The days of outnumbered vegetarians making do with the side dishes are long gone, with plant-based menus taking Australia by storm.
The days of outnumbered vegetarians making do with the side dishes are long gone, with plant-based menus taking Australia by storm.

How to host a vegan Christmas

Making sure that everyone around the Christmas table is well catered for can be tricky, especially when people have differing dietary requirements and preferences.

Your mum has gone dairy-free and your son-in-law is vegetarian. Or is it vegan?

Remember, while vegetarians can eat animal-derived products such as eggs, cheese and honey, vegans eat only plant-based produce - so make sure you know who you are catering for.

Either way, creating delicious, meat-free fare is definitely within reach.

Mother of two Nicole Ekstrom and husband Henrik are planning a very vegan Christmas, after making their diet entirely plant-based four years ago.

Vegans Nicole and Henrik Ekstrom with their children Lynn, 10, and Nils, 8. Picture: NCA/Gaye Gerard
Vegans Nicole and Henrik Ekstrom with their children Lynn, 10, and Nils, 8. Picture: NCA/Gaye Gerard

After a fairly strict start for Lynn, 10, and Nils, 8, the kids are now what Nicole calls "flexitarian" after they successfully lobbied for cheese.

Exceptions are also allowed after sport or at a playdate, but the Christmas menu is definitely more cruciferous than crackling.

"Usually we just do a barbecue, like a couple of different salads and then vegies on the barbie. Basically pretty similar to non-vegans, I would say, (we just) replace the meat part with vegies, or a cauliflower bake. You can do the mushroom wellington, (which is) basically the same as beef Wellington, and you do the mushroom or beetroot version of that," Nicole says.

A mix of different herbs is how Nicole "beefs it up" - in a manner of speaking.

"I love to mix basil, coriander and mint and those kinds of things, so it gives you a bit of extra taste, and I love to have nuts on top of it as well. Pine nuts, walnuts, which you heat up in the pan a bit if you like it roasted (and) you can caramelise them as well.

"I put fruit in there, either dry ones, like I've got a really good raw broccoli salad where I've got cranberries in there, but you can do watermelon, you can throw in blueberries and it makes it really colourful as well," she says.

Taste's top plant-based recipes for vegans coming to the table this Christmas. Pictured is the fully loaded vegan potato salad – for more vegan recipes head to taste.com.au
Taste's top plant-based recipes for vegans coming to the table this Christmas. Pictured is the fully loaded vegan potato salad – for more vegan recipes head to taste.com.au

Originally from Switzerland, the family's white Christmas fondue cravings are satisfied by Nicole's vegan version.

"My daughter actually prefers that one over the real one," she says.

But Christmas is still all about the goodies for the kids.

"They like different kinds of sushi or Vietnamese rice paper rolls, but especially for Christmas they are probably going to be all in for the desserts," Nicole says.

"That's not really different from vegetarian to non-vegetarian kids, I would say."

Instead of the usual slim pickings vegans and vegetarians are offered - a slightly zhooshed-up side or a skimpy salad - follow these tips to create an impressively easy vego or vegan meal that you'll all want a taste of.

Taste's top plant-based recipes for vegans this Christmas includes this mouth-watering fig and custard tart. For more ideas for a fabulous vegan feast, head to taste.com.au
Taste's top plant-based recipes for vegans this Christmas includes this mouth-watering fig and custard tart. For more ideas for a fabulous vegan feast, head to taste.com.au

Top tips for the ultimate meat-free Christmas feast

1. Include traditional Christmas accompaniments that are not meat-based, such as cranberry sauce, mince-free stuffing, fruitcake, plum pudding, eggnog and mince pies.

2. Don't forget to check that standard items used in cooking, such as stock and condiments, are completely free of meat products. Vegetarian alternatives are usually readily available at most supermarkets. Take advantage of the summer season and incorporate interesting seasonal produce into your menu, particularly any unusual tropical fruits or herbs you can find.

3. Consider planning your feast around a specific cuisine. Countries with lots of vegetarian-friendly dishes include India, Israel, Egypt, Morocco, Thailand, Greece and Mexico.

4. If you're looking for some plant-based inspiration for your Christmas menu this year, there are hundreds of vegetarian and vegan Christmas recipes that will blow you away on taste.com.au.

There is so much you can do with vegetables and we won't hear a word to the contrary.

5. From vegan gingerbread to creamy pasta salads, whole-roasted cauliflowers and vegan desserts, showstopping mains, sides and salads, we've got all your bases covered.

Originally published as How to host a vegan Christmas



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