As the holiday season approaches, people start asking me questions. The conversation typically going something like this: “Hey Di, so you’re vegan right? My (insider family member) is coming home for the holiday. But, they are bringing their vegan partner! What do I cook? Help”. Well, thankfully, there are a ton of options now for Vegan Holiday eating. So, here are my tops tips for veganizing a holiday meal along with a review of the Gardein Holiday Roast.
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Gone are the days of having to deal with soggy stuffed pepper, or bland nut cutlets. No need for a sad vegan holiday meal now because now we have “mock-meats”. Products that look, and often taste, like meat. But, without the cruelty. I’ve personally been vegan since 2013. And, prior to that, I was vegetarian for 20 years. That is to say that 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.
7 Tips for a Vegan Holiday Dinner
When we think of hosting a vegan at the holidays we may think that all we need to do is simply omit the meat. However, there are some hidden culprits lurking in our holiday dinner that we make not think of that won’t be suitable for vegans. So whether you’re cooking for yourself as a new vegan, or for a guest, here are a few other things to consider.
Find a meat alternative
Meat-free: Obviously the first thing to omit is the animal flesh. You can get vegan cutlets that resemble a chicken breast, or drumstick. Something that resembles a stuffed roast. Note: If purchasing a product, ensure that it is vegan. There are a tone of products that claim to be “meatless” or “veggie” may contain a dairy product called Casein, milk or eggs. Annoying? Confusing? Yes, very! Look for the word “VEGAN” on the box.
Marketers are even ruining the word “plant-based” now by labeling a product with “plant based protein” but it also contains milk or eggs. It’s a mine field out there for vegans! Also, 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 Brussels, there are some vegans that eat mock meats, and some that don’t. Personally, we LOVE these cruelty-free alternatives.
Cruelty Free Mashed Potatoes
So traditionally, here in the States, mashed potatoes have milk, cream or butter in them. Sometimes, all three! If you have a vegan guest to your table, I suggest taking out a serving of potatoes before adding any dairy products. Set these aside for your vegans to eat cruelty free. If you want to get fancy, get some vegan butter like Earth Balance. Or, for fat free mashed potatoes, use a potato ricer. Because, less calories from potatoes, means more dessert.
Roasting & Baking Veggies
If you’re roasting vegetables for your vegan company, don’t use lard. Opt instead for a plant based product like olive oil. Also, definitely don’t use the fat from the meat you’re roasting! It’s often popular to shove the veggies into the same tray as your meat, but that means it’s no longer vegan. This is easily fixed. Set aside a small pan in the oven only for the vegan veggies.
- Bonus 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.
This is definitely an American thing. Coming from the UK it was weird to see this as a tradition here in the USA. 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. Highly recommend, you can read my review. This stuff is the bomb-diggitty!
Green bean casserole
Another American dish which, honestly, just seems really weird and out of place to me. But, traditions are different Worldwide. Personally, I’ve 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 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’.
- While we’re on the subject of ‘as-is’, don’t put butter all over the top of boiled or steamed veggies. Again use plant based alternatives like Earth Balance.
You can buy vegan gravy powder packets making vegan gravy super easy. You just add water! However, if you buy a Gardein Holiday Roast (below) gravy is included. So, problem solved! Tofurky includes gravy in their larger “dinner packages”. But, they also sell 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 desserts like pecan pie, and Christmas pudding aren’t traditionally vegan. But there are a ton of vegan options and recipes available. From vegan ice cream, to Daiya vegan cheesecake. Again, there is even a vegan “dinner in a box”, which includes meat substitute, gravy and dessert! All vegan. Talk about easy.
Looking for recipes? Check out Peta who have a whole post on vegan Christmas eats. 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 also has a great website with recipes too. Plus, as always, google is your friend. Plus you will get a ton of results., because plant based meals and veganism are trending.
Gardein Holiday Roast
Honestly, at this time of year we eat a LOT of turkey free products. Like, the Gardein Holiday Roast. Mostly because they are seasonal items. And, this is the prime time we can get them, and
hoard store them. Plus, the cooler weather means we tend to crave more warm home-cooked meals. Honestly, brands like Gardein and Tofurky make catering for a Vegan at a holiday dinner super easy.
Found in the frozen section of supermarkets the Gardein Holiday Roast serves 8 people. Each serving has 13g of non-gmo plant based protein, with just 140 calories per serving.
DO NOT DEFROST. Again, 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 at 450°F for another 10-15 minutes, until the roast is golden brown.
While waiting for the roast to cook prepare the gravy. Place sachets into 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! Be careful. If you try moving it when it’s too hot the coating falls off. It needs some ‘chillout time’ after coming out the oven before slicing!
Slice that sucker up, and lure your Vegans (and non-vegans) to the table to indulge! The Gardein holiday roast stuffing has all kinds of goodies including onions, cranberries and rice. With the succulent turk’y style roll wrapped around it. And, finished with the crispy coating. It’s delicious!
Cool, slice and serve
We serve ours with mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings (UK tradition!), veggies, and pigs in blankets. We make a vegan version of pigs in blankets with benevolent bacon wrapped around field roast apple & sage sausage. All topped with the Gardein gravy and condiments.
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.
- 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?