Vegetarian or Vegan Dinner Guests: Side Dishes or Separate Main Course?

When hosting a dinner party, it’s important to consider the dietary preferences and restrictions of your guests. This is especially true when you have guests who are vegetarian or vegan. The question often arises: should you offer them only side dishes, or should you prepare a separate main course for their meal? The answer to this question can vary depending on a number of factors, including the complexity of the meal, the number of guests, and the dietary restrictions of the individual. In this article, we will explore both options and provide some guidance on how to best accommodate your vegetarian or vegan guests.

Understanding Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Before we delve into the specifics, it’s important to understand what vegetarian and vegan diets entail. Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry, or fish, but may consume dairy products and eggs. Vegans, on the other hand, do not consume any animal products or by-products, including dairy and eggs. Therefore, when preparing a meal for a vegetarian or vegan guest, it’s crucial to ensure that all ingredients meet these criteria.

Offering Side Dishes

One approach to accommodating vegetarian or vegan guests is to offer a variety of side dishes that are suitable for their diet. This can be a practical solution, especially if the main course is meat-based and you’re not comfortable or familiar with preparing a separate vegetarian or vegan main dish. However, it’s important to ensure that these side dishes are substantial and varied enough to constitute a full meal. This could include a mix of grains, vegetables, legumes, and salads.

Preparing a Separate Main Course

Another approach is to prepare a separate main course for your vegetarian or vegan guests. This can be a great way to show your guests that you’ve taken their dietary preferences into consideration and can also provide an opportunity to experiment with new recipes. There are countless vegetarian and vegan recipes available online that are both delicious and satisfying. However, this option may require more time and effort, especially if you’re not familiar with vegetarian or vegan cooking.


In conclusion, whether you choose to offer side dishes or prepare a separate main course for your vegetarian or vegan guests largely depends on your comfort level in the kitchen and the preferences of your guests. The most important thing is to communicate with your guests beforehand to understand their dietary restrictions and preferences. This will ensure that everyone feels included and can enjoy the meal.


Regardless of the approach you choose, remember that the goal is to make your guests feel welcome and included. By taking the time to accommodate their dietary needs, you’re showing them that you value their presence at your table.