Chelsea Clinton's big fat vegan wedding? This gluten-free president's daughterstrikes a giant blow for my kind
Anyone who believes that vegan get-togethers require unshaven hippies chanting "ohms" in a drum circle as an homage to the moon goddess while they chew on bamboo and wear tie-dye togas needs to take a heavy whiff of the changing rules for those with different dietary preferences.
Vegans are a diverse folk and do not always fit into the above stereotype.
Although I do not object to those types of free spirit affairs, sometimes, while sporting a new mani-pedi, I enjoy a somewhat more sophisticated ambiance where a nice sparkling glass of prosecco rose allows my pinky to proudly stand erect in somewhat militant attention.
I like dressing up.
Whether formal, urban chic or white-tie penguin suit, vegan events are sneaking up into the mainstream and waved a dramatic hello thanks to Chelsea Clinton’s private nuptials. Chelsea is vegan and also has an allergy to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats.
Who was the caterer? The source was not released but intel points to New York locavore Chef Laura Pensiero and the St. Regis Hotel in New York. Who was the parent of the vegan gluten-free wedding cake? Gossip points to three potential bakeries with heavier leaning on La Tulipe Desserts.
What about the menu? It has been kept secret like the most confidential White House national security intelligence with the assistance of Bryan Rafanelli, a Boston-based event planner. Combing the web for images proved unsuccessful as guests were barred from bringing any tech toy that could text, tweet or snap pictures.
Rumors of a complete vegan menu ran wild by overeager bloggers, but a balanced approached seems in alignment with Rafanelli’s assertion that guests were offered “everything” including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
I doubt that anyone would label an event that offered guests grass-fed beef short-ribs and grilled Atlantic char vegan, but the buzz created from the chatter will certainly pique interest among foodies and question traditional menus.
Do they have to be meat-centric to be fabulous? No.
There is always a little anxiety on both sides of the diet preference spectrum in attempting to please the other. But vegans, being the minority, may be tempted to diverge from their lifestyle convictions in an attempt to be inclusive or perhaps as a direct result of familial pressures.
After all, what on earth is a vegan wedding?
Can bone china be used? Did the bride brush her teeth with Tom’s of Maine vegan organic toothpaste or did she use the conventional equivalent? Did anyone step on a bug?
I am not interested in arguing the vegan fundamentalist point of view, but rather highlighting the potential to celebrate a wedding while sticking to a cruelty-free living dogma.
Moving beyond convention
Most weddings that adopt religious conventions tend to impose practices on their guests, sometimes passively and sometimes actively. So it is silly to second guess any desires to make sustenance aligned with your own preferences as well.
After all who is the wedding for? In theory, it's about the happy couple. In practice, that is not always the case.
Weddings can be big and fat, vegan and fabulous. Remember? Vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli kicked omnivore’s butt in Cupcake Wars with ginger nutmeg spice with date caramel drizzle, chocolate strawberry shortcake, crème-filled chocolate orange with candied orange peel, and raspberry tiramisu.
Indeed, VegNews' been-there-done-that recent feature showcases vegan weddings that challenge our realm of possibilities. With menus that include hibiscus flower taquitos with chipotle cream, tofu satay on rosemary skewers, rustic grilled vegan cheese panini, truffled mashed potato martinis, jerk tofu falafel with Caribbean chutney and pear-walnut-ginger empanadas, I would train with Olympic determination to become a professional vegan wedding crasher.
I think I can pull it off.
Vegan Cake Wars
As Franck Eggelhoffer would say, first you have to choose the cake.
I love Houston: You don’t have to travel far to find vegan flavors like key lime supreme cake, chocolate orange blossom cake, pink lemonade cake and Italian creme cake, some with their respective gluten-free variations.
Give Jody Stevens of jodycakes a week or so and she can birth a moist cake that could turn any agnostic omnivore into a hardcore religious freak. Yes. They are that good. Stevens strives to “combine great taste with aesthetically pleasing designs especially for large occasions such as weddings, milestone events and anniversaries.”
“Although I do normal everyday cakes with eggs and dairy, the bulk of my business tends to be vegan, gluten-free or a combination of both,” Stevens explains. “Whether it be for health or ethical reasons, there is no reason you can't have your cake and eat it too!”
Reluctantly, I will agree that there is more to life than cake: A leap of faith made easier with the help of vegan caterers like Radical Eats.
“Although not all of my bride and grooms are entirely vegan, I find that they want to make a statement and tell a story with their weddings,” owner Staci Davis explains. “The statement is about their commitment to the environment as well as to each other, and the story is about the local farmers, bakers and craftsmen that build their weddings. A huge part of my business is my connection to these local growers and vendors.”
A blooming trend? “Vegan and vegetarian foods (as well as gluten-free foods) represent one of the fastest growing segments in the prepared foods market,” Davis says.
Meat options at a vegan wedding?
Given that it is customary to have vegetarian options at most formal events, some may argue that vegans must reciprocate and satisfy omnivores by offering meat and dairy dishes. However, no one would expect a kosher wedding to allow bacon-wrapped shrimp as an option as the practice extends beyond taste and personal choice.
Vegan diets and lifestyles are rooted in beliefs and lifestyle whether spiritual, personal, and for some, religious.
As long as you provide delicious good eats, why would anyone care?