Have Yourself a Merry Vegan Christmas

Blogger Lynsey Clayton (Monsoon of Random) gives a personal view on how to celebrate a very vegan Christmas.

Please note, Ethical Consumer haven’t researched all the products mentioned in this article and can’t therefore give you their ethical ratings.

Christmas is an exciting time of the year for many, and it’s one which traditionally comes with heavy consumption. It’s no secret that this excessive consumption is damaging our environment. One of the best ways to reduce your environmental footprint at Christmas (and indeed all year round) is to go vegan.

Concerns for the environment and about climate change have been on the rise, and recent studies have shown that going vegan is the “single biggest way” to reduce our environmental impact. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73%.

If you took part in Veganuary this year and kept it up, this will potentially be your first Vegan Christmas. How exciting!

What gifts to buy?

It can often appear challenging to buy for someone who is vegan, but it’s actually more straightforward than you might think.

Buying vegan gifts is simply a matter of avoiding anything made from or containing animal products, or those that have been tested on animals.

Dairy free chocolates are found almost everywhere.

If you’re buying beauty products or cosmetics, look out for the Cruelty Free leaping bunny label or vegan society mark.

If shopping for clothes or shoes, remember that leather, fur and wool are not vegan.

It’s easy to find alternatives.

I highly recommend shopping independent stores for gifts, and buying from local businesses where you can.

Eat, Drink & Be Merry

christmas pudding

When you sit down to eat your Christmas meal, you can be as traditional as you like, or go for some more modern alternatives.

There are so many meat free turkey substitutes and alternatives on the market compared to several years ago, the hardest part will be choosing one!

Nut roast is the traditional, very popular and long standing option, which for many years was the only real alternative for vegans and veggies alike. You can make your own, or for a ready prepared one, I recommend Clive’s Organic Nut Roast.

For a meat replacement option, I’d go for Tofurkey. They offer a large range of palm oil free meat alternatives, including several Christmas roasts. Plus, they are a Certified B Corporation – which means they have met or exceeded a set of standards relating to the treatment of workers, sourcing of supplies, community engagement and environment impact.

There are many brands of stuffing that are vegan, either accidentally, or from independent brands, just check the ingredients. You can also make your own of course, using vegan sausages.  

Roast your potatoes in organic olive oil, and if you usually toss your vegetables in butter, swap it out for a vegan alternative.

Then we’re onto the gravy – the delicious sauce that brings in all together. For convenience, choose the Marigold Gravy powder blend, or you can simply make your own using vegetable stock, yeast extract (Natex is my favourite), and thicken with cornflour.

Desserts & Puddings

There are a vast array of vegan puddings and cakes on the market now – or you can cook your own.

In our family, we’re not huge fans of the traditional Christmas pudding, but there are loads of them available to buy, and beautiful recipes to follow. Having lived in Denmark for several years however, we fell in love with their traditional Christmas dessert – Risalamande – which you can find the vegan recipe for on my website.

And who can forget the humble mince pie? My personal favourites are from Riverford Organic, and Artisan Bread Organic Mince pies – also gluten free. They’re both completely free from palm oil.

Once again, as with the various options listed above, many supermarkets do their own budget versions, however, I’d recommend shopping in independent stores – you can often find vegan shops in many bigger towns and cities, or at least a health shop. 

Chocolates

The main considerations when buying chocolate is that it’s dairy free and ethically sourced. For a luxury truffle box Booja Booja are our go to brand. They are an independent company, and they ethically source from a single supplier, to produce melt in your mouth chocolate delights.  Vego and Ombar are another two of our family favourites - producing organic chocolate, made with consciously sourced, fairly traded cocoa.

Crisps & Nuts

We all love a good bowl of crisps or nuts to pick at over the Christmas period. Unfortunately, some of our favourite flavours contain milk powder. Nuts can often be honey roasted, or they contribute to non fair-trade practices. Ten Acre are a completely vegan crisp company, with delicious flavours – including a cheese and onion alternative. Whilst Crazy Jacks are my go to for nuts and dried fruits – for all the simple, organic taste and none of the exploitation.

Cheeses

For many, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a cheese board. Now, there are many vegan cheeses on the market and I don’t have time to go into them all now, but for true Christmas luxury, I’d recommend Tyne Chease – artisan cultured cheese, made using organic cashew nuts. 

Alcohol

As a non-drinker myself, I’m not an expert in the field of alcohol, but it’s important to mention, as many people are surprised to discover that some beers, wine and cider contain animal products.

That’s because many ingredients are hidden, such as isinglass (made from the dried swim bladders of fish) which is used in the filtration process. There’s no obligation to list the animal products used in the production process, and so it can be difficult to identify if something is vegan by reading the label.

Other ingredients in alcohol include gelatine (made from boiled bones, flesh and ligaments), casein (a protein derived from cow’s milk), and albumin (from egg whites).

Fortunately there are many vegan alternatives for both beers and wines. Stellar Winery and Emiliana are Ethical Consumer best buys for vegan, organic wines, and small vegan breweries such as Little Valley and Atlantic come out on top when it comes to beer and lager.

Enjoy your Christmas!

So, all that’s left to say is I hope you have enjoyed reading about our family Christmas, and that you and yours have a very merry vegan Christmas too.