Every year in November and December I start getting questions. Something along the lines of… “Hey Di, you’re vegan right? My son is bringing his girlfriend for Holidays and she’s vegan! What do I need to know? What can I cook for her?”. Well have no fear friends, I got ya covered! There are a ton of options now for Vegan Holiday eating. In this post I’m going to share some tips, and one of my favorite products, the Gardein Holiday Roast. Links in this post may be affiliate links.
7 Tips for a Vegan Holiday Dinner
Like I mentioned there are a ton of options now for vegan roasts at the holidays. Gone are the days of having to deal with soggy stuffed pepper and bland nut cutlets. No more sad vegan holiday dinners, because now we have what are called “mock-meats”. Products that look (and sometimes taste) like meat, but without the cruelty. I’ve been vegan for almost four years, and I was vegetarian for 20 years prior to that, so I’ve had a lot of different meatless holidays meals. Trust me when I say that things are WAY better now with these new products from brands like Tofurky and Gardein. However simply replacing the meat is just the tip of the iceberg when veganizing Holiday meals. So whether you’re cooking for yourself as a new vegan or for a guest here are a few other things to consider:
Swapping out the Meat
Obviously the first thing to omit is the animal flesh you’re typically consuming. Whether you choose to buy a Gardein Vegan Holiday Roast, or Tofurky Roast as a replacement. Or go for the whole food route with a nut roast or stuffed pepper mentioned above. Note: If purchasing a product, ensure it IS vegan, as some products that claim to be “meatless” or “veggie” may contain a dairy product called Casein or eggs. Annoying? Yes very! Tip: Look for the word “VEGAN” on the box. If you are thinking of buying one of these processed products make sure the person in question actually eats mock-meats. Just like some people don’t eat brussel sprouts there are some of us vegans that eat mock meats and some that don’t. Personally, we LOVE these cruelty-free alternatives.
So traditionally mashed potatoes here in the States have milk, cream or butter in them (sometimes all three!) all you have to do for your visiting vegans is take out a serving of potatoes before adding any dairy products. Set them aside for your vegans to eat cruelty free. If you want to get fancy get some vegan butter like Smart Balance, or vegan cream! I know for us we’ll be using our potato ricer for fat free mashed potatoes, because less calories from potatoes means more dessert. That’s how it works at the holidays right? Right?
Oil for Roasting, baking and broiling
One tip for roasting veggies etc for a vegan, please don’t use lard. instead opt for a plant based product like olive oil. Again it’s not a problem to just set aside a small pan in the oven JUST for the veganized veggies. Tip: Also try to put the vegan items on the shelf above the meat products in the oven so that no meat juices escape into the vegan items. The only roasted items we traditionally have on our plate are potatoes. I’ve done yams and other veggies but roast potatoes are a staple and we just use olive oil.
This one was a new one for me as we don’t have this for Christmas in the UK but I’ve seen it on Americans plates at Thanksgiving and Christmas so I just wanted to address it with one word. DAIYA! If you can get Daiya Mac’n’cheese get it! I should restart my reviews of vegan foods, because that shit is the bomb-diggitty! Honestly if I went somewhere on Xmas day and all I had to eat was Daiya Mac’n’cheese I’d be super freaking happy! And fat, because I’d eat the whole lot!
Green bean casserole
Another American dish which honestly just seems really weird to me, but I guess if it’s a family tradition it would seem normal! I have personally never had it, but I believe uses cream of mushroom soup? Which typically in the USA is NOT vegan. If you really want to accommodate your vegan in this dish then search around for a dairy-free and meat-free vegan soup, and use plant based milks like soy or almond milk. Honestly I’d just skip this cholesterol and fat laden dish and set aside a serving of green beans ‘as is’.
Most gravies are not vegan. You can buy vegan gravy in powdered form from health food stores like Lassens and Whole Foods. However if you buy a Gardein Roast (below) gravy is included, so problem solved! Tofurky includes gravy in their larger “dinner packages” but also sells their mushroom gravy separately too. As an aside if you’re American and accommodating a British guest please don’t limit the gravy! Seriously Americans use very little and British people drown their dinners. More cultural differences!
Traditional Christmas puddings or pies may contain eggs, or dairy so veganize with plant based options omitting eggs and opting for almond or soy milk. There are so many options now for creams and ice cream that are dairy free, and Daiya now has a cheesecake which is downright delicious!
What are we eating?
I’ll be honest at this time of year we eat a LOT of turkeyless roasts, because this is the prime time we can get them. Plus the weather is colder so we tend to crave more hot home-cooked meals. Now the other good thing is that if you don’t want to splurge on a whole roast for one person (they typically serve 4-6 people) then maybe opt for Gardein Chickn Scallopini – a chicken filet replacement, Gardein turk’y cutlets, Gardein stuffed turk’y or something a little different like Gardein Meatless Meatloaf. Honestly Gardein makes catering for a Vegan holiday dinner super easy.
The Gardein Vegan Holiday Roast states it serves 8 people, so a serving size is 1/8 of the roast and 3.5 TBSPN of gravy. See again, the America thing of having a lot less gravy than Brits. Each serving has 13g of non-gmo plant based protein with just 140 calories per serving. You’ll find the roast in the freezer section of the store (Whole Foods, Sprouts, Lassens etc) and each package comes with the roast and two sachets of gravy.
To cook: DO NOT DEFROST. Preheat oven to 425°F. Remove wrapper and place on a rack in a roasting pan. Cover with foil and bake for 60-70 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes at 450°F until the roast is golden brown, crispy and hot throughout.
While you’re waiting for the roast to cook: Place gravy in a bowl of hot water for 3 minutes to defrost. Once thawed, open and pour into microwave safe dish, then microwave for 1 minute, stir and cook for another 30 seconds. Or you could place thawed gravy in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until hot.
Once the roast is cooked it’ll be a golden brown, and will smell delicious! The biggest difference you’ll notice is the lack of oil escaping from this roast. Be careful, it you try moving it when it’s too hot the coating falls off. It needs some ‘chillout time’ after coming out the oven!
Once cool you can slice that sucker up and then tempt your Vegans to the table to indulge! The stuffing has all kinds of goodies including onions, cranberries and rice. Succulent turk’y style roll over the top and finished with the crispy coating. It’s delicious! We paired ours with mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings (UK tradition!), peas, pigs in blankets (yes we do a veganized version with benevolent bacon wrapped around field roast apple & sage sausage), beans, and topped with the Gardein gravy.
I hope that helps any of you that are either new to veganism this holiday or have a vegan holiday guest! If you have any questions please let me know in the comments or email me. Also I want to ask you:
What family or cultural food traditions do you have at the holidays?
Have you catered for a vegan at the holidays?
How much gravy do you put on your holiday dinner?
Want Vegan Holiday Recipes?
Looking for recipes? Check out Peta who have a whole post on vegan Christmas eats. Heck even Jamie Oliver is getting in on the vegan movement with a whole host of Vegan Christmas recipes including gravy, stuffing and an epic vegan chocolate cake! Gardein has a great website with recipes too. Plus as always google is your friend, just type in your typical dinner item and vegan and you will get a ton of results. Why? Because plant based meals and veganism in general are trending bigtime. Did you know that the hottest food trend for 2017 according to pinterest is using Jack Fruit as a meat replacement. Of course those of us that are vegan have known about this for years. Either way for vegan holiday recipes the internet is your friend!