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I have a cast iron skillet and one of the guests coming for dinner is vegan. Since cast iron is seasoned by all kinds of grease over time I wonder if this is suitable for vegans. I don't want to offend anyone or witness some drama.

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Folks, if you disagree with any of the answers, downvote them and/or submit your own. Comments are for requesting clarifications on the question and occasionally for leaving quick tips or related information. –  Aaronut Sep 5 '13 at 12:13
    
possible duplicate of Could a cast iron skillet change its ways and be kosher for a vegan? –  mfg Sep 5 '13 at 21:17

4 Answers 4

up vote 16 down vote accepted

A vegan is not going to eat your pan, just the food that was made on it. As no animals were harmed in the making of your pan (well, probably but how would you know) the pan itself wouldn't be an issue. Of course if a tiny bit of pan seasoning could go into the food, however anything else used in the preparation of the meal like cutting boards could cause a small amount of meat product to go into the food as well. Your kitchen is not vegan, and if a vegan has a problem with that they should not come over for a meal.

I'd be extremely surprised if the subject of your pots and pans came up to be honest, vegans I know appreciate people going to the effort of making a vegan meal for them.

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You'd have to ask your vegan to be absolutely sure. If they're practical, they'll acknowledge that there might be a bit of meat fat polymerized onto the pan but they won't be actually eating it, as long as you've seasoned and cleaned well. If however they're sufficiently strict, they could conceivably say, no, it's touching an animal product, I won't eat it.

I wouldn't call that person a common vegan (most are more practical), a reasonable vegan (they're not actually consuming animal products), or a polite guest (if you have extremely rare dietary restrictions you should communicate them clearly), but it's at least possible, so I feel it's worth pointing out since you sounded like you might be prioritizing avoiding offense over reason. You could in general safely assume she's the practical kind - I don't know any vegetarians (or vegans) who would be that picky. But if you can't ask her, there's of course no way to be totally sure, so if you want to make sure she'll eat everything and think she could be a very strict vegan, I suppose you could find another pan.

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I don't know "my" vegan. I know she's coming with some people and I will cook some vegan dishes, just don't know if I need to go and get another pan somewhere. –  Ska Sep 4 '13 at 20:45
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@Ska: Please don't buy a new pan. If the vegan has excessive cooking issues, she will let you know in advance and/or bring her own food. Normal vegans will be OK with your pans. –  Cerberus Sep 4 '13 at 21:04
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@Ska The point was supposed to be, if you don't know her, it's possible (though unlikely and unreasonable) that she might object. –  Jefromi Sep 4 '13 at 21:07
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A vegan coming to a non-vegan's home for a meal clearly knows the kitchen contains cooking utensils that have cooked animal products. If that's an issue for them, it's entirely their responsibility as a polite guest to communicate that to the host well in advance. Even more polite would be for them to just decline the invitation entirely rather than hint that they expect the host to sterilize their kitchen of all things they consider unclean. –  Carey Gregory Sep 5 '13 at 4:24
    
@CareyGregory Again, the point is that it's possible, not that it's reasonable or polite. If you happen to have an extra pan and you deliberately avoid using the animal fat seasoned skillet for the vegan things, it's not like she's going to complain. –  Jefromi Sep 5 '13 at 7:32

I am a vegetarian and I am totally put off by the idea of seasoned pans that don't get cleaned with soap and water. One of the reasons I am a vegetarian is because I consider meat to be unclean (not a religious objection, just my own many-years' judgment), and I won't eat out of a pan I would consider uncleaned, which seasoned pans would be to me. It isn't that I don't understand the chemistry---I do---I know the germs are destroyed by the heat. But the concept of having my food cooked in a pan that is never actually stripped of its old oil (for the sake of the iron pan's surface health and nonstickability) makes me know that seasoned pans would not be for me, even with someone else cooking for me, and I love to be cooked for. Just a weigh-in here...also, all the vegans I've ever known are wayyyy fussier than I am, and I would be surprised that they wouldn't object to that type of pan.

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What people seem to be missing in some of these answers is that some people will become very ill upon eating trace amounts of animal material. Ask you guest if it is suitable or inform your guest of your intent so they can decide for themselves if they would like to eat your food.

There's no dishonor in asking the question.

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I dunno, it seems to me that "person who becomes very ill upon eating trace amounts of animal material" == "person who died in infancy because of nutritional deficiencies". Or something. –  Marti Jun 20 at 19:56
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I'm sorry @Marti. Not everyone shares your intestinal fortitude. This isn't a question of beliefs or foodlosophy. The simple truth is that I know (and cook for) people who would become ill from eating off a cast iron skillet seasoned with animal fat. –  Preston Fitzgerald Jun 20 at 20:01
    
Also, a person's current autoimmune system is not necessarily related to their biology at birth. –  Preston Fitzgerald Jun 20 at 20:02
    
I agree, I have a friend who is highly allergic and would need to be hospitalised if in contact with any cross contamination –  Enilorac Jul 18 at 11:21
    
@Enilorac those people would probably inform the host of their complications. –  phant0m Jul 24 at 16:47

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