Although the idea of going completely vegan doesn’t appeal to me, I like to cook plant-based meals for my vegan friends when they stop by for dinner. I respect their values and lifestyle choices and try to please them with healthy and clean meals. Except for excluding meat, dairy, eggs, and fish for these meals, I was surprised to find out that some foods I thought are vegan-safe are actually not. Therefore I had to find a suitable vegan-friendly alternative for these.
Choosing the Right Drink
There is no doubt that a glass or two of wine can make certain ordinary moments more special, so whenever I have friends over I like to pop a bottle of wine. For a long time I believed that wine is completely vegan, after all, isn’t this booze made completely from grapes? Apparently not, and this has to do with how the wine is clarified – a process called ‘fining’.
Why Is Wine Not Vegan?
All young wines are hazy and contain tiny molecules that with time will self-stabilize and self-fine. But many wine lovers like them clear and bright so conventional wine producers use fining agents to speed the process. Some of these fining agents have animal origin like casein (which is a milk protein), albumin (egg whites), gelatin (animal protein) and isinglass (fish bladder protein). These can be absorbed into the wine during the fining process. Luckily, there is a safe alternative – vegan friendly wine.
What Is Vegan Wine?
Unlike the case with traditional wines, manufacturers of vegan-friendly vines take a more natural approach towards winemaking and do not filter or fine their products. That is why these can sometimes look cloudy which is certainly not a bad thing – just think how a cloudy apple or peach juice is a sign of quality. Also, when they do filter their wines, they do it with vegan-friendly fining agents such as bentonite, activated charcoal, limestone, and kaolin clay.
How to Tell If Wine Is Vegan
If a wine is vegan, then it should be clearly stated on the label ‘not fined and/or not filtered’, so always make sure to check the label and read the ingredients. Many companies are proud to label their wines as vegan, so it’s not uncommon to come across specialized physical and online stores that have a special range of vegan friendly wine.
Is Diet Soda Vegan?
An ice-cold Coca Cola and a vegan burger – it’s just the perfect combo. If you decide to treat your guests with a soft drink, then you are playing it safe. In general, vegans can drink all varieties of Coca-Cola including Diet Coke because they contain no animal-based or animal-derived products.
Choosing the Right Meal
It’s always a little scary to serve a dish at a dinner party that you haven’t tried and tested before. But you don’t have to come up with a fancy brand new meal in order to impress your guests. There is an easier route – find a vegan alternative of a meal you already know how to prepare. Nowadays just about every animal product has an almost indistinguishable vegan alternative. Milk, cheese, meat and eggs all have an equivalent.
For instance, if you are short on time and want to keep it simple, go with pasta. Lasagna is a favorite comfort food for many and even when vegan it can be delicious. Instead of cheese, you can use cashews infused with lemon and basil for a flavor. Or you can make a vegan version of a Caesar salad – salty olives can be used instead of the anchovies. The ever-reliable blended cashews step in again this time to provide the creaminess of the missing yolks.
Choosing the Right Dessert
An apple tart with rosemary and honey syrup – it’s such an easy and tasty dessert and one of my fave. It’s ready in almost no time so I used to make it very often. But the recipe includes honey, another food that I used to mistake for vegan-friendly.
Can You Eat Honey on a Vegan Diet?
Honey is produced by bees and for bees themselves – they do not make it for humans but as their own food source. When conventional farmers remove honey from a hive, they replace it with a sugar substitute which is a bad alternative for the bees’ health since it lacks essential micro-nutrients that can be found in honey.
That is why I switched honey with agave nectar and the apple tart tasted just like the real deal. The agave nectar perfectly mimics the honey in taste so no one will notice the difference.