The Challenge: Hosting a Vegetarian or Vegan Baby Shower

It's actually quite simple, if a bit challenging, to prepare a vegetarian or vegan baby shower. First off, there are a few differences between vegetarian and vegan. While, strictly, both eat no kinds of meat at all (including gelatin and wine refined through some processes), the vegetarian will still incorporate some animal products into the menu like dairy, eggs, or honey. Vegans eat no animal products at all and will even go to great lengths to avoid animal products of any kind in clothing, toiletries, personal and home accessories, etc.

It usually follows that vegetarians and vegans are avid environmentalists and enthusiastically support organic food. A terrific way to set the stage for the vegetarian or vegan baby shower is to send out invitations on recycled or handmade paper informing the guests of their future gift to the coming baby being an almost no-impact vegetarian or vegan baby shower. The invitations can also be embedded with tree or flower seeds so that they can be recycled right in the recipient's garden and give another favor of shade or flowers and fresh air.

Earth colors are beautiful for a vegetarian or vegan baby shower, and there are many plant-based colored products available as well. Use lots of potted plants and fresh flowers as a backdrop and definitely eschew balloons and streamers here. They create a horrific environmental burden when they're thrown away so avoid them as much as possible. Cover each table in a raw linen tablecloth and leave it unironed to give it a cozy, homey feel. Use recycled wine bottles as a centerpiece in odd numbers and top each one with a single blossom or three. Decorate each bottle with a fabric or paper ribbon bow. You can also use plain, unbleached raffia.

Highlight the tables with soy votive candles in recycled glass tumblers. Add some sparkle with glass pebbles sprinkled all around. Use real plates, silverware, and fabric napkins.

Extend the decorating theme to the buffet tables. Use glass, ceramic, or wood serving platters. Don't forget the votives and glass pebbles to make the table more interesting. Have a centerpiece of organic flowers, fruit, and vegetables on a stack of glass cake plates. Choose the most perfect fruit and vegetables that you can to let it look like a still-life Dutch Master painting.

You can definitely have a filling meal at a vegetarian or vegan baby shower. When choosing a vegan menu, make sure you have a contrast of textures, temperatures, colors, and flavors. Most ethnic foods are vegan and you could get ideas from there. Have a selection of hearty whole wheat breads and a dip of balsamic vinegar and fruity olive oil at each table instead of butter. A colorful selection of crudites paired with white bean and garlic dip, a large earthenware pot of piping hot ratatouille, and whole wheat linguini aglio e olio is filling and purely vegan. For dessert, a mango mousse or chocolate silk mousse rounds out the menu nicely.

It's best to order your cake from a vegan baker as there are a few different techniques needed to bake vegan cakes. If your guests are ovo-lacto vegetarians, then you won't have any problems baking the cake yourself or going to a regular baker. Be adventurous with your cake here – a vanilla cream cake with a filling of wild berries or a dark chocolate cake with candied organic oranges are two unusual choices.

Instead of having games, an activity may be more acceptable. Have a selection of fabric paints, brushes and stamps at a table and have the guests decorate organic onesies or burp cloths. After all, what baby doesn't need more than one of these? And the favors can be a simple thank-you card, either one that has a cover pretty enough to be framed or another one of those you plant in your garden.