How to cater to vegan, vegetarian holiday guests

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Family disagreements are very common during the holidays, but there’s one simple thing you can do to take one of the topics off the menu: cater to your vegan or vegetarian loved ones.

At vegetarian restaurant Crave and Co. in Harrisburg, owner Kristen Messner-Baker has felt left out of her fair share of dinner parties.

“One time I did go somewhere and they said, ‘Kristy’s a vegetarian,’ and they gave me chicken,” she said.

Like the millions of vegetarians in the U.S., she’s made do.

“You might just prepare your own thing and bring it along,” she said.

But during the holidays, she looks forward to food bringing her family together – not starting beef.

“They’re probably going to feel hungry, but in addition to feeling hungry they may feel left out,” Psychologist Dr. Vincent Berger said.

Dr. Berger is a vegetarian himself.

“By isolating a person or making them feel excluded, it can aggravate feelings of depression this time of year,” he said.

He brings up a simple solution: ask each of your guests if they have a dietary restriction.

“The idea is to share the joy, share the good feelings, and that’s one of the ways to do it, is to check with people,” Berger said.

They might even have some recipe ideas – like Kristen gave us.

“Beans and grains,” she said. “A lot of vegetable dishes and pastas and things like that.”

It’s a little more difficult for your vegan guests who cannot have cheese, milk or butter. Kristen suggests getting vegan butter for flavor and serving tofu or tempeh as meat alternatives.

It is also important to think about people with other dietary restrictions, like diabetes or gluten-intolerance, so everyone can have full bellies and full hearts at the table.

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