As the holidays approach, so do the family get-togethers, office parties, and dinners. For those of us living a vegan lifestyle, finding something to eat can be challenging, to say the least. The good news, however, is that it is easier now than ever before to choose vegan eating options – even during the holidays. Many holiday favorites can be “veganized” with a little advanced planning.
Every holiday feast begins with the appetizers. Usually this consists of a vegetable dish of some sort. Healthy, right? Wrong. During the holidays, veggies are drowned in butter and cream, covered in cheese and wrapped in bacon. Want to be able to share appetizers with your friends and family without sacrificing the taste and flavors that butter, cheese and meat offer? There are a number of vegetable based spreads without the trans-fats that make great stand-ins for butter. Vegan cheeses made out of either soy or rice are widely available, but if you can’t find one, you can make your own out of raw almonds and nutritional yeast!
While you may not want to partake in the traditional holiday turkey or ham, not everyone goes crazy for meat substitutes, like Tofurkey. Fortunately, it’s easy to bring a filling main dish for yourself that others can enjoy as well without garnering any upturned noses. Consider a mushroom stroganoff, a roasted vegetable galette, or a quinoa-based pilaf. The usual green bean casserole can be vegan-ized by swapping out the cream of mushroom soup for a blend of fresh mushrooms and silken tofu. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, try a lasagna made with vegan cheese and thin slices of zucchini in place of the noodles! Making your own dish ensures that you’ll have something satisfying to enjoy at the table, and it also gives others a chance to see how delicious vegan food can be.
What would the holidays be without seasonal sweets like apple pie, pumpkin pie, and all of the cakes and cookies that come along for the ride? How can a vegan get around the fact that almost every pastry or dessert calls for eggs, butter and milk? Well, we’ve talked about how to substitute vegetable margarines for butter, and anyone who has been abstaining from milk will be able to point you towards the almond, soy and rice milk substitutions in the dairy aisle. But eggs? Well, there’s one secret ingredient that every vegan baker should keep on hand at all times throughout the holiday season: applesauce. That’s right, applesauce. Substitute ½ cup of applesauce for every egg that is called for in a recipe; it will not only make your desserts vegan, but will lower the fat in your recipe dramatically. Silken tofu also makes a great substitute with its mousse-like texture and the added bonus of protein.
Don’t let your dietary preferences leave you out in the cold this holiday season! With all of the options and substitutions available, there should be no reason why your table shouldn’t be full of delicious vegan fare. Happy holidays!
Melissa Woodson is the community manager for @WashULaw, a premier program for foreign attorneys to earn their LLM Online in U.S. law and just one of the LLM degree programs offered by Washington University in St. Louis. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, and making half-baked attempts at training her dog.