Who says a meat- and dairy-free Christmas can’t be festive? We love these inspired ideas from vegan foodies across the web.

Forget Veganuary. Plant-based diets are fast emerging from the realms of hippydom and crossing over to the mainstream. As more and more people engage, not only with concerns over their own health, but with the health of the planet and the impact of animal farming on it, non-meat alternatives gain traction every day. The good news is that as the trend gathers pace, a growing number of cooks and foodies are adding their voices – and crucially their recipes – to the online larder of ideas.

And as our thoughts turn to Christmas, there is no need to make-do with potatoes and carrots while everyone else tucks into the pigs-in-blankets and turkey. Here are some of our favourites for the festive season, and the big day itself.

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Apples and Pecans
Jessica In The Kitchen

Sure, we know it’s bold for our opening vegan Christmas gambit to feature the dreaded Brussels sprout, but hear us out on this one. Sprouts get a bad rap, but that bilious school dinner vibe is thanks only to boiling these actually pretty wonderful veg to within an inch of their life. Jessica In The Kitchen, an award-winning photographer, videographer and home cook who is evangelical about the myriad benefits of a plant-based diet, has this winning side-dish, which roundly proves how tasty the miniature cabbages can be. The roasting brings out their natural sweetness, accentuated by the apple, and the dish is given texture and crunch by the pecans. We’ll be eating this all winter, not just for Christmas.

Cherry Pot Pies
Katie Beskow

These delightful sweet pies are good all year round, but they look so Christmassy that we’ll be munching them whilst lolling round the fire all the way through Twixtmas. Make sure your (pre-rolled pastry) is dairy-free and that you have soya milk in for brushing. Once all set, prepare for utter delight as the sweet, dark juices run down your chin when you tuck in (these beauties most definitely require a plate). Katie Beskow releases her fourth cookbook, Five Ingredient Vegan, this month, decisively proving the power of the Internet to launch cookery careers. Having begun blogging as Little Miss Meat Free in 2013, she was soon teaching classes here, being booked for food festivals there, and publishing books in between just for good measure. We’re big fans as she proves again and again that tastiness does not rely on animal products.

Vegan Nut Roast
BBC Good Food

We know, we know, the nut roast has come to be something of a joke, a byword for people who knit their own yogurt and dress strictly in hessian. Except, as this recipe attests, the humble nut roast can really be something delicious. This version is sweet and hearty, thanks to the parsnip; full of big festive flavours and spice (rosemary and nutmeg), it is a big ring of textured tastiness. Don’t dismiss the nut roast before you’ve tried an example this good.

Giant Vegan Wellington
Olive Magazine

We can always rely on Olive for a real showstopper, and they don’t come more resplendent than this Christmas dinner party pièce de résistance. It is fairly intensive on the effort front, but if you have the time, it is the kind of dish that’s so nourishing and substantial that it doesn’t need too much by way of accompaniment. Meat is replaced by swede, breadcrumbs and nuts amongst other things, but it’s the decorated golden pastry that make this recipe such a festive triumph. Only the most committed carnivore could grizzle about the absence of their pound of flesh here. A great alternative to turkey or goose on the big day.

Vegan Gravy
Jamie Oliver

This super-easy recipe answers the big gravy question when it comes to Christmas lunch (or, indeed, any Sunday roast vegans might fancy tucking into). After all, as many of us believe, the meat in a roast is really only a vehicle for the accoutrements, and drenching your vegan alternative dinner in this beautifully rich gravy is never going to be a bad idea. Rather than relying on animal products to supply flavour, this recipe instead uses port, blackcurrant, red wine vinegar and Marmite to pack a punch. Vegan or not, this comes highly recommended.

Roasted Brussel Sprout with Pear
By Vanilla and Bean

Sorry, we will stop banging on about sprouts (maybe) but this recipe is too tasty to miss (we’re not paid by the sprout industry to say this stuff, we promise). We just really love this variant on the roasted Brussels recipe, but this time with pear and thyme, which makes them extra special; the perfect combination of texture, thanks to the crunchy blackened exterior of the sprout, and sweet and savoury flavour.

Cranberry Sauce With Orange Juice
The Blender Girl

Is there anything more Christmassy than a big bowl of cranberry sauce? We think not. We love this version by the unambiguously named Blender Girl – she really, really likes blending her food – for its total simplicity. Cranberries, cherries, raisins maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon and some orange juice to pack some festive zest: and it all takes just 15 minutes. We’ll be making extras to dollop over all our leftovers for days to come.

Wild Rice, Cranberry and Pine Nut Stuffing
One Green Planet

When considering Christmas minus meat, we have to admit that stuffing can be a tough nut to crack. Sure, there’s always sage and onion to fall back on, but we like something that really packs a flavour punch, especially for Christmas Day itself. Happily, this wonderful recipe from One Green Planet, is the answer. It’s stuffed (sorry) with herbs alongside the cranberries and vegan Worcestershire sauce, which really gives it a bite. Even the most carnivorous friends will clamouring for more.

Vegan eggnog
BBC Good Food

Ok, we’ll admit, we’ve always been slightly suspicious of eggnog as vaguely sounding like a power protein drink of the like bodybuilders down with abandon (apologies to American friends for whom it is a festive staple). But this vegan version has us converted. Who doesn’t want to warm up with a drink containing dates, cashews, almond milk and brandy of a cold winter night? Eggnog, you’re our new best thing.


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By Nancy Alsop
November 2019