It was my birthday last week and I invited friends and family around for a vegan birthday party. Some guests were vegetarian, one was vegan but most were omnis. How did we fare?
Planning my vegan birthday party.
Initially, I decided on a vegetarian buffet. Most of the guests were omni and I’m not “fully vegan” yet. However, when I started writing my buffet menu, all of the mains were vegan. All of the sides and snacks were either vegan or could be easily veganised. I thought about adding a pizza, but there was so much on my list that I felt like I couldn’t justify it. Besides, what better way to showcase a vegan diet by giving awesome food to your family and friends?
Having just survived the chaos of moving my fiance into my home (yaay! <3) my vegan party had to be three things. Tasty because if nobody wants to eat it, there’s no point in putting food on. Easy, because it was just three days after moving Ian in and we were all still recovering. Plus, nobody wants to be slaving away on their birthday! Lastly, it had to be cheap. Moving is expensive business. Friends and family helped with the moving, but then there’s takeaways because you’re too sore to cook and the upset that comes with merging two sets of finances.
I knew that the best way to have a vegan party buffet that everyone would enjoy would be to keep to familiar foods as much as possible. I love tofu but most of my guests had probably never seen it, let alone tried it! I checked Ecosia for websites that had an accidental vegan list.
I love tofu but most of my guests had never even seen it, let alone tried it!
I was stunned at the massive range of everyday foods that were vegan. Sure, everybody knows that carrot sticks and hummus are vegan, but meat flavoured crisps? Oreos? Churros? After reading this list of accidentally vegan products, I was 100% sure that I could pull this buffet off.
My vegan party buffet list.
- Mexican rice. To save time, I used a microwave rice.
- Pesto pasta. Sacla’s Free From pesto is made with tofu and is gluten and nut free as well as vegan.
- Mini jacket potatoes with chickpeas and sweetcorn in vegan mayo. If you mash chickpeas for long enough they apparently take a tuna-like consistency. I couldn’t be bothered with that, so after a half-hearted attempt at mashing I put in some Mayola mayo and seasoning. Mini jackets taste absolutely fine cold.
- Hummus and cucumber sandwiches. I did think about doing vegan cheese sandwiches but I find vegan cheeses vary in quality so much!
- Quorn Vegan hot & spicy burgers. This is one of my regular staples, vegan birthday party or not! They were delicious, even after I left them in the oven for twice the recommended time because I was busy making potato salad!
- Vegan pizza quesadilla. A household favourite!
- Potato salad. Mayola to the rescue once again! After mixing together some Mayola and some Oatly cream, I drizzled it over some cooked cubes of potato and seasoned. Next time I’m going to try roasting the potato cubes rather then boiling them.
- Olives. Eaten almost exclusively by me. I don’t care, I love olives!
- Breadsticks. There was salsa to go with these, but I forgot to put it out and it’s still in my cupboard.
- Leafy salad. I had to get some leafy greens on the table to make me feel less guilty about the masses of fat and sugar I was about to consume.
- Baby tomatoes. Tesco Finest baby tomatoes are yellow, orange and red and are way sweeter than cherry tomatoes. These would have been home grown, but none of ours are ripe yet.
- Falafel. Probably the only food I wished I hadn’t bought. I didn’t feel strongly about them either way and they were essentially just bought because I didn’t think I had enough of everything else. I did!
- Smokey beetroot. I had originally planned on making a pink slaw but decided that I needed to simplify after leaving it until the week before to start planning anything!
- Spring rolls, onion bhajis and samosas. These were always my favourite part of any omni buffet, even when I was an omni! I’m so glad I haven’t needed to give these up. Yum!
- Garlic bread. This actually didn’t make it onto the table as I burnt it while preparing other food, but I found it in the free from freezer section.
Snacks and desserts.
- Vanilla americano jelly with Alpro vanilla ice cream. I was so proud of the jelly! It was the first time I’d ever made vegetarian jelly and I was worried I wouldn’t pull it off. Everyone who had some loved it.
- Apple strudel. I couldn’t believe it was vegan! This was probably one of my favourite finds.
- Hazelnut and chocolate Churros. I love churros so much – which is why I was peeved when I went in the freezer the next day to find they were still there. Oh well, I’ll save them for the next birthday party in October!
- Fox’s Party Rings and original Oreos. It doesn’t really get much more familiar than Fox’s Party Rings, does it?
- Old school crisps – salt & vinegar sticks and prawn cocktail snacks. I stand corrected. Salt & vinegar sticks is about as familiar as a 90s child can get.
- Snyders Jalapeno Pretzel Pieces. These are really spicy but so moreish – find them in the World Food aisle with all the American stuff.
- Vegetarian Haribo Jelly Beans and Sour Rainbow Spaghetti. I didn’t realise this until recently, but most jelly style sweets are made with the goo left behind after boiling pig or cow bones for hours on end. Why would anybody eat that? Anyway, these sweets are marked vegetarian but I couldn’t find any non-vegan ingredients listed.
- Bombay mix. Another staple of mine. I try and stay away from sugar as much as possible in daily life, so this has been my savoury go-to snack.
- A vegan lemon cheesecake from Sainsbury’s. The day before the party I started to worry that I didn’t have enough sweet food for everyone. I can’t remember the name of this cheesecake, but it was in the free from frozen section.
Did I pull off an amazing vegan birthday party?
The short answer is, YES! I managed to get all of the food ready about half an hour ahead of time. I did a short Facebook Live showing what I had on the table (it was my first – can you tell I was nervous?). I still can’t get over the fact that my voice actually sounds like that. I can’t actually listen to the video. Anyway, moving swiftly on! 😉
The food was easy, tasty and cheap but more importantly my friends and family enjoyed it. It felt so good to see the people I love coming together and enjoying food I created for them. And it wasn’t just the birthday glow. For me, there’s not much better than giving the people I love food that I’ve made. It’s one of the greatest expressions of love I can give!
For me, there’s not much better than giving the people I love food that I’ve made. It’s one of the greatest expressions of love I can give!
So yes – I forgot to bring out some of the food (because there was too much for the table) and my dad found out he didn’t like falafels. Overall? The food was well received and I was left feeling like I’d done something awesome. Only the staunch “carnivore” weirdo went home hungry (don’t worry Dad, I still love you). Mission accomplished.
Plan your own vegan birthday party.
- Plan ahead. Take some time to figure out your budget, how much time you have any any allergies you need to be aware of.
- Do some research. This Accidentally Vegan Food list from Veganuary made my party planning so much easier and Barnivore helped me choose some tasty vegan Rioja.
- Know your labels. I didn’t pick everything from the lists however – while doing my grocery shop I did some research of my own. Supermarkets still aren’t giving all vegan products proper labelling, so make sure you know what ingredients to look for.
- Don’t be afraid to ask. I was on the hunt for vegan custard doughnuts. I’ve heard legends of their existence, but alas, the ingredients were not written on the packaging. The baker at Sainsbury’s confirmed that they were not vegan, and so they stayed on the shelf.
- Be flexible. Even on my birthday I was still making last minute changes. Items were dropped from the menu, items were added to the menu, old coffee jars and chopping boards became centrepieces. I was reminded of an allergy last minute and had to move food to different areas of the table to limit cross-contamination. Being less rigid about how I did things made my life so much easier!
Are you holding a vegan birthday party? What are the vegan party foods you just can’t go without?