7th Day of Christmas: How to Be Vegan at Christmas

Photography by      Jenny Gavan.

Photography by Jenny Gavan.

Being vegan is trying at the best of times, and that’s generally not even because non-vegan food is tempting but because you’re constantly questioned on your choices and the food you choose to eat. So being vegan at Christmas, when the main event of the season for many is a turkey/chicken/pig, is even worse. From (often passive aggressive) jokes that you’ve heard a million times before at the dinner table, to the question that never ends of ‘but don’t you miss bacon?’ it takes a lot of will power not to get annoyed with people, and I think that’s where the label of ‘angry vegans’ has developed from (but I’ll save that for another blog post).

So I thought I’d write this blog post in order to provide some tips on how to stay sane as a vegan over Christmas as well as providing an extensive list of the best vegan food you can eat at Christmas (scroll to the bottom of the post if that’s what you’re interested in), because there’s absolutely no need for those with a plant-based diet to miss out on what is decisively the best season for food of the year. This is my third Christmas eating a vegan diet so I think I’ve really got both of these things down!

Here are my tips on how to stay sane:

1.Don’t Engage With The Age Old Vegan Comments, You’re Going To Get A Whole Lot Of TheM!

As I started to discuss earlier, people LOVE to comment on the lifestyles’ of vegans, whether they’re making jokes or offering health advice. When I first went vegan around 2 and a half years ago, I would be asked/told on a daily basis questions like ‘Do you get enough protein? You need to be careful with that.’ Or, ‘But if we all went vegan, animals would overpopulate the earth, right?’ First of all, if anyone’s interested, yes I do and no they wouldn’t. But I’m going to stop there. During my first months of veganism, I would always engage with these questions, relaying facts and explaining to people why they were wrong, firstly because I was super passionate about it and also because I thought these were genuine questions and that I could actually help educate the people asking them. But the truth is, I couldn’t and you probably can’t either.

If people have these assumptions about you and your diet, they’re probably not even going to listen to what you have to say, so it’s just going to be frustrating for you to try and explain anything to them. I always give super simple answers (literally just yes or no) and if they push further, I keep my answers short (e.g. ‘It’s all good, I had blood tests last month and I’m fine, not to worry!’) Most people asking these questions really don’t want to know the actual answer and have their beliefs challenged, and this is especially true at the Christmas dinner table! So just answer the question simply and change the subject, unless you think they are genuinely interested.

With the jokes, just learn to laugh. They’re not funny and probably never will be but, again, the people telling them don’t want to hear that. So, again just laugh and move on. Whatever you do, don’t even bother trying to educate the joke-tellers, they’re even less interested than the question-askers, trust me!

How To Be Vegan at Christmas

2.Don’t Attempt to Convert People AT The Christmas Dinner table

This one is kind of similar to my previous tip, but don’t use Christmas dinner or any of the many formal eating situations of Christmas as a chance to tell people the facts about the meat on their plate. It can be tempting, especially if you’ve only recently learnt about how horrific the meat industry is, to become angry with all the meat consumption you’re seeing over Christmas. But telling people how bad their decisions are, especially when they’ve already bought the food and are in the midst of eating it, really isn’t going to be an effective way of turning people vegan and is going to leave you and the person you’re talking to feeling rubbish!

Just be content with the fact that by not eating animal products at Christmas, you’re making the right choice! I think being happy with your own decision and showing people just how much you’re thriving through eating a vegan diet is actually the most effective way of impacting other people’s decisions. My mum actually went vegan around 6 months after I did when she saw all the positive effects it was having on me, so trust me on this one!

3.Always Come/Go Prepared

There’s nothing I feel more uncomfortable with, in terms of veganism, than people fretting over me and feeling bad about there being a lack of vegan options. Obviously these people have the kindest of intentions and I always really appreciate that, but I don’t do well when being fretted over as I generally just don’t like the attention of lots of people, especially strangers, being focussed on me!

To avoid this, and to make sure you’re not left dipping carrots into hummus as your main meal of the night, take food with you to events if you’re not 100% sure whether they’ll be vegan options! I’m talking family events here, not a New Years Eve club night, BTW. This works especially well if it’s a family event with a buffet, as you can just add whatever meal you’ve made to the table and, if you’ve made enough for others too, your friends and family can taste just how good vegan food is! Easy meals to bulk make include veggie curries and chillies, but dessert always goes down well too (see below for a recipe for the best peanut butter filled dessert).

Waitrose Mince Pies

Waitrose Mince Pies

Linda McCartney sausages, Linda McCartney pork & apple sausage rolls, Tesco bubble and squeak

Linda McCartney sausages, Linda McCartney pork & apple sausage rolls, Tesco bubble and squeak

4. Stock Up On All The Vegan Alternatives/Treats

This one is especially for those of you who are newly turned vegan and are worried about the possibility of caving over the festive period. But it’s also relevant to all vegans, new and old, in because you don’t want to be left out of what is the best foodie time of the year. Stock up on all the fake meats, lots of vegan-friendly chocolate and anything else you’d usually eat over Christmas. I promise, your tastebuds won’t even know the difference if you do this effectively!

With that, here is a guide to all my favourite vegan-friendly food you can buy this Christmas:

How To Be Vegan at Christmas

SAVOURY:

  • Linda McCartney Vegetarian Beef Roast with Red Wine and Shallot Glaze

  • Linda McCartney Cocktail Sausages

  • Linda McCartney Vegetarian Mini Pork & Apple Sausage Rolls

  • Ready salted Pringles

  • Paprika Pringles

  • Violife Cheese Spread (I couldn’t find this one in the supermarkets so I made my own one for these photos, but Violife cheese is unarguably the best)

  • The White Rabbit Pizza (it’s expensive but it’s a nice treat and a good one to take to parties)

  • Ritz Crackers

  • Bubble & Squeak (Tesco’s frozen one is vegan)

How To Be Vegan at Christmas

SWEET:

  • Mince Pies (Waitrose & Lidl’s are vegan)

  • Tesco Frozen Churros

  • Mint Thins (basically supermarkets own brands’ answer to After Eights and they’re SO good)

  • Cadburys Drinking Chocolate (to be made with oat milk)

  • MooFree chocolate is the best, plus they do a selection box. Make sure to try their Bunnycomb bar.

  • Lazy Day products (including millionaires shortbread- available in Waitrose)

  • Vegan Magnums

  • Bendicks Mint Collection Chocolate Box

  • Co-Op Custard/Jam Donuts

  • Fabulous Freefrom Factory Dairy Free Chocovered Crunchee Bites (tastes exactly like a Crunchie chocolate bar)

  • Fabulous Freefrom Factory Dairy Free FudgeeBites

  • Fabulous Freefrom Factory Dairy Free Sea-Salted Chocolate Covered Bites

  • Alpro Custard

    If you’re wanting to do some baking, this BBC recipe for peanut butter chocolate squares is always a winner. It’s not vegan but if you replace the butter with vegan butter, and use dark chocolate (my favourite is Bournville), as well as vegan digestives (most supermarket’s own brand digestives are vegan but always check) then it is suitable for vegans and it’s SO easy to make!

How to Be Vegan at Christmas