Vegan and Vegetarian Catering
Vegan and vegetarian catering is no longer just an exception. Approximately 5–7 percent of Americans label themselves as vegetarians, and this segment of the population is growing in both size and in sophistication. No longer is it acceptable for caterers to expect vegetarian guests to eat the salad and side dishes served with the regular meal.
Caterers now prepare separate, tasty dishes for vegetarian guests. The good news is that with the rise in availability and popularity of locally grown and heirloom vegetables, creating exceptional vegetarian entrées is easier than ever before. With fresh vegetables, all the chef has to do is highlight their natural flavor.
Cooking with fresh tofu; hearty grains like quinoa, spelt, and barley; and a variety of beans makes some delicious meals. Use spices and recipe ideas from Indian and East Asian cookbooks, as these cuisines have wonderful ways of using vegetables.
Vegans exclude all animal products and by-products from their diets, including eggs and butter. Vegetarian is a relatively loose term, but it generally refers to people who eliminate meat from their diets but may consume dairy and/or eggs.
Of course, vegetarian means different things to different people. Some people actually call themselves vegetarians and eat fish or poultry. Some don't eat red meat, while some are strict vegetarians and abstain from all animal flesh. As a caterer, you must talk with your host and find out what exactly they mean when requesting “vegetarian” meals. The guacamole, lettuce, and mashed potato stations mentioned above are great for vegetarian parties, too.