Surviving the dreaded potluck as a vegan

November 24, 2010

Of course, when I refer to a dreaded potluck I mean the kind where you’re the only vegan attending, so you might as well call it “that thing where everyone else eats your food, maybe.”  It can be a huge source of The Suck, so here are my best tips on how to deal (I know you’ll come up with more in the comments, hint hint!)

Hat tip for the original question: I found it on Reddit, and gave pretty much the same answer there.  So I say again, what’s you’re best strategy for the non-vegan potluck?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Colleen November 25, 2010 at 10:16 am

I have nothing to add. I try to make several of my most favourite things so that everyone can try stuff and have their minds blown. Cookies or some other show-stopping baked good always included, because I find with some people it’s the baking they’re most likely to think can’t be awesome when vegan.

Mirkat November 25, 2010 at 11:40 am

My office has a potluck holiday party every year. If I have the time, I like to bring an entree and a dessert. If I’m shorter on time, I’ll just bring an entree. I recall getting especially positive responses when I brought in tabbouleh. One of my co-workers goes out of his way to make a vegan dish, even though he’s not vegan. Last year, another co-worker made hummus because she knew it would be something I’d eat. I’m always touched by people’s kindness in these situations. 🙂

Amanda November 25, 2010 at 5:22 pm

I am actually going to a potluck-style dinner for Thanksgiving with a group of non-vegan friends. The host of the get-together was nice enough to make several desserts vegan so that I can enjoy them too. So I’m bringing my homemade tofurkey, chickpea salad, rolls, gravy, and a ton of vegan wine. That way, I know I’ll be able to enjoy myself right alongside the meat-eaters. Hopefully I will have them all try my tofurkey, and fill them up on that instead of the ominous dead bird that will inevitably be at the head of the table.

Jason November 25, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Amanda, you had me at “a ton of vegan wine.” That makes the food issue so much easier on both sides… I need to go to more of your potlucks 🙂

Lauren November 26, 2010 at 12:08 am

I usually eat a bit before hand and bring desert. Everyone likes chocolate. I make a chocolate fudge with oreo type cookies, walnuts, and a variety of mixed fruit.

after people have told me it is wonderful, I tell them it is vegan.

MIND BLOWN. They are in shock and awe.

the trick is to eat enough that you will be satisfied if there is nothing you can eat, but not too much that you can’t try everyone’s vegan effort if they tried for you. if you are appreciative they cook more vegan food for you, and with a ripple effect more people are eating that vegan food as well.

Erin November 26, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Like everyone else, I like to bring an entree and a dessert. One, I get to eat dessert that way, and two, everyone is amazed that vegan desserts are so tasty.

Last night I went to my first all-vegan potluck for Thanksgiving, and it was so amazing to let my toddler walk around the room and see other people feeding her without having to hover and check every’s food. It’s so much harder to eat in mixed company with a small child and that was such an amazing experience.

Good Eater November 29, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Along with carrying your favorite dish to the potluck, why not print the recipe on cards to distribute with anyone who shows serious interest in your vegan contributions to the potluck? Or, better yet, post your favorite recipes on your blog and share the URL.

Erin November 29, 2010 at 11:58 pm

@Good Eater, I love both your suggestions!

I actually organize a parent’s meetup group, and any time we have a pot luck, everyone writes up the ingredients for what they bring because of food allergies and my veganism, but it began with someone saying, “Oh, well since Erin is vegan and I’m not 100% sure what is safe, let’s all write out what’s in our food.” It’s been such a nice change for our group because it turns out we do have some people with food allergies and they can now check and see what’s safe for them. Also, in going to that effort to write it out, more people choose to make something without animal products because they realize that I won’t be able eat it if they include that. The act of writing it out really makes a difference for those who don’t want to leave out their vegan friends.

Jason November 30, 2010 at 8:40 am

Agreed, recipe cards are great, and especially if you’re not comfortable asking people to “do more work” specifically so you can easily figure out what’s edible on the table – a recipe list means people get to share their creations with everyone else, so there’s something in it for everyone.

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