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There are a number of reasons why gardeners may wish to consider a switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet. The benefits of vegetarian or vegan diets are multiple – both for individuals involved and for our planet. Could you have a vegetarian or vegan Christmas this year? To help you determine whether or not you could eschew meat and perhaps also other animal-derived products over the festive season, here are some vegetarian and vegan Christmas dinner ideas:
If you are planning a Christmas party this year, here are some party food or canapé ideas that are sure to keep everyone (even confirmed meat-eaters) happy over the festive season:
- Bruschetta with Christmas colours – tomato & basil salsa, or kale and red pepper with a balsamic reduction for example.
- Vegan sausage rolls (with vegan sausages and puff pastry – bought or made). You can make your own vegan sausages using polytunnel grown beans, pulses and vegetables).
- Mini vegan bean or nut burgers.
- Home-made falafel or quinoa balls.
- Vegan spring rolls
- Spinach, pesto tartlets
- Vegan rice & cabbage rolls
When it comes to the big day itself, there are also plenty of ideas for each part of the meal. For example, for the starter you could consider:
- Vegetable soup (There are a wide range of soups that can be made with seasonal produce).
- Mixed vegetable salads. (There are also a wide range of delicious salads that can be prepared for a festive occasion.)
- Vegetable samosas with fruit chutneys or pickles.
- Sweet potato cakes or vegetable fritters.
Your vegetarian or vegan Christmas dinner need not end there. There are also plenty of delicious and enticing Christmas desserts to choose from, including:
- Vegan mince pies or tartlets.
- Poached pairs or other cooked fruits.
- Vegan chocolate pots.
- No-cook vegan fudge brownies.
- Vegan sorbets or ice ‘creams’ made with non-dairy creams.
While most households will be tucking into a roast turkey this Christmas, or enjoying another meat-based meal, others will be enjoying a more sustainable, ethical and eco-friendly Christmas dinner. Perhaps you could use some of your own home grown produce this year and enjoy a vegetarian Christmas dinner? To inspire you to try something different, here are five vegetarian Christmas dinner ideas:
Creamy Kale & Cranberry Pie
Especially if you take the time to make your own shortcrust pastry this year, a creamy kale and cranberry pie could be a show-stopper for the Christmas table. Layer lush, green kale or other winter greens from your polytunnel inside your pie crust along with cranberry sauce, caramelised onions and a creamy ricotta cheese or similar.
Beetroot Terrine With Goat’s Cheese
A beetroot terrine with goat’s cheese and strewn with winter herbs will look amazing on your Christmas table. The bright, gorgeous reds and greens are fabulously festive, and everyone is bound to be impressed with this special offering – especially if you have grown the beetroots and herbs used in the dish yourself.
Pear and Blue Cheese Tart With Walnut Pastry
Another fabulously festive option is this tart. The base is a healthy and hearty walnut pastry, while the topping is a delicious mixture of pear and your favourite blue cheese, all held together with a mixture of eggs and luxurious cream which makes this an indulgence for Christmas day.
Beef Wellington, with its golden pasty coat, is a favourite with many families at Christmas. But a vegetarian Wellington can be just as beautiful and impressive. Layer up colourful winter vegetables and a delicious sage and onion pesto within your puff pastry. This recipe is easy to customise to use up whichever vegetables you have on hand.
Root Vegetable Tarte Tatin
Honey-glazed roasted root vegetables are often a side dish on a Christmas table. But for a vegetarian meal, you can bump these up from supporting roll to the main attraction in a root vegetable tarte tatin. Easy yet impressive, this tarte tatin is a real crowd pleaser. Simply cut your carrots, parsnips, turnips and sweet potatoes into 1cm thick slices and roast them drizzled in olive oil and honey, with seasoning to taste until they are soft and golden. Cover with puff pastry, allowing it to drape around the sides of the vegetables, then, when cooked and golden, turn out so the vegetable topping creates a colourful centrepiece for your Christmas day meal.
One of the best things we can do to live in a more eco-friendly and ethical way and reduce our carbon footprints is by choosing to adopt a vegan diet and growing as much of our own food as possible at home. Most of us will be able to grow a far higher proportion of our own food if we choose to adopt a vegan diet. But in spite of common opinions, a vegan diet does not have to seem restrictive or boring. Even meat eaters could enjoy a vegan meal. These vegan meal ideas for Christmas dinner could inspire you to make a change:
Classic Nut Roast
When most people think of vegan meal ideas, one of the first things that springs to mind is the classic nut roast. Unfortunately, some people have been put off by dry and unappetising nut roasts that leave much to be desired. There are actually a huge range of nut roasts to choose from, many of which are delicious Christmas dinner ideas.
Chestnut, Squash & Sweet Potato Loaf
If you are looking for a more interesting option for a Christmas loaf, how about trying this moist and delicious combination of chestnut, squash and sweet potato, seasoned with the herbs of the season? There are, of course, plenty of different polytunnel ingredients that you could use to make a layered and festive vegan loaf as a Christmas dinner main.
Caramelised Shallot Tart
Simple yet delicious, impressive and satisfying, this tart uses the sweet, delicate, complex flavours of caramelised shallots atop a pastry base. For extra nutrients and flavour, you could consider making a shortcrust pastry and adding some walnuts or other nuts or seeds to the pastry dough.
Roast Cauliflower With Sage & Onion Crust
Who needs roast beast when the humble cauliflower can become the star of the show. Roasting a cauliflower can really bring out its best, and sage and onion, olive oil, oat or breadcrumb-based crust can make for a wonderful combination of flavours when used to coat the vegetable.
Festive Vegetable Layer Cake
This festive vegan main gives a whole new meaning to Christmas cake. Cakes are not just for dessert. This fabulous festive vegetable layer cake will be sure yo impress your guests this Christmas, whether they are completely vegan or not. Layer roasted winter root vegetables with mashed potato, swede, squash or sweet potato in a spring-form cake tin, along with whichever herbs and seasoning you desire, then carefully un-mould your cake and give it pride of place on your Christmas table.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.