Recycled Bride: The Flexitarian Wedding

By Azure Nelson, Published Dec 9, 2009

About Recycled Bride A Sustainable Way to Eat, Drink and Be Merry Your guests are coming to your wedding to celebrate, and they're coming hungry. How can you feed them an ecologically sound menu that's truly delicious- and do it all for just peanuts? Serve what I call the "Flexitarian Wedding Menu". What's a flexitarian menu? Well, a flexitarian is a person who eats mostly vegetarian, but occasionally incorporates small amounts of meat or fish into their diet. Taking a cue from these eco-and budget-wise eaters, the Flexitarian Wedding Menu includes an abundance of tasty veggie-based options, and just a few sustainable meat and fish dishes. Why is a limited-meat menu the easiest way to make your wedding day grub more environmentally friendly? The American meat industry is one of the biggest pollutors in the world. Chickens, hogs and cattle are raised on factpry farms that food pollute our air and water with pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones- not to mention the incredible amounts of fossil fuels used to grow feed for these animals and transport them to your local supermarket. Fish farms also contribute heavily to water pollution, and the overfishing of some types of fish is creating dangerous imbalances in our ecosystems. When you avoid serving meat-heavy dishes, you also avoid the hefty price tag that goes along with them, which leaves more money in your food budget for high-quality, veggie-based ingredients. Search for a sustainable caterer who sources food from local suppliers and recycles in all areas of their business, and ask them to work with you to create a menu based around inexpensive local and seasonal ingredients. Here are a few great tips for building your very own flexitarian wedding menu that's environmentally sound and delicious: • Offer two gourmet pasta-based main course options- one meatless, and one that incorporates wild-caught salmon or free-range organic chicken. • For a hot summer wedding, serve a chilled, gourmet lunch that eliminates the energy use required by traditional hot dishes. Think gazpacho, spinach-artichoke dip, caprese salad, tuna and avocado tartare, chilled green goddess pasta salad, and veggie sushi. • If you do serve beef, make sure it's local and grass-fed. Rather than serving steak, make your meat dollars go further by incorporating the beef into dishes with other ingredients, like mini-sliders, shish-kebob skewers, or even a gourmet homestyle meatloaf. • When choosing fish and seafood, make sure to pick low-mercury, locally caught breeds. • Try cleverly prepared veggie-based "meats", like tofu and tempeh. A well-made slice of tofu lasagna or a bite of delicious spaghetti and "no-meatballs" will convert even your most carnivorous guests into veggie-lovers. • Find an organic and/or vegan bakery to create your wedding cake. Many will let you order a cake online, and with ingredients like agave nectar, rice flour, and fresh fruit preserves, your guests will never know it's good for them! • Ask your caterer to source local and/or organic wines and champagne, and locally brewed beers. • Before you hire, make sure that your caterer and/or banquet hall donates leftover food to a local food pantry or women's shelter.

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