Most of us are making plans for our Thanksgiving dinners. But what if one of your guests is vegetarian? Don't panic. I'm here to help:
First, be careful about the vegetarian label. There are different types of vegetarians: vegans eat no animal products at all, complete vegetarians don't eat red meat, fish, or poultry, and partial vegetarians might eat chicken but not red meat or pork.
Avoid the urge to shop special for a vegetarian guest. Just because someone is a vegetarian doesn't mean they eat tofu and soy protein foods, just like all meat-eaters don't like veal or liver. Many of the meat substitute products are really good and others are barely edible. Unless you know what your guest prefers, I would stick to foods you normally make.
You should still eat your turkey. People who choose to be vegetarian do so for a variety of reasons. When I was pregnant meat made me sick and so I just stopped eating it. I found other foods to replace it and never saw the need to start again. Over the years I have developed more of an animal rights perspective, but that is for another post. The key is respect - I won't bring up how the turkey is raised and prepared if you don't make an issue of me not eating him.
Don't worry about feeding me a complete dinner. If all I eat is mashed potatoes and stuffing that's ok. I love stuffing. Most vegetarians do not get all of the right nutrients in a single meal anyway. We look at the whole day, so I will make up the difference somewhere along the way - probably by adding my beta-carotene through a double slice of pumpkin pie or loading my broccoli with cheese for protein. What? Vegetarians do it too - it's all about the balance....
If you are the type of host who must go the extra mile for your guest, or you really want to make your vegetarian guest feel extra special welcome, just ask ahead of time. Most vegetarians are happy to share the things they prefer, and many will offer to bring a dish to add to the feast. The key to making all of your guests feel comfortable is to keep the focus on celebrating all of the things we have to be thankful for like spending the holidays together.