Here comes Christmas! With it comes all that cooking, celebrating, and never-ending parties. Whether you’re cooking vegan dishes for yourself, a friend or a relative, we’ll make sure you serve a storm! Veganism is on the rise, in the UK there has been a 350% increase in vegans (not to mention vegetarians) since 2006. Even if you're not a vegan yourself, you might very well be entertaining someone who is.
Christmas can, however, still be a difficult time for vegans with everyone focussed on meat and dairy, from the classic turkey with all the trimmings to dairy-filled desserts. We’ve put together some great ideas for vegan food for you to enjoy across the festive period.
If you’re looking for a direct meat replacement, there are plenty of vegan meat substitutes now on the market. Tofu, seitan, jackfruit and tempeh are all great sources of vegan protein. They absorb flavours really well so marinade them with herbs and spices to make an easy delicious meal. Jackfruit makes for an excellent vegan pulled pork. Vegan tofu sausages are a great alternative to pork versions. Try wrapping them in baked or crispy aubergines as an alternative to “pigs in blankets”.
Ditch the animal products in favour of dairy-free protein
Vegan wellingtons or even pastry ‘wreaths’ make excellent centrepieces for the main course. You can stuff them with a mix of mushrooms and red onion or butternut squash. As a starter, we recommend a beautiful vegetable terrine, full of wonderful seasonal colours, or a sweetly caramelised shallot tart (substitute butter).
Be careful about the ingredients in your side dishes, it is very easy to automatically put butter, milk or cream into mashed potatoes for example. There are some easy substitutions like oil (e.g. olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil) instead of butter, though make sure you taste the food as the various kinds can change the flavour of the dish.
For desserts, substitute dairy-free margarine for butter in your Christmas cake and pudding. Make sure you don’t put an egg or milk wash on mince pies or other pastry (like vegetarian wellingtons)!
The same goes if you are catering for gluten-free eaters, it’s much easier to use gluten-free flour (even though it’s more expensive) for all the stuffing instead of making two different batches!
If you don’t have much time on your hands, head to the shops for an easy vegan solution. The Guardian did a rundown of the best vegan food in the main supermarkets, including nut roasts, “no beef” wellingtons and several jellies. They also review vegan party platters from Iceland to Waitrose, perfect for if you’re hosting for a crowd at Christmas or on New Year’s Eve.
Environmentally Friendly Gifts
In recent years, gifting experiences instead of objects has become increasingly popular. Band together with your siblings to get your Mum a spa day or organise a family paintballing session. Restaurants often give out vouchers so you can offer a pizza and a bottle of wine to a good friend. Give a more personalised present with vouchers for tasks you can do, whether it’s taking out the bins or making someone a cake. They can then cash the vouchers in when they’re having a bad day…
Think about sustainable wrapping options, a lot of wrapping paper has a plastic coating that means it cannot be recycled. To be even more eco-friendly reuse newspaper or scrap paper. Alternatively, brown parcel paper makes for a chic package, especially if you stamp Christmas trees or reindeers in coloured inks.
Happy Christmas from all of us at Vitally Vegan HQ