Vegetarian Christmas Buying Guide

Holiday time can be tough if you're vegetarian  or vegan .  Though there are always a bevy of delicious side dishes with which we're all familiar, meat figures so prominently at the Christmas table that often, it can steal the focus of the dinner.  Since food can be so closely associated with tradition and nostalgia, new vegetarians might experience the sensation that their holidays are incomplete without that huge turkey supper.  But this is absolutely not so.  You can enjoy a delicious, cruelty-free meal with the same amount of effort, and a little bit of ingenuity.

If you are not vegetarian but are preparing dinner for friends or family who are, look no further!  This guide offers links to delicious recipes, and handy tips for how to make sure your guests are well-fed and feeling welcome.  Happy Holidays!
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Main Courses

If you're looking for something to take the place of a roast turkey or other meat dish, it pays to be creative.  While you might be able to find mock meats or textured vegetable protein in the shape at natural markets, making your own alternative is easier than you may think.  With this suggestion from AllRecipes.com.au, you can make a tofu  turkey in about the same time that it would take you to prepare an actual one.  Looking for a ham substitute?  Check out this mock ham recipe from Vegan-Food.net.

If you're not into the idea of mock meats, there are plenty of veggie options that will make a great main dish.  RecipeZaar.com has a tasty lentil  loaf recipe, or try Taste.com.au's sweet potato  and leek  roulade alternative.  Check out the Recipes for more ideas.

Side Dishes

Side dishes are usually not difficult to make vegetarian, but you may have to make some substitutions to adapt them for vegans.  Here are some options that everyone will enjoy, but don't limit yourself!  There is a world of delicious treats to be explored.

Mashed Potatoes 

Corn 

Glazed Carrots 

Cranberry Sauce 

Spinach 

Desserts

As with side dishes, it is really not that difficult to make vegetarian desserts (unless your guests are insisting on that pork chop à la mode, of course...).  However, vegan desserts can be more challenging.  PostPunkKitchen has a great article on how to make vegan substitutions for milk, eggs, and butter using silken tofu ,egg replacer ,soy milk ,canola oil , and more.

Tips for Mixed Groups

If your holiday party will be made up of omnivores and vegetarians, there are a few rules of etiquette to follow that will help make the event much easier.  Check out this great article at Suite101.com for advice on what to expect and how to plan.

  • Some vegetarians are stricter than others, so be sure to ask your guest what he or she does and does not eat. You don't want to have any surprises, so find out in advance. If your friend is vegan, make sure you know exactly what that means: no dairy, eggs, honey,
  • Likewise, your vegetarian might have allergies or aversions to certain foods. Everyone has preferences, so don't go to the effort of preparing a dish that will not be well received.
  • Always read labels--animal by-products can show up in the oddest of places.
  • Don't just make a salad for your guest and call it a day. You wouldn't want to only have salad at your Christmas dinner, would you? There are so many delicious vegetarian and vegan options that everyone will be able to enjoy, and it is so easy to tailor recipes. Your vegetarian friends will be extremely grateful for your efforts to be hospitable, trust us--and you might find a new favourite recipe!
  • Use separate cooking utensils  for vegetarian dishes.
  • Label which dishes are vegetarian or vegan.
  • The reasons for going vegetarian can sometimes be quite personal, so it's best not to query guests about their choices.
  • Don't think that you can't eat meat if a vegetarian is at the table with you. Most vegetarians and vegans are pretty used to people eating animal products around them, so that shouldn't be an issue.
  • Don't forget drinks! If you are serving coffee  or tea , have soy  or rice milk  on hand as a creamer.

Related Guides

Vegetarian Resource Page

Earth Day

Organic Health and Beauty Products

Organic Weddings

Eco-Fashion