If, like me, you’re the only non-meat eater in your family, the eagerly awaited Christmas dinner may have left you unfulfilled in the past. Whilst being disgusted by the overly plump turkey being clumsily carved by a relative, it is hard not to envy the unrestricted range of food available to your carnivorous loved ones. This jealousy is heightened if they don’t know about the wealth of other options that can be served to vegetarians and vegans. Your local supermarket now stocks a selection of rich and delicious meat free options to ensure your Christmas is equally as merry. My family also indulge the tradition of the evening meal consisting of a buffet-style arrangement of the leftovers, typically loaded into sandwiches. For vegetarians, this too is troublesome. If you are keen to leave behind those foul memories of scavenging the leftover table for the scraps of cruelty-free food, only to inevitably resort to filling up on infinite quantities of crisps and junk food, peruse carefully the list of veggie options below…
The Nut Roast
The most well-known of the vegetarian or vegan alternatives, but a widely loved classic nonetheless. If Christmas is a time where you or a family member revel in showing off their culinary expertise, the nut roast can be made from scratch to include all your favourite vegetables and seasonings. However, if simplicity is more your priority on such a busy day, supermarkets stock plenty of ready-made nut roasts that require just an hour in the oven. The Tesco ‘Festive Nut Roast with Mulled Wine and Cranberry’ is heavily praised by some of my vegan friends.
DIY Pigs in Blankets
The food that truly made my Christmas last year was the DIY pigs in blankets I made by wrapping vegetarian sausages in meat-free bacon rashers. I have heard rumours that readily assembled vegan pigs in blankets are now being sold in Morrisons but haven’t personally tried or tested this version. Last year, I cooked the two separately, but only for about half the suggested time, before wrapping the still malleable bacon around the sausage and cooking for the remaining time until both crisp up. The Quorn company make meat-free bacon as do some supermarket own brands, I have even heard about tofu bacon now to cater for vegans.
This is my favourite, the ‘Quorn Meat Free Roast’. Sadly, like a lot of Quorn products, it does contain milk proteins and egg whites, making it unsuitable for vegans. Yet, vegetarians can rejoice in discovering arguably the most fuss-free and convincing replica of the traditionally meaty Christmas meal. When cooked properly, the roast becomes crispy on the outside whilst remaining soft and succulent inside. The flavour is relatively plain, thus lending itself to being seasoned with whatever sauce, herbs or other condiment you prefer.
As far as those leftover sandwiches go, the wonderful Quorn company has found a solution for this too. Available all year round are their ‘Meat free Turkey and Sage Slices’, which adopt the turkey flavour well, combining it with a light herby taste and a soft texture. However, there is a distinct gap in the market for some form of turkey replica that imitates the same texture as well as flavour of the traditional Christmas delicacy.
Linda Mccartney Vegetarian Beef Roast with Red Wine & Shallot Glaze
An imitation beef roast with all the trimmings, sure to impress any vegetarian guests whilst remaining very affordable. The Linda Mccartney range is very healthy, tending to put more emphasis on vegetables and nutrients than the high protein content Quorn focus on; as a result, this could be a great choice for meat eaters alike hoping not to gain too much weight over the festive holidays.
Portobello Mushroom Wellington
On the other hand, there is the decadently filling and rather fancy option of a portobello mushroom wellington, a perfect alternative to beef wellington, available at most supermarkets, but having sampled the M&S one I’m inclined to ignore the competition and title that ‘the best’. Fluffy pastry surrounding a highly flavoursome concoction of mushroom and several herbs that simply taste like Christmas. Tesco also stocks a cauliflower wellington in their ‘Finest’ range which I’m intrigued to try.
In addition to this mouth-watering array of options for the main, the shops are now teeming with vegetarian and vegan sides including spiced pates and, most surprisingly, I even recently discovered a vegan cheese board by Violife. Avoiding animal products shouldn’t mean avoiding treating yourself to wonderful food with your loved ones this Christmas.