meat, dairy or eggs will be on the menu. While vegetarians abstain from eating meat, vegans take it one step further and also stay away from dairy products, eggs and even honey. Also, most vegans don't wear fur, leather, wool or down, and they reject cosmetics that have been tested on animals. They make these decisions for health, environmental or ethical reasons.

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But hosting a vegan dinner party doesn't mean a menu of bland tofu and beans. Read on for dinner party ideas that will wow both meat-eaters and vegans alike.

Vegan Dinner Menu Ideas

Variety is the key to making your vegan meals both tasty and nutritious for your special evening. When planning your menu, be sure to incorporate some fruits, veggies like leafy greens, whole grains and nuts, if possible, to ensure that everyone is getting a balance of proteins, fats, vitamins, calcium and other nutrients. Nowadays there are vegan versions of many of your favorite foods such as vegan burgers, cold cuts and even chicken nuggets.

Appearance counts. Go to a stationery boutique and pick up cute place cards to put in front of the dishes to identify them. Your non-vegan friends will probably be pleasantly surprised by the delicious appetizers of vegetarian West African soup, stuffed mushrooms and white bean bruschetta they are about to partake in. But remember not to overdo it with the appetizers because you need to save room for some hearty vegan main dishes.

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For your entrees, be adventurous and try some specialties like spicy Thai veggies, cashew and mushroom roast or fried spaghetti. Other popular items to think about including are red lentil-curry stew, vegan corn tamales wrapped in corn husks, vegan-style spinach lasagna, or shepherd's pie.

Don't forget dessert! Try vegan favorites like pumpkin tart with pecan crust, raspberry sorbet and for chocoholics, the triple chocolate tofu brownie. Vegan cakes can be made with soy milk, soy margarine and tofu. And you can always do something as simple as vegan chocolate covered strawberries.

Of course, no meal is complete without libations. But did you know that not all wine is vegan-friendly?

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Vegan Alcohol

This roasted vegetable sandwich is complemented by a vegan white wine.
This roasted vegetable sandwich is complemented by a vegan white wine.
Keith Berson /Botanica/Getty Images

Wines are made from grapes and beer comes from barley, so you shouldn't have to worry about the type of alcohol that you serve to your vegan guests, right? Wrong. It's not what's in the beverages that gives vegans pause; it's how they are made. To make sure no one will have sour grapes, you need to know a little bit about the drinks you plan to serve.

True vegans have to think about the fact that many products brewmasters and winemakers use to make alcohol use animal-derived materials like isinglass (made from fish bladders) and egg whites. These products help filter the grape skins and stems and remove the yeast used in the fermentation process. As you know, these types of ingredients are taboo to vegans. Vegan wine is made without the use of animal-derived products to help the filtration process.

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Oftentimes, ingredients used to make alcohol don't show up on the labels you read while shopping at your local grocery store. So it's incumbent upon vegans -- and you as the party host -- to do research prior to purchasing. One easy way is to choose wines and beers recommended on vegan-friendly Web sites. The Vegan Wine Guide Web site has an extensive list, including Asda Californian Zinfadel and Mumm Cuvee Napa Brut. (For beer and liquor, also try the Barnivore Web site). Or you can search for labels known to cater to vegans. For instance, Frey Vineyards notes on its Web site that all its organic wines are vegan-friendly.

Lots More Information

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