Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

All I want for Christmas is tofu: a vegetarian’s guide to Christmas

Christmas, for many of us, is the greatest time of the year. We look forward to the lights, the weather, the family-time but most importantly – the incredible festive foods. Christmas snacks and Christmas dinners are a huge part of the holidays. So, by trying something new and turning vegetarian, the thought of having your main template of a Christmas dinner overturned is challenging.

I am very much new to vegetarianism. In fact, I only started in September as it was something I had always wanted to do, and so I thought that for a fresh start to a new academic year, I would give it a go. Evidently then, this will be my first vegetarian Christmas, and I am excited to venture into the many different options I have available to me but also worry on the impact it will have on my Christmas, as the dinner is such an important aspect of it.

When we think of a meat-free Christmas dinner, we traditionally think of something along the lines of a nut roast. Do we actually know what this is? The chances are probably not if we’re the type of person to eat turkey for every consecutive Christmas.

There is a vast range of meat free-alternatives

Personally, I used to think it was a pile of roasted nuts, a similar concept to roasted chestnuts sung about in Christmas carols but this is obviously not the right idea. It turns out that it is, in fact, a loaf which is similar to meatloaf without the meat. I think the issue with becoming a vegetarian so near to Christmas is the lack of education people have about the many alternatives that are on offer. More so now, than years prior, there is a vast range of meat free-alternatives available to us.

A typical roast dinner tends to consist of some sort of potato side, vegetables, gravy, and a joint of meat. As such, a vegetarian Christmas dinner is almost identical to the standard version except without the centrepiece of meat.

The predominant staples that you can expect in meat-free options include lentils, mushrooms, butternut squash and sweet potato, although, there are also plenty of mock meats.

I absolutely love pigs in blankets, and if it wasn’t for mock meat, I would truly miss them

As I was beginning my journey into vegetarianism, I found mock meats to be the easiest to transition as they allowed me to cook my favourite meals still. I absolutely love pigs in blankets, and if it wasn’t for mock meat, I would truly miss them as they are such a true Christmas classic. As a vegetarian alternative, by simply combining plant-based sausages and bacon, you can easily recreate them. Trying vegetarian options are also a great excuse to try something new and research various vegetarian recipes.

I asked the University of Warwick’s Vegan and Vegetarian Society what a typical Christmas meal would look like. Most of them opted for a nut roast or a form of mock meat. Others decided to go fully vegan, which is something I am hoping to transition to. One of the biggest things that they recommended was rather than having roast or mashed potatoes, they would instead incorporate parsnips or butternut squash into their dinner, in a bid to make it healthier.

Having a whole family for one Christmas to try something new would be incredible

The main issue that many vegetarians face around Christmas is having their family join in on their meat-free dinner. At Christmas, you want to feel like you are all together as one, so having a whole family for one Christmas to try something new would be incredible.

If you fancy the idea of a meat-free Christmas dinner, then I would really encourage you to give it a go.

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