If you’re vegan, you might worry that attending a traditional wedding in the Midwest would create an eating challenge for you. You would pack your trail mix and energy bars, and practice your answers to the never-ending questions: “Have you tried the roast beef?” “Why aren’t you eating?” “Oh, can’t you just relax this one day? There’s a chicken dish—that’s vegetarian!”
Well, you might actually be able to relax. I was lucky enough to attend one of those traditional Midwestern weddings yesterday, and I didn’t bring so much as a single peanut.
Even though many of the older aunts and uncles were long-term meat-eaters, the rehearsal dinner and wedding reception were all 100% vegan. I liked how the bride and groom didn’t make a big deal out of it. They simply assumed that their loved ones would enjoy the delicious vegan food and be respectful about it.
The night before the wedding they served a huge meal of “Cincinnati Chili.” This is chili served over noodles, with grated cheese, chopped onions, oyster crackers and pinto beans as toppings. All were done vegan. They also served appetizers of bruschetta (recipe below), hummus and guacamole and chips, fresh fruit, and one more regional specialty: Cream cheese with red pepper jelly poured over top. At least I think it’s regional. I’d never had it before and I’d never been to Cincinnati so I’ve labeled it a Cincinnati specialty.
The groom’s father made an incredible Greek salad with marinated tofu in place of the feta.
Desserts were an assortment of fresh fruit pies, made by a family friend who has a pie business in the South. She drove up with 18 peach, blackberry, and apple pies in her back seat—made from scratch, made with fruit from her trees, and made vegan for the occasion. There were also cookies and pineapple upside down cake.
The wedding reception was catered. The appetizers were amazing. Assorted sushi, grilled kebobs with new potatoes and seitan, finger sandwiches with tofu egg salad and BBQ. Vegan wines and beer, a stunning bride in a non-silk dress, and a luscious vegan wedding cake sat while we all enjoyed the entrée buffet: “Turkey” tetrazzini, enchilada pie, salad with yummy dressings, garlic bread, and more grilled seitan.
I don’t have to tell you how much I enjoyed the food. The icing on the cake, though, was the positive attitudes of the guests. Everyone there complimented the food, asked questions about how it was made, went up for seconds, and made comments like, “Oh, I’ve been trying to cut back on meat…I know I should…” and, “You’ve been vegan for how long? Wow, that’s great, I know I should clean up my diet,” and, “KFC Canada is adding a vegan item? Really?? That’s great! If it comes to the US I’ll try it, the food at this wedding is delicious and I’d love to try more vegan stuff!”
I don’t know how much of the compliments were from the bride and groom’s great attitudes (and their parents), and how much was from our changing society. Ellen and Portia’s vegan wedding was just on the cover of People the week before this wedding, the word “vegan” is all over, there’s more yummy vegan food on the market than ever before, and it’s a lot easier to both eat vegan and discuss vegan. Whatever the cause, an event I thought would be stressful turned into an absolute blast of a weekend.
If you have a wedding in your future, I hope you’ll stick to your guns and make it vegan, no matter what anyone says. It’s *your* wedding, it’s easy to do these days, and it will be fabulous vegan outreach for animals!
The recipe below, for vegan bruschetta, is a great all-purpose appetizer. All the guests raved about it at the wedding. It’s easy to make and easy to serve.
Bruschetta with Pesto and Tomatoes
1 batch pesto (below)
1 loaf French bread, sliced and lightly toasted
2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced in half moons
1 block vegan mozzarella (optional)
1 jar vegan parmesan (optional)
–Toast the bread slices before making the bruschetta. You can even toast them the day before.
–Spread each piece of bread with a layer of pesto. Top with a tomato slice. Sprinkle with either (or both) of the cheeses, if you’re using (try without first—the pesto is really good on it’s own!).
–Serve cold like that, or put under the broiler for 2-3 minutes if you’d like. Enjoy right away!
2 bunches basil
2 bunches Italian parsley
1 and ½ cup mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds, sun seeds, pine nuts)
½ cup nutritional yeast
6 whole garlic cloves
2 tsp salt (at least)
½ tsp pepper (at least)
¼ cup lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (at least)
–In a food processor, process the nuts and garlic until finely minced.
–Add the herbs, yeast, salt, pepper, lemon juice and process.
–Pour in the olive oil while it’s mixing and stop the machine when it’s the consistency you like (depending on what you’re using it for, you may want it thick and chunky or very smooth and thin).
–Taste and adjust the seasoning. It’s a very personal thing, so follow your taste buds and add more salt if you want, or more lemon or more nutritional yeast.
–Cover tightly and keep in the fridge.
–It freezes well, make extra!