Christmas dinner is always one of the highlights of my year as my mum’s deliciously crisp roast potatoes are unbeatable.
Trust me, I have tried and tested many but no other roast potato is tastier.
And I am sure many of you like me are looking forward to tucking into your Christmas dinner while enjoying a glass or two of prosecco with your friends and family.
Everyone does their Christmas dinner differently meaning there are always arguments over how to prepare the turkey, whether Yorkshire puddings belong on the table and what the roasties should be cooked in.
But that is the true beauty of Christmas dinner, that everyone has their own take on the traditional meal which will leave you feeling stuffed for days.
While most tables will be graced by a turkey, chicken or goose, obviously vegan or vegetarian plates will be filled with a meat-free alternative.
With veganism on the rise, with research conducted by The Vegan Society suggesting the number of vegans in Britain has doubled twice over the past four years, more and more people will be eating Christmas dinners free of animal products this year.
As a vegetarian I get constantly questioned during the festive season by confused meat-eaters who can’t seem to get their heads round what exactly I eat on Christmas Day, so I imagine the situation is much worse for vegans.
But as UNILAD discovered, the choice for vegans is not only wide but also delicious so none of you have to worry about them ‘missing out’ on turkey.
In fact as vegan blogger Rae Louise from Rae Likes Froot says, it is quite easy to ‘veganise’ what people traditionally eat for Christmas Dinner.
26-year-old Rae from East London, who has been vegan for three years, recommends that as a main to accompany the usual veggies you could make a seitan loaf which is commonly used as a meat substitute.
While the protein-rich alternative, which is made from wheat gluten, may sound bland, Rae told UNILAD if people get adventurous with flavouring it could pack a tasty punch:
Last year for my vegan Christmas dinner I had my homemade seitan loaf, a bit of nut roast, parsnips, roast potatoes, Tesco veggie gravy, stuffing, the usual veggies that everyone has and some vegan sausages. It was incredible! I never feel like I’m missing out with a vegan Christmas dinner.
For the seitan loaf don’t be scared to experiment with herbs and spices and don’t add too much stock when mixing in the wet ingredients. If the dough is too wet it’ll ruin the texture of the loaf. And don’t forget the nooch (nutritional yeast) as it’s vital!
Seitan isn’t the only meat substitute you can find on supermarket shelves as products like vegan bacon, sausages and cheese are readily available.
29-year-old Aimee from Brighton, who runs vegan blog Wallflower Kitchen, enjoyed her second Christmas dinner as a vegan last year cooking a lentil roast for the family.
Not only are lentils good for you being rich in iron, folate and protein, but they are also very affordable too and sold in the majority of supermarkets.
And how tasty does Aimee’s lentil roast look:
In charge of cooking Christmas dinner last year, Aimee wanted to create something her whole family could enjoy so chose a ‘meaty and satiating’ lentil roast complete with vegetables and balsamic onion gravy.
A complete success with everyone, Aimee told UNILAD she is going to add a twist this year by wrapping puff pastry around it to make a ‘Lentil Wellington’.
Aimee said people shouldn’t be nervous about cooking with lentils:
If it’s your first Christmas and you’re a bit overwhelmed on what to make, there are so many great options out there now, in the supermarkets. Check the vegetarian freezer aisle beforehand to stock up.
You can get vegan puff pastry parcels, nut roasts, Christmas faux meats and roasts – there are a lot of delicious choices available now. I think nut roasts are a good choice for both vegans and meat-eaters because they’re so filling and delicious in their own right, not just as a meat replacement. If you want to make your own, there are a lot of great options for recipes out there.
Aimee added if you do fancy making a lentil roast it’s easy and you could prepare the mixture a couple of days ahead of Christmas too to save yourself some work on the big day.
All you would have to do is pop it in the oven!
However, if you are still nervous about cooking a vegan Christmas dinner for yourself or friends and family, 33-year-old Victoria suggests you keep it simple.
The full-time blogger kept things straightforward last year making organic steamed vegetables, roast potatoes, red onion and giant balls of apple and herb stuffing for Christmas dinner.
While many may think this wouldn’t be enough, this plate looks pretty filling to me, especially when you think about all the second and third helpings you could have, as well as the condiments of onion gravy, cranberry sauce and mint sauce you could dip into.
If you fancy something more fruity and exotic though for Christmas dinner you could make something using jackfruit which has been very popular this year.
Until a few months ago I had never heard of jackfruit and now I can’t get enough of the stuff.
Vegan chef Day Radley, from Coventry, is also a fan creating her very own take on the traditional Christmas turkey – a ‘jackurkey’.
While Day knows some vegans don’t mind having a plate of tasty vegetables on Christmas Day, she likes to have a ‘main’ part too.
Having made a Chestnut Wellington and heart mock meat pie in the past, last year Day decided to experiment with jackfruit making ‘jackurkey’ and, for her, it changed the Christmas dinner game.
Sharing her top tips with UNILAD for making ‘jackurkey’, Day said:
Last year’s Christmas dinner was EPIC!! We had loads of ‘jackurkey’, perfectly cooked sprouts, a huge whole baked turban squash, toasted broccoli with a balsamic and mustard sauce, lashings of apple sauce, butterbean and thyme mash, gluten free Yorkshire puds stuffed with stuffing and to top it off, red wine gravy. It was beyond amazing!!!!!
This year we’re making everything I have just mentioned plus a few new additions – fig and black rice sushi, whole smoked cauliflower and ‘cheesy’ potato dauphinoise. We tend to go for food we love at Christmas rather than what’s traditional!
For the ‘jackurkey’ let it rest. If you leave it to rest the sauce soaks into the jackfruit more. So make it the day before and then reheat it. What could be easier!
Day has me convinced to try make ‘jackurkey’ for Christmas dinner next year!
Christmas dinner really has changed over time as it is no longer just about pigs in blankets, turkey and thick gravy, especially with veganism growing as a trend.
So if you’ve ever wondered what vegans eat for Christmas dinner, now you know they have plenty of tasty options just like meat-eaters!
I really can’t wait to try and make a lentil roast or ‘jackurkey’ for my next Christmas Day meal!
To find out more about veganism, The Vegan Society website has plenty of helpful information and advice.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.