Vegan options and menus are ‘firmly on the industry’s radar’

Creating a successful vegan event goes beyond the menu, but it’s a great place to start, as this year’s Golden Globes demonstrated. 

Organised by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the 2020 Golden Globes awards ceremony served its guests with an all-vegan menu.

The reason behind the vegan menu choice at the awards was to raise awareness of the climate crisis, as Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) president, Lorenzo Soria, explained in a Facebook post: “The climate crisis is impossible to ignore and after speaking with our peers, and friends in the community, we felt challenged to do better.”

Soria’s sentiment is one echoed and understood by the corporate events industry, but is it being delivered to its full potential?

“Reports suggest that at least five per cent of the population are now vegan, so it’s important that we recognise this in the planning of all our client meetings and events,” Megan Napier-Andrews, solutions director at BCD M&E told M&IT.

“As we all know, there is a myriad of considerations based on people’s specific preferences and cultures that we need to acknowledge when planning events. Veganism is now firmly on the industry’s radar thanks to the increased awareness of the impact on the environment, animals and people’s health.”

While good food is essential to any successful event, veganism goes beyond the menu and into the bathrooms, furniture and even entertainment – every aspect of an event, in fact.

M&IT have teamed up with a selection of industry experts to share with you some top tips for creating a successful vegan event, from the entrées to the hand soap.

The menu


Mimicking is key

“There is such a large range of vegan dishes but the best way for an event to keep everyone happy is to mimic the usual dishes by replacing elements to make it vegan. For example, soups can have more vegetable stock in, instead of cream, to make them thicker, salads can have a thicker mustard dressing instead of cheese and flakes of coconut or nuts or seeds to give more texture. Pastry can be easily made vegan – most pre-made frozen pastries are vegan, choose a cuisine that’s low in meat and dairy e.g. Mexican, Indian and Thai and switch ice cream to sorbet – most sorbets are vegan-friendly.” –  Lucy Chalk, BCD M&E Putney team

Avoid making delegates jealous:

“Be creative with your food and think of the delegate. People always remember the venue, the food and content at an event. If people are hungry or unsatisfied it leaves a bad taste and effects the overall experience of the event. Treat the option in the same way as any food you would choose for non-dietary requirements delegates. There is nothing worse than food envy over portions or look. A great way to streamline is to make the vegan option the same as the vegetarian, which also reduces the number of options.” – Ryan Curtis-Johnson, DRPG

Not just for vegans:

“Catering for a vegan group focuses on the entire experience from when they arrive, through to when they depart at the end of the day – not just lunch which has historically been the case.

“When designing a vegan menu it is essential that guests are satisfied, and do not feel short-changed in any way. Therefore each item or dish must feel generous, and substantial, and above all else, exceptionally tasty. The aim is to appeal not only to vegans but to other delegates so that they choose the vegan dish as an alternative to a protein-based item.” – Allan Heard, 30 Euston Square

Save the bees:

“Look for organic alternatives which support sustainable crop growth and have a lower environmental impact. Pesticide use for the large scale production of almond milk, for example, is devastating Honeybee populations in California.” – Carole Quinn, Legacy

The wine list


Not just grapes and hops:

“Most wines and beers are vegan, however, some aren’t even vegetarian due to the clarification process which uses isinglass which is sourced from the gut of a fish. Most wine retailers should be able to tell you if it is or isn’t vegan however, you can use this website to check due to it not having to be detailed on the bottle by law.  This also goes the same with beers, some of the craft beers are fermented with animal products e.g honey. Most popular bottled beers are vegan.

“Waxed fruit is also often a secret non-vegan element to drinks.  A lot of fruit is covered in beeswax to make it last longer, this can easily be swapped for non-waxed fruit.” – Lucy Chalk BCD M&E Putney team

The Bathroom


Check the label:

“The hand soaps and moisturisers can be swapped to cruelty-free and animal product free. Most of the products that are not sold in China are cruelty-free but you can check on this website.” – Lucy Chalk BCD M&E Putney team

The furniture


Leave the cows in the field:

“If the furniture is being sourced externally, try to avoid some of the following products: leather upholstered furniture, taxidermy for decoration, fur rugs and blankets (these are used quite often for decoration over winter time) or woollen rugs, curtains and table cloths.” – Lucy Chalk, BCD M&E Putney team 

The Marketing


Think about your ink:

“Think about the materials used at your event. There may be hidden animal products in everyday items. For example, pop up banners and marketing promotional material often contain animal products – cow bones in ivory black pigments and squid sacs in sepia ink.

“Opt for more sustainable options which use vegetable inks instead.” – Carole Quinn, Legacy 

The giveaways


Free giveaways can cost the earth:

Favours can also be tricky; why not get creative and make your own? Soy candles, vegan bath bombs and cake jars are always popular options; it’s important to ensure everyone feels looked after!” – Simon Lockwood, The Brewery

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