If you’re eating plant-based this holiday season, there’s no shame in feeling a bit anxious about your options being limited. After all, the table at your average Christmas party tends to be filled with meat, poultry, buttery desserts, and cheesy casseroles. While that typical Christmas fare might be perfect for some folks, we know it’s less than ideal for vegan guests. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of our favorite vegan Christmas recipes!
All of the recipes that you’ll find listed below can be accessed in full via our cooking page. There, you’ll find detailed ingredient lists, plus the exact amounts to use for each ingredient in the recipes. We’re sure you’ll find something to add to your vegan Christmas dinner menu that will get you excited.
First Off: What Does It Mean To Be Vegan?
If you’re just now getting acquainted with the basics of vegan eating, this little refresher will come in handy. Below, you’ll find a quick explanation of the essential principles of the plant-based diet.
What Foods Are – and Aren’t – Vegan?
Vegans abstain from eating any animal products, which means the following foods are off-limits:
- Meats, including beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and fish.
- Eggs – choosing not to eat eggs is one of the key factors that separates a vegan from a vegetarian. Lacto-ovo vegetarians happily eat eggs and dairy, but vegans skip both of these food groups.
- Dairy, including cow’s cheese, goat cheese, milk from any animal, and butter.
- Honey, as it’s derived from bees.
- Animal-based preservatives, including gelatin and lanolin.
Without any animal products in their diets, vegans instead fill their plates with:
- Fruits of all kinds, including apples, oranges, mangoes, pomegranate seeds, bananas, and more.
- Veggies, including non-starchy vegetables like mushrooms, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower and starchy ones like potatoes and butternut squash.
- Nuts and seeds, including peanuts, cashews, almonds, chia seeds, flax seeds, and more.
- Whole grains like rice, wheat, barley, quinoa, couscous, and many more.
- Dairy and meat alternatives, including products made from soy, coconut, grains, and other plant-based ingredients.
With all of these food groups still readily available to vegans, there’s plenty to eat on a plant-based diet! Some will try to convince you that this way of eating is restrictive, but it really can be the opposite. Vegan eating opens up your horizons to creative new recipes, and you’re likely to start thinking outside of the box with your cooking if you cut out animal products temporarily or permanently.
Why Eat Vegan This Holiday Season?
Now, we’re not here to try to convince you to change anything about the way you eat. At JOW, we don’t advocate for one specific diet or lifestyle – but we like to see the good in all of them! Below are some very solid reasons to give plant-based eating a try.
- Reducing your meat intake is good for the environment. The factory farming industry puts a major strain on the environment by using up massive amounts of resources. If you want to help the Earth this holiday season, a simple way to start is by cutting back on meat, eliminating it entirely, or getting yours from sustainable, local sources.
- A vegan diet can promote weight loss. Eating more plants is never a bad idea, and it can be especially helpful if you’re looking for ways to lose weight. Plant-based foods tend to be nutrient-dense, meaning they contain more vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients per calorie than many other foods. You don’t have to go 100% vegan to shed extra pounds, but adding more plants to your plate can be a big help.
- If you’re bored with your cooking, plant-based eating can help you mix things up a bit. If you feel like you’ve been making the same recipes for ages, going vegan is an excellent way to engage your culinary creativity. Without meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal products, you’re left with a new set of staples to use in your cooking. That might mean that you start taking a completely new approach to making food and never go back!
Is Going Vegan Going To Be Hard?
If you’re still unsure about whether plant-based eating is for you, one of the main factors that might be holding you back is the challenge. Vegan eating is often portrayed as difficult and full of compromises and sacrifices. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way!
Not only can going vegan broaden your culinary horizons, but it can also allow you to enjoy and appreciate food in a new way. By eating exclusively plant-based foods, you’ll have a chance to discover something that many people never do – you don’t need animal products to make a delicious meal!
Now, without further ado, these are our ten favorite festive vegan recipes.
1. Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup
This is one of the warmest, most comforting, and most inviting recipes in our arsenal, and it’s 100% plant-based. This lentil and sweet potato soup is made even more festive by the addition of fresh herbs and spices like thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves, which you can add in the form of a homemade bouquet garni. Yum!
If you’ve never had the pleasure of making a pureed soup before, this one is a perfect starting point. With just a few simple ingredients, it makes a phenomenal side dish for a plant-based Christmas dinner, and it has everything you’d want from holiday food.
One thing to consider when preparing to make this soup is the gear you’ll need, specifically an immersion blender or food processor. You’ll be using one of these tools to blend up your cooked ingredients into a thick liquid, so make sure that you have one of them in your kitchen before getting started!
2. Polenta With Grilled Vegetables
This plant-based dish is perfect for any time in the winter. Made with polenta, a creamy cornmeal-based food, as its main event, the meal is leveled up by crunchy grilled vegetables and a bed of arugula. It’s an ideal meal for the holiday season, and there’s no need to use any animal products while making it!
3. Vegetable Tian
This festive layered casserole is an excellent alternative to typical Christmastime fare. If you’re on your way to a holiday potluck anytime soon, our vegetable tian is exactly what you need to bring!
Every bite is packed with color and flavor thanks to fresh herbs and spices, plus the abundant flavors of zucchini, eggplant, and juicy tomatoes. Our mouths are watering already.
4. Couscous With Olives and Pine Nuts
Who knew that couscous could taste so festive?
This wintry grain bowl is made with just a few simple ingredients, and it makes a perfect main course or side dish for the holiday season. If you want your couscous to taste extra festive, try replacing the fresh cilantro in this recipe with herbs like thyme, rosemary, or sage.
5. Cauliflower Steak With String Beans
Saying goodbye to steak is often a challenge for newcomers to plant-based eating – but it’s much easier once you try this yummy cauliflower alternative!
Made with a simple, sweet, and spicy marinade of paprika, maple syrup, garlic, and lemon juice, this steak has everything you need in a vegan Christmas dinner. It’s rich and satisfying without the need for any animal products. Plus, in addition to being 100% vegan-friendly, this main dish is also low-carb!
If you need a meal that’s guaranteed to please everyone – no matter what their diet is – this is it! Keto-friendly, vegan-friendly, and bound to satisfy even the most die-hard beef lovers, this cauliflower steak is one of our top recommendations for the holidays.
In addition, if you’re not too concerned about the carb count in this dish but still want to keep it vegan, you can easily swap out the side of mashed cauliflower for classic mashed potatoes. Just make sure to use a vegetable oil-based butter alternative!
What Festive Drinks Can Vegans Have?
If you spend the year looking forward to wintertime beverages, you might be wondering if going vegan means never getting to enjoy those drinks again. Luckily, that’s far from the case! Below are some quick and simple ways to make your favorite holiday beverages vegan-friendly.
- Eggnog: Eggnog is traditionally made with eggs, heavy cream, and milk, all of which are definitely off-limits for vegans. Luckily, you can easily get the flavor and texture of eggnog without these ingredients by swapping out the milk for a non-dairy alternative and the eggs for blended cashews or flaxseed. While nuts and seeds might sound like unlikely egg replacers, you’ll be amazed by how well they work!
- The White Russian: Traditionally made with coffee liqueur, vodka, and cream, this drink just needs one ingredient swapped to become vegan-friendly. Luckily, you can easily find non-dairy half and half at your local grocery store and use a bit of that instead of cream.
- Hot Cocoa: This holiday classic is typically made with milk and sometimes even contains milk chocolate. Luckily, there’s an easy way to remove the dairy-based ingredients from your hot chocolate – just swap out the milk for your favorite non-dairy alternative and use cocoa powder instead of milk chocolate. Cocoa itself is completely plant-based – it’s the milk added to chocolate that makes some hot cocoa varieties incompatible with the vegan diet.
- Mulled Wine: Warm, spicy wine is a holiday classic, and it’s already completely plant-based in its original form. You can make your own mulled wine by heating up a dry red, some brandy, mulling spices, cinnamon, orange slices, and cranberries on the stove, then serving it warm in heat-proof glasses.
How To Veganize Your Favorite Holiday Desserts
If you’re afraid to miss out on classic Christmas treats due to going plant-based, have no fear. There are plenty of simple ways to turn your favorite holiday desserts into vegan-friendly delights. Below are some of our favorite methods for swapping out the animal-derived ingredients in Christmas desserts.
- You can make vegan gingerbread cake using flax eggs and alternative milk instead of traditional ingredients. Flax eggs are made from a simple combination of flaxseeds and water, and they’re perfect for holiday baking!
- Vegan pie is easy, too – to make your own crust, just swap out butter for a vegetable oil-based alternative and blend it with flour and a pinch of salt. Making your own crust can be challenging at first, but it’s an incredibly rewarding skill that you’ll never regret having!
- Classic Christmas cookies can be vegan, too – to make vegan gingerbread cookies, the only ingredients you’ll need to swap out are butter and eggs. Here’s another time when flax eggs will definitely come in handy! By blending a tablespoon of flax seeds with three tablespoons of water, you’ll get a quick, simple egg alternative that you can use anytime while baking. Then, just swap out your butter for a vegan alternative, and you’re good to go!
Going Vegan at Christmas Has Never Been This Easy
With recipes like these, it’s a wonder that everyone isn’t jumping on the plant-based train. Whether you commit to full-on vegan eating or just resolve to cut back on meat and dairy this holiday season, you can find plenty more inspiring recipes on our cooking page. There, you’ll have unlimited access to all of our recipes, including our wide array of plant-based main courses and side dishes. We can even order all of your ingredients for you from the nearest grocery store, saving you some precious time and effort during the busiest time of year!