Tuesday, 22 December 2009

My vegetarian Christmas

I came across an article in the Guardian last week by Adharanand Finn. Towards the end he posed the question ‘If you're making a meat-free main course this year, what will it be?’ I didn't dwell on it too much, as it is just the two of us this Christmas, yet it still got me thinking about past Christmases spent with family and friends. My husband is not a vegetarian, but like me he is quite content with all the trimmings, as portions are always generous this time of year. But family and friends around us think our meal is not complete without a piece of meat on the plate, even it if is a 'mock meat' substitute. So over the years when we have gone to D’s parents for Christmas we have had the meat replaced with slices of this, which I can take or leave. I personally would be happy with a traditional nut roast, but it is hard to get a good shop bought one, so tend to make versions of my own. Often the carnivores and omnivores in my life, and I am referring here specifically to my brothers will try a little, then snug their noses ‘it’s okay’ but they could never be a vegetarian, they 'love their meat way too much…’, this is something that Ardharanand also wrote about.

In the past I have also made variations of The Vegetarian Society’s cranberry raised pie, Rose Elliot's Flaky Mushroom Christmas Tree and Nadine Abensur’s fabulous Mushroom Wellington and thoroughly enjoyed them all, but that’s me, my husband is not keen on nuts roasts and thinks of them as an equivalent to a stuffing, so opts for the above meat substitute; or failing that he picks up a few slices of turkey from the Deli for his plate.

So what will be on my plate this Christmas, (hopefully) there will be home-grown roasted parsnips (If I can prize them out of the icy ground); Sprouts (tiny bullets they may be); Roasted potatoes (stored in the shed in a jute bag) and carrots (about a dozen covered in sand, saved for specifically for Christmas. Fingers crossed they haven't gone mouldy). As well as home-made Yorkshire puddings, stuffing and a shop-bought Vegetarian gravy, which even my mother-in-law approves of. To be truthful, Christmas for me it isn’t about the food or the presents, its about sharing and enjoying time together.

Anyway, I now ask you the same question ‘will you be cooking a vegetarian Christmas dinner, either for yourself or some guests? And are you going for the traditional nut roast, Tofurky or something completely different?’ Let me know.


  1. Ick - the quorn meat substitute looks most unappetising! This year going to CT's meat eating mother for Christmas (all going well), but as I'm working on Christmas Eve and then we have a long drive ahead of us, I cheekily asked my mother to make me Rose Elliot's mock goose to take for my dinner. This is my mother's standard vegetarian christmas meal she makes for me if I'm around, so it's a bit of a tradition. For myself I usually do a lentil and nut roast which I find delicious, so does everyone else usually, so don't get much in the way of leftovers. But I did go through a phase of making individual cabbage pies. This involved lining small pudding basins with large cooked cabbage leaves, filling with some sort of nut and mushroom mixture, topping with another cabbage leaf, roasting then turning out onto individual plates. They looked very pretty and went down very well with friends and family - what have I done with the recipe I wonder!

  2. I am Italian, so I think lasagne, or tortellini *vegetarian of course)...this year I will make lasagne, as I am lacto-ovo vegetarian (and most importantly I eat cheese, all types - this is my only exception) the pasta is made with eggs, Italian lasagne have many layers (not just the three I used to see in the UK) and at each layer there is a rich ragu' (I'll use okara instead of meat) slowly simmered with vegetables, red wine and many plants ;-) but also besciamelle sauce and grated parmigiano.
    THere is also vegetarian parmesan cheese for those who prefer it, I like it, but it is hard to find in New Zealand, where I live.

    I'll give you the recipe if you like.

  3. I had my eye on this mushroom marsala pasta dish on smitten kitchen, but the other vegetarian members of my family (new vegetarians by the way!) want to go light on the meal. Good idea I say! They are bringing quiche and I am going to make a baby spinach salad with pomegranate seeds, nuts, and goat cheese with homemade cranberry dressing. Everyone else in my family loves meat too much as well, I think it will be ham for them this year. Shame..

    Hope you have yourself an excellent vegetarian Christmas!

  4. That is the coolest-looking parsnip I have ever seen! The stuff of legend. Yum!

  5. We mostly don't do fake meat, although we do the occasional veg sausage, or tempeh. This year we're having (menu still under development): mashed potatoes with a wonderful mushroom/thyme/onion/port gravy (veg sausages as well for those who like them; roasted vegs - parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes and onions; homemade cranberry sauce; kale vinagrette; and some sort of desert yet to be determined.

  6. All sounds yummy to me! We are having a roasted Lamb with lots of veggies! Hubby is a big meat eater! Happy Christmas!

  7. Well...
    My mums side celebrates on x-mas eve because they are german and I always have to make most of the veggie stuff so I will be taking mini veggie pies, cheezy asparagus vol au vants, and saurkraut with potatos. And my uncle is making my fav. candied sweet potatos.
    Then xmas day at my bf's house his mum didnt want me to bring anything expecting me to just eat boiled or rosted veggies and i said i would still be bringing something anyway, and she responded ok just bring enough for yourself which i thought was super rude! Just because i dont eat meat doesnt mean i dont want to make nice food to share at christmas :(
    And then back at home we will be having a veggie BBQ for dinner! very untraditional i know, but my dad and I both dont eat meat, and veggies on the BBQ are super good.
    Thats it, in a way I will be glad when the rush of food is over hehe :)
    I hope you and Mr Mangocheeks have a lovely christmas!


  8. I think your menu sounds perfect! Personally I cannot stand all those meat substitutes. I feel like I am eating meat when I eat them and the thought of eating meat turns my stomache.
    I have just come to your blog from a comment you left on my craft blog (Foxs Lane) and am about to read back over some of your older entries.
    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

  9. Ok well being from the West Indies our vegan/ vegetarian dishes are more Caribbean based, plus we always spend our Christmas with our large extended family so their is a ration of 2:1, meat: veg diet eaters approx 14 to 18 people are generally involved.

    This year my contributions will be:

    a pasta pie which will have soya mince, sweet peppers, tomato sauce and possible spinach all either layered or mixed up (not yet decided) which will be baked in a vegan prepared white cheese (vegan) sauce.

    I'll also be preparing my traditional stuffing which will again be using soya mince and cracker crumbs as the main ingredients but it will be well seasoned with herbs and capers, raisins/ dried cranberries, olives, etc.

    there would also be a host of stove prepared chunky veg (not boiled, blech!) but lightly sautéed in a little olive oil with of course herbs, etc.

    I’m also doing my traditionally and expected by all savoury vegan cheese topped sweet potato pie.

    other tings that will be produced (that I and my family can eat) by the other main cookers of the family are:

    the Trinidadian version of callaloo (made from dasheen bush not amaranth leaves like the Jamaicans).

    traditional British roasted veges.

    some sort of stewed legumes either kidney beans/ gungo peas (the decision is not final as yet).

    fresh salad.

    and some other starch based main dish mostly rice based.

    as you can see we eat a lot on Christmas day and I haven't even listed the meats the meat eaters will be eating.

    I do all my cooking on Christmas Eve, which includes the cake baking but I’ll be called on to help pull things together in the kitchen on Christmas day, which is all part of the fun really, its a huge family get together which I can honestly say we pull off successfully every year.

    PS Christmas dinner has no set time in our homes as its normally served when its all done which is any where between 2pm and 7pm. which is fine as breakfast generally never hits the table till midday-ish most years ;).

    Wishing you all a merry Christmas and a lovely New year.

  10. Thank you so much to all of your for responding, I have read all your contributions with great delight. Thank you so much for sharing, I really do appreciate you all for taking time to write.

    Choclette - I don't think it's cheeky at all - I think it is good to take something along, that way everyone gets to taste a bit, whether or not they like it. Which of Rose Elliot's book does the mock goose come from, I will like to try it one-day. And I look forward to seeing those individual cabbage pies on your blog in the near future!

    Hello Alessandra,
    Your right in the U.K we do tend to make 3 layered lasagnes, thank for letting me know that there are many more. I am intrigued by your ragu and the use of okara.
    PS I would love you to send me the lasagne recipe, my email is mangocheeks@sky.com

    Hi Sarah,
    I really like the sound of your seasonal salad. Not just bursting with flavour , but colour too.

    PS maybe we will see the mushroom marsala pasta on your blog in the future!

    Thanks FPG, I wonder how the other parsnips will look. The weather is not looking good for popping over to the allotment tomorrow and prizing them out :(

    Hi there Kate,
    Your menu though currently under development, sure does sound good to me. You must post the kale vinagrette recipe, I am intrigued by it :)

    Thank you so much Jenn,
    You take care of yourself, see you in the New Year.

    Wow Rose,
    You will be having a busy time, eating and mingling.

    It's a shame, that your bf's mum doesn't want you to bring some of your creative vegan delights and is expecting you to just eat accompaniments such as roasted veg, but I am really glad and proud that you are still taking something anyway. Just make sure you take enough so that the others get to try, they, including your Bfs mum may get roudn to trying some and find that they donot mind it at all! It's a great shame how some carnivore and omnivores respond to vegetarians and vegans, I have never understood it. You keep you head up high and enjoy!

    Fianlly, Your right a veggie BBQ during the festive season sounds downright strange, but your are in Australia afterall, where I guess it is kinda normal. Happy Christmas to you and Mikey!

    Thank you for coming by Daylesford organics.
    and leaving warm wishes, it is most appreciated.

    Oh Kella, I am lost for words - can I come on over, sounds like there wil be no shortage of good food :) I especially like the sound of the sound of the pasta pie.

    Have a good Christmas day with your family, I am sure it will be a whirlwind to be enjoyed.

  11. thanks for the link to the article - I love nut roasts at christmas and have a favourite I make every year - the family all like a taste although they like their turkey - I am glad E appreciates nut roast as much as I do and he must have a slice - have a great christmas

  12. Hi Johanna,
    You must let me know of your fave nut roast, I would like to try it one-day. Happy Christmas to you, E and toddler S.

  13. Your holiday meal sounds awesome. We are doing a vegan holiday this year.

  14. Thanks Michele.
    Happy Christmas and I look forward to reading about your vegan Christmas.

  15. hey love your blog!

  16. Thank for coming by Thoughtsthatdance and Thank you so much.

  17. I celebrate Eid-al Fitr and usually that means lots of spicy meat dishes. However, this year I made spicy eggplants stir fry with taoco (fermented beans slightly similar to miso) and it went quite well with the sticky rice cakes always served on that time of the year :)

  18. Hi Again.
    I have a number of Muslim friends so am familiar with Eid-al Fitr and your right it does mean a lot of meat dishes, which is a good thing if you like eating meat. Your spicy eggplant dish intrigues me. Have you posted it on your blog as I would be curious to see what it looks like. PS I had never heard of taoco until today, thank you for letting me know of it.


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