Serve up more than salads for vegans guest and crew onboard

Jun 27, 2016 by Chef Mary Beth LawtonJohnson

As the chef onboard, you might encounter a set of guests or even one person on a trip whose sole dietary needs center around vegetables. So you have to have some great ideas in place in case such a request comes in.

I have had charters entirely made up of females who only wanted vegetarian options, and even with the crew, there were a few strict hard-lined vegans.

I am not just speaking of salads either. Sure a nice crisp salad would do wonders in refreshing you after a hot few hours in the sun, especially if you had cucumbers in it as they contain a lot of water, but I am rather speaking of other reasons you want to add more vegetables. They have nutrient dense benefits as well.

The reason we need more vegetables is because they contain vitamins and phytochemicals. Also did you know that meat actually robs our bones of calcium? One more reason to throw some more vegetables on the crew platters for dinner.

A vegetarian diet can provide a diet low in saturated fats, lower in calories, and high in nutrients, vitamins and minerals but you also have to understand that lack of proper planning for a vegetarian or vegan guest or crew onboard can do more harm than good.

Vegans especially, have more to lose than just weight. They already have a restricted diet that is low in saturated fats, low in calories and low in protein intakes but high in carbohydrate intake. They may be lacking sufficient vitamins for daily needs.

Okay, so you have a vegetarian or a vegan onboard and they don’t consume meat proteins but rather vegetable proteins. What would you serve them? How much protein do they actually need? There are many popular items in place of regular meat protein on the market such as soy protein, pea protein to name a few.

Vegetables are key to any meal. Photo by Dorie Cox

Vegetables are key to any meal. Photo by Dorie Cox

Adults need 50 to 60 grams of protein a day. We consume more than twice that amount. Vegetarians using plant proteins actually consume far more proteins that one would think, so planning wisely for vegetarian protein needs onboard is easier than you think.

Now to the good stuff, what do you serve? I like mixed vegetables, such as a farro salad with kale, cranberries, nuts, seeds, or it can be as easy as pureeing up boiled celery root and steaming some cauliflower to take the place of mashed potatoes. I have even done celery root chips and fries in place of the standard french fries. It’s not hard, actually quite simple to add more vegetables to a diet. Be sure to add more whole grains, too as they are packed with protein and are lower in saturated fat. I like to take vegetables and thicken them and use as a base for plating other vegetables that might move around on the plate as it is being served. A puree of spring pea, or a wilted kale and fried chili and black garlic side is a great addition.

To up the ante onboard and show them what you have, try using herbs in pasta, such as spaetzle in a saffron broth or a lima bean mash, a sorrel sauce. I love to make a fondant rutabaga gratin if given the chance.

For salads, try a black radish, apple and red endive salad. A red quinoa and watercress salad mixes nicely for a lovely salad for lunch.

Try a three citrus salad with green chiles, ginger, and a crunchy pea salsa or as a side with hummus, try Jerusalem artichoke chips.

It’s not hard to incorporate more vegetables and vegetable protein into a diet and enhance one already in place. Just be mindful of the needs of each person that comes onboard who say they are a vegetarian or vegan.

Mary Beth Lawton Johnson is a certified executive pastry chef and Chef de Cuisine and has worked on yachts for more than 25 years. Contact her through


About Chef Mary Beth LawtonJohnson

Mary Beth Lawton Johnson is a certified executive pastry chef and Chef de Cuisine and has worked on yachts for more than 25 years.

View all posts by Chef Mary Beth LawtonJohnson →