vegetarian christmas

Roast turkey, sausage rolls, pigs in blankets and stuffing… Christmas food in England is often an ode to traditional cooking and meat-filled recipes that have been passed down through generations. Christmas markets full of bratwurst and cooking shows centring around roasted meats and fish-filled canapes. However, this really isn’t the only way to go about things, and a vegetarian Christmas doesn’t have to equal restriction of a lack of indulgence.

This year will be my first Christmas as a vegetarian. I decided to make the change after researching both the environmental and health benefits to a vegetarian diet. Although, after I became vegetarian it became quickly apparent to me that Christmas would be a particularly large hurdle to overcome, with everyone asking ‘But… what about Christmas?’ after telling them that I was going to be cutting meat out of my diet. Because of this, it seemed impossible at first to stick to the promise of a vegetarian Christmas, having spent every year enjoying my Mum’s non-vegetarian recipes and helping her in the kitchen every year, I still think that she is holding out hope that maybe I’ll change my mind when she bakes her well-renowned sage and sausage rolls… However, there is nothing to say that new recipes can’t allow for new Christmas traditions to be made, with just as much flavour and ease.

Experimenting with new flavours, recipes and foods is all a part of the fun, and after doing a little research online, here are some of the best vegetarian recipes I could find that are sure to be as filling and delicious as a plate of Christmas dinner, (that isn’t a nut roast):
Dishes like mushroom risotto are pretty much fool proof, with the added opportunity for experimenting with herbs, flavours and fillings (or just adding as much cheese as you can manage). This classic recipe from Delia is as good as any. Creamy, rich and flavoursome, this is definitely one to try, and one that I think I might try this Christmas instead of the full turkey dinner.

Or for something a little more Christmassy, there are plenty of savoury roulades splashed across food websites that might take your fancy. This sweet potato and leek roulade from Delicious with flavours of sage and nutmeg maintains the tastes of a traditional Christmas dinner, while being meat-free.

Another winter warmer from BBC Good Food is a Golden-glazed carrot, mushroom & hazelnut tart. Flavoursome and filling this is one that both vegetarians and meat eaters alike will not be able to get enough of. Savoury flavours coming together with sweet maple syrup, this recipe is also one that can be adapted and experimented with to suit everyone’s tastes.

Although it’s not just the big meal to consider. Christmas is a time for constant grazing, or at least for me it is… With party food swimming around and evening nibbles in front of the fire. Whenever I have been at a party with finger food since becoming a vegetarian, it seems that almost all the treats available involve meat to some extent. A very first-world problem, I admit, but frustrating none-the-less. So, here are a few veggie ideas for nibbles that are as tempting as they are delicious…

Christmas is as good of a time as any to eat as much cheese as humanly possible. This recipe from Delish is a great idea for a cosy night in. Warm, baked brie with a selection of chutneys and jams, crusty bread and celery – too tempting not to try. Who wouldn’t want to try this, vegetarian or not? Try mixing this recipe up with new flavours, herbs and dips to cater for everyone’s palette. This really is the perfect midnight feast.

And of course, you can’t go far wrong with mini pizzas – get excited about flavours and toppings! These pizza tartlets from Utterly Scrummy provide an interesting take, and will go down a treat for family and friends alike!

If you’re struggling for ideas, you can’t go far wrong with stuffed roasted peppers, vegetable quiches, cheese and grapes, honey-roasted nuts, halloumi sliders with chilli jam…. I’m getting carried away now, but it just goes to show how inventive you can be with this stuff – and I really feel that by taking meat out of the equation, it forces you to push the boat out with food and flavour combinations that you would otherwise have never tried!

Vegetarian food can be as vibrant and varied as any other food at Christmas, and really is the best time to play with recipes and bring new ideas to the table. And honestly, since turning vegetarian earlier this year I have never been more enthusiastic and interested in cooking, flavours, and what I am putting into my body. I feel healthier, happier, and can’t wait to start trying out new recipes and starting traditions that might even persuade my Mum.