Reaching out to the younger generation.
We did a live experiment by having four non-vegetarian 8- and 9-year-old boys to an overnight vegan birthday party. Interestingly, there were zero problems with our kid-friendly menu. For dinner, we had pasta, corn on the cob, and garlic bread, with each child (of course) wanting his pasta served differently. The vegan took his with tomato sauce; one boy wanted his plain; another only wanted his with butter, though he was happy with New Balance trans fat-free margarine, as long as he called it butter; another requested the sauce on the side; and the fifth needed his pasta with soy sauce.
Though we had lots of 'junk' ready to put out, the children were happy with pretzels and veggie sticks, and no one asked for carbonated beverages, just the water and the juices offered. The vegan cake was a huge hit. It was actually made using a Duncan Hines mix and Ener-G egg replacer. Last year, we served Nancy Berkoff's vegan cake recipe from Vegan in Volume, which also was a treat for the children. It held together even better than the Duncan Hines cake. We also have other cake recipes on our website at <www.vrg.org/recipes/vegancakes.htm>.
For breakfast, we provided cut-up fruit (which was devoured), Whole Foods and Van's vegan mini-waffles, toasted mini-bagels, and (at the kids' request) leftovers from dinner the night before. At other times, we have successfully served Tofutti Cuties, Morningstar Farms burgers, Lightlife Hotdogs, and Amy's Toaster Pops to meat-eating children, usually with requests for more.
Though our birthday party menu sounds relatively simple, it worked with these kids. We think a positive attitude, a simple menu, and refraining from making a big deal out of the foods being vegan or vegetarian works best. Similarly, we have found that going ethnic with Chinese or Italian cuisine usually pleases most meat-eaters more than having them try what they consider unusual natural foods. If people are used to gourmet meals, there is a grand array of vegetarian foods to please their palates. If people want simplicity, then that's okay, too.
Thank you to everyone--the food companies, wholesalers, retailers, vegetarian groups, activists, donors, volunteers, parents, teachers, researchers, scientists, health professionals, vegetarian kids, and others--for taking on their very different yet undeniably important roles in making our world a more vegetarian place. You are assisting vegetarian families today and changing the world for generations of human and non-human animals to come.
Debra Wasserman & Charles Stahler
Coordinators of The Vegetarian Resource Group
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|Title Annotation:||Note from the Coordinators|
|Author:||Wasserman, Dedra; Stahler, Charles|
|Date:||Oct 1, 2007|
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