Rethinking your usual menus and traditions can be daunting when it’s your first Christmas as a vegan – or you’re hosting a vegetarian or vegan friend or family member.
But with a little extra thought and planning, it’s not too difficult to create a tasty and fun vegan Christmas.
The most important thing to do (ideally early on) is to talk.
If you have a vegan guest this year and don’t know what to cook, simply ask them what they would like!
They may have a favourite dish they’ve eaten in previous years, or may have some brilliant vegan recipes to share with you.
Most people won’t mind you asking and will be delighted that you’re making an effort to make something they will really enjoy – just because someone is vegetarian or vegan, it doesn’t mean they should miss out on a great time and delicious food at Christmas.
Once you’ve decided what to make, it’s important to check ingredients labels carefully as there are some foods you might be surprised aren’t plant-based, for example some soups (milk or cream), wines (milk, egg, fish) most marshmallows and chewy sweets (gelatine) and red food dye (insects).
Hummus served with vegetable sticks and tortilla chips work well as a tasty vegan ‘nibbles’ option – just ensure you check crisps and nuts don’t have any hidden non-vegan ingredients such as milk powder.
Other delicious dip options include salsa and guacamole.
There are lots of ‘fake meat’ alternatives to turkey and pigs in blankets available from pretty much all the supermarkets which many vegetarians and vegans will love – but it’s worth checking with your guest as some don’t feel comfortable eating food that’s trying to replicate meat.
If your vegan guest is a fan, there’s always the classic vegan nut roast or wellington, which can be delicious – especially with added traditional Christmas flavours like cranberry or orange.
Or you could try something completely different that both vegans and meat eaters will enjoy, such as a mezze board with olives and fresh bread and a variety of festive-coloured side dishes with butternut squash, tomatoes and peppers.
Other things to watch out for are non-vegan gravy, and vegetables that have had butter added.
If you’re making cakes and desserts, it’s worth knowing about vegan ‘butter’ (I like Stork’s vegan baking block, although it does contain palm oil), and you can either buy a non-dairy cream or make your own by soaking and blending cashew nuts.
If you’re buying a Christmas pudding and intend to serve it to your resident vegan, double check it’s a plant-based version as most aren’t.
Vegans don’t have to miss out on the cheese board, either!
There are plenty of vegan cheeses available – there’s likely to be a stall at your local vegan market, or most supermarkets now sell a variety of brands including Violife and Sheese.
Your vegan guest will also really appreciate it if you show that you know celebrating a vegan Christmas isn’t just about the food.
They’ll be super impressed if you’ve checked that festive decorations, the clothes you wear and gifts are also all plant-based.
Of course, finding the right gift for your vegan loved ones can be tricky, particularly if you’re not vegan yourself.
To get you started, I’ve picked out my top five vegan-friendly Christmas presents to help you find the perfect gift for that special vegan in your life.
I think they’d also make excellent ethical gifts for your non plant-based friends and family members!
I’ll receive a small commission on some products purchased via affiliate links on this page.
Vegan Christmas recipe book – Amazon, £9.79
Audrey Fitzjohn’s beautiful hardback recipe book is a foolproof guide to making plant-based meals throughout the festive season.
Your recipient can’t fail to be impressed by your thoughtfulness!
Vegan-friendly cheese hamper, Amazon, £34.99
This special cheese hamper from Chuckling Cheese features plant-based cheese in both cheddar and mozzarella flavours.
The hamper also includes pickled onions, hot sauce, garlic chilli ham and rhubarb gin. Delicious!
‘Eat fruit not friends’ tote bag, Amazon £8.99
This is a good quality, reusable tote bag with the perfect design for your vegan or vegetarian recipient.
It’s available in lots of colours – my favourites are kiwi green and jute natural, but – to be honest – they’re all gorgeous!
Vegan treats and wine hamper, Amazon, £59
This hamper includes a bottle of Argentinian red wine, accompanied by gourmet coconut and cacao air popped popcorn, oatmeal and raisin biscuits, cocoa nib chocolate truffles, vegan friendly fudge and avocado dark chocolate.
It’s a particularly special and thoughtful gift for your special someone.
Vegan sweets mix bag, Amazon, £11.69
This vegan fizzy sour sweets collection in environmentally friendly kraft paper packaging is made by Bon Bag.
The naughty but delicious selection includes: sour dummies, blue jelly babies, cola bottles, melon slices, twin cherries, fizzy tongues, sour apples, fizzy strawberries, cherry cola bottles and teddy bears.
Chewy sweets that don’t include gelatine can be hard to find, so this is the perfect present to satisfy your plan-based friend’s craving!
I hope my tips help you host a fantastic vegan Christmas this year. Let me know if you have any tips of your own!
Prices and information are correct at the time of writing (Tuesday 8 November 2022).