By Annalisa D’Alessio
When picturing the quintessentially British Christmas meal, many will automatically think of turkey, lamb, gammon or mutton accompanied by copious amounts of cheese and wine. Though delicious, this version of the modern festive feast might not be suitable for everyone. The last few years have seen a steady rise in popularity of meat-free diets; this has brought with it a boom in demand for vegan and veggie-friendly menu options—being vegan and vegetarian has never been easier than it is today. Whether you’ve got veggie friends coming over or are trying a new diet yourself, here is some vegetarian and vegan-friendly food inspiration that’s guaranteed to be a hit on the big day.
Vegan Nut Roast
Being vegan doesn’t necessarily mean having to compromise on flavour—nut roasts certainly don’t skimp out on any. Construct your own: a great, basic recipe calls for pine nuts, sunflower seeds, chestnut purée, mushrooms, spinach, sweet potato and tofu. Shape it as a meatloaf or place it on a bed of vegan suet pastry for an added crunch. Serve with all your favourite roast trimmings, including roast potatoes (take care not to cook them using animal fat, butter or honey) and vegetables.
Packed with fresh vegetables as well as festive chestnuts, this vegetarian main dish can be the centrepiece of a Christmas Day meal as well as a Sunday roast. Substitute the beef fillet with a mixture of sweet potatoes, onions, kale, spinach and nuts and wrap the filling in a puff pastry parcel. Alternatively, try stuffing vegan-friendly suet pastry with beetroot, squash and pesto for an even healthier main. Serve with mash or roasted carrots and parsnips and a generous serving of vegetarian gravy.
Vegan and Vegetarian Drinks
According to the UK Vegan Society, it is not uncommon for beer and wine to be clarified using animal products including gelatine, casein and egg albumen. Distilled drinks like vodka, whiskey and rum are generally suitable for restrictive diets, as the distillation process requires no clarification. However, make sure to check the label; if the liquor is coloured, there is a good chance the manufacturer used artificial—or animal—products to achieve the hue. As for wine, prosecco, beer and cider, there are makers in Europe that produce specialised drinks suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Starters and Nibbles
Every holiday and get together needs a wide range of appetisers, nibbles and starters to get the party going. One of the easiest vegan-friendly offerings is bruschetta. Top French or Italian slices of toasted bread with anything from creamy spinach dips and mushrooms to sundried tomatoes and truffle paste. Another creative and visually pleasing snack or starter, bread rolls are suitable for almost everyone’s dietary preferences. There is little more to them than flour, water, yeast and salt. Fill them with a homemade black olive tapenade, pesto sauce, artichoke paste or spiced hummus. For a gluten-free option, take care to use the right kind of flour.
Gooey baked cheese with plenty of crusty bread for dipping is not only a popular vegetarian-friendly dish but a popular—and tasty—offering for meat lovers too. Many supermarkets sell Camembert that comes with an oven-proof ceramic container, making this an even simpler dish to cook and serve. For a Christmassy twist on this classic, chop some dried cranberries and mixed nuts and sprinkle them onto the melted cheese.
Vegan and Vegetarian Desserts
Chocolate truffles are a true Christmas staple in most British households. All you’ll need to make vegan-friendly versions are dates, cocoa powder and orange juice. Egg-free and dairy-free, these treats can be consumed as an after dinner treat or given away as gifts. Similarly, no Christmas would be complete without the odd bit of fudge. By using unprocessed and plant-based ingredients, you’ll be able to create moreish treats suitable for everyone. Mix coconut butter, creamy peanut butter and pure maple syrup until glossy and chill for a few hours to set. Cut into squares and you’ll have a delicious vegan treat to share with your guests.