This is going to be my first holiday season that I will attempt to really, truly be a vegan. I have been an on-and-off vegetarian for over ten years now. “Off” was lit with excuses: vacations, new boyfriends, family meals. Even in years when I ate no meat, I was powerless to the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.
I believe I am brave enough this year. I think it is my new initiation to motherhood, where I have already said sentences like, “my baby will get enough protein without cooking him meat.” Motherhood does make you fierce. It isn’t a lie.
I do also believe that when I put many things on my plate and fill it to the brim, people won’t notice what I don’t eat. I will go back for seconds. I will probably have a food baby like everyone else. I will not, however, brush my values aside because it might make my family uncomfortable. What are the holidays without at least a smidge of uncomfortable conversation?
If you are marching to the holidays with an anxious heart and a plant-powered desire, let this be a cheat sheet for things to serve that won’t perpetuate the vegan stereotypes. I am a firm believer that if you serve delicious food, you don’t have to mention what it doesn’t have or even what it is. Yum is a universal language. Yum unites.
Here are five yum-worthy dishes to bring to the table that will turn the attention away from your lifestyle choices and turn it towards the food. That’s why everyone showed up in the first place, anyway.
- Roasted Acorn Squash You can go simple and roast it in half moons with all of the holiday spices you can muster (rosemary, sage…heck, even pumpkin pie spice). You can also try these avocado and quinoa stuffed acorn squashes from Love & Lemons. You can make the filling two days in advance and there is usually some leftover. Just because you’re a vegan doesn’t mean you can’t dance in the world of leftovers.
- Vegan Pot Pies The holidays are about eating things that you wouldn’t normally and they are also about incorporating pie crust into as many recipes as possible (and they’re also about love, okay, Charlie Brown?). Bring a tray full of these bad boys from The Mostly Vegan and chances are your relatives will push their turkey to the side.
- Vegan Tourtiere Christmas Eve for me used to always involve a Canadian meat pie. Now Christmas Eve usually involves nachos due to an epic holiday fail that has evolved into tradition. This vegan tourtiere might be the perfect dish to marry tradition with new principles (and looks like it might taste even better than the original).
- Mushroom Wellington Do you know what the holidays don’t need more of? Beef. The earthiness of mushrooms is crisscrossed with pastry in this recipe by Delightful Vegans, looking gorgeous if you can pull it off and tasting delicious even if you can’t. If it doesn’t turn out quite like the picture, slice in advance, letting everyone know you were trying to save room on the table. So considerate!
- Vegan Turkey Roll You don’t want to be the person who brings a block of tofu to your family. However, tofu does take on the flavour of what it’s surrounding, and if it is surrounded by gluten free stuffing, well then that’s just awesome, isn’t it? This recipe by Cheftographer makes for a beautiful centerpiece. I think if I brought this I wouldn’t even be a little tempted to eat meat.
Happy holiday, friends. Whether you eat differently or the same, may you enjoy coming together with the people you love, while lovingly stuffing your face.