Whether you’re catering for a crowd of hungry vegans or determined to wow your meat-eating family members with delicious plant-based food, Christmas is a time to go all-out with your cooking.
When it comes to designing a festive vegan menu, there are no limits to how creative you can be. But we thought we’d give any newbie vegans a few starting points for cooking up a Christmas dinner that might bear a close resemblance to the ones you remember from your childhood – with the key difference that absolutely no animals will be harmed!
Bread roll swirls
These make an unusual snack to nibble on prior to the main event and can be filled with anything you like, such as piquant black-olive tapenade, artichoke purée, or homemade pesto. Recipe here.
Coconut, pumpkin and carrot soup
Supping on a brightly coloured bowl of soup is a cheerful way to start your meal, while leaving plenty of room for the courses to follow. Recipe here.
Veggie sausage rolls
We can guarantee these little morsels will be gobbled up in no time! Recipe here.
Savoury stuffed squash
Decorative and delicious! Get the recipe.
Festive vegan roast
Don’t knock a classic. Construct your own nut roast (here’s a basic recipe that can easily be customised) or take it easy in the kitchen with a ready-made version from brands such as Vegusto or Artisan Grains.
Vegusto is offering PETA supporters a 10 per cent discount on its roasts. Learn more here, but be quick. The offer ends at midnight 21 December 2014.
French fishless pie
A hearty pie makes a great focal point for the groaning Christmas table. This French-inspired version, based on a classic regional dish, uses seaweed to create a distinctive “fishy” taste. Alternatively, choose a filling such as chestnut and mushroom for a more traditionally British taste.
Dairy-free bread sauce
Creamy and comforting! Make your own from scratch (recipe here) or opt for a packet mix that substitutes unsweetened soya milk for dairy milk. (Many brands are vegan, but be sure to check the ingredients before buying.)
OK, you don’t really need to “veganise” this one because it’s traditionally free from animal products. All you need are cranberries, sugar, a few spoonfuls of orange juice and (optionally) a splash of red wine or port.
Gravy is the magic ingredient that will bind your whole meal together, so make plenty. We have a sneaky soft spot for the quick-mix powder variety, but recipes abound for homemade vegan gravies, too, such as this classic Onion and Red Wine Gravy by Rose Elliot.
Sumptuous Side Dishes
Brussels sprouts roasted with chestnuts
This method of cooking sprouts in the oven rather than boiling them is sure to win over even steadfast sprout-haters! Add in fried strips of veggie bacon if you’d like to make the dish more substantial.
Sage and onion stuffing
For people who prefer stuffing that hasn’t been inserted into the intimate orifices of a dead bird, this is a foolproof recipe.
Crispy roast potatoes
The ultimate carb of Christmas. No goose fat is needed to make spuds as crispy, fluffy and flavoursome as you like. A few sprigs of herbs such as rosemary, thyme or sage will add variety.
Roasted root vegetables
Drizzle carrots, parsnips and onions with oil and cook them in the oven until meltingly soft – easy and delicious!
Kale, pomegranate and almond salad
This easy-to-prepare salad makes a vibrant green addition to the Christmas table. Simply combine torn kale leaves, pomegranate seeds and toasted almond flakes in a bowl, dress them with balsamic vinaigrette and leave to infuse for a couple of hours before serving.
Spiced red cabbage
Add a dash of cinnamon, allspice and orange zest for subtle festive flavours.
Traditional Christmas pud
Whether shop-bought (many supermarkets, such as the Co-Op, sell vegan puddings) or homemade, this is the quintessential way to finish off your dinner. Serve with soya cream or vegan brandy butter.
Fruit jelly with mixed berries
If you feel like breaking with tradition a little, jelly is always a jolly dessert. Just buy some vegetarian jelly crystals (such as these from Holland & Barrett), add hot water and some fresh fruit and leave to set. A dash of alcohol will give it a slightly more adult flavour.
Poached pears in red wine with cinnamon
This makes for a lighter yet impeccably sophisticated dessert. This version is served with decadent dairy-free caramel ice cream. Get the recipe.
There you have it – a hearty Christmas feast sure to satisfy everyone at the table. And the best thing about vegan celebrations (in addition to knowing that you’ve saved animals’ lives, of course) is that you can indulge to your heart’s content without feeling terrible the next day.
For more tips on compassionate cooking, order a free vegan starter kit today!