It’s not as hard as it sounds.
Contrary to popular belief vegans do not just eat a mound of vegetables for Christmas dinner. Even with a quick search on YouTube, flick through a food magazine or asking a vegan friend you’ll realise the days of a bland vegan Christmas are very much behind us.
Firstly, we must be realistic, there are many festive foods vegans obviously do not eat, starting with turkey of course. In the UK, millions of turkeys are eaten for Christmas alone. This is fortunately (for the turkey!) off the menu in a vegan Christmas dinner, along with any other meat and including fish. Other things to exclude are Yorkshire puddings, which made from eggs and dairy. Perhaps less obvious, a substitute must also be found for honey, often used when cooking parsnips, for example. Traditionally of course, Christmas is a very meat-centric holiday but it definitely should not have to stay that way.
Vegetables are underestimated, especially at Christmas. For the typical omnivore, veg is unfortunately an afterthought, something tossed in a pot of boiling water for (usually) too long. Discoloured, limp and unexciting are how most would describe vegetables as part of their Christmas dinner. With a little more attention though, veg can be totally transformed. Small changes can make all the difference. Instead of boiling your sprouts until they are a somewhat yellowish marmite-food, why not sauté with onion and garlic until caramelised? Likewise, why do we force down bitter chunks of carrot when you can roast them in orange and maple syrup to enhance their natural sweetness? Admittedly, it’s a little less healthy, but think about it this way, you’re reducing the calories so much by skipping the butter-basted turkey, pigs in blankets and goose fat in the roast potatoes. There’s plenty left to indulge in a cruelty-free Christmas dinner.
If you’re still looking for something more substantial and a more exciting than the infamous nut roast, there are some great ideas out there to replace the turkey. For example, YouTube channel ‘hotforfood’ recently put out an easy-to-follow recipe for a puff-pastry pie with layers of sweet potato mash, a ‘meaty’ lentil and mushroom stew and topped of with cranberry sauce. Other alternatives to Christmas staples are out there to be found, such as Jamie Oliver’s mixed mushroom stuffing with a hazelnut twist – if you find yourself missing the nut roast. No mushrooms? No problem! Stuff and roast a butternut squash with just about anything you like… don’t forget to top it all off with the Vegan Society’s special gravy!
My point is, vegans no longer have to settle for the lesser parts of a traditional Christmas dinner. The surge in veganism in the last few years has provided a wealth of ideas for flavourful festive eating without the cruelty, so see what you find and be creative.