Now that the cold months are here and more than ever we want to sit at the table to share our culinary creations, to delight ourselves with good stories, and for the hours to fly by after dinner.
We all have different ways of celebrating, marking our achievements and making this significant date uniquely special for us. But food is, without a doubt, a common thread that joins us together as the human animals that we are. This is true for our most special occasions, including religious events such as a baptism or communion, as well as those special events like weddings; coming of age, and even going around the sun one more time on our birthdays.
Special dates, such as Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, the celebration of all saints or patron saint festivities, are always good occasions to sit down and enjoy some of that Roman carpe diem. However, for those of us who live guided by our principles of not harming other animals, people, or the planet as much as possible (honoring that ancient Hindu concept of ahimsa), sometimes these holidays can be a point of friction with our loved ones. However, celebrating while enjoying 100% plant-based food is totally possible and you just have to have the will to discuss this, and maybe even negotiate, with friends and family.
Tips for Planning a Vegan Christmas Lunch
If you are going to make a vegan dinner or lunch this holiday season, we have prepared some delicious recipes to give you ideas on how to delight and maybe even surprise your guests. You can download our free Christmas Recipe e-booklet here.
Six Tips for Vegans at Christmas
- Before the big day, ask your host whether there will be animal products on the table and express your discomfort and your limits if you feel that way. Remember that if it’s your house, you have the right to set your rules: everyone can eat vegan for one day.
- Take into account other people’s food restrictions, such as allergies or intolerances, or if there is someone else who for religious or other reasons should, for example, avoid alcohol. This will help ensure there is enough variety for everyone and make people feel welcome and special.
- You may like to prepare several different light starters with plenty of fruits and vegetables. That way, there will be something for everyone! Options include baked asparagus with a sweet and sour mustard sauce and agave syrup; green leafy salad with nuts and seasonal fruits with a fig jam vinaigrette; grilled pears with vegan cheese, agave syrup and chopped walnuts; grilled tomatoes with garlic and parsley and modena vinegar. Or try a typical vegan cheese and cold cuts board.
- Don’t underestimate how much people can eat at a feast! Any leftovers can be given to guests as “doggie bags” or you can enjoy them over the following days to avoid food waste. Freeze whatever you can.
- When it comes to the main meal, some people like to veganize the foods that are traditional in their own culture, communities, and families, while others prefer to do something completely different. For many, there is a centerpiece such as a seitan “beef” wellington or something similar made with puff pastry (make sure the dough is vegan, not all of them are) and plenty of side dishes, condiments, sauces, and gravy. But it’s your day, so serve what you like. If everyone loves it, you may just find you’ve started a new tradition!
- Don’t forget dessert. You can make vegan versions of your favorite sweets or buy them if they are available locally. Among our favorites are the Italian traditional panettone, Christmas pudding with brandy butter, and sticky toffee pudding.
Nine Tips for Those Welcoming Vegan Guests
If you’re not vegan yourself but someone you love is and you’re feeling a bit worried about what to cook or how to navigate the special day, we got you covered too. Here are our main takes when inviting a vegan for Christmas.
- Plan food and gifts ahead of time. If you’re not sure if something is suitable, just ask!
- If you make all the food vegan, it will ensure no one feels marginalized or left out and everyone can share in the same experience. There are plenty of festive recipes on our site and many more on the internet. Don’t be daunted by them. Most meals can be veganized quite easily and are every bit as enjoyable.
- If creating a fully vegan meal is not possible, your vegan guests would almost certainly prefer if whole animals were kept off the table. Instead, you might bring any non-vegan dishes to the table already served.
- Find out people’s favorite dishes and make them vegan. If it seems overwhelming, it is fine to ask your guests to bring a dish to help you out. They’ll usually be very glad to help.
- When cooking and serving, be mindful of not putting animal products and vegan foods in the same dish or pan. This is a simple but powerful gesture.
- Refrain from talking about where the non-vegan food came from or making comments like “the lamb is so tender”. For vegans, that piece of meat will always be seen as the living creature she once was, and those kinds of comments can be distressing.
- Keep any sarcastic vegan-bashing jokes and comments to a minimum. Vegans have heard them all before, and they just want to enjoy the day with you without feeling they need to defend their decisions and principles. If you’re genuinely curious, please ask people kindly about their lifestyle and choices.
- Look for gifts in specialized shops such as health food stores or online vegan outlets. Many will have the “vegan” stamp to help guide you or you can search online for that perfect cruelty-free gift.
- Food-heavy holidays can be a bit stressful for vegans so please be patient with them. Vegans live by their principles of not wishing to cause harm, which is difficult when suffering is all around them, and can be particularly upsetting on a day dedicated to peace and good will.
A Christmas Message from the Generation Vegan Team
We wish you happy holidays from the entire Generation Vegan team and remember to tag us if you upload any food photos to Instagram, Twitter, or Tik Tok.
If you have not tried veganism yet but are interested in finding out more about it, we have created five free vegan challenges, each one adapted to the topics that most interest you. There are challenges for the environment, social justice, animals, and health. They are available in several languages : English, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, French, Italian, and Hindi, and tailored to multiple countries.
Remember to always go at your own pace. If you let yourself be guided by your empathy, your heart, and your logic, nothing can go wrong.
Merry Veggie Xmas to one and all!