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A small percentage of the world's population, estimated at approximately two percent, is vegan. They eat a diet without any animal products at all, and may also pursue animal-free sources of cosmetics and clothing. Having vegans over to dinner can be intimidating if you are used to relying heavily on animal products for food sources. With a little ingenuity, you can surprise and delight guests with a feast that may also be able to please the appetites of your meat eating guests as well.
When you are preparing a vegan dinner, there are two primary routes to take. The first is to make a dinner with fake animal products made from soy, nuts, or wheat. Most grocery stores carry soy products fashioned to look and taste like turkey, sausages, ground beef, and a variety of other animal products. Cheeses and milks from soy and an assortment of nuts can also be obtained. Your second option is to cook a dinner without any approximation of animal products: for example, a vegan Chinese or Indian dinner relying on vegetables and grains.
If you want to make a dinner that is familiar for meat eaters, you may want to choose the fake meat route. It is entirely possible to make a completely vegan Thanksgiving meal, for example, with a few small changes. Tofurky or a similar product could be used for the centerpiece of the meal, while you could make mashed potatoes with the assistance of a nut milk and margarine. Sides such as vegetables and cranberry sauce can be easily and quickly made vegan.
For some transitioning vegans, a meal with fake meat products can be very welcome. Many meat eaters also find themselves enjoying approximations of the animal products they love, and the dinner can spur interest and conversation as well as being nutritious and tasty. You can get ideas from the soy aisle at the grocery store, or from the websites of companies that produce artificial meat products. You might find yourself surprised with the range of interesting things on offer.
Ethnic meals without animal products also have their place. India and China have a long vegan and vegetarian history which has resulted in creative and delicious cuisine. Cookbooks for these nations are easy to find, or you can search the Internet for recipes. Vegan Indian food typically incorporates fresh vegetables, protein in the form of chickpeas, and grains such as lentils and rice. Many Indian breads and pastries ranging from naan to samosas are also suitable for vegans. Traditional Chinese cuisine relies heavily on vegetables both fresh and pickled, along with soy products such as tempeh and tofu.
There are also a number of vegan desserts, including dairy free ice cream and baked goods, although you can also make your own. Many cookbooks and websites specialize in vegan dessert recipes which you can experiment with in the days leading to your dinner party. In the summer, sorbet and fresh fruit might be sufficient and greatly enjoyed by all. At other times, you might want to experiment with vegan baking, which substitutes a few simple cooking tricks for the animal products traditionally used in baked goods.
An ethnic meal may be the best route for a good cook who wants to offer a vegan meal. Vegan Indian cuisine, for instance, starts with the premise of a vegan lifestyle, and emphasizes hearty, filling dishes. The other advantage of ethnic cuisines is that they are spicy and savory. Sometimes, novice vegan cooks do not know how to season dishes without meat, and the ethnic dishes solve this problem.
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