Catering for vegetarian children at a party raises challenges. How do you produce a diverse range of foods without putting off meat eaters? How do you mix and match in this way, and what kinds of food can be enjoyed by everyone? The first thing to remember is that vegetarian food does not differ too much from typical food at kids parties. You often just have to substitute meat for vegetarian options in fillings, while making sure that certain foods do not contain animal byproducts such as gelatine. The following list gives some ideas for the kinds of food you should try, and what to avoid.
If serving up a buffet that can be picked at during the day, rest assured that virtually all types of crisps, pretzels and nuts are suitable for vegetarians. Similarly, bread and dips like hummus and sour cream are fine for children. Sandwiches and vegetarian spreads are also suitable, although you may want to check the back of some spreads to check that they don’t contain any animal byproducts. Tofu bites and yoghurt are also recommended.
Vegetables like carrot sticks are usually popular at any party, and can be combined with cheese and onion sticks as part of dips. Check to see if any cheeses have been prepared in animal fat. One of the key things to remember about catering for vegetarian children is that many will not want food that has been mixed in with meat, so try to separate plates as carefully as possible. Also check to see if individual children will eat fish.
When serving larger plates and meals, most savoury and spicy foods will be fine. Shish kebabs with different fruits and vegetables are recommended, as are peanut butter noodles and potato salads (made without mayonnaise). Roasted chickpeas can also be served with sauces. Meat substitutions like veggie bacon and tofurkey represent similarly strong choices, but be careful if mixing with actual meat. Vegetarian sausage rolls are also good choices for this approach.
Vegetarian pizzas can be a great idea for getting children involved in toppings. Cheese and tomato pizzas are probably the best bet, although these can be supplemented with mushrooms, and olives. Another pizza option is an English muffin pizza, which can be topped and grilled during the party. Spicier nachos and samosas represent similarly fun ways of increasing the range of food at a party.
OKMost desserts will be fine for vegetarian children, but should always be checked for gelatine. This caution is particularly important for sweets, ice creams, and jellies. Many manufacturers produce vegetarian and vegan versions of their sweets, while others, like Jelly Belly jelly beans, are produced to meet these specific requirements. Homemade cakes and vegan cup cakes that don’t use eggs can be a similarly strong choice, as can most kinds of chocolate. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is to check menu choices with parents beforehand, and to keep an eye on any labels to avoid accidentally including non vegetarian options.
Guest Blogger, Christina Appleworth
Proud mother of 2 vegetarian children, Christina has 8 years experience in catering at kids parties. Any parent of a vegetarian or vegan child will worry when their child attends a party as the majority of people will not specifically cater for vegetarian/vegan kids. More importantly, the child may also worry as they may not be sure what they can or cannot consume. My guides to party catering aim to improve the awareness of catering for vegetarian/vegan kids and demonstrate how simple the process can be!