Worried about Christmas as a plant-powered person? Get prepared and clued up on how to make your vegan Christmas merry and bright below.
Though despite the significant increase in its popularity and population, vegans often face difficulty when bringing their ethical beliefs to traditional events based around meat, dairy or animal conflict. But why? Most of the quintessential festive dishes feast are, or can be made vegan (stuffing, potatoes, parsnips, apple sauce, dressed and steamed vegetables, mince pies, mulled wine, even gravy!).
Read on and find out you can have a very easy vegan Christmas!
Prepare, prepare, prepare
It may sound obvious, but don’t be fooled in taking it for granted. Think about what your Christmas plans entail this season.
Attending lots of late, post-work dos at random burly bars? Eat before or suggest dining at a space which caters to all eaters.
Invited to a friend's end of year party? Think about what the event will entail and whether or not the host will accommodate. Perhaps prepare or purchase a couple of dips which are veg-head friendly, to avoid asking the host to make something just for you—this way you are actually making their role as host easier.
Going abroad with a family? Ensure your flight meal is covered correctly; you’ve rammed enough emergency snacks in your suitcase and you’ve scoured your arrival destination on the endlessly helpful happycow.com for possible eateries (an amazing site which lists all the local vegan/vegetarian-friendly spots near you).
Almost all chain restaurants have a modest vegan menu now, so if location and time permits a meal out with your loved ones then suggest doing so! Chances are everyone will enjoy being able to indulge in the holiday fever and not worry about flurrying around the kitchen preparing something themselves. Plus this artfully avoids any conflict around dietary choices—as you can choose a good spot everyone can enjoy their meal.
Read more: Should we all be vegan?
Include your friends and family
If you're in the company of family/friends who are particularly averse to or apprehensive of your lifestyle, take the lead by accommodating both your own and your family’s needs, preparing additional servings of your meal to offer to willing mouths.
Many meat-eaters are simply self-conscious and may feel your plant-based decisions are a critique of their own choices. But by including them into your choices and diet, they can become more understanding and settled. After a few quick searches on your favourite recipe sites, you’ll be sure to fine some delicious dishes you can whip up to bring and share. Who knows, you may be able to convert them with your delicious vegan nut roast!
Additionally, if your holiday allows, invite your family members into helping make your Christmas dishes—they will be more accepting and encouraging of your dairy-free mince pies or no-pigs-pigs in blankets if they feel they've been a part of it. Plus, once they witness how simple and delicious ingredients and recipes are, they won’t feel so alien and distant towards it.
Supermarkets can be your saviour
If you don’t have the time or energy to prepare anything yourself, the UK supermarkets have got you covered left, right and centre. Having acknowledged that the vegan customer is one they rapidly need to impress, they now have extensive Christmas free-from ranges.
From the high brow Marks and Spenser and Waitrose to Sainsbury's, Asda and Tesco to the pocket-friendly Aldi and Lidl, grocers are all releasing competitive dishes to impress their vegan customers.
Keep your eyes peeled for Asda’s Vegan Festive Wellington, Rainbow Vegetable Tarts, Vegan Cranberry and Apple Stuffing Balls and Extra Special Golden Vegan Swirls. As well as Waitrose’s rich and creamy pates (Butternut, Pumpkin Seeds & Pine Nut with Tomato or Chilli Chutney and Mushroom & Chestnut with Red Onion & Balsamic Chutney) and their beautiful Iced Fruit Cake (created in collaboration with Fiona Cairns).
Dealing with comments
No matter how hard you try, sometimes comments will be unavoidable. For many, this time is traditionally greatly associated with meat, so go into the day knowing that you may face unsettlement and confrontation.
Steer away from possible quarrels ("I tried so hard with the turkey, won’t you just try it?!” … “why are you spoiling everyone's fun?”…“I can’t make you anything…you can be really difficult!”) with preprepared answers you can reel off—quickly ending any possible arguments. The team at Veganuary have a great page here on this.
You may be made to feel a nuisance as the only herbivore in attendance, but remember this is your day too! Be cool, calm and confident—set the tone by keeping things light-hearted and inclusive.
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter