A Vegetarian’s Guide to Surviving Christmas

Christmas is a magical time, filled with family, friends and festive feasts, and it could be easily said that Christmas Dinner in many households, is the most important meal of the year. But what if you’re a Vegetarian? Can you still enjoy Christmas dinner without being awkward and stressing out the cook? Of course you can.

My first year as a veggie I made a rookie mistake; not being prepared. As I sat down to a lovely Christmas Dinner, I soon realised that all of the Festive favourites weren’t suitable to eat; The turkey and ham were obviously out of bounds, the gravy was made with the juice from the meat, the stuffing had some sneaky sausage in, the the roast potatoes were smothered in goose fat and the Christmas trifle had Jelly in it. Disaster. I sat there with a plate of carrots, sprouts and mashed potato; not exactly glamorous but I didn’t care, I was surrounded my nearest and dearest and that’s all that mattered.

The year after I was ready to take on the Christmas dinner. Armed with recipes and an apron, I soon realised that avoiding meat at Christmas isn’t hard at all. Here’s my tips and meal ideas for a festive meat free dinner.

  • NUT ROAST: What I will be tucking into this Christmas Day is a homemade Nut roast. You can also buy them in supermarkets, but it’s really not that difficult to make your own, with there being tonnes of recipes online. Pack your Nut roast with your favourite nuts, seeds and spices, and not only will you be amazed by the tastiness, you’ll also be getting your fill of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Top it off with some cranberry sauce and you’ve found yourself a winner.

  • CHEESE BOARD: My favourite part of Christmas Dinner- The cheese board. While most cheeses are Veggie friendly, some hard cheeses contain animal rennet which is used during the cheese production to separate the milk into curds and whey. Rennet comes from the stomach of calves, so is not suitable for those avoiding meats. Some non vegetarian cheeses to avoid are Grano Padano, Gorgonzola and Manchengo.

  • GRAVY: Gravy is usually made using the drippings of roasted meat or poultry, so it’s safe to say it’s off the table if you’re going meat free this Christmas. You can easily make your own Veggie gravy, with plenty of recipes online using ingredients such as vegetable stock cubes, Nutritional yeast or even marmite!

  • FAUX MEAT: While I would always advocate for real foods and not processed ingredients like meat replicates, faux meats can be a nice treat at Christmas. Available in any supermarket, there are now endless options such as ‘Tofurkey’ and other meaty options. Great for those who are new to Vegetarianism and who will struggle sitting next to their meat eating relatives, as some of these products can taste spookily similar to the real thing!

  • HIDDEN TRAPS: Watch out for hidden meat! Make sure the roasties weren’t cooked in goose fat, that the gravy wasn’t made with meat juice or that there’s no gelatine containing jelly in the trifle! Also when you’re tucking into that post dinner cheese board, remember that not all cheeses are vegetarian due to some cheeses containing animal rennet.

  • VEGANS: For Vegans, this Christmas has more options than ever . Baileys now comes in a dairy free version, Violife Vegan cheese have their own cheese board platter and with shops now selling Vegan Mince pies.


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Katie Kavanagh

Katie Kavanagh

Katie is a registered Associate Nutritionist with the UKVRN through the Association for Nutrition. Katie completed her Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition and Health in Glasgow Caledonian University and her Bachelors Degree in UCD in Health and Performance Science. Before joining the team at GourmetFuel, she worked in a kitchen catering company, and for Our Lady’s Hospice Harolds Cross and is heavily involved with UCD Boxing Club. Her areas of interest are Vegetarian diets, disease prevention and Sports Nutrition.
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