Veganism has soared in the UK. Statistics published by The Vegan Society and Vegan Life magazine in 2016 revealed there were roughly 540,000 vegans in Britain. Today, the number is closer to 3.5 million. With a dramatic increase in the number of people enjoying a plant-based diet in the UK comes a wealth of opportunities when it comes to food. Restaurants are catering to vegans and even bar snacks are changing to suit people’s dietary requirements. So, it perhaps comes as no surprise that this is the best time ever for a fully vegan Christmas. Supermarkets are vying for the attention of vegans nationwide with their festive plant-based offerings, but if you’re looking to create the ultimate vegan Christmas from scratch, this guide is for you.
Being vegan at Christmastime can be particularly tricky, as there are parties and dinners to attend and not all hosts might understand the intricacies of a vegan diet, mistakenly serving dishes containing honey, for example. To find out more about how new vegans especially should tackle the festive season without any mishaps, we spoke to Dominika Piasecka, spokesperson for The Vegan Society: “The Vegan Society is the world’s oldest vegan society whose co-founder came up with the word ‘vegan’ 74 years ago, and our mission is a world in which animals aren’t exploited for human benefit.
“The festive season can be a stressful time for vegans because people may mistakenly serve non-vegan dishes to them or buy gifts that aren’t very vegan-friendly due to the lack of knowledge.
“Our top tips for new vegans are:
- Make sure to let your host know about your dietary requirements and agree on the menu in advance.
- Offer to bring a vegan dish for everyone to share.
- Patiently explain your reasons for being vegan if asked.”
If you’re newly vegan and stuck for ideas, why not update traditional Christmas classics to create vegan alternatives? There’s no reason for you to give up your perfect roast potatoes, or even your glazed carrots – just use maple syrup instead of honey and margarine or oil instead of butter. Stuffing, everyone’s favourite Christmas component, can be equally delicious with chestnuts and herbs (follow the recipe with an alternative to butter), and gloriously creamy mushroom gravy is easy to whip up. So, if this is your first vegan Christmas and you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, take your usual Christmas dishes and swap out the ingredients. It couldn’t be easier.
Navigating Christmas gatherings as a vegan can be a bit of a minefield. Surrounded by meat eaters (many of which are all too eager to ask how you could ever give up on bacon), it’s important to be organised ahead of events. Let the host know that you are vegan, there is no shame in it. There are so many delicious vegan alternatives readily available that if your host can’t be bothered to whip up something fresh, they won’t be totally stuck. Alternatively, you could offer to bring something along for yourself.
The beauty of snacking at Christmastime is that many popular nibbles are already vegan. Opt for some maple glazed walnuts or rosemary and sea salt almonds to get into the festive spirit or set out a platter of vegan cheeses and crackers. The Veganuary website has a fantastic list of cheeses which are particularly special for the Christmas season, from jalapeno and chilli cheddar to parmesan and a decadent pink peppercorn cashew cheese.
If you’re newly vegan or just seeking some fresh inspiration for Christmas, these recipes from some fantastic vegan bloggers will help you to create the perfect festive season.
Image: Kate Hackworthy
Savour the flavour of Christmas with these delicate mince pie filo cigars, perfect for parties or simply to enjoy at home with family. We asked Kate, author of Veggie Desserts to tell us why she loves this recipe: “Mince Pie Filo Cigars are a lighter way to enjoy the flavours of mince pies and make a fun change. The mincemeat has added chopped apples and pears so it's not so heavy and then it’s all rolled in filo pastry and sprinkled with a little cinnamon sugar. They're easy and full of festive flavours.”
Image: Rhian Williams
Who says vegans can’t eat buttercream? This boozy Christmas fruitcake is an indulgent vegan treat. Recipe author Rhian and blogger at Rhian’s Recipes told us more: “This is a slightly boozy, perfectly spiced, seriously moist fruit cake covered in the most indulgent cashew buttercream. It looks impressive but is surprisingly easy to make, it stays moist for a good few days and is bound to be a crowd-pleaser. It’s also gluten-free optional and refined sugar-free.”
Image: Cathy White
When everyone else at the party is stuffing their faces with cheese and pâté, don’t miss out. This creamy smoky garlic mushroom pâté is guaranteed to get you into the festive spirit. We asked recipe author Cathy of Planet Veggie why she’d recommend it: “I love the ease and quickness of this pâté – despite it only containing a few ordinary ingredients, it tastes much more sophisticated. It goes with anything, but I particularly like it on warmed flatbread.”
Image: Natalie Tamara
Move over beef wellington, there’s a new feast in town. This maple parsnip and chestnut wellington is filled with rich, festive flavours. We asked recipe creator Natalie Tamara why she loves this dish: "This Maple Parsnip and Chestnut Wellington has got to be my favourite festive centrepiece; it's so full of flavour and a real crowd-pleaser, but secretly very easy to make and doesn't require any hard-to-find ingredients."
Image: Holly Jade
A yule log is a Christmas staple in many households, and it’s equally delicious when its vegan. Plus, it’s sure to impress your festive guests. Holly of The Little Blog of Vegan told us more: “I absolutely love this as it’s a great centrepiece for a festive get-together, plus it's easy to make and tastes delicious. Very rich & luxurious, perfect for the magical festive season.”
Image: Louise and Vanessa
If autumn and winter mean all-things-pumpkin, then this recipe is for you. Bring something new and delicious to the party like a whole roasted pumpkin with smoky bean chilli. We asked recipe author Louise of The Vegan Larder why she chose this recipe: “While the flavours of this dish aren't particularly 'traditionally' Christmassy, the idea of a fabulous large dish that is brought triumphantly to the table to carve up and serve definitely is. What is more, it goes perfectly with all the other traditional roast trimmings.”
Image: Mandy Mazliah
This festive parsnip, chestnut and sage nut roast will be the star of the show at your Christmas dinner. Making a beautiful centrepiece, this tasty roast is a perfect alternative for vegans and is packed full of flavour. We spoke to Mandy, the recipe author and blogger at Sneaky Veg, to find out why she likes this recipe: “I love this dish because it's full of all the flavours of Christmas yet is suitable for vegans. I also love how the ring-shaped tin makes it look like a Christmas wreath.”
Image: Angela Liddon
Looking for something rich and tasty to snack on over the festive season? These decadent peanut butter balls may be the answer. Angela of Oh She Glows explained her thought process when creating the recipe: “I have fond memories of making peanut butter balls with my mom and sister every holiday season. This year, I came up with a lighter version of my childhood favourite. Rather than using 2 cups of powdered sugar and plenty of butter like the old recipe, I turned to a few lighter ingredients to do the same job. it's now my family's go-to peanut butter ball recipe.”
Image: Lindsay Clarke
Impress your guests with this deliciously creamy spinach and artichoke dip. The perfect accompaniment to any Christmas party, these are best served with pitta chips. We spoke to Lindsay of The Vegan Twist who created the recipe to find out why she recommends it: “This creamy spinach and artichoke dip is one of my favourites for when I'm entertaining - mostly because it tends to go down so well with guests (vegan or otherwise). The creamy, rich dish makes a lovely, decadent and moreish addition to your Christmas meal, either as a starter with pitta chips or as a side dish to go with your vegan roast.”
Image: Alberto and Iosune
Liven up your Christmas dinner with these delicious roasted pesto potatoes. Easy to make and with some added flair for your festive meal, these potatoes will be a guaranteed hit even with non-vegans in your household. We asked the author behind the recipe at Simple Vegan Blog, Iosune, why she loves this dish: “Roasted potatoes have been one of my all-time favourite Christmas dishes and they remind me of my childhood. This recipe is to die for because pesto makes everything taste better.”
Image: Becca Heyes
Another exquisite alternative to a beef wellington is this glorious vegan haggis wellington by Amuse Your Bouche. Made using vegan haggis (such as the one by Macsween), portobello mushrooms and kale, this impressive dish is large enough for a big gathering of friends and family. We spoke to recipe author Becca to find out more: “This vegan mushroom wellington uses vegetarian haggis to add heaps of flavour to a classic dish. It's amazing cut into thick slices and served up with your favourite Christmas side dishes. Don't forget plenty of gravy.”
If you’re searching for the perfect gift for the special vegan in your life this Christmas, The Vegan Larder has the answer. Their beautiful vegan gift boxes are filled with delicious plant-based treats, from truffles and special dipping oils to mulled wine spices. Co-founder Vanessa told us more: “Our boxes, available as subscription or one-offs, are filled with exciting, delicious products from independent and ethical suppliers. We are palm oil free, dairy free and totally vegan and plant-based (with a gluten-free option). We are a start-up, founded by two passionate plant-based cooks and foodies (myself and Louise-Claire).
“Each box is packed with whizz bang cooking helpers such as super sauces, special dipping oils, marinades and spice mixes, a sweet treat (sometimes two), healthy snacks and something unexpected (the chocolate treat box is purely sweet products, as a one-off edition). The boxes make cooking, snacking and eating fun, healthy and easy. Customers also get easy yet exciting recipes with the boxes from our recipe blog.”
This festive December box is full of Christmassy cooking goodies and treats. Expect mulled wine flavours, chutney, gingerbread and truffles – everything you could possibly want for Christmas.
This exclusive box is packed full of gourmet artisan sweets and treats. It is dairy free as well as vegan and is suitable for anyone with a dairy allergy.
This box was created specially to cater to Veganuary participants and anyone looking to kick-start their health for the New Year. It will be full of those kitchen essentials you need for starting on a more plant-based, healthy (but delicious) journey.
Browsing Christmas markets in the UK is arguably the most pleasurable way to celebrate Christmas (apart from enjoying one of our relaxing spa packages). The smell of mulled wine wafting through the air, pretty fairy lights tracing the stalls and shops and the lure of festive food and gifts attract millions of visitors to events all over Britain. Now, with the rise of veganism, numerous vegan Christmas events have launched.
Vegan Events UK runs events all over Britain “with the aim of promoting veganism to non-vegans to show how incredibly healthy, varied, fun, affordable and easy being vegan is as well as creating a one-stop vegan shopping experience for existing vegans.”
We asked the team whether they’d seen a boost in vegan events in recent years: “There has been a huge increase in the number of vegan events taking place in the UK in the last 3 years. We started off running just one event and now we run around 20 each year. 3 years ago, there were less than 10 vegan festivals running per year and now there are over 150 per year.”
If you’d like to explore Christmas markets with entirely vegan menus, ethical gifts and treats, here are Vegan Events UK’s most popular vegan Christmas events:
- Bath Vegan Christmas Festival – November 3, 2018
- Glasgow Vegan Christmas Festival – November 10-11, 2018
- Manchester Vegan Christmas Market – November 17-18, 2018
- Leeds WinterFest Vegan Masquerade Ball – November 17, 2018
- Essex Vegan Christmas Festival – November 25, 2018
- Great Yorkshire Vegan Christmas Market – December 2, 2018
- Dorset Vegan Christmas Festival – December 9, 2018