5 Ways to Help Vegetarians Survive Non-Vegetarian Potlucks

Friday, September 10, 2010

A couple times a year, my office hosts a potluck luncheon. Starting with the first one I attended, I saw that they were really meat and starch fests. Everyone seemed to be content with it, so I didn’t want to criticize, but this time ‘round I DID want to bring a little something different to the table. Literally. 

Usually, I’m the veggies and dip girl, which I don’t mind. The trouble is, I end up with very little on my plate and hunting down sweets a few hours after lunch. Since our last potluck, I have become much stricter vegetarian and dabbled in veganism, so I knew I needed to come prepared. Sure, I could fill up on dinner rolls, but that’s not exactly nutritionally dense food. I like some bang for my bite. I also don't want to gorge on the dairy and egg dishes. I'm to the point where I'm trying to avoid that as much possible. Rather than the veggie tray provider I’ve been typecast as, I brought veggie chili. (Vegan, in fact, but I didn’t label it so because it was pushing my luck enough to bring meatless chili. Vegan labels might scare my co-workers off all together!) It went over well, and I didn’t end up leaving the luncheon hungry.
Are you going to a potluck? Need ideas how to manage so you aren’t left peckish due to an abundance of meats and no plants? Don't leave yourself to the mercy of others, especially because there's a great chance that they don't know your personal food preferences. Here are some ideas to get you going…
  1. Talk to the coordinator
    Make the effort to chat up whoever is coordinating the event. See if they are requesting special items, doing a sign up, or letting things go as a free for all. At least you will know what to expect when you arrive at the potluck. Thanks to asking in advance, I was comforted knowing that I would have at least a veggie side dish and fruit dessert to count on.
  2. Eat in advance
    Don't walk in on an empty stomach! You run the chance of getting irritated with lack of choices or caving in to something you normally wouldn't. My bad today...I was running on empty when I joined the luncheon and definitely made some food choices I wish I hadn't. I definitely won't do that again.
  3. Pack some extra snacks
    You don't have to bust your extra chow out in front of everyone, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have some back up snacks set aside. You know, just in case things don't work out as well as you hoped. I had a salad stashed during today's luncheon and fortunately had enough that it wasn't called for. Delicious spinach for another day...mmm...
  4. Bring a vegetarian dish
    Don't be shy! Bring a veggie dish that you know YOU will like. That way you know you have at least ONE good option there! Plus, you're doing the community good by potentially introducing them to something new. I'll admit, sometimes I'd rather be the person chipping in a few bucks or bringing the chips to the potluck, but that won't carry me very far when the actual meal comes around. I say suck it up and sign up for one of the featured dishes. My contribution today was veggie chili, something I knew I could fill up on if I needed to.
  5. Enlighten others
    You don't have to gloat about what you're eating (or rather what you're not), but don't sit facing the corner. Have a good time socializing and if someone asks you about your food choice, enlighten them. My trouble is that I get excited and start to ramble. Today I had to force myself to stay quiet when I was repeatedly offered a dessert smothered in gelatin. I wanted to tell the world what they were eating! But I didn't think that doing so while they were scarfing it down would be very appropriate timing. By playing it (mostly) cool today, I got some great feedback from my co-workers on the chili. Many of them enjoyed it and several commented on how they were surprised how good it was without meat. Go figure!  


Aubrey West @ How to Become a Vegetarian said...

Being a vegetarian is quite challenging. You need to think of what food you'll prepare that is good and healthy for you. These are great ideas! Thanks!

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