Creating the perfect Christmas dinner can be tricky – and when your main festive meal is all about turkey, goose-fat potatoes and buttered veg, how on earth can you create something delicious for a vegan to eat? Not only that, but do they eat honey? What do you put in their hot drink? What about dessert? Well worry no longer – let our easy guide to catering for vegans make things simple and easy this Christmas.
The first thing to note is that vegans are all different. Some eat honey, others don’t. Some won’t mind you cooking their roast potatoes in the oven at the same time as yours, some will. One thing that will make everything much easier, is to have a short conversation about what they find okay, especially regarding what can go in the oven at the same time. They will be really happy to talk to you about what they enjoy too – opening the conversation will make them like they aren’t just an afterthought, and will avoid any problems you might have on the big day.
Unfortunately, there are some beers and wines out there that aren’t suitable for your vegan guests. Ales and red wines in particular tend to be clarified with isinglass, which is made from fish bladders. Some supermarkets like The Co-op label their alcohol as being vegan friendly. Otherwise, a quick Google search is all you’ll need. Also, most vegans know what’s readily available for them – just ask!
If you want to avoid the honey issue altogether, the simple solution would be to use a substitute. Otherwise, ask your guest if they eat honey. If you’re roasting parsnips, maple syrup is delicious in place of honey. In desserts, switch honey for golden syrup. If you’re adamant that honey is the way forward, then you might have to think of an alternative dessert for your vegan guest – but that’s easy. There’s plenty of vegan ice creams in supermarkets, and if you check out the ‘free from’ section, there’ll be something suitable.
- The main course
So, what exactly can you put on their plate? Obviously they’ll be able to enjoy all the veg that you’re preparing, just make sure their portion is done with vegan butter – dairy free butter is everywhere these days, including local supermarkets. If you’re serving mashed potato, use plenty of vegan butter, and if you want them to feel really special, you can buy oat or soy cream! For the roast potatoes, use olive oil, maybe a few cloves of garlic and lots of seasoning.
Instead of turkey, there are countless options – it all depends how much time you have and how much effort you’re willing to put in. There are some delicious meat substitute roasts that come out at Christmas. You can pick them up from health food shops – they’re really easy to cook, and it means you won’t have to create anything from scratch.
If you do fancy rustling up something from scratch, then this stuffed butternut squash is a great shout. So is mushroom wellington. You could even put together a nut roast, but just make sure there’s plenty of gravy to go with it! Speaking of gravy – you might be surprised to find that Bisto beef gravy, and the supermarket brand equivalent is vegan, which makes things even easier!
- Desserts and sweet treats
One of the most difficult things about being vegan is being unable to partake in the yearly tin of Quality Street. Chocolate is one of the trickier elements of a vegan diet to crack. You may have to venture to a shop like Hotel Chocolat or have a nosey online for something sweet for your guest. Otherwise, a bar of Fry’s Chocolate Cream is a great alternative. If you like to pass around sweets, then be very mindful of gelatine. Lots of sweets contain this stuff, which is made from pig or cow bones – Haribo is an example.
Vegan desserts are delicious, and you might be surprised by what’s already out there. Lots of supermarkets have “accidentally” vegan Christmas pudding and mince pies, just check the box for milk, eggs and other animal ingredients. If you want to make something from scratch, then you’re open to tons of options. There are thousands of Christmassy recipes online – from cheesecake and sticky toffee pudding to oat and cranberry cookies!
- Hot drinks
If there’s a key ingredient you need to get in for your guest, its plant milk. If they like to drink tea and coffee, then ask them what they prefer. Most vegans will be more than happy with soy milk, but it’s always nice to ask. There are so many different varieties available, and things like hazelnut milk taste wonderful in coffee, so offer it to all your guests!
- Simple switches
Making meringue? Swap eggs with the water from a can of chick peas – it behaves in the exact same way. Add icing sugar and vanilla exactly like normal. You can make mini candy cane meringue bites like these!
Glazing pastry? Use soy milk instead of egg. You still get a lovely sheen.
Having a cup of tea? Swap your traditional biscuits for Hobnobs, Party Rings and Oreos, they’re all vegan!
For breakfast, replace your scrambled egg with tofu scramble, the texture is so alike! It just needs a little seasoning to kick up the flavour.
If you’re baking and wondering what to use for binding, flax seeds make a great alternative to eggs. Or use a mushed up banana!