Md. --On a brilliant Sunday morning in May, about 80 people
gathered in a 70-year-old mansion for a wedding. When the
bride, Tamara Richter, appeared in her white dress, the guests
whispered to each other, "How pretty she is!" The
fact that the bride's dress contained neither silk nor pearls
went unnoticed, but it was an important point for Richter;
who is vegan.
dresses are made of silk and have pearl decorations. Neither
are vegan and I wanted my wedding dress vegan. My shoes are
not leather, either," Richter, 28, said.
or pure vegetarians, eat no foods derived from animals. In
addition to meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and honey, they
also shun leather, silk, wool and other animal products. People
become vegan for various reasons, including health, ecological
and religious concerns, compassion for animals and belief
to a survey conducted in 2000 by the Vegetarian Resource Group,
a nonprofit educational group in Maryland, 0.9 percent of
adults, or 1.7 million people, in the United States, are vegan,
while 2.5 percent, or 4.8 million, were vegetarian (do not
eat meat, fish, or poultry).
became a vegetarian when she was 15 because she thought it
was "cool." She cut out meat first, then poultry,
fish, before becoming vegan five years ago. "It was hard
not to eat eggs and cheese, even though I knew eating them
hurt animals. But thanks to my experience working with vegetarian
advocates, I don't have cravings for cheese omelets anymore.
They provided me with plenty of information on how to find
vegan substitutes," she recalled.
herself helped her vegetarian boyfriend to become vegan. Having
the same eating habits helped the relationship to grow, and
the couple soon started living together. They began to enjoy
a variety of vegan meals --from "vegan pancakes"
for breakfast to "vegan shepherd's pie" for dinner--
thanks to his talents in the kitchen.
they decided to marry, it was a given that the wedding would
be vegan. Richter and her bridegroom, Jeff Barnes, 30, took
two years to prepare their once-in-a-lifetime event so that
it would be as perfect as possible.
the fact that most of the guests were not vegan or even vegetarian,
their parents warmly accepted the idea of a "vegan wedding."
mother is vegetarian, but she's not vegan. Neither my father
nor Jeff's parents are vegetarians. Still, they were very
understanding," Richter said. It was not easy, though,
to find a caterer who could fulfill their request to serve
vegan wedding dishes.
called all the caters in the Baltimore/Washington area. Most
people I spoke with had no idea what 'vegan' meant,"
a tiring search, the couple finally found someone who understood
what they wanted right away. The caterer, Cuisine Catering,
didn't specialize in vegetarian and vegan food, but had experience
making those kinds of dishes.
"We were very lucky," Richter said. "The chef
is not vegan or vegetarian, but was very creative and make
an excellent menu for us. Tasting menu samples (before the
wedding), we believe that our guests will be as content with
his vegan wedding dishes as we were."
was right. After the wedding ceremony, appetizers were served
to the guests standing in line to greet the newlyweds and
their parents. The finger foods, which included Spinach Phyllo
Cocktail Triangles (crispy spinach pastry puffs) and Potato
Puffs with Spicy Mustard (seasoned mashed potatoes in a light
pastry with cranberry mustard dipping sauce), were impressive
enough and no one seemed to mind they were vegan.
reception hall was set up ready to welcome guests with more
enjoyable vegan dishes: Mediterranean roasted vegetables (sweet
potatoes, zucchini, eggplant, red and green peppers, and carrots
in a light basil olive oil dressing) served with humms, tapenade
(a thick paste made from capers, ripe olives, olive oil and
lemon juice), and pita bread; Wild Mushroom Action Station
(sauteed wild mushrooms and grilled marinated Portobello mushrooms);
and a Williamsburg-style platter of fresh fruits featuring
pineapples filled with ripe strawberries, melons and other
seasonal fruits). The drink menu was non-alcoholic at the
couple's request. Organic coffee was one of the drinks served.
addition to eating the unique wedding dishes, people also
took pictures of them, often asking, "What is this?"
Many had eaten vegetarian food before, but vegan dishes were
still unfamiliar. Some of the guests exchanged vegetarian
dining stories, saying, for example, "I ate at vegetarian
restaurants many times and I like it." One enthusiastic
woman asked Richter's vegan friend about the health benefits
of such a diet.
vegetarian guest confessed that she hadn't become vegan because
she liked cheese. But she loved the vegan appetizers. "This
dip tastes like real cheese," the chef, Avi Cohen, explained.
"Instead of using cheese, I put artichoke and vegan soy
cheese into the dip. Artichoke tastes like Parmesan."
He said that it was not really difficult to create the vegan
wedding menu. "I knew the substitutes I can use for vegans,
such as tofu, seitan (wheat gluten), or tempeh (a kind of
fermented soy product). I just tried to preserve the natural
flavors of the vegetables, and to satisfy my customers."
highlight of his creations was the main course: a beautifully
presented Vegan Napoleon of baked eggplant layered with basil
leaves, seitan, spinach, tomatoes and sliced wild mushrooms
and served with a fire-roasted red pepper sauce. The side
accompaniments are twice-baked rosemary sweet potatoes and
lemon-scented asparagus. The fresh, but rich flavor was seductive
even to guests who were not vegetarians or vegan. "They
were 'different'," one admitted honestly, but said, "Still
I found this one was good."
Vegan Wedding Cake
camera flashed as Richter and Barnes sliced into the wedding
cake. The lemon cake with raspberry layers was also vegan,
using no dairy products or eggs. It was made by Vedika Webb
of Lotus Cake Studio, who works exclusively with vegetarian
and vegan brides. "Finding a vegan bakery was relatively
easy," Richter said. "The vegetarian group I worked
for had a list and we just selected the one we liked the best."
Along with the cake, Webb prepared cute vegan petit fours,
and in 15 minutes, the dessert plates were almost empty.
delighted the guests enjoyed our vegan dishes," Richter
said, relieved at the compliments she received. "I think
they felt more frustrated with a nonalcohol wedding."
blessings and cheers, the newlyweds left for Hawaii for their
honeymoon. They planned to stay there for two weeks, lodging
in romantic --and vegan-friendly--accommodation, to round
out their wedding in style.
By Hiroko Kato
Copyright 2002 Hiroko Kato. All rights reserved.