As a vegan lifestyle coach and educator, I can talk to anyone about veganism from whatever angle I think they will be receptive to, whether animal rights, individual health or the environmental issues. However, I have learned that no matter how much information I share with people and how much they seem to absorb, more often than not they will reply with, “But I just couldn’t give up _______.” The takeaway from this for me is that, as long as people know they don’t need to give up any of their favorite foods, they will be more open to veganism.
An easy way to teach omnivores that they won’t miss anything by going vegan and that no special skill is required to cook vegan food is to set up a food bar. What is even better is that aside from a little prep work, you don’t have to do much cooking. The easiest foods to do this with, and ones that most people like, are pizza, tacos/fajitas, and ice cream.
To set up a pizza bar, all you need to do is get some store bought pizza crusts, sauce, and an assortment of toppings. In addition to vegetables, make sure you have plenty of vegan pepperoni, beefless crumbles and vegan sausage available. Of course, you will want a selection of vegan cheeses as well. Your friends will be surprised when they see all the vegan meats available. Let everyone make his or her own pizza, then all you have to do is toss them in the oven for a few minutes to cook. Leave the boxes/packages the vegan meats come in out for your guests to look at. Let them know you got them at your local grocery store. The more you can show how readily available vegan products are, the better the chances are that your friends will get them.
To set up a taco/fajita bar get some small tortillas for soft tacos and fajitas as well as taco shells for crunchy ones. Next set out all the traditional accompaniments and toppings: shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sautéed peppers and onions, diced raw onion, salsa, guacamole, and shredded vegan cheese. For the meat, simply sauté some beefless crumbles with packaged taco seasoning and heat up some Southwest Seasoned Beyond Meat Chickless Strips. Let your guests assemble their tacos/fajitas. Don’t forget to let your guests see the packages the vegan meats and cheese came in. You can even buy premade salsa and guacamole to make preparing this meal easier.
To set up an ice cream bar all you need is a variety of vegan ice creams and all the toppings you could imagine: mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, cherries, nuts, chocolate sauce, hot fudge, caramel sauce, marshmallow crème, and whipped topping. Let your friends see that there are vegan versions of all of their favorite ice cream toppings, that taste as good, if not better than, the non-vegan ones. Set them out in the containers so that they can see you bought them, rather than made them. This helps reinforce the idea that you can buy all of these things.
People want to eat what is familiar. Give them vegan versions of their favorite foods and they will be more likely to consider going vegan, or at least adding more plant-based alternatives to their diets. And every time they do, that is another animal saved.
Michael Suchman, VLCE is the Co-Founder of Vegan Mos (www.veganmos.com), a blog that promotes veganism by sharing original recipes for delicious vegan food, and shows the intersection between animal rights and LGBT rights. Vegan Mos was picked as one of VegNews’ Top 10 Male Vegan Blogs of 2015. When not running the show at Chelsea Foot and Ankle (www.chelseafootandankle.com), Michael can be found either in the kitchen trying out new recipes, watching Dr. Who, or binge watching shows on Netflix. After practicing in the field of Corporate Litigation for 12 years, he was tired of representing corporations over the interests of individuals. Since then, he has come to recognize that the law needs to work more on helping all individuals, regardless of species. Michael is a Main Street Vegan-certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator and serves on the board of directors for Our Hen House (ourhenhouse.org). He lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with his husband Ethan and their vegan dogs, Riley and Charlie.