Not that long ago, the idea of a vegan Christmas seemed unusual – impossible maybe – to some. But these days, thanks to the rise of veganism and the increase of plant-based foods in mainstream shops, it’s surprisingly easy to host a plant-based Christmas dinner, and to adapt your menu to cater for vegan guests.
Christmas dinner is basically a roast with bits added on, and the majority of a roast is vegan anyway. There are a few tweaks that may need to be made – use oil to roast the potatoes instead of fat, swap honey for maple syrup on parsnips and carrots and choose one of a wide number of delicious things to roast in place of a turkey or goose.
Here, Andy Scott of vegan bar and eatery Craft Taproom and Claire Gabbott of vegan bakery Cakehole share their tips.
- Plan ahead
If there’s a particular food item you want to serve then chances are that a whole load more vegans will be after it too, so make sure you get it in time. Popular ready made items such as the Celebration Roast or Tofurkey Roast tend to sell out, so head round to your nearest vegan friendly store (Holland and Barrett will usually stock them, or head to Matta’s, Purple Carrot or Honest 2 Goodness) to pick one up and pop it in the freezer.
- Think about a bit on the side
The simplest way to include everyone is to make all the vegetables and side dishes suitable for vegans – eg no butter on the veg, olive oil instead of goose fat on the roast potatoes etc. That way everyone can eat nearly everything on offer.
- What about afters?
There are many ‘accidentally’ vegan products that could come in handy here. Some supermarket mince pies and most puddings are now vegan (particularly budget ranges as they don’t include butter), as are a lot of after dinner mints. Oreos are a great addition to the biscuit tin too.
- Don’t forget the drinks
Most supermarkets these days are quite good about labelling their wines etc, but it’s always worth checking on Barnivore.com if you want to be on the safe side. Some wines, beers such as Carling and Fosters and fruity ciders such as Rekorderlig contain Isinglass which is derived from fish. Popular vegan drinks include – Red Stripe, Heineken, Budweiser, Orchard Pig Cider, Old Mout Cider and quite recently Guinness too. Most craft beers are also vegan friendly.
- Check for hidden ingredients
We all know vegans don’t eat meat, milk and eggs but watch out for ingredients such as honey, gelatine, beeswax, shellac and non-vegan E numbers like E120 – a red food colouring made from beetles!
- Don’t make a big deal out of it
There’s that joke that says: ‘how can you tell if someones vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you’ – but in reality most vegan guests won’t want to be singled out or made to feel like they are causing a fuss or a problem. The Christmas dinner table is not the time for a big debate on why someone is or isn’t tucking into the turkey.
A suggested quick and easy vegan Christmas menu
- Starter – tomato or smashed avocado topped bruschetta
- Main– V Bites Celebration Roast (comes with ‘turkey’, pigs in blankets, and gravy) with all the usual veg
- Pudding – Apple crumble served with Swedish glace ice cream or Alpro soya custard
- Drinks – Oxford Landing wine, Heineken or Old Mout cider
- Nibbles – Booja Booja salted caramel truffles