When you entertain or visit friends you should be enjoying yourself, not worrying about your meal. I have been through this already and will give you some easy tips for being a good host…and a good guest.
As with entertaining anyone anywhere, ask people whether there’s something they don’t eat. You also might want to encourage people to bring whatever they want to eat.
Make your food visually appealing and use different textures as well like something creamy with something crunchy, with something hearty-looking, and then something light and leafy.
So far, my carnivorous friends and family members have been happy with the food I’ve cooked for them at gatherings at my place. They have been introduced to foods they never knew existed like nutritional yeast, raw buckwheat, spelt, xylitol, agave syrup, dates as sweetener, carob, cashews for cheesecakes, sour cream and mayonnaise.
We all have different taste buds so no matter how you think the food tastes, be sure to have salt, pepper and olive oil on hand. Those who feel they need an extra dash of pepper can add it if they want.
Don’t make your life difficult by pursuing perfection when it comes to visiting and social gatherings. If you’re too picky you might find yourself lonely and miserable very soon. Treat social occasions like you would when travelling and not able to eat ideally all the time.
If there is a set menu for the event (like weddings and funerals), ask the host about the menu and see whether you can combine a meal.
If you have a gathering at a restaurant, check my Dining Out post for tips and hints.
If you visit a carnivore friend or a family member who won’t prepare anything special for you, eat before you go or bring your own foods to contribute. People will appreciate this. It’s easy to prepare and take the following foods: raw candies, muffins, cookies, raw cut veggies, hummus, guacamole, nut spreads, whole grain crackers and bread.
My cheesecakes are a real hit among my family and friends. Wherever I’m invited, people expect me to bring one. It makes a nice present as well so it’s win-win: you don’t need to buy something extra and you can eat a healthy (and yummy) dessert too.
When your host is considerate and asks about your eating habits, don’t go crazy by ordering a three-course, oil-free plant-based perfectly balanced meal. Emphasize you’re not coming for the food but for the good company. Ask for simple things like a salad and tomatoes without dressing, cut veggies (carrots, bell peppers, cucumber, cauliflower) and canned beans.
A good rule is to always offer to bring something yourself so the host doesn’t have to bother too much.
The big thing about visiting is to remember not to disapprove or be patronizing towards other people’s eating habits and lifestyle: it’s their choice and they’ll change only if they want to change.
Nele Liivlaid: founder of Nutriplanet.org She has been into healthy eating for many years, but developed a more profound interest in nutrition and related diseases when she started reading The China Study and other special books on nutrition. After being in real estate and hospitality business for more than 10 years she decided to totally change her path to spread the word about healthy and sustainable nutrition and lifestyle.