With Christmas fast approaching, Chloe D’Inverno helps us to plan a fabulous vegan Christmas dinner that’s sure to be a festive hit!
If you think that vegans miss out on a hearty and filling Christmas meal, that is where you are wrong! Let me show you my typical vegan Christmas dinner to prove I am just as happily full as my omnivorous family members, and maybe you’ll learn some vegan recipes and products to try yourself this festive season.
Funnily enough, Christmas Day is actually my veganniversary! Soon it will be six years since I made the switch to a plant-based lifestyle. The thought of going vegan had been circling my mind for a while before I made the decision, and I had cut down on my intake of animal products prior to the big switch. It was when I sat down for Christmas dinner and saw what my vegan sister was eating that I just knew I had to make the change! It looked hearty… it looked delicious… it looked like everything I wanted in a Christmas dinner, without bringing harm to animals or the planet. And with her having plenty of vegan food all to herself, she didn’t mind sharing with me… as far as voluntary sharing goes with siblings!
So, without further adieu, let’s say goodbye to turkey, and hello to a delicious nut roast this Christmas!
You’d be quite surprised how simple some of the swaps I will be talking about are. Often, it’s as easy as switching butter for a non-dairy alternative (Flora is my favourite), and cow’s milk for oat, soya, or cashew milk (just to name a few… the list of non-dairy milk seems endless!). So, if you like to add butter when cooking your vegetables, simply use a vegan alternative, and when mashing your potatoes, do the same!
Vegetables… there’s so many vegetables to choose from! Take your pick, then pick some more, and choose how you’d like to cook them to make your vegan Christmas meal extra special. The majority of a ‘normal’ Christmas dinner tends to be vegetables anyway (at least in my experience), with roasted carrots, parsnips and potatoes, mashed swedes…and don’t forget the steamed broccoli and cauliflower! Best of all, these vegetables are vegan (as you already know!), so you just need to change what you cook them in.
If you’re worried about a vegan Christmas dinner being ‘bland’, don’t be afraid to spice it up! Roast your vegetables in a store-bought spice mix (my favourite is the Fried Potato Mix from Flying Tiger), make your own, or buy some fresh herbs to add to your roasting dish. There are also plenty of recipes online…do not fear, Jamie Oliver is here! His website gives plenty of options for you to choose from, from a beginner-friendly ‘Roasted Root Veg’ recipe, to a more complex ‘Vegan m’hanncha’ recipe. The list is mighty.
BBC GoodFood is also a safe bet for easy-to-follow and scrumptious recipes. I know that this year I am absolutely going to try (and succeed!) in making their vegan wellington… and take a peek at their cranberry and lentil bake, it looks heavenly!
Christmas dinner doesn’t have to be as plain as turkey and veg covered in gravy… why not shake it up with some new recipes to make your feast extra fancy (and plant-based) this year?
But, of course, not everyone has the time or commitment to be making meals like this. That is why I am so pleased to announce that many supermarkets are upping their game this year! Over the last few years, more vegan options have been popping up all over the place…especially at special times of the year like Christmas! Have a browse of Morrison’s special vegan Christmas selection, including ‘No Pig In Blankets’ and a ‘Vegan Sausage Wreath’! Or look at Tesco’s marvellously extensive range of plant-based products, with subcategories like ‘Meat-free Mains’ and ‘Sides and Trimmings’, splitting these into vegetarian and vegan so you don’t get confused.
Looking through these myself, I honestly cannot contain my excitement for my Christmas dinner this year. Although I promised myself I would try some new vegan recipes, it would be rude not to try some of what the supermarkets offer!
If realistic meat-alternatives aren’t your thing and you’d rather try something more, let’s say, obviously vegan… try a nut roast this Christmas! I have been enjoying these for years, and not just on special occasions. I can’t be expected to only treat myself once a year…right?
My all time favourite has to be Artisan’s Mediterranean Sundried Tomato Nut Roast; I purchase mine from Holland & Barrett, but it’s also available in supermarkets like Morrison’s as well as in your local health food stores. While there are many other brands that make delicious nut roasts, you could even dare to make your own. Veggielicious have shared their perfectly festive chestnut and cranberry nut roast, or my most frequently visited website for vegan recipes, Loving it Vegan, have a lovely recipe for one with mushrooms!
Nevertheless, we can’t forget about the extra little bits that make a Christmas dinner truly a Christmas Dinner. My all time favourite part… stuffing! I will admit, stuffing has become a regular part of my roast dinners throughout the year, but even for all you folk without a stuffing addiction, it’s a staple for Christmas dinner. From experience, all the boxed stuffing I have found in shops has been vegan! So you don’t even need to scour the aisles or any websites to find a vegan one…they’re already waiting for you! You can’t beat Paxo’s Classic Sage & Onion Stuffing, but I have looked for a few extra special ones in case you want something a little fancier. Try Morrison’s Wild Sage, Roasted Onion and Chesnut Stuffing, Tesco’s Apple and Cranberry Stuffing, or Wicked’s Pepper and Smoked Sage Stuffing.
Let’s not forget about the condiments. Sauces…oh, the delicious sauces! Luckily, most will be vegan, but you have to watch out for the sneakily added ‘milk’ or ‘milk powder’… and yes, I’m confused as to why this is added too. You can’t fully enjoy your Christmas feast without a dollop of classic applesauce or even cranberry sauce if you’re feeling more adventurous. As a sauce connoisseur, I have tried most supermarket’s ‘own brand’ applesauces and while ASDA’s is the best if you want a chunky applesauce, Coleman’s can’t be beat for it’s smooth, sweet taste. To conclude on the sauces, most are vegan so don’t fret!
Gravy is where it gets even simpler. Luckily, vegan gravy is widely sold across UK supermarkets! My favourite will always be onion gravy, and you can get vegan versions when buying most supermarket’s own-brands. Even Bisto’s onion gravy is vegan, while vegetable gravy granules are an obvious choice as well. However, if you want a more ‘meaty’ taste, opt for one of 10 Bisto gravy granules that are vegan, choose a supermarket’s own brand, or alternatively find any brand you fancy and check the label, ensuring it doesn’t have meat in it!
So, there we have it! A fully vegan Christmas dinner for all to enjoy. It wasn’t too complicated, was it? Cutting down your meat consumption or dairy intake is healthy for you, the animals and the planet, even if you just try it out for Christmas. And you can do this whilst still enjoying a heavenly, festive feast.
I wish you the best of luck with your plant-based endeavours this holiday season!
About the Author: Chloe D’Inverno is a third year English Language and Linguistics student at the University of York. She has a passion for veganism since making the change in 2016, and is now on the path to further help the environment by doing her part in regards to sustainability and finding zero-waste alternatives.