Festive meals can be difficult when you have dietary requirements, so today I have a few tips for how to survive Christmas as a vegetarian. It’s totally doable, I promise! I’d love to hear your tips and tricks as well! I have previously shared some of my favourite vegetarian Christmas dishes too, so check out that post if you want some menu inspiration.
I first shared this post a couple of years ago, but thought it was worth updating and re-sharing for my fellow meatless friends! Together we can all survive Christmas as a vegetarian!
These tips will apply in different ways depending on the size of your festive gatherings and how much control you have over the menu of course. I’m very lucky – our family Christmas is small and they tend to come to me for recipe advice, so I have lots of control! I know that’s not the case for everyone though!
Give plenty of warning
This tip is particularly important if the host of the meal is not someone you eat with regularly or who may not be familiar with your need for meatless options. Lots of people start planning their Christmas menu well in advance, so as soon as you know where you’ll be eating do them the courtesy of reminding them of your dietary requirements. No-one likes to be surprised by a guest turning up and announcing they can’t eat most of what has been prepared!
Be specific about what you do and don’t eat
Again, this is super important if you don’t regularly eat with your Christmas hosts, or if your dietary choices have changed recently. I still sometimes encounter people who assume I eat seafood, or go the other way and assume I am completely vegan, so the clearer you can be the easier it is for everyone. This is particularly important if you usually use terms like plant-based, as not everyone may be across what that rules in and out.
Take control of the potatoes and gravy
Roast potatoes are one of my favourite foods, so I’m always very disappointed if the only option are potatoes cooked in duck fat. Gravy is another one that unless it’s directly thought about will usually end up not being vegetarian friendly. So, to make sure you can still partake in the roast veggies and gravy, try and take control of making them yourself. You can still get delicious roast veggies using just olive oil, and mushroom gravy is top-notch as well. That way no one has to miss out!
Find ways to allow vegetables to shine
No one wants to be left with a side salad, so either suggest or bring along options that allow them to shine. Ottolenghi is one of the best at this, so I’d recommend starting with his recipes for inspiration. This could include some hearty, grain based salads or any number of stuffed vegetables. Be careful though, you better get in before the meat eaters or you might miss out!
If need be, make do
We’ve all been to those big meals where the main event is something very meat heavy and we’ve had to build our meal out of sides, and you know what, it’s not that bad. If that happens to you at Christmas just make the best of it, and pile your plate with whatever options you have available. If all else fails, fill up on cheese and dessert!
Ignore any ribbing you might get
I’m very lucky that my close family and friends never questioned my decision to stop eating meat, but even I’ve had to deal with questions and light-hearted ribbing from time to time. Christmas is not the time to get into an argument about the merits of reducing meat eating, nor to bite back at any teasing you might get. It’s just not worth it!