As the holidays creep ever closer, we look forward to those special times with family, friends, and of course, food. It’s a season for carb-heavy foods, decadent desserts, and festive libations – we’ll shame-freely admit that few of our waistlines make it to January unaffected!
For those of you who’ve resolved to stick to your vegan journey or are looking to impress you non-vegan family members: we see you! We’re switching out typical holiday foods for options with less cholesterol, more nutrients, and ethical intentions.
No matter the occasion, a holiday meal is a great time to try out a new plant-based recipe and share it – and some are a lot simpler than you might think! Read along as we share our favorite vegan holiday recipe tips for sides, main course, and dessert!
Vegan Holiday Side Dishes
Mashed potatoes are especially easy: all you need to do is switch out the dairy for an unsweetened non-dairy milk and vegan butter. You can also try spicing up the recipe with purple potatoes or sweet potatoes, which will offer a unique color and subtle sweetness to your dish. They’re also higher in vitamin A and fiber, which makes them a healthy alternative to the traditional white potatoes.
The winter season also features vegetables like butternut squash, which is delicious when roasted or pureed into a soup. You can also encourage your loved ones to give brussel sprouts a second chance: try serving them seasoned with salt and pepper, oven-roasted with garlic, dried cranberries, and a balsamic reduction.
The Main Course: Vegan Holiday Pot Pie
Searching for a delicious vegan main course? There are now more vegan options than ever before! While store-bought options are an easy way to ensure a plant-based holiday, you can also make your own homemade vegan main course. Turkey and ham may be the typical holiday meats, but vegan pot pie is just as hearty and delicious.
This is the perfect meal if you’re one of the only vegans at the dinner table, and need to bring something that’s easy to pack up for the ride to the party.
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup russet potatoes, diced
¼ cup + 2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable broth (can make a quick broth with bouillon cubes)
½ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (soy works best)
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
2 cups chopped seitan chicken or turkey (try extra firm tofu for a low sodium option)
black pepper, to taste
vegan pie crust or puff pastry
2 tbsp vegan butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375F. Melt the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring periodically for 2-4 mins.
Incorporate the remaining vegetables and saute until tender, before adding the flour. Stir to combine.
Slowly add in the broth, milk alternative, and bay leaves. Stir to combine and cook until the texture becomes thick, with a consistency similar to gravy. Add peas and veggie protein, and cook until heated through, roughly 5 mins.
Divide the stew evenly between 4 lightly greased, oven-safe ramekins.
After rolling out the dough, cut it into 4 equal pieces and place over each ramekin, trimming off the excess. Gently crimp the edges with a fork.
Brush the tops of the dough with melted vegan butter, and cut 3 ½ inch slits in the top for venting.
Place the ramekin onto a baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown, checking often to avoid burning.
Allow the pot pies to cool for 10 minutes on a slatted baking sheet before serving.
Vegan Holiday Desserts
The seasoned vegan baker will already have a few tricks up her sleeve when it comes to dessert. She knows that she can use flax, bananas, or applesauce as an egg substitute, or add apple cider vinegar to a non-dairy milk as a substitute for buttermilk. Even armed some preexisting skills, producing a vegan dessert for the holidays can feel a bit daunting.
Luckily, one of the easiest recipes is also one of the most popular: pumpkin pie!
Pumpkin pie allows lots of room for versatility. Keep one thing in mind, though: avoid using store-bought pumpkin pie filling, since they’re usually made with dairy products or eggs. Instead, you will need to make your own: a can of pumpkin puree, maple syrup, brown sugar is a great start. Add pinches of ground spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, and cardamom for sweet, spicy depth.
Like most pies, the difficulty level of a pumpkin pie is entirely up to the baker. For instance, many graham cracker-based crusts are already vegan, but you can also make your own vegan pie crust with dairy-free butter. You can also purchase a store-bought vegan whipped cream, which is now available in many grocery stores, or you can make your own with macadamia nuts or full-fat coconut milk.
Remaining plant-based during the holidays can be a challenging endeavor; some parties may not have any vegan options at all! While it’s tempting to lament missing out on the charcuterie your friends are all raving about, this is truly the time to embrace the spirit of giving, by focusing on the delicious food you’ll be bringing your fellow partygoers. Who knows, maybe a vegan holiday meal will be on the table next year.