vegan dietary rules and how to cater to them

Vegan Diet Etiquette: 4 Rules For Guests And Hosts​

who this class is for

Waiters and hospitality staff, House-party hosts, Guests on a vegan diet

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About this micro-class

Vegan diet etiquette is the set of rules to appropriately plan a menu and manage the dining experience for guests on a vegan diet.

1. Be prepared to tend to your vegan guests

A vegan diet is a lifestyle diet. Following a vegan diet is most often a personal choice rather than one driven by health or religious concerns.

Vegan diets are usually stricter than vegetarian ones, as they exclude any food derived from animals.

There are some stricter or more flexible interpretations. Some vegans may include or exclude some foods due to health, personal, or other concerns.

2. Plan a safe vegan menu and dining experience

Avoid traces of non-vegan foods and cross-contamination

Follow cooking etiquette principles to cook food safely and avoid cross-contamination. Designate specific utensils, cutting boards, and cooking surfaces for vegan dishes.

Create a transparent vegan menu

Clearly mark all the dishes or items on the menu that are 100% vegan. Label them with a recognized symbol or statement. Make detailed ingredient lists available to customers or guests upon request.

Serve each food on its dedicated plate

Allow your vegan guests to pick the foods they can eat and avoid the ones they cannot eat. 

Avoid serving multiple foods on the same plate. Instead, try to separate them. Assign a plate to each food or ingredient. Serve condiments and sauces separately from food. Present each food with its serving utensils.

Include safe options for your vegan guests

Some foods are appropriate for most diets. Plan some safe dishes that almost any guest will be able to eat. For instance, baked potatoes or salad are safe options for most guests.

Be open to accomodate any special needs of your vegan guests

Offer ingredient substitutions whenever possible to accommodate guests on a vegan diet. Be transparent about potential substitutions and any extra costs involved.

Be open to customizing dishes and offering a vegan version. Clearly communicate any limitations in customization due to the nature of the dish or kitchen processes.

Avoid foods that are not appropriate for vegan diets


Any type of meat is not vegan, regardless of the production method, the animal, or any other factor. Beef, veal, pork, chicken, poultry, and venison should all be excluded from a vegan menu.

However, substitute meat is allowed, such as seitan or meat made from vegetables.

Fish and seafood

Fish or seafood are commonly excluded from a vegan diet.

Similarly, any product derived from fish or seafood is not vegan, such as caviar, bottarga, fish spread, or fish oil.

Dairy products and cheese

Milk, dairy products, and cheese are not allowed on a vegan menu. In most interpretations, such products are not allowed as they are derived from animals.

However, milk and dairy substitutes are allowed, such as soy milk or almond milk.

Eggs and honey

Most vegans do not eat eggs. Eggs derive from animals, thus they are excluded.

Honey is debated. Strict vegan diets exclude honey, as it derives from bees and thus is not vegan. However, more flexible vegan diets may allow honey.

Vegetables, fruits, and tree nuts

Usually, vegans eat all types of vegetables and fruits. 

Some people may exclude some fruits or vegetables, often due to sustainability concerns such as avocado or banana.


In general, vegans can eat any type of grain, such as pasta, couscous, quinoa, and amaranth. The same applies to bakery products and bread.

However, bread or bakery products are not vegan if they include any animal product in their ingredients. For instance, fresh pasta made from eggs is not vegan, so are croissants made with butter.

The same rules apply to pizza. Pizza is vegan unless some of the toppings or ingredients are excluded foods. For instance, any pizza with cheese or mozzarella is not vegan.

Condiments and sauces

Oil, vinegar, salt, and spices are vegan. 

However, any condiment of animal origin is not vegan. Animal fat is always excluded. Sauces that include milk, cream, or dairy are not vegan. Butter, fish oil such as anchovy sauce, or similar products are not vegan too.

Sweets and desserts

In general, vegans can eat any type of sweets or dessert. 

However, sweets or desserts are not vegan if they involve any animal product in their making, such as any pie made with eggs, milk, or dairy.

For instance, tiramisù is made with mascarpone and thus is not vegan. Gelato, ice cream, or milkshakes are not vegan unless they are made without animal milk.

Drinks and alcoholic beverages

Vegan diets usually allow most beverages, such as soft drinks, beer, wine, and spirits. 

Cocktails are generally allowed unless they include some ingredients that vegans do not eat, such as milk, cream, honey, or eggs.

The same rules apply to coffee or tea. Plain coffee and tea are vegan. Coffee and tea with milk, cream, or honey are not vegan.

3. Politely ask your vegan guests about their food restrictions

At home

It is perfect etiquette to ask your vegan guests about their dietary restrictions. Vegan diets differ and may include or exclude different foods.

In written formal invitations, it is sufficient to ask guests to inform the hosts about any dietary requirements. In informal invitations, a simple “Do you follow any diet or have any dietary restrictions?” works. Another option is to ask if guests avoid any food. 

Never judge or question someone’s dietary restrictions. Avoid asking additional questions, such as why someone follows a diet. Some guests may be uncomfortable sharing their food restrictions.


Hospitality staff should encourage guests to communicate their food allergies or intolerances when making reservations and upon arrival. 

Waiters should ask about food allergies before taking orders, and convey this information to the kitchen.

4. Etiquette for vegan guests

Clearly communicate your food restrictions

Clearly state with your host that you follow a vegan diet and have dietary restrictions.

Do not expect a change in the menu based on your needs. As a guest, you do not want to sound entitled. Instead, you can ask if there may be some vegan options for you. 

Do not expect the host to accommodate your requests. However, any considerate host will feel compelled to adjust the menu to your needs.

Politely refuse food that you do not eat

If the host serves a type of food that you do not eat, simply avoid it. If the host or another guest explicitly offers such food to you, politely refuse it. It is enough to say “no, thank you”. 

Provide additional details only if someone asks you. Be brief and avoid annoying others with your dietary restrictions.

Do not pressure others

Do not expect others to adjust their menu or diet to your dietary restrictions. Similarly, at a restaurant, do not expect the other guests to change their food order.

Vegan etiquette mistakes

The worst etiquette mistakes for a host are: 

  • Not accommodating vegan guests’ needs that are due to their food restrictions.
  • Using the same kitchenware with different foods.
  • Asking personal dietary questions.

The worst etiquette mistakes for vegan guests are: 

  • Not communicating your dietary restrictions to the host.
  • Pressuring others.
  • Sharing unsolicited details about your diet.

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