A Vegan Christmas
If I'm being honest, I was absolutely dreading my first Christmas being vegan. I come from a large, culturally diverse background and one thing we all come together on is sharing an outrageous amount of decadent food on Christmas Day. I had heard a million horror stories of grandmas sneaking meat into salads and ethical debates running wild, so I was even more anxious than usual.
Thankfully, both my partner's family and mine have embraced our changes and made some minor adaptations, like roasting some potatoes in a separate tray so we didn't have to miss out on all of our Christmas favourites. My partner's dad took it further and saw it as an exciting culinary opportunity, researching how to make his own stuffed tofurky from scratch, each year tweaking the recipe to perfection.
I can confidently say that having our families on board and preparing early made all the difference So, if you're vegan this year, or someone in your family is, from a gift guide to my favourite bliss balls, I've got some tips for making it as enjoyable as possible for everyone.
Vegan gift guide
I take delight in buying or making personalised gifts for the people I love (and those who social contracts have bound me to get gifts for). But for some people this is the most stressful part of Christmas. Throwing a vegan in the mix can make it even more difficult to know if you're getting it right, so I've compiled some ideas to make it a little bit easier. I personally planned to cross stitch each of my loved ones a small portrait of a feminist pioneer from different eras, but alas it has been five months since I embarked on this mammoth task and I have completed just two. With just a month until Christmas, it's more likely they will be receiving one of the equally thoughtful, but less time-consuming gifts below.
When I was new to veganism, the hardest thing was finding quality vegan replacements for my makeup and other beauty related products. Mecca has now made it easy, giving you the option to browse all vegan products on their online store.
Hampers - During my time at university, my mum would make up big hampers of vegan treats like Tom and Luke's snackaballs and some basics that were not accessible on my student budget, like chia seeds and LSA.
The Caker cake kits - These are perfect for the occasional baker like myself, where the biggest barrier to baking is having all the ingredients on hand when the desire to bake strikes me. Both the lemon plum and the ginger pear pistachio flavours can be made completely vegan and are truly delicious. You could also make one of these to take with you for Christmas festivities, guaranteed crowd pleaser.
Cookie jars - This is a similar concept to the above. Just measure out dry ingredients for a vegan cookie recipe and place in a jar with instructions tied with a ribbon to the outside, because who doesn't love cookies. GoodFor sells these cookie jars premade for those who are pressed for time.
Vegan recipe ideas
I've never met a carbohydrate I didn't like, so for me, Christmas dinner is all about having potatoes in as many forms as possible. That's pretty easy to veganise, but if you're looking for something a little more impressive, you can try your hand at making your own tofurky. If you're after something that requires less culinary skills, you can pick up a ready-made Tofurky from The Cruelty Free Shop, but make sure you get in early, as they are known to sell out quickly.
Luckily for me, my sister is a Bliss Ball Extraordinaire and she has a new flavour for us to try at almost every gathering. This can be a fun activity for kids to roll into balls and dust in almond or coconut too. I promised her the title above in exchange for the following recipe, so please don't let it be in vain, give them a try.
- 1 cup of dates soaked for 5 minutes in hot water
- 1 cup of nuts (cashews, peanuts, almonds or use sunflower seeds if you want to have nut free option)
- 1/2 cup of chia seeds
- 2 tbsp Cocoa Powder
- 1tsp Vanilla Extract
- Almond Meal, Cocoa &/or Coconut (Desiccated or flakes) for rolling
- 1 tbsp Maple Syrup (optional)
- Drain the dates and set the water aside.
- Put all the ingredients into a mixer and blend until a ball forms.
- If the dough is too sticky, add more nuts, seeds or almond meal a little at a time. If it's too dry, add a tablespoon of the water from the dates.
- Make small balls about the size of a 50c coin in circumference.
- Finally, roll in coconut, cocoa, or almond meal.
- Enjoy as an after dinner treat, pre-workout snack or afternoon delight with a cup of tea.
My final tip is to remember that it's okay to get things wrong. Every year I receive chocolates, alcohol and other treats that aren't vegan, but thankfully (in this case) not everyone is vegan, so they inevitably find a home or a tummy that is grateful for them.