What Should I Bring To A Vegan Potluck?

What Should I Bring To A Vegan Potluck?

You have tons and tons of options. The variety of vegan food is endless.

Just bring something that’s 100% vegan. That’s the only requirement.
(Remember vegan = no meat, no poultry, no fish, no seafood, no dairy, no eggs, no honey. No animal products of any kind.)

Here are some ideas to get you started on what to bring to a vegan potluck:

If you have only five minutes, or if you’re nervous about cooking for others, bring…

  • …store-bought bread, muffins, or cookies. (Read the ingredients to make sure it’s vegan).
  • …a fruit plate. You can usually pick up a pre-made fruit platter from your local grocery store.
  • …a veggie platter. (Many come with nonvegan ranch, so find one without or toss the ranch and replace it with a vegan salad dressing.)
  • …fruit juice, seltzer, water, tea, or coffee.
  • …vegan wine, if allowed. For a list, check here >>
  • …napkins, plates, utensils, and cups.

If you have fifteen minutes, bring…

  • …a home-made green salad. Dress it with oil and vinegar, Italian dressing, or any number of other vegan salad dressings.
  • …a fruit salad. (No yogurt, or cottage cheese, though, please.)
  • …a bean salad.
  • …a spouted salad.
  • …dip: bean dip, pate, salsa, guacamole, etc.

If you have half an hour, bring…

If you have an hour or two, bring…

If you have all day, bring…

There’s something else you should bring to a vegan potluck if you can…
a friend!

What shouldn’t you bring to a vegan potluck? Here are some things to avoid bringing to a vegan potluck:

  1. Leather, wool, or fur: Out of respect, don’t wear a leather jacket or a fur coat. Even if it’s an old, used coat and you only wear it to reduce wastefulness, please avoid it for the potluck. Other potluck-goers may be offended and hurt if you wear animals to a vegan potluck.
  2. Honey: Even if you’re a “beegan” and don’t consider honey to be an animal product, don’t assume other vegans feel the same way.
  3. Confusion: Avoid confusing people by adding a sign. If you want to be really nice, make a little sign for your dish that lists all the ingredients. This helps people who have allergies or special dietary conditions.
  4. Faux meats: If it’s your first time, you may want to skip the faux meat or faux cheese dish. Some vegans love it, some hate it. If you choose to use faux, bring along the package so other potluck participants can verify that it’s vegan. (Believe it or not, some mean people will bring nonvegan food to vegan potlucks and ‘fool’ vegans.)
  5. Furry friends or babies: Ask the host about companion animals and children. Some potlucks will welcome them but others won’t.

For free vegan recipes, try these websites:

15 Responses to What Should I Bring To A Vegan Potluck?

  1. I’m not sure buying a veggie platter and throwing out the dairy ranch is quite something I’d think of as a recommendation for a vegan potluck… it’s kind of like going to KFC and buying chicken and mashed potatoes, then just leaving the dismembered corpse in the car. Sure, what you bring is technically within the letter of the vegan law, but it’s not within the spirit.

    ~ Recent blog post: Market Fundamentalism at http://ryanmcreynolds.blogspot.com ~

  2. No, Ryan, it’s not like going to KFC and buying chicken. It’s like buying baked potatoes and tossing the butter packets they came with. The essential part of the veggie tray is the veggies, not the ranch dressing on the side. The essential part of a baked potato is the potato. However, the essential part of the chicken dinner example you provide is the dead birds, not the side dishes. There’s a difference, and it’s important.

    Moreover, depending where you live, your vegan potlucks may differ. If you live in Portland, NYC, SF, or Austin, fine, be a purist and demand purity from all your potluck attendees. But when you live somewhere else and you have a hard time getting even 3 people to show up at vegan potlucks, well, you just have to be a little more flexible.

  3. Oh, I’m not saying I wouldn’t accept it, were I ever to find myself throwing a vegan potluck. I’d probably accept the KFC mashed potatoes, too. I’m just saying it wouldn’t be something I’d specifically recommend.

    ~ Recent blog post: The Asymmetry of Bailouts at http://ryanmcreynolds.blogspot.com ~

  4. Sorry, Ryan.

    Just for the record, KFC mashed potatoes are not vegan.

    Potatoes: Potatoes (Color and Flavor Protected with Sodium Bisulfite, Citric Acid, and BHT), Salt, Corn Syrup Solids, Butter, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Monoglycerides, Sodium Pyrophosphate, Nonfat Milk, Natural Flavor, Calcium Phosphate, Sodium Caseinate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Artificial Flavor, Mono- and Diglycerides, Artificial Color.
    Contains Milk and Wheat.

    And wow, after looking at the KFC ingredient listings, the “chicken” is often only half actual dead bird. Weird.

  5. Excellent suggestions. I especially love the way you’ve broken dishes down into the time available to toss a dish together.

    I differ with your statement that a pot luck is the time to stay away from faux meats. There are usually people there who are trying veg for the first time; faux meats can help them to feel more comfy.

    I grew up eating lots of meat and other animal products, just as many vegetarians/vegans do. One of my favorite dishes was my mom’s Chicken Divan. I veganized it not too long ago, using chicken-flavored seitan, a faux meat. It’s a great dish for a vegan potluck, vegan dinner party, or simply introducing someone to the yummy options available. You can check it out here: http://www.vegancoach.com/200707.html#e26

    Thanks for your fabulous site. :O)
    p.s. The animal counter on the right side of the page is eye opening.

    ~ Recent blog post: Sep 16, Vegan Dessert Recipes at http://www.VeganCoach.com ~

  6. Oops! Wrong link. (Although that Quinoa/Beet Salad ROCKS.)

    Here is the correct one to the Vegan Chicken Divan:


    ~ Recent blog post: Sep 16, Vegan Dessert Recipes at http://www.VeganCoach.com ~

  7. Thank you for posting this! I am also a fan of you breaking it down by time. We are trying out (gulp!) our first vegan pot luck in Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico! Wish us luck!!

  8. In retrospect, I guess it’s obvious KFC mashed potatoes wouldn’t be vegan. Just the first example that came to mind, and a poor one.

    ~ Recent blog post: The Asymmetry of Bailouts at http://ryanmcreynolds.blogspot.com ~

  9. Ryan,

    As someone who is attending their first Vegan potluck in an hour, you scare me. Your rigidity and quickness to look down on what someone would bring in good faith really is terrible. People want to adhere to the Vegan tradition, but if you are just going to criticize honest attempts to conform, well that just adds to the belief that Vegans are “picky”. Thanks for nothing!

  10. I hate to complain, but I’ll make an exception for this. As a vegan mother of 2 (mostly) vegan children, having babies and animals put into the same category as if they are the same thing is highly offensive. As a pretty normal person and having been to plenty of potlucks in my time, potlucks to me mean family-friendly affair meaning that babies would be most welcomed. Having two parents, a little sister, two kids, and plenty of other family and friends who are deathly afraid of dogs (my great-grandfather couldn’t eat in a house or restaurant if he knew dogs were anywhere in or around the building), I believe the human relationship to animals is quite a bit different then that to a baby. I have never met a human being who is afraid of babies. They may cry sometimes, but I know many whiny adults and if we start excluding whiners, well, I could name some adults I’d like to get rid of from the potluck invitation first. I just thought I’d throw those two cents out there, since it is important to make sure that families are made to feel welcome considering that human beings taking part in a potluck, no matter what age they are, is much different then an animal (I’ve never been mulled by my baby;). I also would add, on a personal note, it’s difficult enough to deal with all the anti-vegan sentiments directed towards my choice of feeding my children, apparently some people would rather I take my girls to McD’s three times a day then to the farmer’s market. Having other vegans be apprehensive toward my children gets frustrating. I know you were trying to make a point to let people know that they should find out what type of potluck it is, but combining different species in that manner makes it seem that babies are not included in the human specie. I also think that all vegans should encourage one another to make it into a family affair, from pregnancy onward, in order to pass it on to all subsequent generations. Thanks for the potluck ideas, though, I will keep them in mind as I prepare for a potluck at the end of the week (thankfully they let me bring both of my kids, even the little one;)

  11. That’s a great point, about not bringing the fake meat. So many vegetarians and new vegans turn to fake meats, but they just don’t provide enough substinance. So many people fail because they never branch away from the fake meat. Making dishes with whole foods are not much more difficult, but so much more satisfying!

    Nice article, thanks for the tips. The idea about not wearing leather made me laugh :D

  12. My favorite options are chips and a nice salsa or a quality store-bought hummus with pitas and carrots. One of my local grocery stores often runs a 2-for-special on hummus and upscale salsa, so I stock up for the holidays or if I have other events coming up. If I transfer the hummus to a pretty dish and arrange the pitas/carrots on a plate, nobody knows I spent less than 5 minutes and fewer than $8 on a fairly large amount of vegan grub!

  13. I understand if it is your first vegan potluck you are nervous, I know this because I am going to my first traditional potluck as a vegan.
    I feel what Ryan said is accurate, if you are a vegan for animal moral reasons buying a vegetable platter with ranch dip is still financially promoting the factory farming industry.
    I haven’t decided what we are bringing, but I hope I can bring something non-vegans will enjoy and not think we are a bunch of crazy foodies ;)


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