Jess Parsons

Jess Parsons

Posted March 5, 2012

Published in Food

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Happy Vegan Birthday!

Read More: birthdays, Healthy food, vegan entertaining

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I’m a vegan with two young vegan children.  We all love having parties and being invited to them, but of course it’s never a party without food.  So how do you keep the party spirit when not everybody in the world is vegan yet?

This sort of gathering can be an opportunity to show just how festive even simple vegan treats can be.  Also, everyone has so much more party energy when they’re not loaded down with heavy fatty foods.

Kid’s Birthdays - Attending


What is your goal for this party?  For example:

  • My child must eat nothing with any animal products at the party
  • My child must not eat meat or dairy foods but may have baked goods that probably have some animal products (my own compromise as my children do not have dangerous allergies)
  • My child must…?

Now that you have your goal, what needs to happen to achieve it?  Is it a home party or an outing?  Who’s in charge of the food and can help you out?  

You might need to come to all parties with your young child to ensure your goal.

One goal I have along with my vegan goals is, “My child could be invited back to this house.”


You can talk to your host beforehand and explain what foods are absolutely off limits.  

This gives the host time to plan and is your chance to offer to bring something vegan that everyone will enjoy.

Also talk to your child about what you expect and why.  Give them permission to ask for help from an adult if they’re not sure what they may eat.  If you can’t be there at the party, this level of communication might be the biggest factor when your child is faced with a dizzying array of attractive party treats.

Kid’s Birthdays - Hosting

Oh, this is much easier.  You’re buying!  We all know vegan food is amazing.  The only limit on your lavish vegan kiddie feast is your imagination.  And your budget, of course, but vegan food is cheaper.

If you’re planning an outing party, be aware that some venues will not let you bring your own food but will insist that you buy their expensive animal junk food for the helpless guests.  Think of the children and vote with your dollars – somewhere else.

I’m a bit of a health foodie as well as a vegan and I can’t bring myself to serve up
double helpings of pure party junk.  From my minimalist party advice:
“Serve some real food.  Serve it before the sweets appear.”

My parties have a generous snack table available for filling up on – and nothing to
make a kid go “Ewww, what’s that?”


  • Crackers - Rice, Corn thins, Snax (Ritz), Pretzels    
  • Chips - Salted corn chips, Salted potato chips    
  • Dips - Hummus, Mexican bean dip, Guacamole
  • Dried fruit - Raisins, apricots, banana chips    
  • Fresh fruit - Grapes, strawberries, melon...
  • Nuts - cashews, peanuts, pistachios
  • And of course there are vegan options for traditional kid party favourites like sausage rolls.


Sugar free is great, but that’s not one of my party goals.  Instead, I let the snacks stay out and get refilled before bringing out jellybeans (non-gelatine) and lollipops.

At one recent party, I already had a bulk box of ice cream cones and the kids loved serving themselves cones full of the sweets.

Enough is enough, and there’s still cake to come.AlexCake6th_sm.jpg


I can make a pretty good vegan cake and there is no shortage of great recipes

Luckily my sister can make an amazingly delicious and stunningly decorated one.

My 40th birthday

When I throw a party for mixed company, I often have a barbecue so I don’t have to do the cooking and people can eat however they like.

But for my extra special day, I wanted it all vegan, all the way and all special.  I didn’t want any of the party budget going on animal foods. 

So I approached Alice Leonard of Angel Food to do some extra special vegan catering.

She gave me a lot of great suggestions for the menu and I chose:

•    Mini sweet corn fritters topped with smoky tomato salsa
•    Mini falafel topped with aioli and chives
•    Mini filo parcels filled with herbed potato
•    Sushi with gingered carrot slaw and bbq tempeh

•    Lemon curd tarts
•    Caramel cream tarts

I could also have had
•    fresh spring rolls
•    cucumber slices topped with guacamole
•    cocoa-coconut meringues
•    choc-dipped marshmallow hearts

I bulked out the extra special food with my own food:
•    the usual snacks, just like for the kids’ parties
•    oven baked ready-made spring rolls
•    spicy Thai potato chunks

And my sister came up trumps again with a special vegan Earth cake (with New Zealand in full focus!)

Remember, unless you wish, there’s no need to point out that you’re only serving vegan food (except to brag to your other vegan friends – who may expect it anyway).  Nobody of any dietary persuasion will go away feeling they’ve missed out.

Party on!

Originally published in the Summer 2011 V Magazine of the Vegan Society of Aotearoa, New Zealand.