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The Value Guru and the Case of the Vegetarian Guest

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I was talking to my friend Liza Burke the other day. She's Marketing Team Leader at our store in Memphis. Every year she sits at the Whole Foods Market holiday table and without fail she gets frantic hosts that just found out "my niece and her boyfriend are coming for a holiday meal and they are VEGETARIAN!" I thought it would be great to share Liza's story and her tips on the subject, so, without further ado, heeeerrrre's Liza!For years my adoring grandmother thought that the only thing a vegetarian could possibly eat was raw broccoli and plain pasta without any sauce. And after helping her make Thanksgiving dinner, I understood why. Everything had meat in it! The stuffing had giblets, the mashed potatoes were made with chicken stock and the green beans were made with ham. To her, meat was an essential seasoning. If you are in this boat, or simply don't know what to serve your vegetarian guest, let me lend a hand.

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For starters, realize that there's no reason to spend a fortune on serving one guest. I often see customers leaving with $50 worth of food just to feed the one vegetarian. It's not necessary. Vegetarian ingredients are budget friendly!Next, you will want to know exactly what "vegetarian" means to your specific guest(s). For example, "vegan" means not only no meat, but no dairy or honey either. The tricky thing is that some unlikely ingredients aren't vegan, such as some white sugars that are processed using animal bone. Even some soy and rice dairy alternatives have casein in them which is milk derived. If you are serving vegans, your best bet is to go with labels that say "vegan." We can help you find them!"Lacto ovo" is a type of vegetarian that doesn't eat meat, but does eat eggs and dairy. They are a breeze to serve because dishes such as mashed potatoes and many vegetable dishes are vegetarian friendly if you refrain from using animal-based ingredients or meat (including chicken broth!). If your secret family recipe includes meat ingredients, you may be able to set a small portion aside before adding those ingredients.Here are some quick tips for including vegetarian options in your holiday meal:Think about what you're already making. It is likely that most of your sides are or can be vegetarian/vegan friendly. No need to make a separate meal when yours can feed meat eaters and vegetarians alike!Visit wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes and check out The Whole Deal for some of the best vegetarian and vegan recipes you can find. All of our recipes are labeled for special diets and are searchable by category.Don't worry about our meal emulating yours. If you're having turkey and stuffing, don't think we have to have a turkey substitute and vegetarian stuffing. How about stuffed winter squash or vegetable lasagna instead?

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Think it through. Vegetarianism is generally a fundamental value for those who practice it. My grandmother was notorious for saying "oh you can eat this-it only has a little meat in it." If you use animal ingredients, be sure you let your vegetarian know. It's likely that they will taste it if you don't, and it could make them ill.Remember dessert! It's a classic oversight to forget the vegetarian at dessert time, and then feel like a bad host. Ask us for ideas. We even have vegan whipped cream.Try it! If you taste some of the vegetarian food you're creating, I assure you it will take some of the stigma out of it.Rely on us. As always, we're here to help you make your dinner delicious, affordable and suitable for all. Don't hesitate to ask. You're going to be the host/hostess with the mostest, no doubt about it.

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