It seems every year that people are talking about Christmas coming earlier and earlier, but this year I have noticed it more than ever. People have been talking about Christmas parties and presents for over a month and Instagram and Facebook are full of dazzling Christmas trees and decorations already. When I was younger we always waited until mid-December to put ours up and to be honest this will be the first year that I’m putting up any of my own (in my twelfth year since leaving home!) It is of course now December though so, finally, it is my turn to think about Christmas.
For many people, myself included, one of the highlights of Christmas is the food. For us, it is always a Christmas eve buffet (whose leftovers tend to see us through the rest of the holiday) and a traditional roast eaten at lunchtime on Christmas day. I may be the only vegetarian in my household but it doesn’t mean that I await the food any less eagerly!
Because a traditional Christmas dinner is so heavily focused around the meat, to many the idea of a vegetarian equivalent may be completely alien. So when the news that a vegetarian is coming for Christmas arrives, even the most competent host may feel a twinge of panic.
Maybe you are wondering how to cater for veggie guests or you yourself are wondering what to tell your relatives, so here are my top tips for creating a very veggie xmas!
1. Talk to your guest beforehand!
- If you feel at a loss, your guest will most likely appreciate being asked rather than be served something they have to turn down. Most of us vegetarians and vegans don’t automatically expect others to know about our diets and are more than eager to help out.
- Do not use the same utensils for meat and for veg dishes, both behind the scenes and at the table, to avoid any cross contamination (i.e. bits of meat in the veg).
- Cook roast potatoes separately from the meat and ensure they are cooked using a vegetable oil, not animal fat.
- You will need a veg-friendly gravy, which can be easily bought or, if you are more adventurous, home made.
3. Make sure there is enough:
- When tasty vegetarian or vegan treats are served up, don’t be surprised if everyone wants to dig in and try some. It is always better to overdo it and have too much of each veggie option as any leftovers can always be frozen or taken home by your guests.
4. Check the labels:
- Many vegetarian foods are now clearly labelled so look out for these to ensure that desserts don’t contain gelatine and cheeses don’t contain animal-based rennet.
- Unfortunately it is rare for supermarket foods to be labelled as vegan so get brand recommendations from your guests since many ready-made ingredients, such as pastry, are often coincidentally vegan.
5. Be adventurous!
- Use it as an opportunity to experiment; try new ingredients and recipes you would otherwise never have thought of trying!
1. Talk to your host beforehand!
- Check with your host that they are comfortable catering for you. Let them know what you can/can’t eat and offer to bring your own extras, if necessary. Don’t feel bad mentioning any dislikes too; if you are a veggie who doesn’t like mushrooms or quiche for example, always tell people or you will almost certainly be served it…
2. Make recommendations:
- Your host might not be familiar with vegetarian or vegan-friendly brands so will appreciate any pointers. If you know that one brand of veg stock is vegan where others are not then save them the effort of checking every label.
3. Have a sense of humour:
- You already know this but you will almost certainly get asked why you are vegetarian/vegan, asked where your protein comes from, and told by others that they could never call it a Christmas dinner without turkey.
Overall, whether you are a host or a guest, the most vital thing is to be understanding of each other’s situation. For more inspiration take a look at my tasty vegan treats, like these Vine Tomato and Aubergine Rolls, Vegan Pigs in Blankets and Boozy Mince Pie Bites that will delight any veggie guests at your table this holiday season.
Are you a veg guest or hosting a veg guest this Xmas? What top tips would you add?