If you haven't beeen to a vegan wedding, you probably will soon. More and more brides and grooms are adopting the no meat-no dairy diet, and reception menus are reflecting this trend. What do you do if you want a vegan food theme but know that many of your tofu-fearing, carnivore guests will be unhappy there's no chicken or beef on the menu? PETA staffer and World of Vegan founder Michelle Cehn, who had a vegan wedding herself, explained what brides and grooms can do to "veganize" their big days without alienating loved ones.
Remember that it's your day.
"While it's always important to consider your guests' comfort when planning an event, most people understand that a wedding is the bride and groom's special day," Cehn said. "Most vegan couples see their wedding as a chance to wow their guests, many of whom may be unfamiliar with the wide variety of vegan fare. They want their family and friends to enjoy the great food and walk away saying, 'That was delicious. I can't believe it was all vegan!'"
It is possible to keep you and your guests happy, food-wise.
"Choose experienced caterers and vintners, and don't settle for boring plates of marinated vegetables," she said. "If you can't find a caterer in your area who has pre-set vegan options, make sure that you find someone who's willing—and excited—to work with you to create them. That's what I did—it was my caterer's first vegan wedding, and the food was great!"
The foods should be familiar to everyone
"The possibilities are endless! These days, terrific vegan meats and cheeses are readily av ailable, so you can 'veganize' any favorite recipe or stick with dishes that spotlight fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables," Cehn advises. "For my wedding, I went with a buffet of traditional foods that everyone knows and loves, including bruschetta, stuffed mushrooms, dairy-free pesto rotini, vegetable tian, roasted petite red potatoes, vegan quiche, and artisan bread and olive oil."
"For the wedding cake, if there's a vegan bakery in your area, definitely contact it first, but if you can't find one, you can always ask any bakery to make a vegan cake or cupcake tower. Veganizing cake is as simple as using an egg replacement and swapping nut milk for cow's milk. Another popular option is to have a dessert bar—that's what my husband and I did, and our guests absolutely loved it. You can include a selection of your favorite treats, and your friends and family will get to try out an array of dairy- and egg-free desserts."
Give your guests a heads up
"You can let guests know in advance that the food will be vegan or simply place 'vegan' labels by the food on the reception tables."
Make sure you know to "veganize" these hidden items.
"If you're a vegan newbie, you may not realize that some adult beverages are not vegan-friendly," Cehn says. "For instance, wine is sometimes filtered through fish bladders (a.k.a. "isinglass"). You can check to make sure that the alcohol you serve at your wedding is vegan at Barnivore. And if you want to get really fancy, order your wine from an ethical retailer such as The Vegan Vine."
Besides food and drink...
"Instead of wedding gifts, you can ask your guests to donate to animal-related charities, such as PETA or a farmed-animal sanctuary," she advises. "Or you can donate a portion of the monetary wedding gifts to charities that you support. Another fun idea is to plan a trip to an animal sanctuary in lieu of a bachelor or bachelorette party.
"Rather than giving traditional wedding favors, why not present your guests with a gift that will help save animals? For example, PETA offers wedding favor cards that you can place by table settings at your reception to let guests know that a donation has been made in their honor. Also, be sure to send guests home with a little treat, such as a gourmet vegan chocolate bar or a bag of heart-shaped seed paper confetti, which they can plant at home to grow wildflowers."