The fast-breaking meals of Ramadan are a time for unity. Across the planet, whether at home or in the mosque, a day of fasting commonly ends with the sweet relief of fresh or dried dates and milk or water. But what’s next on the menu? For some, nothing is more savory than steak and potatoes or grilled chicken and rice; however, more and more Muslims opt for meatless options not just in Ramadan but year-round.
Vegetarianism is on the rise. Whether for health, economic or environmental reasons, people are making more room for beans and greens on their plate. Instead of delving into why they abstain from meat, let’s redirect our energy and consider how we can accommodate their preferences. With these three tips, everyone should leave your meal satiated and fueled to brave another day of fasting.
- Pick a plant-based protein.
Rice and salad is technically a vegetarian meal but not a very whole or satisfying one. Once animal protein is removed from the platter, it needs to be replaced by another source. You don’t need to purchase expensive veggie burgers or faux meats. Beans are an affordable staple found in cuisines all over the world. Take inventory of your culinary repertoire. Instead of trying out something foreign or new, consider a bean based dish in your cultural cookbook that you might’ve overlooked. If you’re short on time, lentils are a quick-cooking hit and make hearty soups and stews. Lentil stew is also easier on the fasting stomach than meats.
- Check your seasonings.
Before you cook, reconsider the use of cooking fats like butter, ghee, or lard and meat bones or broths. That little bit of animal product that you use for flavoring might be enough to turn a vegetarian tummy sour. Also, some vegetarians abstain from all animal products including milk, eggs, and cheese. Play it safe by using vegetable oils and broths for your guests. If you’re using seasoned rice or sauce products, be sure to check their ingredients for animal fat, dairy products, and meat flavorings too. With flavorful vegetarian bouillon and flavor packets, you would hardly miss the meat stews.
- Pause before you combine.
The easiest way to satisfy both the herbivores and omnivores is to give options. Separating dairy and meat additions in your meal gives everyone their full range of choices. This can translate to a large salad base with a choice of dressing, or a pasta-based meal with varied sauces and toppings. Save yourself the effort of making two completely different menus and find ways to widen your meal’s appeal.
It’s also worth noting that vegetarian Muslims often come under heat for their dietary choices. They are accused of altering the religion, denigrating prophetic traditions, and everything in between, but wait before you cast judgment. Some Muslims are deeply motivated by the inhumane living conditions that animals are reared in, questionable modifications to the principles of Islamic slaughter, or the carbon footprint of their diet and its effect on the environment. Regardless of their motivations, your guests may or may not care to discuss their personal preferences over dinner. Beyond the issue of meat, there are food allergies and medically prescribed diets that your guests may adhere to as well, so inquiring when you invite others is a generally good practice. These matters are best discussed privately and sincerely, not with a table full of guests who may be short on time and/or patience. Instead, let us open our homes to our guests, Muslim and not, vegetarian or otherwise, to share the month of mercy and obtain the blessings of Ramadan.
This article was originally published on Ethos International.