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Vegans and vegetarians

June 18, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

As a vegan, Erien Frazier's dietary habits sometimes force her out of the food loop at meat-eater-dominated dinner parties and other social gatherings, she says.

"A lot of times you just have to pass or wait until later," says Frazier, who owns the all-vegetarian Black Manna Caf in Hagerstown. "But it's OK to miss a meal every once in a while."

Perhaps, but entertaining vegetarian and vegan guests can be as easy as throwing together a fruit or vegetable salad, making lentil soup or whipping up a tasty hummus dip, Frazier says.

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While vegetarians avoid flesh foods, vegans also avoid dairy and eggs - as well as fur, leather, wool, down, and cosmetics or chemical products tested on animals, according to the Vegan Action Web site at www.vegan.org.

Some vegans also refuse to eat honey, says Elizabeth King, a vegan whose family owns The Blue Moon Caf in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

"You really have to look at the ingredients on everything," she says. "It's pretty impossible to eat packaged foods."

Even many packaged food products marketed as vegetarian fare contain whey as a natural preservative. Vegans won't eat whey because it's derived from milk, King says.

A few safe bets for vegan and vegetarian guests include tofu dishes, raw vegetable trays and black beans with rice, she says. Tofu is especially handy because it can be marinated in its own bowl of teriyaki or other vegan-safe sauce while meats marinate separately in the same sauce, King says.

Frazier suggests crumbling tofu into vegetable lasagna and barbecuing sliced tofu on the grill or in the oven. Vegetarian chili, sloppy joes made with tempeh instead of ground beef and pinto bean burritos are also easy-to-make vegan and vegetarian dishes, according to the Vegan Outreach Web site at www.veganoutreach.com.

For those who prefer not to tango with tofu - or cook from scratch at all - a variety of ready-made vegetarian and vegan foods are available at local supermarkets. Keeping a box of nonmeat burgers or dogs in the freezer or a packet of dehydrated vegan soup in the pantry could mean the difference between an all-inclusive dinner party and one that ignores the dietary preferences of some guests.

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