I count myself very fortunate to have been surrounded by open-minded and supportive individuals throughout my vegan journey (also known as: life). Most of the time if I make or eat anything vegan, people are happy to try and usually enjoy it as much as – if not more – than their non-vegan equivalent.
So when I first went vegan aged about 16, I knew there would be no issue with me offering to serve up a vegan dessert at our next family gathering. (I don’t think anyone would even have noticed; making a choice to not eat certain foods isn’t really something that happens in my family, so if they saw me tucking into a cheesecake after announcing I was going animal-free nobody would really have put two and two together.)
I don’t know if food blogs, or vegan food blogs, were much of a thing ten years ago – but if they were, I relied on access to the family computer and I think my priority at the time was MySpace, so I certainly never discovered the world of recipe blogging. So VegWeb became my go-to for vegan recipes, and I trawled through endless lists of similar-sounding user-submitted recipes in the hope of finding one that sounded appealing, contained ingredients I could easily get hold of in Luxembourg, and seemed straightforward.
Miraculously, I have managed to dig up the original recipe for the banana-nut oatmeal cookies which, thanks to the handwritten copy I have stored since then in what was meant to become a recipe folder, are still my go-to after nine years. Now that I know the original is still alive and well, I should probably add the source to the recipe I blogged two years ago.
I remember making those cookies to share with new friends and future housemates in my first year of university, and in my third year I make some (including a chocolate incarnation) to share with Thai boxing coaches and team-mates after a 10k we took part in together.
Unfortunately, I can’t find the other recipe I got from VegWeb about the same time, which would have been either the first or second vegan baked good I made to share with non-vegans. It was a simple apple crumble pie, similar to this one I would imagine, but it was so good and surprisingly easy to put together – and I was just so proud to be serving my own homemade dessert to the family!
I honestly can’t remember anything about how the recipe came together, but I have a feeling I used the same mixture for the base and for the crumble topping. I certainly don’t remember making a pie crust. I would have simply pressed the mix into some sort of pie dish, topped with apple (chunks? slices?) and then with the remaining mixture.
As predicted, nobody questioned what was on their plates, and I came away resolving to make that dish regularly for anyone and everyone. Needless to say, I have never made it since.
My only real experience of cooking on a larger scale for non-vegans was at some point in university – presumably at the start of my third year, when I had a) gone vegan and b) vaguely learnt how to cook – I invited some schoolfriend over to my (parents’) house for a Christmas dinner party. I dressed our dining room table in festive colours and with two sets of plates and cutlery, and I served up three seasonal-themed courses: the starter was a plate of four homemade oatcakes topped with red cabbage, cooked leeks, and two other toppings I can’t remember; the main a nut roast with roast veggie trimmings; and for dessert I made some coconut parfaits which I served with that ginger loaf I talked about in Day 12‘s post.
I was really proud of everything I had cooked, and had a fun time doing all the festive things with my friends seeing as my family don’t really do a very traditional Christmas, but I was a bit disappointed that I was the only one who cleared my plate – but then I do tend to eat a lot more than most people I have encountered. As much as I enjoyed it all, I was just far too anxious about whether anyone was enjoying their food and their evening to be in a hurry to repeat the dinner party experience.
These days, there are two recipes I never hesitate to bring to an omnivorous gathering: those banana-nut oatmeal cookies, and some variation of thumb-print cookies. The first time I heard about thumb-print cookies was from Angela Liddon, but as I am incapable of following a recipe I would have make several substitutions according to what I had on hand and the steps I could be bothered to take.
Probably the best experience of sharing food with omnivores came from a summer pot-luck at a friend’s house, to which I brought a simple pasta salad. I only made a small bowl, figuring that nobody would be that interested in a vegetable-filled wholemeal pasta salad and that if there was nothing else for me to eat that could be my dinner.
I put all the things I love in there: roasted aubergine, mushrooms and zucchini; sun-dried tomato; pine nuts; and fresh basil from the garden. Turns out, they were all the things everyone else loved… That bowl was one of the first to be emptied! I was so proud!
Looking back, I guess I have shared quite a lot of food with non-vegans, but it has never felt like a big deal. I’m so grateful to have been surrounded with open-minded omnivores who are as happy to try my food as they are to cook a vegan meal or dish that everyone can share with me. If you’re reading this, you know who you are ❤
P.S. If anyone is ever at a loss to cook anything for a non-vegan… The snickerdoodles from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar are nothing short of world-changing!