Vegetrians aren't really a problem at our catering business. 90% of our guests choose a salad as a first course anyway, and we always prepare a few veggie dishes in case we have vegetarians that forget to annouce it to the host before hand. We also always try to get the host to pick at least 1 or 2 hors that are vegetarian. What I find to be more difficult are the vegans (no dairy or eggs). They can make things a little more challenging, especailly if they don't come forward before hand.
One other problem I have experienced a few times, are Jewish guests at a party. Well actually it's not the Jewish people who are a problem, it's the host. Hosts should really be on top of who their guests are (harder at corporate events). Whenever we do something with pork, such as proscuittio wrapped monkfish, I always send a few orders unwrapped, just in case there are some Jewish guests or people who don't eat pork. Well this one party, the host was not aware of just how many Jewish guests were in her midst. It definately caused some major problems as we didn't have nearly enough unwrapped fish, and I refused to unwrap it and lie. The host was pissed, and threatened not to pay her bill because we could not feed everyone. Of course she and our salesperson argued the fact, but ultimately she paid. We had gone beyond our duty even providing a few unwrapped fish. It was her responsibility to find out about her guests.
I always make considerations for vegetarians. Usually I do go with some vegan dishes when do large functions, those that are watching their diet as well as those that are vegans appreciate having lighter foods.....
It's also a fun parameter to work with, I catered a mushroom event for several years where the group ate breakfast, had a hiking bag lunch, nice dinner on melamine, then a Sunday Brunch.
The bag lunch was always vegetarian.....I much prefer sending out on hot days with a vegetarian sandwich than a mayo/meat one. One year it was a grilled veg on fougasse with tapenade, artichokes, grilled squash,portabellos and red onions, tomatoes, feta, balsamic...The next year it was portabellos minced in a cream cheese dijon mustard sauce with slivered cabbage, red pepper and red onions in a wrap.....the sides were whole apple, gorp of cashews, almonds, raisins, cranberries, and dried cherries, Oatmeal cookies, string cheese and a 100% juice box.
It just adds a challenge to my menus and trully helps the events as a whole.
Ditto to all the above! I love doing vegetarian menus! It's a challenge, it's far more creative than throwing a hunk of meat in the oven (even tho I do love those!), and with more people thinking 'healthy' as well as vegetarian, I think we're going to see a whole lot more requests for veggie menus.
My son is a vegetarian and since his accident, his protein requirements are high; and were especially so in the first few months while he was still in rehab. That was a tremendous challenge for me, to give him enough protein and try to 'tease' his palate into eating more, when he really had no appetite. I used (still do) quite a lot of the Morningstar Farm veg product - Grillers, veggie bacon, chicken nuggets; and there seem to be more and more veggie 'substitute' products coming out on the market - Boca has a 'grilled chicken breast' - with grill marks, even!; there's even a 'veggie tuna fillet'; now, granted, if you're expecting it to taste like tuna, you'll be disappointed; but it does have flavor, and mouth feel, which is important to vegetarians.
I always cook a few veggie meals at every catered event. Usually, they are low cost items that are assembled fairly easely(sp) . If they are consummed by the party they are fed to the staff of which a couple are veggies anyway I just find it easier than being surprised.