The trouble with Christmas is that it can be a lot of effort catering for everybody.
Sure, homecooked food is wonderful, but not many of us are lucky enough to have the time to make food for every single dietary requirement around our dinner table.
If you’re hosting a vegan dinner and want to cut some corners, or you have vegans visiting over Christmas, we’ve unearthed some fabulous foods you can have ready in the fridge or freezer.
We hosted our very own vegan Christmas dinner to test these all out in preparation for the big day.
Here’s what went down.
We welcomed our guests with a glass of Champagne and some hot bites, as well as vegan cream cheese on bite-size crackers, topped with chutney.
We passed around plates of three different Linda McCartney products – vegetarian scampi bites (RRP £2), vegetarian chorizo cocktail sausages (RRP £2) and vegetarian mini pork and apple sausage rolls (RRP £2). These are all available at Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco and Asda, in the frozen section.
These all went down well, with omnivores and vegans alike, although the omnivores weren’t impressed with the scampi. But that’s to be expected. It’s hard to replicate scampi – they definitely didn’t have the same texture as real scampi, but the taste was pretty similar and as someone who’s been deprived of scampi after almost 11 years of being veggie,I was impressed.
We assembled some vegan cheese and chutney on top of Asda Extra Special biscuits for cheese (£2) and Tesco rosemary crackers (95p). Tesco actually do a whole range of flavoured vegan crackers, including salt and pepper and garlic.
We used Sainsbury’s Deliciously Free From garlic and herb coconut-based alternative to cheese (£1.80), Sainsbury’s Deliciously Free From cheddar-style with onion coconut-based alternative to cheese (£2.25) and Happy Cheeze ‘chorizo’ raw cashew cheese (£7.99, available from Whole Foods market).
The chutney was Asda Extra Special caramelised onion chutney (£1). And it was delish.
We served glasses of Lanson Black Label Brut (RRP £32), because a) we were feeling extra and b) Lanson are a vegan-friendly Champagne manufacturer. Cheers to that, pals!
Main meal – centrepiece
There are two types of vegan – one who loves a nut roast and the other who likes a bit of fake meat as their centrepiece. Unless you’re catering for lots of vegans and warrant having two main dishes, it’s worth checking in with your guest and seeing which they prefer. We trialed a few because we’re greedy.
In the nut roast corner we had Tesco festive nut roast with mulled wine and cranberry (£3.50).
Battling for our love in the mock meat category was Linda McCartney’s vegetarian beef roast with red wine and shallot glaze (RRP £3.50, available at Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco and Asda, in the frozen section) and Tofurky holiday vegetarian feast box with herb gravy and vegan chocolate brownie (£21.99, available instore at Whole Foods Market). The chocolate brownie is obviously for afters. Don’t ask us, we didn’t make it.
Now, the beef roast tastes surprisingly like beef if you nibble the top bit, and then the rest tastes a bit like burger, but having a fake beef roast makes a lovely change in a roast so we were still fans.
As for the Tofurky – turns out it’s as easy to ruin a vegan Christmas turkey as it is to ruin a corpse Christmas turkey. We didn’t read the instructions and realised half an hour before our guests arrived that the joint needed two hours in the oven. Oh. So we made the foolish mistake of shoving it in at a hotter temperature for half the time, which is obviously a really stupid thing to do and made the whole thing tough and really hard to carve. However, it made a really impressive centrepiece, with its lashings of gravy and – wait for it – fake, vegan wishbone!!
Main meal – sides
Obviously, your vegan guests can partake in regular vegetable dishes, so long as you don’t put butter/milk in your mash, cook your roast potatoes in goose fat, or add honey to your carrots/parsnips.
There are currently no ready-made options for vegan Yorkshire puddings, which is sad, but if you’re feeling less lazy, Google ‘vegan Yorkshire pudding recipe’ and you’ll have a few options.
If you can’t be dealing with the faff of making separate roast potatoes without goose fat, then consider taking a look at some alternative options for your guests that you can just shove in the oven – Whole Foods Market sell loads of Thanksgiving stuff, like The Strong Roots spinach bites (£3.25) and The Strong Roots sweet potato fries (£2.99). These are actually hella delicious with a roast, smothered in gravy, as weird as it sounds.
Tesco festive nut roast with mulled wine and cranberry (£3.50) was served and it was pretty good.
We also chucked some Linda McCartney’s vegetarian beef, mushroom and spinach wellington bites (RRP £2, available from Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco and Asda, in the frozen section) on our plates instead of stuffing, and they were a hit.
We grabbed a tub of Asda Extra Special vegetable gravy granules (£1) and it’s genuinely the nicest instant gravy I’ve ever had. Rushed straight to my local Asda the day after the meal to get my own tub but I clearly don’t live in a posh enough area as they don’t stock it. Ho-hum.
All these desserts went down really well with vegans and dairy-lovers alike.
We had the most delicious Elizabeth D gluten-free pumpkin pie (£16), with Soyatoo soy whipped cream (£2.09) and Lily and Hanna’s crème caramel coconut bliss ice cream (£5.99), all available from Whole Foods Market. The ice cream was crazy good. Such fans. Don’t let the fact that the pumpkin pie sounds a bit ‘wellness’ put you off, as it was excellent.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a Christmas pud, so we pulled out Hotel Chocolat’s Christmas pudding (£15), which is a super luxe take on the traditional pud, with dark chocolate chunks and salted caramel vodka liqeur.
Christmas just ain’t Christmas without After Eights, but the original treats are full of dairy, so you have to look to supermarket own brands for your fix. Find vegan versions of dark chocolate mint thins in Tesco (£1 for 200g) and Asda (£1.50 for 300g).
For a fancier offering, you’ve got to bring out Booja Booja. We had the Booja Booja Fine de Champagne chocolate truffles special edition gift collection and the Booja Booja hazelnut chocolate truffles special edition gift collection, both from £12.95.
We also served Baileys Almande (£19.99, only available from Whole Foods Market) because if you’re vegan and you’ve not been slobbering for this since its UK launch, then are you even a real vegan? It’s pretty almondy, so if that isn’t your bag, try Besos de Oro, which has more of a kick to it. (It’s pretty strong.)
There are also heaps of vegan ideas in the ultimate vegan Christmas grocery guide that we wrote last year, including more ideas for mains and even more snacks.
Who could forget those vegan cheese flavour nachos, oh my.
If you’re looking to put the effort in with some homemade food, then check out our vegan Christmas recipes here, including roast seitan roulade, mushroom gravy and chocolate tart.
Have a bloomin’ great cruelty-free Christmas, chaps!
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