Feeding That Effing Vegan this Holiday Season

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First and foremost, I extend solidarity. We have all been there before: the first meal that you either attended as vegan new to the scene, or the first meal that you prepared in your pre-veg life for the token plant-eater at the dinner table. There are a few of us who have been vegan since we were young, some that have been vegan for a few years, and some who will be celebrating the holidays vegan this year for the first time. Likewise, there are some who may be the ones preparing feasts this year for your respective celebrations, and who received the call or email this week: this year, there is a vegan coming to dinner (cue daunting musical score and dramatic dropping of phone). Rest be assured: we have you. We appreciate you, and we offer a few helpful hints to navigate through the season.

1. Contrary to popular belief, vegans (and vegetarians) cannot live off of salads.

Salads are a major component of our lifestyles, and we enjoy them thoroughly. That said, when everyone else is enjoying a warm, hearty holiday meal, a simple salad does not compare. Offering a filling, nutrient-dense main course for the veg guest is not only considerate, but it is made feasible by the abundance of options on the mainstream market these days.

Smoky Walnut Lentil Loaf (one of our VP favourites): theveganproject.com/smoky-walnut-lentil-loaf/

Field Roast offers a wide variety of products ranging from the infamous Celebration Roast, to Meatloaf, Sausages and slices. While these are available in Canada at Whole Foods, Choices, and other specialty stores, note that the demand is high, and when grocery stores are stocked, they sell out quickly.

Photo || PCC Natural Markets

Photo || PCC Natural Markets

Tofurky has the Roast, Roast & Gravy, and the Feast (available selectively across Canada.) The Roast is a savory blend of wheat and tofu, filled with wild rice and breadcrumb stuffing, topped with a class savory gravy.

Latkes, a staple dish during Hannukah celebrates, are easily made vegan by switching out the eggs. Traditional paired with sour cream and apple sauce, swap out the sour cream for a vegan replacement or double up your apple sauce-t0-potato ratio. Our classic recipe is on the old-school VP site: https://theveganproject.wordpress.com/tag/vegan-latkes/

 

2.Vegans are not inherently non-drinkers.

Many folks have a pre-conceived image of vegans, and this image includes our abstaining from consuming alcohol in favour of tea or the kombucha of the month (myself included.) While many folks do choose to do so for various reasons, it is not the case for all of us, and we warmly welcome a seasonal beverage or two.

Prepare a batch of homemade vegan Bailey’s, to add to coffee, tea, sip on its own, or (for the ambitious) incorporate into recipes: http://www.theveganproject.com/vegan-irish-cream/

Many alcoholic drinks contain animal by-products, primarily in the production and finishing processes. Consult the holy grail of vegan drinks, Barnivore (www.barnivore.com), a website that catalogues vegan-friendly beer, wine, and alcohol products (and right now- boasts over 28,000 items!)

 

3.We want just as much dessert as the other person. (If not more.)

 The mighty fruit plate has become the automatic default for vegan desert, similar to the role that the mighty salad plays in point #1. This is not meant to be dismissive of fruit. It possesses amazing nutritional components, and it adaptable to a wide variety of recipes, flavours, temperatures, and textures. It is intended to broaden the scope of vegan dessert, and send a gentle reminder that we enjoy the cake, the pie, the ice cream, the cupcakes, and sometimes, one or two of each.

Preparing at home? Some of our favourite go-to sweet treat recipes:

3-Ingredient Chocolate Mousse from Karina Inkster: http://www.karinainkster.com/single-post/2016/05/01/Vegan-3Ingredient-Chocolate-Mousse

Pumpkin-Cashew Cocoa Bars (if you don’t finish the entire pan before your guests arrive): http://www.theveganproject.com/pumpkin-cocoa-cashew-butter-bars/

Deep Dish Caramel Apple Pie, from the local and wonderous Emily Von Euw: http://www.thisrawsomeveganlife.com/2016/02/deep-dish-caramel-apple-pie.html

Photo || This Rawsome Vegan Life

Photo || This Rawsome Vegan Life

Classic Pumpkin Pie: http://ohsheglows.com/2011/11/20/vegan-pumpkin-pie-three-ways-classic-rustic-gluten-free/

Picking up? Some of our favourite vegan-friendly bakeries and sweet-treat providers:

Edible Flours: 2280 West Broadway

Fairy Cakes: 3586 Fraser St.

Two Daughters (North Vancouver): 121 East 1st Street

Eternal Abundance: 1025 Commercial Drive

Zimt Chocolates: (available at assorted locations, check website for info.)

Cartems Donuterie (multiple locations in Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant, and Gastown.) Note not all products are vegan-friendly, but consult the daily menu and friendly staff for the options o’ the week. (Pro-tip: bring some to Hannukah parties to replace the Jelly Donuts!)

Photo || The Georgia Straight

Photo || The Georgia StraightSay Hello Sweets

(IG: @sayhellosweets): Plant-based ice cream made from scratch, and served from the van. Rumour has it these folks are featuring an eggless nog ice cream this holiday season. Act accordingly.

Vogue Cakes (voguecakes.com): In addition to a few traditional staple items, the Vogue team creates beautiful, custom vegan cakes, pies and baked goods, made to order.

 

Photo || Vogue Cakes

Photo || Vogue Cakes

Nice Vice: 1022 Mainland Street. Vancouver’s first vegan ice cream shop, and the essential topper for your pie/cake/spoon.

 

4.Black coffee and tea: not always the default.

A lot of us are used to this option, especially when navigating non-vegan businesses, offices, traveling, and some of us just prefer it. That said: I consider a good cup of coffee with the perfect amount of “cream” and sweetener a near-religious experience. The combination of a perfect coffee with dessert is culinary divinity. Case in point: stock the fridge.

So Nice Original Coffee Creamer (this has a a heavier consistency than regular soy milk and holds up well in coffee)

So Delicious Coconut Milk Coffee Creamer (Original or Flavoured); also comes in an Almond Milk Variety.

If you’re visiting the States: Califia Farms (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s) Coffee Creams are the ultimate in taste, texture, and creaminess.

Locally, stock up on Nuez Milk (nuezmilk.com); a beautiful, creamy blend of local nuts and ethically-sourced flavours. If you’re preparing espresso beverages, Nuez is one of the front-runners for maintaining texture and frothiness when steamed!

 

Photo || Nuez

Photo || Nuez Milk

 

5.Crackers and bread were made to be smothered in decadent, divine toppings.

While the butter dish sits at the opposite end of the table, our naked bread slice looks pitiful. Dress it up with an easy alternative:

Instead of butter…

Earth Balance (Original “Buttery Spread”)

Coconut Oil

Make your own, infuse with flavor if desired: http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/fats/vegan-butters/vegan-butter

Olive oil pairing with balsamic vinegar or reduction (the dipping ultimate). Consult the experts at the Vancouver Olive Oil Co (2571 West Broadway), to attend a tasting session, and pair with the perfect balsamic.

Photo || www.vooc.ca

Photo || www.vooc.ca

Instead of cheesy sauces, creamy sauces, and sour cream:

Cheese sauce for vegetables or potatoes? Look no further: http://ohsheglows.com/2011/08/18/quick-dirty-5-ingredient-vegan-cheeze-sauce-recipe-challenge/

Hummus (predictable? Yes. With due reason? Yes.) Vancouver-based companies Habibi’s (http://habibis.ca), and Hanes Hummus (http://www.haneshummus.com) have a wide variety of flavours, spice levels, and ingredient infusions to pair with breads, crackers, and veggies.

Photo || www.haneshummus.com

Photo || www.haneshummus.com

Instead of whipped cream…

SoDelicious CocoWhip (available in the frozen section)

Gaylea Whipped Coconut Cream (available at Choices): my personal favourite, and a classic squirt-from-the-can to rival Reddi Wip anyway.

Make your own (it’s surprisingly easy): in the fridge, place a can of coconut milk overnight for a minimum of 8 hours. 1 hour before preparing, place metal mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for 1 hour. Open the can (do not shake it!), and beat the contents using your mixer with chilled beaters on medium speed. Turn to high speed after a few minutes and whip to desired consistency.

 

6.Communicate, ask questions, and gather resources. We love you for it.

Preparing a vegan meal, or even a vegan dish, is a new venture for many folks. We acknowledge that, and appreciate that you are up to the task. Questions, feedback, and suggestions are encouraged (on both sides!).

Check in on specific dietary preferences. For example, some vegans include honey in their lifestyles, while some do not. (Honey can be easily substituted with agave, coconut sugar, or Stevia.)

Gluten-free preferences are not inherent to all vegans, but to some. Note: there is a key difference between gluten-free folks and those who are Celiac.

Have a reference text/cookbook. We suggest our own (surprise!), What To Feed That Effing Vegan. Created as a resource specifically to serve the first-time chefs in your position, we offer classic recipes, substitutions, and a few overall hints for success: https://gumroad.com/l/thateffingvegan_holiday

Recipe test. Ask for feedback. Any new venture won’t be perfect the first time around.

 

All of the points that have been offered here can be applied to your respective celebrations: Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, and however you  may choose to acknowledge and celebrate holidays in your life. Apply them to any gathering, birthday meal, party, or brunch. Though the flavours and dishes may change, the central themes remain the same.

Above all: remember that if you navigate your everyday life as a vegan, a vegetarian, a person hoping to integrate more plant-based recipes, or someone who simply wanted to try the holidays without animal products this year: all of these are making a contribution to better your health, introduce you to new flavours and dishes, and make the holidays brighter for some of our animals friends as well.

Happy cooking and happy feasting.

Love,

Zoe || zoe@theveganproject.com || IG @zoemarg ||

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